A visit with my mom

My mom’s had a cough for a while and it’s been a while since I’ve seen her, so I took her out to lunch. As part of catching her up on my news, I told her I had updated my birth certificate and she got a confused look on her face.

“Why did you do that?”

“Um, it’s not my name or gender anymore.”

“But you weren’t born that way.”

Sitting in the restaurant’s bar while she was asking me to speak up every third sentence wasn’t the time or place to tackle the nuance or explain the whole epistemology of the physicality of being trans to her again. Especially since I didn’t want the ladies at the next table to hear my trans life story. So, I swallowed my annoyance.

“It’s important to have my ID match.”

“But you already have your passport and driver’s license. I don’t understand why you need to change your birth certificate.”

Sensing this was her way of saying she missed her son, I backed out of the minefield.

“It’s important to me. How’s the cough?”

“Worse.”

The topic drifted to politics, and how I have loose plans to maybe leave the country if things get really weird. I mentioned South America as one potential destination.

“How about Brazil? Do you know if they’re tolerant there?”

I seized on the teachable moment.

“Well…from what little I know, some are very tolerant and others aren’t. Earlier this week a Brazilian trans woman was videoed being pulled out of her house and beaten to death, so it’s a mixed bag. Here in the United States there have been eight or so murders of trans women since the start of the year.

“We’re murdered at a very high rate compared to our population, with trans women of color bearing the brunt of it.”

She didn’t seem to know what to say. I pressed on.

“So, I worry much less than some, but I stay vigilant all the time.”

She changed the subject.

We finished lunch and walked back the three blocks to her place, stopping four times so she could catch her breath. During one of the breaks, I brought up the birth certificate again.

“Does it bother you I changed my birth certificate?”

She looked surprised and cornered, “No, no, no. I just don’t get why you felt you needed to do that.”

“It’s so I don’t get inadvertently outed and discriminated against.”

She stopped to catch her breath. “Outed? What does that mean?”

This surprised me. For some reason, I assumed she knew what it meant.

“It’s when someone I know discloses I’m trans without my permission. I don’t always pass, which means to blend in, and when I’m outed, I’m treated differently.”

“Oh.” She looked somewhat uncomfortable.

“People become cooler to me and it can lead to some really awkward moments or worse if they know I’m trans but I don’t know they know.”

By the look on her face, she’d outed me. Maybe many times. It was not a conversation I wanted to have in an alley.

“Anyway, having my birth certificate line up with my other ID means I worry less.”

“Let’s go.” She waved forward. She must have caught her breath. It was also a convenient way to change the subject.

Back at her place, I helped her boyfriend figure out some sort of cleaning wand he had bought her. As he handed it to me to examine, he deadnamed me, then immediately corrected himself. A minute later my mom referred to me as he, and as I was correcting her, she corrected herself, knowing she’d screwed up.

Not for the first time, I considered having the talk with her about how it’s been almost a year since social transition and two and a half since I came out to her again. It’d be a gentle talk. I know she’s trying.

“I need to go lie down.”

“I understand.”

Right on cue. Another day then.

I wished her well, told her to go see the doctor again, and that I loved her as I gave her a hug.

© Heather Coldstream

Posted in coming out, family, gender transition, personal history, transgender | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

A letter to Heather Coldstream, age 14

Dear Heather,

Yesterday you had a life-changing insight and I know it scared the shit out of you. You are not losing your mind. Yes, you are a transsexual. In 2017 we mostly call ourselves transgender or trans for short. People who aren’t trans are called cis, short for cisgender. Trans and cis are chemical terms for opposite and next to. Don’t get hung up on the labels.

You’re probably wondering who the hell I am, why I addressed you as Heather, and why I’m writing to you. That is your name now; I am you in 2017. It is my deepest hope that you will listen to your heart and to me and set aside your fear. With effort, it is possible to live as a woman. You should as soon as possible. The process is called transition. You need to get from who you are to being Heather.

