Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Giving Tree

Few books really leave something with me, but The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstien did. It's a beautiful story about a tree that gave everything it had for the love of a boy throughout his life. The thing that really struck me about the story was I had no idea how many things trees give, and it expanded my mind.

I'm hurting inside these days. I'm not going to get into specifics because they are deeply personal, even for a blog, and for those who are really interested, text me or facebook me, and we can go for a walk. If the mood is right, perhaps caring will prevail. But for now, I will carry the burden I have, and I know that time heals all things. 

A few weeks ago someone contacted me, who felt similar about gender as I did. We texted for most of the day, and it was very nice. This person had asked me if I had ever had second thoughts about transitioning, and I had told them that I had, but only for very brief moments, and for the most part, I had really blossomed as a result of coming out and embracing what I felt inside. 

I still feel that way.

Yet, life is a patchwork of relationships, woven together through friendship, tears, love, anger, forgiveness, and commitment. As a result of this patchwork, I sometimes feel that I may fit into it better as a man, rather than a woman.

Another person (sorry for my being vague) close to me had complained that I was being too personal on my blog. They suggested that I was giving a bad name to religion and that it bothers them. Prior to transitioning, my square grey patch matched the framework of the quilt to a tee. Although,  I felt grey inside, I suppose if I could learn to see myself as part of the bigger picture... 

I'll leave that thought hanging.

So, it's how I feel this morning. Questioning, second guessing, worried, and unhappy. More than I have been in a while. Yet, I know that however things work out, it will work out for the better, and that happiness is a choice that I can make, regardless of my gender.

The funny thing is that I've told myself this 100, even 1000 times prior to transitioning. "It's a choice!" I would remark in my head, and re-commit myself to being a better person. 

It _did_ _not_ _work_.

So what happens when you have become a shiny new elm leaf shape, with brilliant colors, and you don't fit into the quilt anymore? There must be a way to make it work. There must be! Again, time solves all problems.

Until then, it's the giving tree. Whatever I have, I offer freely. My love, my service, my commitment, my time. 

This is what I do when I love someone.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Thoughts on being transgendered, and transphobia

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I'm going to be talking about all things trans in this post.

I wonder these days about what it would be like if I had been born into the proper body, or that I had transitioned earlier, or that I had not been raised in the Mormon church... You know, all the what if's. Virginie and I talk all the time about these things, and you know what? There are never any answers to the questions. They are just distractions for the most important thing. Moving on...

It's not that easy to move on though. I've had people from my old church congregation coming over on the weekend to help build my new fence. They are all very helpful. They smile, work hard, but don't ask any questions. Then, I unfortunately get more information about how people gossip, and how they "really feel", and I get very angry that people don't ask questions so they don't have to harbour these feelings all the time. Feelings of disagreement and judgment. I mean it too. I realize many people feel that I am "ruining" my children by doing this. I'm teaching them to make poor decisions with my poor example. I would like to not feel this way, but everyone seems to skirt around the issue, leaving me with no information at all, and I can only assume it's one thing... transphobia.

I love the following explanation on cognitive dissonance:

"According to theory, states of dissonance will leave us uncomfortable.  Like thirst or hunger we will have an urge to bring a return to consonance.  There are many ways to resolve dissonance:  1) Change your cognitions (beliefs, attitudes, behavior), 2) Add new cognitions to explain or balance the conflict, 3) Alter the importance of the cognitions."(http://www.rationalrevelation.com/library/cogdis.html)

When I would watch a scary movie when I was young, my father would tell me if I didn't want to have bad dreams about what I watched, I should "think about it". It seemed completely counter-intuitive to me. Wouldn't thinking about it more make me even more scared? Actually, it didn't thinking about it allowed me to find enough closure in my mind, that my mind didn't need to act it out during the night. I'm serious about this. If you want to dream about something? Think about it, and then stop. Cast it out. Your mind will pick it up again as you sleep.

So here it is. What is being transgendered all about? Quite simply, when a persons mental gender does not match their bodies gender. It has absolutely nothing to do with sexuality at all. In my case, I have always felt female, even though I have a male body. So why is this a big deal anyway? I've found no better explanation than this:

"Consider this: from the first moment of defined existence, a person is identified and then classified as either male or female. This classification by sex assigned at birth influences every moment of a person's life thereafter. The very essence of socialization -- how each of us relates to our parents, friends, spouse, lovers, our work, our religious and philosophical beliefs -- everything we are, is contingent on assigned sex. I think you can imagine the enormous challenge a person with Gender Identity Disorder faces trying his or her best, every day, every moment, to live up to an assigned sex he or she has no innate affinity to." (http://www.avitale.com/GuiltShame.htm)

I think all I really want to say is this...

We are real.

Trans-folk have deep feelings, and have struggled deeply with something most would take completely for granted, to the point, it would not even cross anyones mind to question gender. I want to tell people that I'm not dangerous. I'm not even confused anymore, now that the gender dysphoria is gone. I'm not a danger to you, your family, or your children. I don't molest kids, I don't have weird sexual rituals, and as far as sexual preference goes, I have only one. Virginie. I would not even say I'm homosexual, or heterosexual. I'm Virginie-sexual. I love her, and only her in that way. I could not imagine my life without her, and I will live the remainder of my days, doing my best to treat her like the queen that she is.

In my opinion, that's what kind of people trans-folk are. So before making a judgement on a transgendered person because you are sure they are perverted, find out more about them. Talk to them. Listen to their story, because I can promise you, it will be one of heart break, sacrifice, renewal, disappointment, love, disgust, faith, and above all... hope.

This is what we do when we love someone.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Sinister 7 : Conquering mind and mud

My name is Stephanie, and I am transgendered. It means that I was born as a male, and at least in my case, was socialized as a male, and lived as a male for 40 years. How I came to my decision to transition my gender to female is not in the scope of this post, but it sets the stage for how I was living, as I toed the start line at the 8th annual Sinister 7 Ultramarathon + Relay, set in the beautiful Crowsnest Pass in Alberta,  Canada. I had registered for the race as male, because at that point, I had not even met the psychiatrist that would assess me, and recommend me for transition. I have been full time on female hormones for about 2 months now and have stabilized finally in the female range about 1 month ago. Definitely not enough time for me to fairly race as a female. So, there I was, with bib number 4 and my male name “Stephen” printed on it at the bottom. My Wife Virginie had dropped me off at the start line, so she could head up to TA1/2 the transition area at the end of leg 1/start of leg 2 to volunteer. She dropped me off with a kiss, and I said “see you soon” to my 3 children.

The electricity of race day morning was already in the air. Runners, clearly prepared for their runs were amassing from all directions, clothed in all types of colorful running gear. I set off to look for those who ran in my own club (fast trax) to wish them luck and kick butt on whatever portions of the race they were doing.

