The Becky Blog
I told you you didn't have time for a blog.
I never promised a daily update. We do what we can, when we can. Right now it's time to answer some "actual questions" from Web site visitors. Come on; you do the "Q" and I'll do the "A".
Oh sure, you take the fun part - what's with making me be "Q" all the time?
Oh hush, Jiminy. No whining! Read the questions.
Dr. Becky, I live in East Bugtussle and it's three hours to the nearest therapist on your list. Please recommend someone closer.
Dear friends, if I knew someone closer, they'd already be on the list. I promise I don't have a secret list of extra therapists hidden around somewhere. Just because there's a therapist in East Bugtussle doesn't mean he or she is experienced or interested in transgender patients. Make the three hour drive. It's time well spent.
Dr. Becky, who can you recommend who does as good a job as Dr. Ousterhout, but is much cheaper?
No one on this planet.
Do you have any grant money available for SRS?
No, but I wish there were people in our "community" who did. Once a person transitions, she often finds herself in a lower income bracket and unable to save money. I try to encourage people to work and save money pre-transition. The TS Road Map site has an excellent page on financing transition. It would be ideal if some of the really wealthy transgender folk would put a little of their wealth to use as financial aid.
Why don't you have a list of doctors who prescribe hormones?
Frankly, it would be far too much work. There are a couple dozen facial surgeons and a few hundred therapists, but there are thousands of physicians in North America alone who prescribe for TS patients. You'll need to depend on advice from therapists or local contacts, or if all else fails, get on the phone and make an appointment with an endocrinologist or internist.
I am __ years old. Am I too old to transition?
No. And I say that not knowing the number in the blank. If you reach a point where you cannot sustain the old role any longer, then you will do whatever it takes to find contentment. Age is not an obstacle.
Those are some of the serious questions. Then there are the others, which fall into two basic categories: romantic and threatening. I generally don't answer either category.
Are you in a relationship? Do you have a boyfriend? How about a girlfriend? Can we get together?
Come on, folks, my personal life is my business. If you must know, I'm "married to my job" and not planning to devote the time necessary to be unfaithful.
I am about your age, athletic, very good looking (see my photo!) and travel to your area. I would like to take you to dinner, dancing, anywhere you like to go. I promise I will treat you like a real woman.
Well, you had my attention until that last sentence. "Real"? Don't call me, I'll call you. Not.
What's it like having breasts?
Get your own and find out.
The threatening mails are always unsigned. Thankfully they are few. One of the most recent ones was fairly incoherent, but I distinctly remember being called a "self hating, woman hating sack of shit." The other was a bit more erudite and a lot more pseudo-religious: "stop polluting the Virgin Bride of Christ with your filth." I suspect these poor folk are trying to avoid facing their own sexual or gender issues, and find it easier to criticize others who have been more honest with themselves.
Finally, one very welcome recent letter anticipated an upcoming project.
Becky, that was such a nice tribute to your father, but when will you write about your mother?
Thank you! I'm working on it right now. Look for "Mamie" to be ready for publication within the next month or so. Her story will be accessible from my home page.
I'm out of town, visiting friends in New England, and my hostess wanted to get us together with a group of local "community". Five of us had a really pleasant evening at Boston's famous No Name Restaurant - the place with the really good seafood chowder.
There could have been more. My hostess told me in the car on the way to dinner "_______(a mutual acquaintance) won't be here tonight. She was afraid there might be someone unpassable at the dinner." I was sorry to hear this. It's as though our friend has shut herself back in the closet again. Just like we were when we were in denial about our condition, she is afraid of anyone finding out who she really is. So, she missed a good experience. Many of my closest friends are people who share my life experience, and I'm always looking to add to my circle of friends.
Were we "read"? Perhaps. I don't know, because nobody made any issue of it, not the restaurant personnel, the other diners, or the people on the street on the way to the restaurant. It doesn't matter if we were. In fact it's probably a positive thing, because a group of trannies out having a good "normal" dinner is good outreach.
Besides, I'll bet my fish chowder was better than what she had at home.