Let’s start with the basics. To keep it simple, you were born with a girl’s brain in a boy’s body. Yes, that dream we had when we were five where our head was swapped onto a girl’s body? Makes more sense now, doesn’t it?

Raised as a boy, your young, plastic brain took in a bunch of socialization cues for how you were supposed to behave. This explains the almost-persistent discomfort of feeling like you don’t fit in when you’re around most boys and why even though you know the rules of the game, you constantly get stomped.

I still hate some of your bullies. It might make you feel better to know that the worst of them are living lives of quiet suburban desperation and haven’t taken care of themselves physically. One has had a liver transplant because he burned it out with drugs and alcohol.

The good news about the bullies is they are almost done calling you pussy, faggot, queer, punching you in the shoulder, and shoving you roughly into lockers. Their abuse in high school will be more sophisticated, mostly annoying, and rarely physical, so the worst is almost past. But don’t waste your time thinking about them. Focus on you.

Transitioning as soon as you can will save you from the years I lived with guilt, confusion, shame, and emotional pain as deep as the ocean some days. It won’t solve other things that make your life hard, but it will free up significant mental and emotional space in your life.

Transition won’t be easy. From 1982’s vantage point, you already know queer people don’t have it easy. When I transitioned in 2016 things were easier, but it still wasn’t easy. Even so, I’d trade those thirty-four years in a heartbeat for your harder transition.

Failed relationships, opportunities missed, and feeling like I was the most confused person on earth filled many of those years. I lost so much time to wishing, pining, aching, dreaming, and imagining instead of doing. Take however long you think you’re going to live right now and add thirty-four to it. That’s where I’m at now, except instead I reduced my lifespan by thirty-four years. It’s sobering. Start transition today.

Here’s the plan: you lay the groundwork for transition over the next few years, and when you go to college you enroll as a young woman. This sidesteps trying to transition in high school and will deliver you into an environment where hardly anyone will know you used to live as a boy. You then try to live the rest of your life happily ever after.

Today, more kids like you are transitioning in grade school with the support of their families and friends. They’re very lucky. Your school and family in 1982 will not be as supportive.

Step one is stopping your male puberty and starting a female one. Start taking estrogen. Some trans girls need a testosterone blocker. I haven’t needed one so far. Hopefully you’re just as lucky. In any event, you need to monitor the levels of estrogen and testosterone in your blood and adjust dosages accordingly.

The estrogen will make you grow boobs, keep your skin soft, change your body odor, and mellow out your mood. Boobs are great, except when they’re getting in the way. They get in the way because they ache when growing and it’ll take you a few painful bumps to realize where they are in front of you.

You can safely take estrogen at full dose and experience all the physical changes with few people noticing. The 80’s are all about tight, preppy clothing or punk. Go punk. Wear big baggy, black t-shirts and if you want to get way ahead of a 90’s trend, wear an oversized flannel shirt on top. Under the t-shirt, wear a binder. It’s a compressive garment designed to squish down your boobs.

The hormones are important because if you wait, more of your beard will come in. Let me tell you, removing a beard through electrolysis is a long, painful, and very expensive proposition. Every facial hair you prevent from sprouting is one to five minutes of your life you won’t spend on a table with an electrical probe in your face.

We have lasers now that zap a whole bunch at once. They don’t work on light hairs. You have many light hairs. Depending on how much has come in, you might be able to get away with tweezing. You might not.

If you can get a prescription for estrogen, do. Try Planned Parenthood. They dispense it for birth control. If they won’t prescribe you, ask a cisgender female to buy it for you. You know a couple who might help.

Clothes are going to be the same. I didn’t buy my own women’s clothing for the first time until 1995, but your girlfriends will buy some for you. Focus on buying basic things from thrift stores at first to save your money. You need to get a feel for sizing and cut, and hormones will change the shape of your body and your style will change. Much of what you buy early on will need to be donated in a couple of years.