I’m particularly biased to my run club. I came out in January of this year, and did so on Facebook. The efficacy of the method is highly debatable, but nevertheless, as I pushed “okay”, I did so with a sense of dread, excitement, worry, fear, and relief all at once. Literally within minutes I received my first reply. A gentleman from my run club. He congratulated me on what I did, and offered his complete support. Messages like this came in throughout the next 3 days, including friend requests from runners at the club who had not been out for a while.

It’s never been really easy for me to trust people, especially as a man, but in this environment, I felt I could trust people, and I began to feel more confident in socializing. In time, trust soon followed. It’s not just the run club. Almost every runner I’ve met has been the same. Kind, generous, and not the least bit concerned about what gender I was, rather more interested in what kind of workout I was interested in.

I took some selfies with people, laughed, and generally tried to remain calm about the next 30 hours. Yes, I was planning on running the course solo, or by myself.

Shortly after I quit last year
I’m writing a lot of background information, but it’s really important that I set the stage properly. Bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety run in my family. Fortunately, I don’t have bipolar disorder, but have struggled with depression and anxiety. Mostly, in my opinion, due to gender dysphoria. Yet, worrying is in my nature, and starting a race with it is my reality.

Last year, I tried running the 100-mile course solo, and dropped out at the end of Leg 4 (approximately 55 miles in). I dropped because I did not want to run anymore. I had had a very bad leg 3. I got sick, but had avoided heat stroke. When I finished leg 3, my family brought me a number of slices of juicy watermelon. I literally gorged myself. It was cold, wet, sweet, and so delicious. After eating, I decided to go for one more leg. By the end of leg 4, I could feel myself rebounding, but I was lonely, discouraged, and looking for an out. As soon as I heard another soloist drop, I followed suit. I was happy about my decision until I woke up the next morning, and was able to walk up the stairs. “Dang it!” I thought, I had not left it all out on the trail. “I have something left!!!” I regretted to myself.

The gun goes off! Finally, I can redirect my energy
Since that day, I have run 6 ultra-marathons. 3 50km ultras, 2 50 milers, and 1 100km. I finished
them all! Not just finished, there had been absolutely no points in any of them where I thought to myself, “I want to quit”. So, my anxiety was a little lower this year. I trusted my training, especially my mental training. I had learned a lot, especially on the mental part. The quote I love is “Ultra running is 90% mental. The rest? It’s all in your head.” This year, I set an A goal of under 27 hours, and a B goal of just finishing. I HAD to finish though.

I lined up and the gun went off! At last! I find the hardest part is sometimes the anticipation of a start. Your nervous and have nowhere to direct our energy. Once is was running, I had a purpose, and could work through each difficulty as it came.

Waiting my turn during a little traffic
jam on leg one
Leg one was awesome! With fresh legs, it's easy to set down a good pace. I buddied up with Kristina, a friend and crazy fast runner from my local running club, and Christine, a fellow soloist to who battled out incredible odds last year to finish just shy of the final cutoff. There was a section of narrow single track where a number of us in a hurry got stuck behind a struggling lady. It's tough for me to know what the balance of politeness and assertiveness is and so while my plan was to wait, a more anxious gentleman asked both of us to step aside. Not wanting to be left behind I asked the lady to move over as well. She did and we all ran past.

Leg one was completed 10 minutes faster than last year. It was now 8:45.

I met Virginie and the kids at the transition area. After the town of Hillcrest Mines, the road turns to gravel and starts an upward climb. Eventually, this becomes a mixture of double and single track. This climb continues as runners ascend up Hastings Ridge. My plan, power hike the uphills, and enjoy the downhills. I met Mark, an ultra running friend from Red Deer. Mark asked how I was doing, chatted briefly before hurrying up the hill. I had not trained with poles and so I was not planning on using them. A young 13 year old boy passed me, part of the sponsored high school team from the Crowsnest Pass. I was so impressed with him! It's so nice to see a younger generation getting involved with the sport. After I reached the summit of Hastings Ridge I let loose into a comfortable run. When behind me I hear "Stephanie!" It was Carrie, a friend from my run club. We ran together for a bit but she was going a little fast for my liking. She went ahead and we began a nasty climb where I caught up. Carrie ducked under some deadfall but came up too quick. She rose up into a pointy stub of broken branch. I could see instantly that this was not going to be good. Carrie looked stunned for a second and took her hat off, telling me she could tell she just split her head open. I looked into a nasty gouge, already starting to bleed heavily. Carrie was smart and immediately began to call back for help. The aid station was not far back. Carrie began to move back and reluctantly I began to move ahead.

This is where I began to see a difference from last year. Last year I was still fresh. But for whatever
My cousin and her daughters soul healing smile!
reason, my legs were starting to get tired already. "Good," I thought, "I need to get used to running on tired legs if I want to be successful at this sport anyway... Bring it on!" Phillip Lagace greeted me near the end of leg 2 and soon after I saw 2 of my Kids: Baden and Mimi waiting for me. How wonderful it was to see their faces! Thy clapped and jumped, cheering me on as I drew closer. As I passed they ran with me to the solo tent where my Wife and Daughter were waiting with open arms. It was 11:30am.

My cousin Janna and her Husband Joel had shown up to say "Hi" and wish me luck. They brought their young daughter, who appeared to not even be 1 yet. I smiled at her and received a gracious smile in return. It was medicine for the soul. Another round of hugs and I was on my way to Leg 3.

Duking it out during the heat on leg 3.
Leg 3 and 4 were to be my battleground. They are hot and relatively unshaded. I was anxious to get them done and over with. "You'll have more strength once the sun goes down", I reminded myself. Over the ski hill and just before starting the loop, there was Christine. I had caught back up. I stuck with Christine and another Gal all the way through to the first checkpoint. Then Christine was way quicker through the aid station and I had to take out my tailwinds, cut off the corner, and dump it into my soft flask. The whole thing took a while. But, I was drinking and well hydrated. As I left I felt good and ready to climb. Not too far ahead I caught Christine again. We ran together for quite sometime. Always stopping at the puddles to cool off. I ran into Calli and Kate from my run club. Calli joined Christine and I, and we ran together until we arrived at the second aid station. I took my sweet time again trying not to waste my food, and Christine and Calli went ahead. I did not see them again. I set off at a careful pace to see dark clouds rumbling in the sky. It looked as if they would pass me by. The remainder of leg three was tough. I felt out of juice but mentally okay. I was in this for the long haul. As I climbed back up the backside of the ski hill it started to rain. Slow at first but eventually it began to come down harder. By the time I hit the gravel road I was drenched. Still, I was close, so with renewed energy I ran down. There they were! Baden and Mimi were at the same spot to welcome me in. Down we went together. It was close to 5pm.

Upon arrival two things were very clear. I had to ditch my road shoes. Yes... Up until that point I had been wearing my Altra Ones. They are a fantastic shoe, but once the trail and rocks got wet, I was struggling. On went my Altra Superiors. A new dry shirt, socks, and tailwinds. I was ready for leg 4.