So now the rest of the story behind my trip to Boston.
While I've been so pleased with the results of my facial surgery, I had not confronted one major facial issue: My skin. Years of sun damage had taken their toll on forehead, temples, cheeks and nose. I had postponed taking any action to remedy the blotchy pigmentation, but I knew it was an important step I should take. Not only would it be cosmetically a great benefit, but I might actually prevent future skin cancers by having the sun damage eliminated. The dilemma I faced was deciding exactly what procedure to have, and which physician should perform it.
My research indicated that full face laser resurfacing (LR) was the treatment of choice. It would require significant time off work, and a demanding postoperative care routine. My concerns then became twofold. I wanted someone just as good at performing the laser procedure as Dr. Ousterhout is at reshaping the skull. My skin deserved the best, no matter what travel was involved. My second concern was to have someone to help with postoperative care. I didn't think I could take Margaux away from her responsibilities in Phoenix for over two weeks. (This turned out to be a very wise decision, as I'll explain later.) The second question seemed harder to resolve than the first.
Luckily for me, both the concerns turned out to have good answers. My long time online friend, Nicki Hamilton, had already had the laser procedure done and was totally happy with her results. She showed me photos which impressed me also. Her doctor was Dr. Jeffrey Dover in Boston. How good was Dr. Dover at laser resurfacing? As I soon learned, he literally "wrote the book" on the procedure. This was exactly what I was seeking. Nicki was very gracious to allow me to stay in her home in suburban Boston. As a "veteran" of the procedure herself, she knew just what I would need and could help with the recovery details.
At my initial consultation in April, Dr. Dover was very confident that he could get an excellent result for my skin situation. He found I had over a hundred separate small areas of sun damage, so I was quite a good candidate for LR. We arranged for my surgery to be done in late July, with a "down time" of approximately two weeks before I had to return to work.
Nicki met me at Logan Airport, and after the aforementioned seafood dinner, we settled in at her home prior to the next day's early morning surgery. I remember meeting the anesthesiologist, and then very little else until they had wrapped my lasered face in Silon, an artificial skin substitute, and secured it with gauze netting. I was quite a mess. The next few days are a blur. When the Silon was removed, I had to soak my entire face every couple of hours and apply layers of Aquaphor ointment. It was not a time to worry about being cleaned up and presentable. There will be NO photos of this time period!
Time passed and healing continued. I found the more I soaked and greased, the more rapidly the red, raw skin healed. I slept a lot and watched quite a few DVD movies. There is no way to describe my postoperative care from my hostess except "great" in every way. I was so fortunate to have Nicki's help. When you meet someone online, you form an opinion that you might like to know them better, but only with close personal contact over days and weeks can you be sure that you've found a true kindred spirit. Nicki and I definitely had that compatibility, and I feel I've made a lifelong friend.
So here I am, back at Logan Airport, having washed and greased again, ready for the flight home to the hot desert. We stopped by Dr. Dover's office for my final postop visit, and he was very pleased at my progress. I am delighted. My skin is still pink, but very smooth and blemish-free. This was worth the time, the cost, and the inconvenience.
If you need treatment of damaged skin, I advise you to consult the best expert. I think I found him. Dr. Dover practices with Skin Care Physicians of Chestnut Hill. "You know his name - look up the number." (That's a paraphrase of an obscure Beatles song, for all you too young to remember.) You won't be sorry. You will, however, have to arrange your own nursing care.
We live in the desert, right? It doesn't rain here. Except when it does...
It's called "monsoon season," and it begins in early July and lasts a couple of months. The humidity comes in from the Pacific and the Sea of Cortes. Afternoon and evening lightning can be spectacular, and sometimes it's accompanied by rain, coming in sheets dumped all at once.
There are places around Phoenix which are "dry washes." They are depressions in the earth into which the monsoon water flows. They can overflow in minutes. Signs on the streets warn: "Do not cross when flooded." They are very serious.
But I don't live in a dry wash. I live on the slope of a mountain. There should be no way it could flood here.