Yes, the frilly underthings are fun. They are also overpriced and wildly impractical. Save your money for something you simply can’t pass up. Lean towards cotton prints instead. Buy bras whose bands fit comfortably. Do not buy a bra that is too small, even if it makes your boobs look fantastic, otherwise you might almost pass out in a movie theater someday. Just saying.

You will need a purse and some makeup. Same drill. Find a girlfriend to help. Wash your face before you go to bed every night.

Shoes are going to be a pain to find due to the size of your foot. Thrift stores and Nordstrom, maybe?

Grow your hair out. It’s punk and you’ll be well-poised for the late 80’s when you don’t have to hide behind punk any more. Once your hair is longer and the hormones have done some magic, you will be happily amazed at what you look like in women’s clothes.

Get your ears pierced. Go nuts on jewelry. Silver looks good on you.

There’s a gender support group in Seattle. Find it and go. Talk to other people who are trans. Learn from them and teach what you have learned to others. Go as Heather to start building your confidence in being yourself. Women’s bathrooms are only scary if you feel like you don’t belong there. You belong there. Don’t be weird about it.

You need to be careful as a trans woman, but don’t live in fear. There are people who would hurt you just for being you. Be aware at all times.

When you turn eighteen, you can legally petition to change your name. You will have to go to court and stand up in the front of the courtroom and talk to the judge. It’s kinda scary, but you will look like Heather after three years of estrogen, so roll with it.

If you can, get your driver’s license as Heather. Enroll in college as Heather and get your student identification. Having at least one correct ID is super-important. You may or may not be able to change your driver’s license or birth certificate. Ask trans people who have transitioned if they have and how they did it.

Your friends and family will have a hard time with your transition. You’re lucky though, most of your best friends are still yet to come. Anyone who doesn’t stick with you through this is someone you don’t want to be around anyway. Listen to and support your girlfriends. They will be your lifeline when you need one.

Your job opportunities as a woman will be more limited than a man’s and the expectations are different. Welcome to another exciting part of womanhood. Instead, buy Microsoft stock when it goes public and keep buying until 1995. Sell some shares when you have transition expenses. Sell it all on December 31, 1999 and buy Apple. Sell Apple on May 29, 2015 and retire. Maybe move to New Zealand? The United States in 2017 is…weird.

Transitioning is hard, but it’s also easy in a way, and it’s really, really worth it. You’ll wonder how you ever lived as a boy.

Trust me on this, you.

Love,
Heather

Posted in clothing, coming out, community, family, friends, gender transition, hair, hair removal, HRT, mental health, personal history, safety, self-acceptance, transgender, transition, work | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Week 161 – Changing my HRT regimen

One of the things being trans has forced me to do is experiment with my body to become more comfortable with it. These experiments have ranged from the innocuous, like wearing different clothes and growing my hair out at different times in my life, to the more risky modification of my hormonal balance to drive physical changes. I’m about to try another experiment with injectable estrogen to see how I respond.

Risk is relative, and since there have been no longitudinal studies on the effects of estrogenic hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in trans women, we are forced to rely on studies with cis women and extrapolate. The known risks (I list some here), can of course be exacerbated based on genetics, lifestyle, and pre-existing conditions.

This is a great point to pause and point out that while there are some great HRT information resources on the Internet and a bazillion personal stories from credible trans women about how HRT affected them, you should talk to a doctor about your personal risk profile and how HRT dosages and formulations could impact it. Some of the risks are life-threatening and you don’t want to mess around with HRT without knowing your baseline hormone levels and having your blood work checked on a regular basis to ensure everything is staying in the safe zone.

I’m lucky. For the time being, I have health insurance to help cover the costs and a fantastic regular doctor who listens and works with me on this. I know that many don’t have the same options or availability of care that I do. For those that don’t, Planned Parenthood sounds like they are now supporting HRT and larger cities often have clinics with sliding scales. The U.S. sucks this way.