Leg 4: Running for chicken noodle soup!
After all that climbing on leg 3, One might think that you will be given a break on leg 4. Not so... the first thing you do is go back up the ski hill. Okay, it's actually not that far up it, but at this point in the race, my heart was pounding furiously in my chest, begging for the top. Because of the temperature drop, and the rain, which by now was falling steadily, I was feeling refreshed, and a little more energetic. I kept drinking and soon found myself running down a forest road. I was making great time. It was then that I received a message from Virginie. She told me they had chicken noodle soup for me at TA4/5. This was the motivation I needed. I ran for chicken noodle soup. As I neared the end, I rounded a corner flying furiously through the mud. My friend Mark was there cheering on the runners. He looked surprised at both my motivation and speed. When I told him what I was running for his comment was "Your Wife must make some pretty damn good soup!". I arrived at TA4/5, and began to look for my family. There was nobody there. I called Virginie. They were running behind, and would be there in a few minutes. I decided to wait, and grabbed some banana's and oranges. Once they arrived, the usual round of refueling (including a nice cup of chicken noodle soup), hugs, more hugs, and best wishes ensued. I went out for leg 5 with my headlamp on. It was 8:00pm.

Not too far into leg 5, the race marshal pulled up beside me as I was running along the side of the road. She asked if I had a whistle, to which I replied I did. A whistle, space blanket, coat, and warm hat are all required items runners must carry for the entire race. We were warned at the pre-race meeting that there would be random checks. "Runners who are not carrying the mandatory equipment will be disqualified" was the warning. With this in mind, I replied quickly that I did, pulling it out of my pack to show that I was being honest about it. She replied quickly that a grizzly had been spotted on the trail, and quickly moved on ahead.

"What?!?" I thought, "Where is this grizzly? ahead? behind? near the trail, in an open area?" my mind
Leg 5: Bring on the Bears...
was buzzing about what this meant. In the end, it mattered very little to me. I was going to finish the race, and if a grizzly got in my way... well... I would politely tell it I'll find a way around him and to continue doing whatever it was doing (provided it was not hunting). As I continued toward Mount Tecumseh, I saw a number of quad's up ahead which included the race marshal. I was not sure what was going on, but by the time I got to the place where the quads were, there were no Bears in sight. An aid station and 10 minutes later, I was at the base of Mount Tecumseh, and needed to turn on my headlamp so that I could see the trail. As I moved farther and farther up the trail, it became clear that the trail conditions were getting worse and worse. At literally every low lying part of the trail, there was a large pool of cold muddy water. It looked like runners before me had tried to get around them by using the bank. Some may have been successful, but the prints of sliding shoe prints going towards the muddy water gave hints that navigating around them would both slow me down, and would not likely be successful anyway. I opted to just go through them. "10 km to the next aid station, and then I'll be going downhill again. The trail will be wider and easier to navigate. Just be patient and do your best to get there" I thought. I ran that script over and over in my head, forcing myself to focus just on this one spot, and not get overwhelmed.

The mind is amazing. Although I've not looked anything up, and I'm totally theorizing at this point, I'm fairly confident in saying that the body will obey the mind. If the mind says "I'm done", inflammation goes up and energy goes down. If the mind says, "I feel great", inflammation goes down and energy goes up. I had been waiting for checkpoint 5b for seemingly forever. I was now death marching toward it patiently, but the patience was wearing thin. Before a river crossing I slipped and went down into the mud. When I got up I was drenched in the stuff. Fortunately the river crossing was nearby. During the day the cold water was a god send, but now, by the time I had washed the mud off my hands, I could barely move them because they were so cold. I was tired, sore, discouraged, cold, and still not at checkpoint 5b. We ran through a campground and I could see the campers roasting marshmallows by the warmth of the campfire, and yet, here I was, in the middle of nowhere, freezing my butt of in an attempt to do something which was impossible anyway. Such was my state of mind when I arrived at checkpoint 5b. I refueled and discovered the distance to TA5/6. It was 9.6km away. I nearly fell down and cried.

At this point in the race I was just death marching my way to TA5/6. I picked up my phone, noticed I had reception, and called Virginie. I told her I was sick of this, and that I did not think that I could continue. She listened, and told me that we could talk about it when I got to the transition area. Runners would come by and encourage me. "Just keep moving" they would say. They were right. In due time, and much to my surprise, I saw the warm glow of tents an the bottom of the hill. I had been so lost in my own misery that I had forgot all about the time. I had arrived!

When I arrived at TA5/6 Virginie ushered me into the food tent and had a chair there waiting for me. She showed me the poles she had procured for me, smiled and said "I got these for you!" My heart was softened. She explained that she knew that I could do this. I had trained for it, and to trust in my training. With some food in me, I felt perhaps I had nothing to loose. I could go out for one more leg. It was 2:00am

Leg 6: Running on trust alone
By this time, after the uncountable number of mud pools I had tromped through, I was not in the best mood anymore. Runners would come by, tell me "good job" and move on. If one talked, my responses were quick and to the point. I would muster a smile, but I felt that my suffering was coming through anyway. Half way up seven sisters I was again ready to quit. It's funny how some things work out. I was moving well up a steep section, vowing to myself that I was going to quit at the next aid station. "I will simply wait for someone to pick me up and take me down this stupid mountain" I thought. Just then I saw lights up ahead! It was the course marshal, the one who warned me about the grizzly. I stepped politely aside as they passed and kept moving upward, muttering to myself about my intention to quit. It dawned on me about 5 minutes later that I could have quit right there. I could have hopped into the back of that quad and got my ride down the mountain. I laughed to myself that I had missed that opportunity. "You idiot!" I chimed to myself. Oh well... onward and upward I climbed.

7 sisters mountain. Runners summit on the
right hand side.
I reached the first checkpoint after considerable patience. Shortly before I arrived I told a fellow soloist named Steve that I was planning on dropping at the next checkpoint. He said that the climbing was almost over, and that it was only a few kilometers to the summit. Once again, I felt my heart soften. If I had come this far, "surely I can get over this DUMB MOUNTAIN!" I thought to myself. Upward I went. The sun rose shortly before I summited. I was finally able to look over to the other side of leg 6.

Once over the top, I felt that I could run again. Really, it was just the "ultra shuffle," but I was making way better time just doing that. I was reminded about great runners. People like the winners. They are all very consistent. You don't really have to go fast at an ultra marathon, you just have to keep on moving.

Once more I found myself discouraged, and practically falling asleep. At nearly the same place I called my Wife Virginie and talked to her. "It's taken me 2 hours to go 10km, and its been torture. Leg 7 is 10km, I dont know if I can do it... I am not strong enough..." I mumbled through the fatigue. "Just get to the transition area" she reminded me, "I have hot ramen and food for you." "Hot ramen..." I thought, "That actually sounds really good." I mustered all the strength I could to make my way as quickly as possible to Virginie. I crested, and descended the hill to the transition area where I was once again met with cheers, encouragement, and the smiling face of my Wife. Leg 6 was finally done. It was 9:15 am.