So much for logic. Twice in July, once before I went to Boston and once afterward, the monsoons poured two to three inches of rain onto our mountain. As it ran off it filled our back yard (which is concrete) and poured into the back door despite our bailing out into the pool, using towels and sandbags. Carpets were soaked. The water didn't reach a height, or stay long enough, to damage the walls. But some magazines we had stored in boxes on the floor were ruined, including some original copies of Mondo. Margaux was so upset.
It would have been much worse if she had been in Boston with me; she saved us from a homeowner's disaster. The second flood was much less because she had installed water pumps which kept almost all the water away from the back door. It was bad enough as it is. I'm ready for the drought again.
From the Washington Post:
By David A. Fahrenthold
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 13, 2002; Page B01
Two transgender teenagers, best friends who were biologically male but dressed and lived as women, were shot and killed early yesterday in Southeast Washington -- a crime that police said was unusually violent and has left them with few leads.
Deon Davis, 18, and Wilbur Thomas, 19, were found in the front seat of Thomas's Toyota Camry about 3:25 a.m. at 50th and C streets SE. Police said that each body had at least 10 bullet wounds and that both victims died at the scene.
The article goes on to say: "Police are investigating several possibilities, he said, including that the deaths are a hate crime." Well, DUH. Of course they are a hate crime. Over ten shots to each teen.
This happens all too frequently across America, in urban and rural (remember Brandon Teena) settings. There is something about a person who dares violate society's gender taboo - something which strikes panic in the hearts of angry, violent men. Why do they hate us so vehemently? Are they homophobic and transphobic because of their own suppressed issues? Or (more likely) were they at first attracted to the trans person, and when the secret was discovered they felt tricked? Did they consider their attraction a challenge to their precious macho heterosexuality? Were they so embarrassed they had to take violent action to be sure nobody would consider them a "faggot"?
Hate crimes against transsexuals must be dealt with severely, with maximum penalties allowed under the law. We must send a message that we are not free targets for every angry young testo-toxic male who can't stand himself for daring to look at us. The violence must stop.
Sometimes you have to escape reality. You can do this through movies (which I do enjoy), television (which I avoid like the plague, except for Discovery and History channels), books, or my personal favorite, comic strips. Back when I actually subscribed to a print newspaper, I would read the "funnies" before the news. Now I have a few old friends online whom I visit every day. For years that has included the Patterson family of "For Better or For Worse," the DeGroots of "Luann," and the Doonesburys. I also look in occasionally on Arlo and Janis, Rose and Jimbo, and Huey Freeman and his grandpa.
It is my duty to tell you, however, that I have gone off the deep end. I am now into many more comics, thanks to a brilliant little freeware program called DailyComic which is available from Binary Minded Software. It's free, it's perfect, and it's only for Macs. This little killer app has brought me into several other wonderful realities. I've rediscovered "Zippy the Pinhead" and "Non Sequitur." I've found unique perspectives in "9 Chickweed Lane" and "Pibgorn," both by Brooke McEldowney, and "Ginger Meggs," an Australian strip about kids but written for adults too. But none can compare to the magnificent, the incredible Helen, Sweetheart of the Internet.
As created by Peter Zale, Helen is CEO and formerly Information Systems Manager of Martin-Kirby Corp. She is blonde, gorgeous, a supergenius and a proud geekette. And she is 26 years old. I want to BE her. Failing that, I will settle for following her daily exploits. It will take a while to go back to her early years and learn how she came to be such a superstar, but it will be a fun investigation. You go, Helen.
The Slippery Slope
An interesting exchange of e-mails I thought I'd share... (Please note, I would never publish any correspondence which could be traced to a specific person. All such references are always removed.)
Dear Dr. Becky,
(The writer begins by describing the usual childhood gender-dysphoric experiences, and the total contentment she experienced with brief times in the role of a girl. We've been there too.)
But now, I am many years older, just completing __ years of marriage with grown children. I have a lovely wife who would not be sympathetic to my desires and urges, so I abstained during my married life from all cd activity. This was extremely difficult... I have visited a therapist, and she describes me as having a real gender dysphoria. I guess the reason I am writing to you is to seek you guidance as to whether I should regain my crossdressing activity after all these years, no matter what the cost may be. My therapist says that I should definitely find a way.