So far, I’ve had a total of three and a half years on sublingual oral estrogen (I let the tablets dissolve under my tongue), and for the past two years, my doctor has been nudging me towards injectable every now and then to reduce the processing load on my liver. So far, other than an unexplained spike in estrogen about eight months in and my free testosterone creeping back up, I’m lucky in that my body has responded well and I’m mostly satisfied with my physical development.

What I would like is to have boobs proportionally sized to my chest, a slightly bigger butt, and wider hips. While I’m at the outside of the typical range for full breast development (usually 2-3 years), there might still be some time for me to have more fat deposition (maybe another year and a half), in those other places. It’s also not impossible that I might get a minor chest bump. With those possibilities on top of my doctor’s nudges, I’m going to overcome my fear of needles and give injectable estrogen a shot and see how the experiment plays out.

Posted in gender transition, health, healthcare, HRT, personal history, transgender, transition | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Born again

My amended birth certificate arrived in the mail on Saturday, and it made me the happiest I’ve felt on this gender journey so far. It’s really something to see “Sex FEMALE” on the certificate, and I’ve been peeking at it a couple times a day just to savor it.

Being able to look at my birth certificate with my real name and the correct gender marker is nothing short of exhilarating. Everything I’ve been through the past few years feels distilled down into a sense of indescribable achievement.

This was the last government identification I’ve been waiting on to have updated. Last year after changing my name, I updated my Social Security card, my voter registration, my driver’s license, and my passport.

Unless some bureaucrat goes digging in my files to look for the paper trail, as far as the government is concerned, [deadname] the guy doesn’t exist any more. No more will I have to suffer the indignity of paperwork not agreeing with reality.

I am Heather, born female. I have been reborn.

©Heather Coldstream


Please consider supporting my writing by buying one of my poetry collections from the Kindle store!

2016: Poems from a Year of Change

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Thank you!

Posted in coming out, gender transition, personal history, transgender, transition | Tagged , , , , , | 15 Comments

Quiet seas or smaller storms?

gray

Being trans is boring.

It’s 4:30 in the afternoon and raining here. I hear the tick of the clock on the wall, the trickle of water in the downspout outside the window, and the rain pattering on the roof. The kids have a friend over and they’re filming a movie with their friend’s iPad, but I can’t hear them because they’re in the back yard.

Besides rousing, feeding, and getting the kids to school this morning, most of my day was spent struggling to salvage a post I started but never finished two years ago about passing and its intersection with cultural expectations. After taking the original 500-odd words and gluing on another 150, an electrician I contacted about quoting a small project texted me they were available and was it okay if they came over? I closed the file with the relief only a solid excuse to abandon it could provide, and went to do my makeup before they showed up.

On the mornings I have my kids, I’ve taken to not putting on my makeup and just throw on a shirt, jeans, earrings, and my rings to drive them to school. Boldly, I’ve even run a few errands this way. The stores aren’t very populated in the morning and most of the clientele is a mix of retirees and stay at home moms, neither of which I worry about too much because they’re too focused on shopping to notice a transsexual in their midst.

Last night I discovered the caulk I replaced in the kid’s bathroom must have frozen in the garage this past winter because it didn’t skin up and was still liquid-y. So, this morning after dropping the kids at school I went to the hardware store to get a fresh tube, but Ace didn’t open until 8am, and I didn’t want to wait around for them to open, so I drove to the builder’s supply down the road instead.

While I’ve never had a problem there, I have felt uncomfortable at times. All the cashiers are men and their old-school attitude often shines through, eyeing me with suspicion when I buy things they don’t seem to expect a woman to buy, like metal roofing screws, flashing, and joist hangers instead of painting and gardening supplies. Bathroom caulk falls into the painting supplies bucket, so the cashier smiled at me this morning.