No red. Beck's brain is shutting down.
In the book "into thin air" is the account of an expedition to Everest that went horribly wrong. The group chose to summit the worlds highest mountain late in the day, despite fatigue and other complications that had led them to the decision they now had to make. They chose to summit and the impending disaster that ensured is one of the sad tales of mountaineering. There is an amazing survival tale though. Beck Weathers had collapsed on his way down from the summit and was freezing to death in the blizzard that had already caused much of the exposition to perish. At this moment Beck Weathers caught hold of the memory of his family. TED Talks has a video where the presented shows what he things likely was happening in the mind of Beck Weathers. As
Red in the center: Beck begins to
think about his family
Beck sat in the snow, slowly freezing to death, his brain also slowly began to shut down. The brain scan showed no "red" activity in the brain. Beck began to think of his family, and thus began the miracle. A tiny red-spot showed up in the middle of his brain (again only a theory according to the presenter). As Beck continued to focus on them,
brain activity continued to increase. He willed himself to get up and start moving. He wandered for hours until he stumbled back into camp IV where assistance was rendered. Beck was not expected to survive the night, and his face and hand were severely frostbitten. Yet, Beck lived to tell his tale. For the whole story, follow this link.

The human body is an amazing thing. It can rebound from the most unimaginable lows, to conquer amazing things. I had been thinking of Becks story, and felt that despite all the negativity I had allowed, that could all change now. I ate, kissed my Wife, announced "See you in 2 hours" and set off on the final 10km of leg 7. I was going to complete!

With thoughts of the finish line in my head, and convinced that with even a tiny spec of hope and positive energy, great endurance can be found, I made my way up Wedge mountain, through the single track, and toward the last checkpoint where the volunteers announced with a smile that I was 97 miles in. I continued to pound out the miles while nurturing my mind. In time, I finally saw the water tower, then houses. As soon as I was in the community of Crowsnest Pass, residents cheered as I ran past. Through a field, then on to the side of a road. Up ahead was Alissa St. Laurant. We exchanged hugs and congratulations and on I went. Through the temporary RV park, left toward the arena, and finally right to the finishers chute.

There are not words to describe what it was like to run down the finishers chute. The crowd around the finish line had already began to applaud. I could see my youngest two: Baden and Mimi waiting to run the final stretch with me. As I rounded the final corner the finish line in all its glory came into view. It welcomed me with the invitation "you can stop running now!" I ran through the finish 28 hours, 18 minutes and 5 seconds after I left the start line.


My shirt from the Iron legs 50 miler says "Wanted: individuals who will run, walk, and crawl over steep mountain trails, all for the glory of crossing the finish line."
I remember seeing the race director Brian Gallant pass out bottles of wine and medals to the solo finishers last year. I was filled with regret! Brian smiled and congratulated each one who had conquered his crazy course. After exchanging hugs with my family, and Gary and Linda Sigsworth, dear friends who have allowed us to stay in their home for the past couple of years,
Brian came with a bottle of wine. He smiled, congratulated me, and said "I'm so glad you were able to complete this year Stephanie!" I felt like I would cry. Lisa gave me a hug and then I saw Christine! She had finished just a few minutes before me.

My final thoughts? This whole experience could not have happened without Virginie. I cannot say that enough. I would likely have quit except that she continued to remind me that she believed in me. She loved me, and she knew that I could do it. When I heard her encouragement, I could feel that tiny spec deep within my mind begin to grow. So long as I continued to nourish it, it continued to grow, grew into a successful race. My heartfelt thanks goes out to Virginie and my children for their loving support.

I've said it before in this blog, but when we love someone, anything is possible. We can overcome so much when we feel loved, supported, and trusted.


Sunday, May 3, 2015

Ordinary Miracles

Virginie and I travelled to Phoenix and got back just list last Wednesday. To say the trip was enjoyable would a gross understatement. Apart from getting lots of sun, there were a number of other things that made the trip super enjoyable. It made me start to think about all the miracles that happen around me, often enough that I take them for granted. I'm going to try and set the stage, so I can outline all of the little miracles I've witnessed over the past 7 days.

The purpose of the trip was to run the Zane Grey 50-mile endurance run. I admit, I registered for the race on a whim. My good friend from Phoenix challenged me, and besides, I kind of wanted to, I guess I just wanted someone to egg me on a little. He did not have to try too hard! I remember sitting in front of the computer, staring at my registration filled out, with the mouse over the "submit" button. I thought, "Have I not learned my lesson about these things?" I don't remember the exact day I pushed the submit button, but it would have been right around the time I finished the Iron Horse 100k. I was riding high!

I'm not going to get too much into the history of the race, apart from the name of Zane Grey being a person of historical, and literary significance, the race itself, running in it's 26th year, is one of the oldest 50 milers in the country.

I admit, I didn't know what to expect in terms of what kind of challenge it will be, so I was going down with no expectations is mind. I soon found out that what I was about to run, despite the fact that I had read it over and over again that what I was about to run was one of the hardest 50-milers in the country. I still did not believe it.

The Canadian Death Race is now a couple of years ago, and melting into memory. I joke with Virginie a lot that ultra running is like delivering a baby. It hurts, and you don't like it when you're doing it, but you also forget quick. Within a week, I'm always basked in the glow of a laptop screen hungrily searching for more punishment. Anyway, CDR was always touted as the "toughest race in the country". When I first heard of it, I believed it, but as I toyed with the idea of running it more and more, and especially when I finished, I began to see the virtual potpourri of "killer" trail runs that were popping up. I figured, every race has to make themselves "marketable", so I generally tend to ignore all comments about how tough a race is. I mean, running an ultra distance is hard enough without all the marketing...

My friend picked us up in Phoenix. A cool desert breeze to welcome us as we exited out Terminal 4 at Phoenix Sky Harbour Airport. He pretty much became our taxi for the next week. A miracle because he manages a group of developers, has a family, and his own ultra's to prepare for. I don't doubt that it took sacrifice to accommodate us.

We had no place to stay while in Phoenix. I wanted to keep things on the cheap, but ever since coming out as transgendered, I'm wary of asking things, because I want to respect other peoples lives and their freedom as well. People have every right to ignore me if they want. They have every right to keep me away from their families. Having to explain awkward things like gender transitions is a difficult thing. 

Prior to travelling, I had not been running. 3 weeks to be exact. I had 1 day of elliptical, and 3 weeks of biking. I admit, I figured most of the endurance is in my head. If I can keep focused and keep my goal in a positive light, training would not matter as much. Seriously! If you can believe it, you can do it. But it really helps to have some decent training under ones belt. 

By the end of the pre-race meeting, and by the time I had finished eating a boat load of spaghetti, I posted my jitters to Facebook. Within moments, I had all sorts of encouragement. I was ready!