Hello - thank you for writing me. I do have empathy for your situation...
We all have our individual differences, but there is one point we all have in common. Gender dysphoria will never "go away" on its own. Either it is solved with full transition to the new role, or it remains our burden to bear. I tried so many ways to "cure" my feelings, all without success. So I am not one to believe in psychological, spiritual, or other ways to eliminate the transgender condition.
Having said that, I will add that some people do choose to bear the burden without moving toward full transition, for their own good reasons. I cannot tell you that you should be one of those. That's a decision only you can make. There are several opinions as to whether we begin down a "slippery slope" by resuming cross-dressing after an abstinence of many years. My own feeling is that such may be the case, in that we see how wonderful we experience those few moments of life in the desired role, and we want more and more. This, of course, is not well received by spouses and other family, and much distress may follow, leading to more need to relive stress through transgender expression, and the cycle builds.
Does this mean you should not initiate even the simplest steps in femininity? I am not the one who can answer that for you. Only you know what you must do. I can simply tell you, in one of my pet phrases, that "choices have consequences," and it is wise to consider the consequences before making the choice...
What do you think?
Double-dipping on a Labor Day weekend...
Weather-wise, we are entering my favorite time of the year. The days are not quite so hot as in July and August (even in Arizona, we're staying under 110). The afternoon breeze feels cool on my face. And, as someone who actually liked going to school, the idea of school beginning again was always interesting and challenging to me.
And yet... will September ever be the same again? I remember hearing in history class about so many wars beginning in this month. Who would have thought on September 1, 2001, of the events soon to take place? Can we expect more terror in September 2002?
Since we have, incredibly, announced our intentions to our designated evildoer of the year that "we're coming over and kicking your butt in November," what's to stop him from getting a head start? Is anybody else just a little apprehensive?
Let's think about happier thoughts. I mentioned earlier the rain - the deluge - after so many months of drought. There's an analogy in the new music of 2002.
If my life had a soundtrack (and in my mind, it does) it would feature the Beatles, U2, and R.E.M. as principals, with many others filling in the blank spaces. Rock for grownups. I love classical music, but I don't await the latest Seiji Ozawa release with the anticipation I have for Bob Dylan. Unfortunately, John and George are dead, Bono's busy doing Important Humanitarian Business, and R.E.M. have been slowly losing relevance. What's left?
For the first six months of this year, the answer was "not much." Maybe I'm finally getting too old for new groups. They say the White Stripes and the Strokes are the future of rock, but their music doesn't stir me. Wilco are more promising. Their "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" was the single decent album of early 2002. Otherwise, the charts are ruled by hip-hop and pre-teen pop. I appreciate the social significance of hip-hop music, its anger against conditions as they exist, its (at the higher skill levels) very well constructed rhythms and rhymes. I respect it, but I don't enjoy listening to it on a personal level.
Pop music? Spare me, please. The biggest disappointment of early 2002 music was Sheryl Crow. The sound of this excellent musician selling out to the bubble gum crowd (I'm gonna soak up the sun, gonna tell everyone to lighten up) gives me a migraine. This is the same person who did "A Change" and "Every Day Is A Winding Road." Wake up, girl.
But the drought is over. The second half of the year is featuring new releases from more veteran rock artists than in many recent years. I can hardly wait to hear what Santana, Beck, David Bowie and Peter Gabriel (Peter Gabriel!!!) have in store for us.
In the meantime there's already a feast to be enjoyed. So far I have found one great new album and two more excellent ones. Let's start with the latter.
I've been a Dave Matthews Band fan from the start. I have a T-shirt with the firedancer from "Dancing Nancies" and the "Could I Have Been..." logo. I've been to two of their tour dates here in Phoenix, and I have "Crash," "Under the Table and Dreaming" and "Before These Crowded Streets" in my heavy car-CD rotation. So imagine how disappointed I was last year when they came out with their own pop-music sellout called "Everyday." I still can't sit through it and listen to everything. Dave, your mix of violin, saxophone, and your acoustic guitar is what makes you the DMB. Don't go electric on us!
All is well. "Busted Stuff" brings us back to DMB basics. These are the songs Dave initially wanted to release last year under Steve Lillywhite's production, but somebody in a suit decided they were too dark and somber, so the Lillywhite sessions were scrapped for the incredible lightness of "Everyday." Well, a year has passed, and somber is in vogue for obvious reasons.
I love everything on this album. Even "Big Eyed Fish." The title track, "Busted Stuff," leads off, and gets things off to a great start with its opening lines:
A rolling stone
Gathers no moss
It leaves a trail of
My favorites are "Grace is Gone," which starts out making you think it's a she-done-me-wrong drinking song, and toward the end grabs you around the throat and makes you gasp; and "Grey Street," a chillingly accurate depiction of an overwhelmed, depressed woman.
Though it's red blood bleeding from her now
It feels like cold blue ice in her heart
And all the colors mix together
Welcome back, Dave.
The other excellent album is Sleater-Kinney's "One Beat." Yes, they are young enough to be my daughters, but they are three great musicians doing the best riot grrl rock you will ever hear. Carrie Brownstein's tight guitar chords and vocal countermelodies reinforce Corin Tucker's amazing vocal gymnastics, and Janet Weiss may be the best young rock drummer anywhere. It's not often I listen to a song and think, "Wow, that is great drumming," but with S-K it's the usual rule.
On "One Beat" the girls are grown up, singing of motherhood and fear for the future of our country and the world. It's a complete turnaround from their previous disc, "All Hands on the Bad One," which was great rock but not much more than a put-down of shallow rock bands. "One Beat" is serious social commentary. Buy it and listen to it at least three times all the way through to begin to get the impact.
The "great" album is - no surprises here - Bruce Springsteen's "The Rising." This work will go down in music history, not just because it is a response to the events of 9/11. Anyone can do a bad, tug-the-heartstrings-patriotic number. Some already have. This album is a masterpiece. Springsteen talked with widows, with survivors, with the people of the New York area who lived through the terror. He has captured the spirit of our time perfectly. The entire E Street Band is reunited for this work, and the magic is back.
I can't begin to tell you how moving this music is unless you've heard it yourself. Most media attention has focused on two numbers: the title track and "You're Missing." This is well deserved focus. I can't stop listening to "You're Missing," sung from the perspective of a new widow having to comfort her children. Like so many numbers here, it brings the tears. And it does not stoop to a happy ending:
God's drifting in heaven
Devil's in the mailbox
Got dust on my shoes
Nothing but teardrops...
Nearly everything here is museum quality. Even the songs you think are lighthearted (Waiting On A Sunny Day," "Mary's Place") prove to be much deeper.
Meet me at Mary's Place
We're gonna have a party
Tell me, how can you live
And as it goes on, you realize "Mary's Place" is, well, nowhere on this Earth.
We hear the perspective of those who died ("Into the Fire") and those who survived ("Nothing Man.") We even hear from an American in love with a Middle Eastern Muslim. If there's any weakness here, in my opinion it's "Let's Be Friends (Skin to Skin)." Maybe I just don't get it yet, but it seems like "the world's ending, let's have an affair." I'm sure there was a lot of that sentiment, but I don't think it belongs on the album.
But that's a point of minutiae compared to the magnificence of the rest of the work. The final five numbers build continuously, from "Mary's Place" through "You're Missing," "The Rising," and reach a peak with the haunting (I swear, no pun intended) "Paradise." The last number, "My City Of Ruins," is the only number composed before 9/11. Originally a lament for the decay of Asbury Park, it is a fitting coda to the ruins of the WTC and of our American feeling of invulnerability.
Buy it. Play it. Love it. I surely do.
...Okay, so Peter Gabriel was a disappointment. Looks like it is time to look at the new generation after all. I've discovered Coldplay, a quartet from the UK who just released their second album, "A Rush Of Blood To The Head." It's wonderfully mellow new music. The kids are all right.