I finished my makeup realizing the garage wasn’t ready to be quoted with a bunch of stuff in front of the electrical panel and no markings for where I wanted the outlets installed. I’d install them myself, but I need a couple of 220v outlets for some shop tools I inherited from my uncle, and I don’t feel comfortable wiring those circuits. Plus, the thought of climbing up into the attic and drilling holes for and stringing the wire doesn’t sound like fun to me anymore.

The electrician seemed a little surprised when he saw me, but then I’ve been told and accept the fact that being an almost six-foot-tall blonde makes me striking, so there are many times when I can’t tell if I’ve been clocked or people are reacting to my size. He also seemed surprised I had marked where I wanted the outlets and referred to them as duplexes and the circuit breaker box as the panel, the industry jargon for them. He took my specifications down and said I should get a quote from the office early next week.

Not having the desire or will to return to working on my post, I went for a run.

I felt silly running in makeup, but it also made me feel less concerned about getting clocked. Even with the pink running shoes and shorts and the light teal rain jacket, when I wear a beanie like I did I look square instead of round and there’s no way to change the biomechanics of my running body movement without fucking up my hips. It was a nice run in the rain and I didn’t encounter anyone.

Wednesday marked ten weeks of the four to six weeks the website said it would take for an updated birth certificate, and four weeks after my first call when they said it would take six to eight weeks, and two weeks after my second call when they said it would take eight to ten weeks and to call again if it didn’t show up at ten weeks because everything looked on track.

Before getting in the shower after my run, I called right around 1:30pm and let it ring for six minutes with no answer before hanging up. I guess everyone goes home at 4:30 on a Friday on the east coast. At least I didn’t have to out myself again.

After my shower and a re-application of my makeup, it was time to pick up my youngest from school. As usual, they ran around out front with their friends while I chatted with the dad of my kid’s best friend. I’m sure he knows I’m trans but he always treats me with respect and introduces me as Heather to other parents, whose names I often forget because I’m bad with names.

Forgetting names is now something I feel guilty about. The last six years, and especially the last two, have been filled with the tumult of transition, divorce, and job changes, and it’s only been the last few months things have quieted down enough to allow me the mental breathing room to see I should be remembering my kid’s friend’s parent’s names more.

And then here I sit and consider how lucky I am to be bored and experience passing privilege most of the time. Being white and having had a tech income are the main differentiators in enabling those two luxuries. Living in a very liberal and tolerant area is the icing on the cake.

I’m still working on that other post about passing, and maybe I’ll finish it, maybe I won’t.

While my experiences when I don’t pass are similar to others, (verbal harassment, discrimination, threat of physical violence, etc.), I experience them with much reduced probability, frequency, and magnitude. I’m not yet convinced I can add much to the conversation.

I think it would be like writing about the emotional impact of tsunami preparation and aftermath while living in Denver. Intellectually it’s possible, and I can get close to it by anticipating and preparing for a flood, but unless I’m on vacation at the beach when a tsunami rolls in, my lived experience is by definition limited.

For now, I’ll take the luck of being bored over the alternative while I search for the best way to help other trans people lead boring lives.

Posted in gender transition, observations, personal history, random, self-acceptance, shopping, transgender, transition, writing | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Week 160 – A one-act scene at the urgent care clinic

EXT. OF URGENT CARE CLINIC ENTRANCE IN THE
PACIFIC NORTHWEST

Towering Douglas Firs footed with salal
contrast with the landscaped and manicured
surrounds of a new-ish medical facility.

The parking lot is empty.

A beat-up station wagon drives up and parks.

A woman in her late 40's exits the driver's
door wearing concern on her face.

She opens the passenger door behind her and
a child about eight years old climbs out,
sniffly from crying.

Fresh blood is caked on their right eyelid
and there is a mark on their nose.

She takes the child's hand and they walk
towards the entrance.