What can I say about the race? There are 5 aid stations. 
  • Geronimo (Mile 8)
  • Washington Park (Mile 17)
  • Hells Gate (Mile 23.5)
  • Fish Hatchery (Mile 33)
  • See Canyon (Mile 44)
When I arrived at Washington Park, I had respect for the course. I had been making descent time, especially considering I had not run in 3 weeks. The hernia that I had been suffering from had flared up a little, but it was tucked aways in "that far away spot in my mind", and I was determined to keep it there. I'm not joking about this, and maybe only runners will agree with me on this one, but I don't think all pain is real. Some of it is just fake pain. I was speaking with the race director briefly. I told him, everyone had got me scared over nothing! The course was not that bad... He smiled and said to talk to him after I had finished the next 16 miles through hells gate. Often regarded as the toughest portion of the course.

I won't stall on this one. It was tough. Really tough. I recall getting to the Hell's Gate aid station and thinking "I'm not even half way through". It was a very brief thought. Stuff like that will kill a race very quick. There is no room for doubt and worry in a race. I had been listening to my race standards (like this one), and was reminded of the good advice I received. "Don't try to eat the elephant all at once". 

It's funny, if I were to measure my energy in a race, it would be highest on either side of an aid station, and lowest in the middle. It was no different in this case. As I left Hell's Gate, I felt unstoppable. 90 minutes later, I was really struggling. I remember walking by a Gentleman with a twisted ankle, his face twisted in concentration. I asked if there was anything I could do for him. He responded that he had a walking stick, and all he could do was slowly make his way to the next aid station. I wished him best of luck and continued on.

At the Fish Hatchery I met my Pacer Marc Thomson. The video shows Virginie's video of me coming into the aid station. Marc and I grew up best friends together. I think it's so cool we have the same hobby. I admit, it was my idea to do ultra running, but Marc has become the teacher. He has some crazy races under his belt now including Mongollon Monster 100 (106 miles), and the Western States 100 Miler. Another miracle, Virginie had thoughtfully remembered my favorite "picker upper" on the trail. A vegi-delight sub from subway on flat bread. Mmmm divine!

Once I had my belly full, and with Marc, I found renewed energy. We made good time toward See Canyon, and because I was not feeling lonely anymore, and also Marc had a very good balance of pushing me just a little, we talked about everything, but mostly about our passion for running (which I admit wanes a little at points during an ultra marathon). 

I have so much to say, so I'm going to pick things up a little... Near the end bad weather moved in. It was in the forcast, and the hourly forcast said around 7:00 it would start. I figured, if all goes well, I will get done by then, and not have to run in the rain. Yet, not too long after departing See Canyon, the rumbling of thunder came closer. With flashes of lighting and thunder (2 seconds apart), we got rain in torrents. Fortunately, they did not last long. The second torrent turned into a small hail/sleet. It was cold! It eventually dried up, and just a few miles from the end it started again. Except this time it did not stop. The end of the Zane Grey 50 goes through 2 large rocks, at the end of a small hill. Marc assured me I could run it. I thought, "are you insane?!?". Yet, as I saw the finish line, and saw the hill, renewed strength came. I ran up the hill, and across the finish. 14 hours, 2 minutes after I started 50 miles back at the Pine Arizona trailhead.

I wish I could give credit to all the people who made this possible. So many people played roles, but I think my biggest thanks go out to Marc Thomson and Virginie. When I think of Zane Grey 50, I will think about you.

2 days later, Virginie and I hiked to the top of Lookout mountain, just south of where we were staying. We got up at 4:00 am, so that we could be at the top to witness the 5:45 sunrise. While waiting, and while holding Virginie's hand, I turned on "Ordinary Miracle" by Sarah McLachlan. Music became the language of our souls. I have tried to capture that moment, along with all the other moments from our trip in the video. 


video


I think the biggest miracle I see everyday is the love that we share with each other, and it's affect around us. It's a miracle that generates miracles.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Who do you think you are?

Warning!!! This post is full of frustration!!!

Yet, I understand. So, let me try to explain.


I cannot explain it better than this video. Yet, I don't know why I'm trying sometimes. Have you ever been in a conversation where no one is listening? Each person is trying to make their point. Neither listens. When responding, they are not listening, but already preparing their next speech. The conversation goes nowhere, because neither of the parties is willing to listen.

Yet, I feel that readers are going to listen. I feel like I'm "preaching to the converted" right now. To those whom I want to reach, they will read until it's not comfortable anymore. They will close the webpage, and justify in their minds, that it's not worth trying to read anymore anyway. While they have been reading, they have been preparing their own speech.

I'm not going to share my childhood right now. I mean, what's the point? Everything I would say, would be to try to convince my readers, using commonly accepted gender roles, that I am who I say I feel I am. It will never work though. I can hear myself try to explain "I played with ponies too". I can hear them rebuttle "That does not necessarily mean your a girl". To which I would agree. The fact is, the only accurate test for ones gender is in one simple question:

"Who do you feel you are?"

I've talked to many members of my family now, and have asked them the same question. Men have always responded instantly: "I fell I am a man". Women the same. There is no hesitation, no question.

Even in the video above, this girl knows she is a girl. There is no question. Yet, it's those who are supposed to be closest to us, that have either taken two approaches to my announcment:

1) The helpers: They are those who will help us, and wait for us to see the light as they see it, and welcome us back to their reality.
2) The shamers: Those who realize they cannot help us, and for the peace of their souls have moved on.

I'm not joking about this either. Virginie had a text today from someone. She asked if she could hang out. She loves this person, and those who know Virginie know that she has a heart of gold. The person briskly announced they were to busy in a text, ending in the word "later".

Not that I'm complainig. If Virginie has less people to share her amazing love with, I get more of it, so my immediate angry comment to this individual is ...

...

...

I don't even have the words for it.

To avoid anyone judging anyone else, I'm just going to call them Benny and Matilda. They came up to visit. It's been a while, and it was obvious that Benny in praticular was really nervous. We had a nice weekend, where we tried to avoid the obvious matters at hand. I sent an email when they got home. Each responded honestly, and honestly, our relationship is over.

Why do these people treat us like we are broken, when everything inside of me is screaming "I feel more authentic than I have ever felt in my life!!!"

It makes me despise religion. I'm sorry but it does.

Then these people come back and tell us "I'm not giving up on you".

You know what? Virginie and I feel the same way.

When I came out, someone (and I no longer remember who), told us that after you come out, you will discover who your friends really are.

What is the biggest cause of conflict? Idealogical change

So where am I? I don't know yet. I can't manipulate and control people, and I want to love unconditionally, but like all of us, I fall short of this frequently. I want people to be happy with me, but I want it now. I realize I can only control myself, and it will take people time to come around. A long time!

Until then, there are lots of people who have surprised me, and continue to surprise me with the type of people they are. So you know what? It's not like I don't have a support network.

I've been meaning to blog about the "P" word. It's coming up. I think it will be a really cool article.


Saturday, March 21, 2015

Love and Friendship

Jon Katz said "I think if I've learned anything about friendship, it's to hang in, stay connected, fight for them, and let them fight for you. Don't walk away, don't be distracted, don't be too busy or tired, don't take them for granted. Friends are part of the glue that holds life and faith together."

I've never had many friends, I've tended to be fairly selective. I understand through countless hours of journalling, blogging, and talking with my dear wife Virginie that there was something that needed attention within myself first. Then, after that was understood, I feel now that I have a light to shine. I admit, it's so bright to me, almost bursting, and I want to show it to everyone, yet to some I've found more of a connection with than others. I've been thinking about my friends a lot lately. I received a really nice gift from one of them this last Wednesday. I was SO grateful! It was more than a gift though. I could tell this person had put some thought into it. On top of that it also said "I love you, and I accept you".

I think this is something I really want to say now to all my friends. I commit to all of you to always being there, to listening, to understanding, and to enjoying every moment I have with you. I commit to being there when you need me, and asking when I need you. I commit to not being too busy or tired. You are the glue that holds my life together, intricately woven along with family, spouse, and work. Yet, friends are different than these other things. Friends are the family that you choose. You choose them, they choose you. I consider it a privilege to have been chosen by my friends.

Perhaps this declaration may be overwhelming to my friends anyway, so I say it with a slight cringe. I don't want to scare anyone away. Since announcing to the world about my decision to transition, and allowing myself to think female, I've been able to accept certain traits about myself, that I've never felt I could accept. Being emotional is one of them. So, to anyone out there. If you need anyone to cry with you... out of pain, passion, fear, loss, gratitude, wonderment, or joy, I'll cry with you.

Running continues to be an outlet for me. I meet people with the same passion and can share with them something with them that we both enjoy. For me, running is more than sharing running though. Last weekend we set off for our LSD (haha, long slow distance as I've recently learned), we paired up. Sometimes I like being part of a big group, but I hoped this day that I would get paired off with one person in particular, and that we would just be able to yap for hours as we ran. It couldn't have been better. Perhaps we were both feeling better than we usually would, or maybe the context of the conversation provided that extra little bit of energy, but as we ran together, we lost the rest of our group and we ended up running together for remainder of the run. We talked about everything, religion, God, marriage, friendship, running, races, food, habits (good and bad) among a host of other things. It was perfect! I admit, I was supposed to run somewhere else, but everything worked out and I enjoyed myself immensely.

Friendship even seems to transcend borders. I've had the good fortune to meet so many people with literal hearts of gold. When I came out to the world 2 months ago, a close friend from my university days got in contact with me.  Even though she lives far away, the following day flowers arrived at our home with a message and chocolates attached. Her message to me was the same: "I love you, I accept you regardless of the shape, body, or appearance."

The best example of friendship is in my Wife Virginie. She's told me many times, I love your soul, and with this change, my soul has come out in more bright colors than I could have imagined. As a result, while there are lots of concerns about my family, I have none. In fact, I would have considered it a tragedy to live as we were, with me constantly hiding that which wanted to shine forth.

Last October, I ran the Iron Horse Ultra (only the 100k lol!). I felt great during the race. Strong, both mentally and physically. I enjoyed myself from start to finish, and made some great friends along the way.

Shortly after the 50km mark, we crested a hill from the west (heading east). As we descended down into the ravine, a new song came on my headphones. I stopped for a moment. The sun was shining bright. It was warm, with very little wind. There was a lake, surrounded by trees, and then me, descending down toward it, the dry prairie grass crunching beneath my feet. It is a moment sketched in time that I will always remember. I pulled out my camera, and took a video. While no video will ever do justice to how I felt, this is the best I can do and I offer it to everyone as the closest to feeling this enormous passion that I have inside. I swear, it's too big even for my body.

video

Maybe it's too much for just saying thank-you, but to the two people mentioned in this blog (you had better know who you are!!!) thank-you. This entry is for you. Thank-you for being the type of people that make the world a better place. Thank-you for sharing your enormous passion, whatever that is. Your passion for kindness, your passion for charity, your passion for running, your passion for people, listening, feeling, and loving. I swear, the blog title holds. When we love someone, an entire world opens up, and the gift we receive gives so much, we don't have enough room to receive it.

In case anyone is curious, the blog title "When we love someone" came from this song:




Tuesday, March 10, 2015

A Sheep in Wolf's Clothing


I would wait to blog, because it's late and I  D O N T   H A V E   T H E   T I M E right now, but if I don't, the thoughts and feelings will be gone, and so here I am, at 10:00 at night, when I should be showering after my run, and going to bed, snuggled up to my soul mate.

Yet, here I am.

I'm not suggesting men are wolves, but I am suggesting the cartoon depicts quite well how "male bonding" has always been for me. It's foreign, and as absurd as the cartoon shows. Whatever I said, seemed to be ask fake as I felt inside. But you know what? I'm tired about talking about what things were like, too many wonderful things happened today.

When I die, I will remember today as a turning point in my life. It was the day other half of my life, my "work life" found out about Stephanie. It's funny how things work out. Inspiration comes in the most unlikely of forms. My running has been slowly degrading over the last 6 or so weeks. The answers are clear now.

Spironolactone is a powerful testosterone blocker. Unfortunately, it does much more than that. The feature that killed my was that it works also as a "potassium sparing diuretic". This means, I pee frequently, and whenever I do,  I pee out everything except potassium. Two things happened because of that. I became cronically dehydrated, in spite of the fact I was drinking 3+ liters of water a day, and my electrolytes were thrown completely out of whack. This led to frequent cramping, fatigue, nausea, and a whole host of other goodies, that made running "less than enjoyable".

A few days ago, I called the nurse to ask her, and after discussing, stopped taking the spironolactone. Things have improved. For example, my 15k time last week was 1:20. This week, it was 1:08. A pretty big improvement. Plus, last week it was a very hard fought 1:20. This week? I bet I could have done 1:05.

There is another side to this though...

I was seeing some amazing results, just taking the testosterone blocker. My appetite increased. I was having some major food cravings, and I began to become much more emotional. On Sunday nights, our family likes to watch documentaries. We watch them on just about every topic imaginable. We've watched internet safety, dogs, natural world, popular science, astronomy, technology, and last Sunday, epigenetics. It was very interesting, and informative. While watching, I was glued to what they were saying. I guess the combination of music and message got to me, and I began to cry.

I've always wanted to cry, but as a man, it seemed forbidden, but that night it felt wonderful. I was so happy about epigenetics!!! I just couldn't contain myself.

Then, I stopped taking them.

It was then that I realized how much I wanted to transition. It became clear that my councillor's advice that "it will become clear when you should make your announcement at work" was 100% correct. That time was now. I had an email proof read by a friend, and again by HR, scheduled a personal meeting with my team, at 1:30, and hunkered down intent on getting something done.

I'll post the email that was sent around. It was wonderful to write it. I don't feel like I'm much with words, but every now and then, I become obsessed with the moment as I write. The words flow into the keyboard with confidence, and with ease. This morning was such a moment.