	HEATHER
	The good news is that there's
	no one else here, kiddo, so we
	won't have to wait long.
	
	CHILD
	My eye hurts.
	
	HEATHER
	I know. I'm sorry. 

They enter the building.

INT.

The intake area has two admitting desks and
they approach the one directly in front of
them and sit down.

The woman at the desk has a crisp manner.

	WOMAN AT DESK
	Hi. How can I help you?
	
	HEATHER
	This kiddo got jabbed in the eye
	with a plastic pipe. Besides the
	cuts, I wanted get their eye
	checked.
	
	WOMAN AT DESK
	Okay. Are you the mother?
	
	HEATHER
	Yes.
	
	WOMAN AT DESK
	What's their name?
	
	HEATHER
	[Child's full name].
	
	CHILD
	I go by [diminutive of name].
	
	WOMAN AT DESK
	(Smiling and typing into a
	computer) What's their birthday?
	
Heather starts to answer but is interrupted.

	CHILD
	[Birthday].
	
	WOMAN BEHIND DESK
	Okay. Do you have
	their insurance card?
	
Heather fumbles in her large purse for her
wallet, digs it and the insurance card out,
and hands it over.
	
	WOMAN AT DESK
	(Takes card and types into
	computer) Are you the primary on
	the account?
	
	HEATHER
	Yes.
	
	WOMAN AT DESK
	(Typing) Do you still work at
	[corporate company name]?
	
	HEATHER
	Yes.
	
	CHILD
	No you don't!
	
	HEATHER
	(Leans in close to child and in
	a lowered voice) I know, but I
	do. It's complicated. I'll explain
	later.
	
	WOMAN AT DESK
	(Typing) Are you still at [local
	address]?
	
	HEATHER
	Yes.
	
	WOMAN AT DESK
	(Stops typing and looks slightly
	puzzled) Are you [Heather's ex's
	name]?
	
	HEATHER
	No. That's...their other mother.
	
	WOMAN AT DESK
	Oh, okay. So what's your name?
	
	HEATHER
	Heather [lastname].
	
	WOMAN AT DESK
	(Typing) What's your social
	security number?
	
	HEATHER
	[Social security number].
	
	WOMAN AT DESK
	(After typing it in, she looks
	more puzzled) I have another
	name for that. (Pauses) Um,
	[Heather's deadname]?
	
A beat goes by in silence.	

	HEATHER
	That was me. I changed my
	name.

Another beat goes by.

	WOMAN AT DESK
	Oh.
	
	HEATHER
	Yes, he doesn't exist any more.
	
	WOMAN AT DESK
	(Resumes typing) Oh, okay.
	I'll just change that now
	so you won't have to if you
	come in again.
	
	HEATHER
	Thank you.
	
	CHILD
	My eye hurts.
	
	HEATHER
	I know. We're almost done and
	then we'll go back and they'll
	check you out.
	
	WOMAN AT DESK
	Okay. (She hands back the
	insurance card and holds out
	an identification bracelet)
	Does all this look correct?
	
The child grabs bracelet and studies it
intently.
	
The woman behind the desk and Heather
share a smile.

	CHILD
	I think my name is spelled right.
	
	HEATHER
	Yes, that's right.
	
The woman behind the desk takes the bracelet
back and snaps it around the child's wrist.

	WOMAN BEHIND DESK
	Okay, head down the hall
	(gesturing) and take a seat
	and they'll call you.
	
	HEATHER
	Thank you! (To child) Let's
	go get you checked out.
	
Heather and the child get up, she takes the
child's hand, and they walk down the hallway
out of sight.

		THE END
		-------
Posted in family, healthcare, observations, personal history, transgender | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

Week 159 – Online dating

Rows of faces stare at me from the screen. Most are smiling, except for the odd thoughtful or just plain odd look. Here I am now, online dating, entertain me.