The meeting with my immediate team went well. Everyone, although somewhat shocked, was immediately supportive. The email went out at 5:00pm, and within a few minutes, messages began to pour in with messages of encouragement, congratulations, and support.

To top that off, an old friend emailed me up. We got together last month talking about jobs, and he mentioned his company was looking for people. I saw no reason why I should rush into things, but I like to keep options open, so I agreed that I would be interested in meeting with his senior management.

A job offer came in this morning, along with a possible salary that makes my head spin.

I don't understand why so many wonderful things are happeneing right now, but like words on a page, everything is flowing together as perfectly and beautifully as the moonlight sonota. It's too perfect to ignore. All I can do is get on my knees, and thank whatever being is, or is not up there from the bottom of my heart, for making this day possible.

As I ran home, this message stuck with even more certainty. It was all there, the steady rythym of my feet, the cool air, the wind in my hair, the breath in my lungs. It, like this whole day is a moment seared into my mind with the glue of gratitude, that will be my tresure to cherish for the rest of my life.

My faith in humanity is being restored. It's being restored in everyday heroes that say "I love you" not with words, but with their ears. They listen and carefully consider. I wish I could thank all of these heroes, but it's already 10:37 now and I promised Virginie that it would only take 30 minutes.

To all those who made this day possible, thank-you. Really, from the bottom of my heart, I thank-you.


Sunday, March 1, 2015

Coping with change

Warning! This blog post will have more details about changes happening in my transition. If these make you (the reader) uncomfortable, I'll mark the paragraphs that are more PG in nature so that you can avoid them.

Every fall it's the same thing in our house. The kids go back to school and within a few short weeks, the sniffles come into our house. It goes around most of us, and then we are okay. Fine until the seasons change.

My body has been coping with lots of change recently. It affects quite a few things. My energy level in particular. Not good for a person training for two 100 mile races this year. I don't know right now how I'm going to pull it off, but I'll run tomorrow, strengthen every day, eat healthy, stay hydrated, and listen to my body, both the good things and the bad things it's telling me.

It's no different with changes happening in my body right now. For example, the medication "spironolactone" is amazing. It's a diuretic, which I have realized today, is not a laxative. Laxative = poop, diuretic = urine. Basically, it makes me pee a lot, and it lowers my blood pressure. Could be a good thing, but when I run, I'm already dehydrated, and when you combine that with the fact it's hard to drink in the winter because I have to dig trough my clothing and pull down my zipper with cold hands in order to get to it.

Spironolactone also blocks testosterone production. Because it's so low, it means that my estrogen is higher. As I understand it, cellular receptors for hormones accept either estrogen and testosterone. If they accept estrogen, the individual develops secondary female characteristics. If they accept testosterone, the individual develops secondary male characteristics. It's obvious the medication is working, because my testosterone is quite low. My breasts have become very sore. The nipples are erect almost all the time, and my breasts are growing. Quite fast might I add... My Wife and daughter are telling me, they will kill me if I'm bustier than they are. It's probably still okay to shower with the guys, but I'll definitely be getting weird looks. I'm proud to be me, so maybe it's not a big deal. I'm happy with my body so far. Super happy actually! I hope I'm at least a b-cup eventually, but I won't complain with anything. They will be mine.

As for the running part of it, I'll keep training, without giving myself excuses on why I'm allowed to go slower, and less hard then before. I believe everything will work out in the long run. After all, in the end, when you're running 100 miles, it doesn't matter how slow you go, so long as you cross the finish line. (At least, that's the way I see it).

Virginie and I went to a clothes exchange last week at the pride center in Edmonton. There was a LOT of clothes there. I still feel very shy around those people, but they are all very friendly. I'm sure I'll eventually open up. I just need to give myself time. In the end, I got a whole bunch of really cute stuff. Mostly tops. When I wear them, along with my new girls pants, I can see a hourglass figure coming through. It's not a lot, but it's something, and I'm so happy with it!!!

My confidence has gone up as well. I think some of my favorite times are with my new friends at the Fast Trax run club. I have always had a tough time opening up to people, and trusting them. Now that my transgender secret is out, and literally everyone in my run club seems to be fine with it, I trust these people completely. I can talk, laugh, and socialize with a better degree of confidence. This is something I've never had before. Next weekend, I'm running with a couple of girls. I've never ran with them before, but I'm super excited to do so. Seriously, I want a HEN running party. I was never allowed into these conversations. All my life I've never been allowed, even those this is the way I want to socialize. Yesterday, after a challenging interval session, I was at the Second Cup with my pals. One of the gals told a story involving me. It was funny. The really cool part was, she got her pronouns right! She called me Steph, and said "she". Those little things mean so much to me! There is more to it than that though...

When growing up, I always always always heard others telling funny stories, or conversing about shows that I was not interested in. For example, "Kids in the Hall". I thought that show was raunchy!!! I watched it once, and down comes my Dad just as 2 of the guys started to kiss. He looked at me and said "Are these the shows you like to watch Steve?". I hung my head. "No..." I replied sullenly. I immediately turned off the TV, and decided I did not want to be a part of those conversations anyway.

It was always like that though. I would hear people talk, want to get involved, but didn't now the subject, or even the dynamics of holding a conversation. Yet, when this friend told her story about me, and people laughed, along with the right pronouns, and the laughter, I felt so included, and accepted.

We all love in different ways, but regardless of the way, it says "I accept you", "I affirm you", "I enjoy you". You see, I don't have to be anyone else. I don't even have to be a man anymore (not that I knew how to do that in the first place), and I'm still loved by that group. If I miss out on a workout, people are texting me to see where I was. When they say, "We missed you" I actually believe it, because they have proven that already to me.

In stark contrast, there is another couple close to me that won't listen at all. They tell me "You may be happy now, but you won't be happy later, you'll regret it", like they know me better than I know myself. There message to me is "Your too perverted to make a sound decision on this". Guess what? I often think I act the role that I perceive people place on me. If they treat me like a pervert... well... you know. If they treat me like I'm worth their time, and my friendship is valued, it they love me unconditionally, I feel loved. Then how do I act? quite differently actually. I'm more open to listening, feeling and loving myself. When in doubt, act with love and kindness.

One more comment about living with regret. Many a book has been written to tell us how to avoid it, and they are probably all right, and all wrong. What I mean is, we run all information and experiences through our own paradigms. When we do this, we keep some, and discard (often for protection) elsewhere. You know, back into the dark recesses of ones brain so it can be forgotten. The message I feel is, "don't do this so you won't have to deal with the regret". It's suggestions straight from their own paradigms. I don't think anyone can avoid living with regret. Yet, we can all choose to not regret things, or we can do something about regret when it comes. I have no doubt that there is always a way to handle it well, to me, everything is fixable. Just some fixing takes longer than others, but when you are in the process of fixing something, at least you are in control. The process is started!


Friday, February 6, 2015

Making sense of things

It's getting late. Virginie is out with Naomi at Orchestra, and I have been trying to help others get dishes done and some other late night chores. On Thursday nights, we watch "Lie to me" with our oldest daughter. It's become our date night, or lately, our "de-stress night".

I don't think any post will adequately do justice to the feelings that I have. Suffice it to say, I wanted to share some of the encouragement that I've received over the last month. I won't share anything negative. What is the point with sharing such things anyway. I've noticed for me personally, negative things totally cloud my mind. It's why I can have 10 people offer support, but it's so easy to remember the one that does the opposite. Yet, these are some of the words, advice, and encouragement that I've received.


  • "Congratulations on so many levels my friend"
  • I've always regarded you as one of the kindest people ive ever known. You exude warmth and acceptance towards others and you will get the same in return from me. I hope the road ahead brings you some peace after such a long, difficult struggle. Take care! 
  • Wow! I can't even imagine how difficult this has been for you. I have huge respect for you and have no doubt that all of you will handle this with grace and strength. All my best to you.
  • Dude, you are awesome and I will always respect you.
  • I'm standing with you Stephen and wish you all the best. If you don't want to be at church right now that's ok--but if at any point you want to be--there is room on my pew for you--girl or boy
I share these not to boast, but as a reminder to me how loved I really am. I also received some of the nicest personal messages and emails, but now that I am re-reading them, they are often so beautiful and personal, I don't know if it's really appropriate to share them. They are treasures that I will share at the right time, and in the right place.

I won't lie, I've bounced back and forth many times since coming out on whether or not I want to go through everything. In the end, I'm going to stay the course. I admit, it's a little more challenging than I first thought, but I have a feeling that it's going to be so much more worth it. Gender Identity Disorder or "Gender Dysphoria" as it's often called is something many don't understand. The problem that I've been having is that many don't want to understand. They feel that if they speak harshly, or poignantly enough, that I'll "come to my senses". In my opinion, this applies more to those who are faithful attenders and believers of the LDS or Mormon church.

The LDS faith believe that gender is an essential characteristic of pre-mortal, mortal, and post-mortal life. As a result changing ones gender may likely be a cause for being cast out by God. I have prayed and prayed so many times to have these feelings removed, but it never happened. For those of the Mormon faith, I shall attempt in my own clumsy way to explain why I believe God is different that the God I was raised to believe in, why he has not removed this burden, and what will be his reaction to my transition.

I have always been taught that God is a perfect being, and as a result, even though I was always told I don't have to be perfect, I need to strive to be like God. Unfortunately, my sense of self worth became based on that sense. Unless I was acting perfectly in the way God wanted me to, I was in and of myself a failure.

I guess the big question is: Is transitioning ones gender a sin?

When a child is born with a cleft pallet, a surgeon will skillfully operate and fix the error. Similarly, a variety of circumstances while young, may cause a child or teenager to get braces. The braces are applied by a qualified professional, and in the long term, provide more than just straight teeth, they provide a sense of confidence to the individual, because they no longer have any social stress associated with their teeth.

Why did God allow this, or any other host of ailments?

In the New Testament, John 9:1-3 it says:
1. And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.
2. And his disciples asked him, saying, "Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?"
3. Jesus answered, Neither has this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.

I share this because I believe that I am much like this blind man. God has a purpose for all of our trials. For the most part, our mortal minds are not able to comprehend the bigger scheme of things, and so we are often required to live by faith.

I believe Gender Dysphoria is similar to a person with a cleft pallet, or braces. We have been born into the wrong body. Nature, plus nurture shape us into who we are, and when we are ready to come out and admit the error between mind and body, we seek the help of skilled professionals. Using hormones, and surgery, the gender mismatch is corrected.

How will God react to this? I don't know for sure, but I hope it will be the same as the person that had their cleft pallet fixed. He will be proud of the courage we had, will teach us as only he can, and work with us to achieve our eternal goals.

In the meantime, I share this scripture in John 13:34: "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."

How did Christ show his love?

John 9:6-7 When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, and said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Send.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.

Christ spent his time healing. It would seem from this experience it was not always free. The ailed had to search him out, and ask in faith for the blessing desired. He then healed their body.

I believe that he is going to heal my body.

I leave the experience of a friend who shall remain anonymous. Her experience is outlined here.

Of course, I just may be completely out to lunch, but my heart tells otherwise.


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Coming out

I've written, and re-written this post so many times, it's starting to make my head spin. I guess I'm hoping that eventually, I'll come out with the perfect words to describe my world, and the world I'm hoping to find. That with eloquence of words, I might be able to convince people to go "easy" on me. To accept me for what I'm writing. I am likely struggling with the fear of the unknown. I just plain don't know what peoples reactions to what I'm about to say will be. So, I place it out there, and all I can do is hope for the best.

For many years, I've struggled deeply with my gender identity. I have grown up in a deeply religious family, and have good christian morals instilled in me. As a result, I've learned to deny the gender feelings that I have as being a mistake. That my feelings are a mistake, and that what I feel is shameful. Yet, for whatever reason, I don't want to deny them any longer. So here it is. I identify more strongly with my female side, rather than my male side. As a result, I want very much to be able to bring my body in conformity with my mind.

Now wait! How could I say such a thing? What about my Wife? What about my Children? What about my Parents and Brothers and Sisters? Do I have any idea what this will do to them? All of us have the same christian virtues instilled in us. Am I deliberately trying to destroy my family?

I cannot word it better than this page.

It is currently 3:30 am. I cannot sleep. I have so much on my mind. I'm hoping that this will help ease my mind, and get back to sleep. I have work to do, and I cannot let this get in the way of it!

So, yesterday was the best, and worst day of my life. The reason is that I was finally able to see a psychiatrist that specializes in gender disorders. He assured my that nothing was wrong with me. That gender is in the head. I told him my story. He asked a lot of questions, and in the end, I was formally diagnosed with gender identity disorder. He gave me a prescription for a testosterone blocker, and advised me to come out to friends and family. To transition my gender, I would need to live full time in my gender of choice for a period of 1 year. I came home on cloud nine! So happy to have been able to finally get my innermost secret out, and grateful I had a committed Wife willing to help me through the process.

So we got home, and began posting to Facebook, emailing, and calling.

We were communicating all day long.

So far, people have surprised me with how loving they are. For the most part, the comments have been "We don't agree with you, but love you and accept you". Words cannot describe how wonderful it is to hear that. I'm grateful for those who's hearts are big enough to accept a new me. Thank-you thank-you thank-you. In fact, only one person expressed really negative feelings, and that persons opinion is very important to me. I sometimes wonder if I should call it quits, just to preserve this one relationship. So for the next little while, I realize that it will be one step at a time.

So for now, there are lots of questions in my mind. For one thing, I've discovered a new group of friends at a local running club, that I really enjoy spending time with. They push me to new heights in my running, and provide an atmosphere where I feel I can excel in. Even though I am transitioning my gender, and part of that process will be loosing some muscle mass, you had all better training hard. Especially the men. Unless of course you want to get beat by a girl.

Please feel free to comment, email, or PM me on Facebook if you have any questions.