There is the interminable profile to fill with select distillations of an almost half-century of experiences. There are the myriad decisions of what to include, what to bury, and what bait to put on the hook when I’m not even sure what I’m fishing for. Friends? Lovers? Both? Am I showing enough skin? Not enough? Do I seem frumpy, weird, desperate, or worse, boring?

Being trans also means I’m faced with deciding if or how to disclose. I take a middle ground and self identify as a trans woman in my profile listing and scrupulously avoid mentioning it in my profile text. I’ve looked at other trans women’s profiles to get a sense for how they handle it, and I see a bushel of trans archetypes.

There are the ‘let your freak flag fly’ BSDM bottom subs with pictures of themselves harnessed into swings. There are the ‘tech professionals’ of the never married or divorced variety with pictures of them in various innocuous locations and poses. I’m in that group. There are the ‘I’m trans and proud of it’ people with pictures in various states of dress and undress. Many of all are poly.

And then there are a raft of people who tick the box for trans woman and talk about what a ‘sissy CD slut’ they are. Almost exclusively, they dress in pantyhose or lingerie and push the boundaries of x-rated photos. I dread coming across these profiles, as they are uncomfortable reminders of when I thought I was a cross dresser and make me fear their self-identification conflates in a subset of potential dates’ minds women who’ve made hard choices to transition into authentic lives with a semi-closeted fetish.

Then the voices in my head remind me the path to trans self-awareness also passes through the valley of the CD dolls, there is no trans enough, cis-normative passing can matter or not, and everyone has their own transition. While I am competing for attention, it will be won or lost on my abilities and anyone who confuses me for something I’m not isn’t likely to be someone I want to be with.

I return to my Zen pose and turn my attention to potential matches. Questions arise.

Why do so many of my matches mention they’re poly? Does the selection algorithm tilt towards poly results for self-identified trans women? How can a lesbian women be in a poly relationship with a guy? Is she a TERF? Is she trans? Where are all the femmes for femmes? What am I doing here? That question gives me pause.

I consider my last online dating adventure in the early 2000’s when I was in the bloom of my early 30’s as a white, apparently cishet man with no kids. There were many women to court and I went on lots of dates. There was nothing to explain and the vast majority of my baggage was deeply repressed and out of sight.

The net results were: one relationship that lasted three months and blew out because I freaked out; one two-week relationship with someone who drifted away because I kept messing up thesis for dissertation when I asked how it was going; and one five-week relationship where I was unceremoniously dumped over the phone purportedly because, ‘you remind me of my ex-husband in the emotional sense,’ but I think was because my then ski bum lifestyle didn’t mesh with her final year of medical residency and power couple visions.

Then I met my future ex-wife next door. Online dating was fun, but didn’t lead to lasting love.

Now I’m an almost fifty trans woman with two kids who’s more picky than she used to be, is trying to figure out how to queer date, and is lonely. This ups the ante, and self-doubtful thoughts creep in like mold to colonize my self-esteem.

My pictures make me look mannish. Femmes won’t want me. Does my writing make me sound like a guy? Can I really look past where another trans woman says she’s a cat? Is internalized transphobia making me skip over most other trans women’s profiles? When did I start looking as old as all these other women my age? I haven’t done shit in three years except slog through personal shit and who will want that? She’s not liking me back because I’m trans. She’s not writing me back because I’m trans. No one will want to be with me because I’m broken.

I take a deep breath to center and calm myself while brushing those thoughts away. I dial my expectations back. I shift my intention to friends first and ready myself to repel catfish. I remind myself I’m lovable and desirable, I like adventure and surprise, and it’s okay to not know the answer to if I’m showing too much or not enough boob.

©Heather Coldstream


Please consider supporting my writing by buying a poetry collection from the Kindle store!

2016: Poems from a Year of Change

Uncertain: Poems About Gender Transition

Thank you!

Posted in coming out, gender transition, observations, personal history, relationships, self-acceptance, transgender, transition | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments