November 30 - December 16, 1993
Chapter One: 1993
Chapter Two: November 30-December 16
Chapter Three: December 17-January 1
Chapter Four: January 1994
Chapter Five: February 1994
Chapter Six: March 1994
Chapter Seven: April 1994
|Chapter Eight: May 1994
Chapter Nine: June 1994
Chapter Ten: July 1994
Chapter Eleven: August 1994
Chapter Twelve: September 1994
Chapter Thirteen: October 1994
Chapter Fourteen: November 1994
Tuesday, November 30, 1993
My last day at work in Jackson began with loading the car with all my remaining male clothes. This is it, I thought to myself. After today it will be too expensive to go back! As if I would ever want to go back.
I had already discharged my hospital patients, so I had no formal rounds to make. I went to medical records and finished signing my charts, then went to the nursing units to say my goodbyes. In the CCU, 3A, 3B, and the Cath Lab there were so many women (and a few men) who wished me good luck and told me how much they admired my courage. When I first heard those words, I thought it was less a matter of courage than desperation. But the last two months had convinced me more courage was involved than I expected.
I walked through the tunnel to the basement of my office building for the last time. I had a moderately busy office schedule. Some patients had specified they wanted to come in on my last day of practice. My last patient was Mrs. Hart. Two years before, I had found her dilated cardiomyopathy and begun treatment. She improved greatly and on each visit she told me she loved me and would never forget my help. Often she would bring some of her delicious baked goods such as a chocolate pie or sausage and biscuits (for which I would gently scold her). She knew all about Rebecca, as did most of my patients. "I just want you to know how much I love you," she assured me. "I know you've been through a terrible time, and you have more worries ahead. I want you to find some peace and happiness." Sixty year olds who spent their entire lives in Mississippi did not often have such understanding.
When Mrs. Hart left, I had time for cleaning out the rest of my desk contents. It was not yet time for goodbyes to my staff, since I would be seeing them at my party. So I drove out of the doctors' parking lot and headed for Crestwood Mission Center. The center director was surprised and delighted to see so many good items of mens' clothing. She gave me a receipt and I drove away, having burned a major bridge.
At the apartment I shed my last work shirt and slacks. These two could be thrown out; they were old and worn anyway. For dinner with Lee Frances I changed into a red knit dress and accented it with a multicolor scarf. I picked her up and we went to Kathryn's Steak House. I spotted a couple I had known for years, but they gave no indication of recognizing me. Lee enjoyed her steak greatly. I ordered the seafood special and ate about half of it; it was delicious, but I was too preoccupied to dwell on my meal.
After I took Lee home I returned to the apartment about 10:00. I had promised my friends on Compuserve's Genderline I would share the midnight moment with them, when my real life test began officially. Over the last few days I had composed a message I thought would have special significance for the others beginning transition soon. I wanted to be sure to send it right at midnight, so I napped a little and set the clock for 11:30. When the alarm sounded I turned the Powerbook on and checked the message again to be sure everything was as I had planned. Here is the message I sent:
Satisfied with the formal beginning of my transition, I turned over and went to sleep as Becky.
Wednesday, December 1
When the alarm sounded at six o'clock, I had little time to consider the significance of the day. My appointment for electrolysis in New Orleans was at ten. To be safe, I needed to leave Jackson no later than seven. As I showered and applied makeup, my mind was on the details of getting ready for the day. I selected an indigo ruffled blouse (which could be easily removed for electrolysis) and a Navajo wool skirt. After a quick cup of coffee I was on my way by 6:55.
Once I was safely onto Interstate 55, I relaxed and began to appreciate what was happening. It was a Wednesday. For the last five years, Wednesday had been my busiest day every week. My partner took Wednesday afternoons off, so I had responsibility for the entire practice. Usually I would have at least two, and as many as five, cardiac catheterization procedures. But not today; nor would it be on future Wednesdays. It was chilling to realize I had walked away from a quarter of-a-million dollar cardiology practice and was now unemployed.
My worries were lessened as I remembered what I had gained in giving up this old life. Although the legality of the name change would not be complete for some time, the practical reality was apparent. I had become Rebecca Allison; my Real Life Test had begun. From this day on, I would experience life as a woman. My life's dream was no longer impossible.
The odds were still against me. Some experts in the gender community have stated that only five to ten per cent of all persons who begin planning for a gender transition will finish the course and have sex reassignment surgery. I thought my chances of success were greater. My age gave me a more mature perspective than some of the girls I knew in their twenties, but my health was still excellent. My profession provided some assurance that financial concerns would not prevent my transition. I had extensive preparation with psychotherapy, electrolysis, and hormones, the three major prerequisites for a successful transition.
Furthermore, I had support. When I returned to Jackson, I would go directly to the airport to pick up Angela. She would accompany me to my "coming out and going away" party; then Thursday we would get the U-Haul truck loaded and drive to Atlanta. On Friday we would take possession of the condominium and begin moving in. Surely every detail was covered. Our transitioning together was very unorthodox, and some of our friends were skeptical of its success. But over the months we had been a source of strength for each other. When one of us was having difficulty, the other could pull her through the crisis.
So I thought. The miles passed quickly and soon I was in the New Orleans suburbs. I stepped from my car into the relative warmth of a south Louisiana December morning. This confident woman, smiling as she walked into the office of the electrolysis clinic, bore no resemblance to the fearful and worried man who first entered the building eight months before.
The ladies of Gregory System Metairie gave me a warm welcome. They knew this day was my first to be Rebecca full time. Geraldina smiled and gave a nod of approval. "You look good," she said with her trace of accent from Honduras. "Not just good - dam' good." As I left, I made an appointment for the 16th of December. I planned to return to Jackson on the 15th to pick up my office mail and have supper with Lee Frances. On the 16th I would drive back for what would probably be my last electrolysis in New Orleans, then return to Atlanta. I felt sure Angela would make the trip with me.
Angela had made such a difference in my life. From her I drew strength and confidence. It was so comforting to know we would be there for each other. "You are my right leg and I'm your left leg," she would say. "We can support each other." The condominium wouldn't be empty and lonely with her around. For that matter, I wouldn't have even bought the property on my own. She seems to be making most of our decisions... am I continuing my lifelong pattern of non-assertiveness? Should I stand up for myself? Should I worry?
Not today. Today was a day for celebration. I turned off the Interstate highway onto the airport road with more than enough time to meet Angela's plane. It was so satisfying to walk through the Jackson airport, as I had done so many times, but now in total comfort and satisfaction of being myself.
I stood with the throng of families and friends awaiting Flight 1206 from Atlanta. Angela brought only a carryon bag, so we left immediately and drove to the apartment. As we prepared for the evening, she described her difficulties riding the MARTA train to the Atlanta airport. I felt some concern for her difficulties in passing, especially since I had had no problems whatsoever since getting my custom hairpiece. Selfishly, I wondered if her presence with me in public would cause me problems.
For our dinner at Bennigan's, I changed to a Christmas outfit. I had a white turtleneck print with candycanes and presents, over which I wore a Christmas red sweater. Dressy black slacks and ankle boots completed the outfit, and for the finishing touch I wore my new earrings in the form of red Christmas tree ball ornaments. I had to smile in the mirror. "Becky, you never before took such pride in your appearance. But then you never looked this good."
Several of my office workers were already waiting for us at the restaurant. We were joined by nearly twenty others over the next three hours. Most had never seen me as Rebecca, and I loved the surprised smiles they all showed. As I suspected, very few physicians were present. My colleagues were unable to understand my defection from the ranks of "good old boy" doctors. But the nurses and other personnel from the cardiac cath lab were so complimentary. I received several presents, most notably a silver necklace from Sandra, my Jackson electrologist, and a very nice memo/date/address book, monogrammed with my new initials, from the nursing staff.
I couldn't resist teasing two of the nurses whose names were Becky and Allison! I told them, "You realize I named myself after the two of you." Naturally, they didn't believe it.
Finally we said our goodbyes and returned to the apartment for the last time. Tomorrow would be another long day.
Thursday, December 2
The day began at 6:00 and I had to hurry to get ready for my final appointment with Dr. Cobb. I had been to his therapy session as Becky once before, the day I flew to Charlotte in September. But now I felt much more accomplished in my appearance. Dr. Cobb was very positive about my moving to Atlanta. At the end of the hour, I didn't feel as sad as I thought I would, probably because I knew the two of us, working together, had reached my goals and we were really ready for closure. Dr. Powell would manage my counseling thereafter.
At 9:00 I took the elevator up to my office... except it was no longer my office. As I stepped off the elevator I saw that my name had already been removed from the door. This was unexpected and painful. I had resigned less than 48 hours ago. Dr. Rosen, the senior partner, had been dead for three years; his name was still on the door.
Of course, Dr. Rosen hadn't embarrassed the Cardiology Group of Mississippi, P.A. by changing gender in mid-career.
I contained my resentment as I took care of a few final business matters. Sheryl had asked if I would have my desk and chair moved to the house so she could use it in her wedding consultant business. I was happy to do so. What I didn't tell her was that they decided to make me pay the $1800.00 out of my last paycheck. The goodbye hugs were bittersweet.
Angela would drive the truck and I would follow behind in my car, after I had said my goodbyes to Lee Frances. I had to spend a few minutes with her before I left Jackson. This is the person who introduced me to the gender community. In her home I would change into female dress in those months before I was able to be myself in public. Her Christian faith had strengthened me and given me the opportunity for a witness of my own. I would miss her so! At least I knew I would see her again in two weeks.
I finally drove onto Interstate 20 at 4 P.M. The day was cloudy and cool, and it rained a little in the first few hours. I had really done it: I had left the state which had been my home almost all my life. Between the radio and the CD player, I kept my thoughts on mundane matters and refused to concentrate on the magnitude of today's actions. After the rest stop in Tuscaloosa, then the change to Eastern time, it was after midnight when we crossed the hill at Six Flags and saw the metropolis brightly lit in front of us. Finally we arrived in Roswell at the Hampton Inn. I hardly took time to wash my face before falling asleep.
Friday, December 3
The very early wake up call had us up and ready to meet our realtor at the condominium at 9:00. When we arrived, we were disappointed to find that the seller had not yet moved her furniture out. She saw our expressions and reassured us she had several friends prepared to help her move as soon as the closing was completed. At the walk through, everything seemed to be in good order. But as Angela remarked, "With the furniture still in place, there could be holes in the wall and we wouldn't know it."
The closing proceeded uneventfully... except for Angela's expressed displeasure at not being able to start moving in immediately. She reasoned that this would make us pay an extra day's rent on the U-Haul trucks. Finally the seller agreed to write her a check for $50.00.
After the closing we picked up Angela's truck she had driven down from Charlotte. Our friends Robert and Jeanne met us to lend a hand. (Jeanne is a member of our support group and Robert, who must be very secure in his masculinity, is her boyfriend.) By 2:00 we returned to the condo and found our seller was true to her word; the moving had been completed. There were no holes in the walls! Now we were free to unload two trucks.
So many boxes filled every room. We were thankful for Robert's muscle to help us with the heavy items such as the washer, dryer, and Angela's bookcase. Finally we had both trucks emptied.
Angela was busy with Robert positioning the furniture, and Jeanne and I enjoyed our conversation while we cleaned the shelves and put new shelf paper in before filling them. The kitchen was quite large enough, especially with the pantry space, and I found places for all our utensils, cookbooks, and food items.
We all shared a glass of wine before Robert and Jeanne left. We were exhausted and knew how much work was still undone.
Saturday, December 4
Our first order of business was to return the U-Hauls. The rest of the morning and early afternoon were devoted to cleaning bathrooms and general unpacking, but we stopped before we were close to finishing, so we could get ready for the Atlanta Gender Explorations meeting.
At A.G.E. the session begins with everyone giving her name and place of residence. When my turn came I smiled broadly. "My name is Becky, and I'm from... Roswell!!" I got a round of applause for that one. It's wonderful to finally be living my dream. I don't think I appreciate all the implications of the fact yet: Real Life, indeed.
Sunday, December 5
Today, finally, we set no alarms. After a late breakfast, we made a shopping list and went to Home Depot. We loaded brooms, garbage cans, cleaning supplies. Then at Linens 'N' Things we found extra pillows and bath linens. Finally we made our first trip to the local A&P. I bought the ingredients for several recipes which I had pulled from my box. I stay close to the recipe when I cook, whereas Angela loves to improvise. She bought ingredients for a vegetarian taco dish. The afternoon and evening passed rather quickly as empty boxes accumulated in the carport. After the tacos (which were excellent), we watched Steel Magnolias on the VCR.
I haven't mentioned this topic yet, but I must. Angela and I are sharing a bed. We do not have mattresses for the bedframes she brought for the guest bedroom yet, and anyway they are twin bedframes. I'm not yet certain how I feel about this. We have talked about it; Angela is comfortable with it. (It was her idea.)
I have always told myself, "I have been heterosexual as a man; I'll be heterosexual as a woman." It made sense to me. And at some point in the past months, I did indeed realize my interests had changed. I found myself attracted to men, but only as a true woman. I have no interest in a physical relationship prior to surgery.
But am I bisexual.... or lesbian? It's all so confusing. I am quite fond of Angela. She is very affectionate, and we both enjoy the "snuggling" together. It's the first human contact I have had in a very long time.
At least, when we go to Charlotte tomorrow, Angela will be sharing the bedroom with Peggy and I'll have a few days to think about it.
Monday, December 6
Angela was quite excited over seeing her family again. We drove down Holcomb Bridge Road to Interstate 85 and were able to avoid much of the early morning traffic. The trip to Charlotte was longer than I anticipated, but an easy drive.
Angela had made an appointment for me to have two hours of electrology with her electrologist, Marcia. We arrived on time and Angela dropped me off while she went to visit her parents. Marcia and I had fun talking during the treatment, but I must say I understand a little better why Angela says her electrolysis is so painful. Marcia is indeed much more painful than Karla or Geraldina at Gregory System. I came away with quite a swollen chin and lip.
Everyone seemed still glad to see us in Charlotte. The atmosphere was just a bit strained, with the children still reluctant to refer to Angela as "Starr," the pet name they made up so they wouldn't have to say "Dad." Peggy, a cardiac nurse, and I had a lot in common to talk about.
Tuesday, December 7
Today Angela had her own electrology session, for three hours. Peggy was at work and the children were not yet out of school. I had a house key and a long time to explore southeast Charlotte. I found Eastland Mall, the scene of my infamous ear piercing, with no trouble, and spent most of my time there. I didn't spend any money, but enjoyed seeing all the holiday fashions in the department stores. I had lunch in the food court at the mall and was back to the house by mid afternoon.
Angela's friend, "Barbara" or "Bill-Barbara" as Angela called him, wanted us to go to Valentino's for supper. Valentino's is a fine restaurant in Charlotte and is the site of some of the local Tri-Ess meetings. The staff are all very cordial to the gender community. Some of the patrons are a different story. Bill-Barbara, as on previous occasions I had seen him, was greatly overdresssed and over made-up, with a look that screamed "man in a dress". All eyes were on him, and consequently on us too.
Angela and I wore jeans.
"Barbara" was uncomfortable with Angela having transitioned. I could tell he still had misgivings about her decisions, but he acknowledged that the choice remains hers. "We've had a lot of good times together and I want us to remain friends," he told Angela. To me he was cordial, but reserved. "You two take good care of each other," was his parting wish. I couldn't help feeling sorry for Bill-Barbara, a man in a situation which would get no better with time.
Wednesday, December 8
We had originally planned to return to Atlanta today, but Angela asked me if I would mind staying over until tomorrow. She knew we would be late leaving her parents' home this afternoon, and didn't want us to have to rush back.
I was apprehensive about Mr. and Mrs. Owens. I had met Angela's mother at her birthday party in September, but I didn't know what to expect from her dad. Angela told me he considered himself a Bible scholar. He had not met any of Angela's gender community friends before. At age 78, would he be open minded enough to accept me?
My fears proved unnecessary. Mr. Owens and I were instantly compatible. He found out I had studied the Bible, and proceeded to ask me several questions about my own Christian faith. I had the opportunity to share some points about Christ and the New Covenant; love versus legalism. The lunch and the visit couldn't have turned out more happily.
Tonight Peggy and the children were having supper at Angela's brother's home. Angela was not invited; her brother John is accepting enough, but John's wife cannot tolerate any of this transgendered behavior and doesn't wish to see Angela at all. So she and I went to Hermano's, one of her favorite Mexican restaurants.
Thursday, December 9
Angela and I had a late breakfast, then loaded both my car and her van for the trip back to Atlanta. The weather was gloomy and rainy the entire way home. When we arrived in Roswell, I unpacked my bags while Angela checked the mail. I came downstairs and found her seated at the dining table, staring at a letter.
"What do you have?" I asked. Without a word, she handed it to me. It was from her attorneys in Charlotte. She had asked them to research whether the marriage of Peggy and herself would be annulled if she had SRS. The question had been answered: No. Angela would have to go through divorce, just as the rest of us do. She was deeply depressed and didn't want to talk about it.
Here's hoping transition gets better than this week has been so far. I feel like I've exchanged one relationship for another and still have no life of my own. But we're here now and need to make the best of things.
Friday, December 10
Angela seemed her normal self this morning. She had a project she wanted us to complete today: insulation for the attic. When we inspected the condominium prior to sale, she had remarked about the small amount of blown insulation. Her background in heating and air conditioning made her anxious to improve our heat conservation before the worst of winter began.
So, in jeans and sweatshirts, we drove to Home Depot. Instead of a shopping cart we commandeered one of the huge flatbed pushcarts and headed for the back corner of the store. She had figured we needed six rolls of R-19 insulation. We found the type and width we needed and tossed the rolls around like longshoremen. Thank goodness we had her van to bring them home.
The actual insulation procedure took its toll on both of us. Angela wanted to lay the rolls herself; I certainly didn't object. So I stayed on the ladder and fed each roll to her, a little at a time. I wore gloves to protect my hands from the fiberglass, and kept it far away from my face. She was unable to protect herself as well. Three times we had to stop while she came down to catch her breath and cough repeatedly. I wanted to go back and get her a mask, but she refused. Finally we were done. We were both sweaty and dusty and covered with pink fibers. I enjoyed that bath a great deal.
Tonight we stayed at home and fixed frozen pizza. Without cable TV, evenings are often rather quiet, sometimes dull. I read and caught up on my E-mail.
Saturday, December 11
At today's therapy session, Dr. Powell was very pleased with the success of my transition so far. I told him of my plans to attend the church he recommended, the Roswell United Methodist Church, tomorrow. We discussed some of my concerns about Angela. He reminded me that I need to stand up for my own best interests and not just go along with whatever Angela wants to do. I thought it was good advice, but I'm having trouble taking it: I wanted to drive down to south Atanta for the Saturday social group, but Angela was not feeling well and I could sense she was depressed. I stayed with her and we went to supper at the Brookwood Grill down the street.
Sunday, December 12
Today dawned clear but cold, a little below freezing. It was our coldest day so far in Atlanta.. Undaunted, I dressed for church. This would be my first visit to RUMC, and I wanted to make a good impression. I was thankful for finding the black wool coat on sale before I moved. I wore the plum and earthtone suit I bought at Casual Corner, with matching multicolor mid heels. I left in plenty of time, I thought, for the 11:00 service.
However, I had not driven the distance from home to church in advance, so I underestimated the drive time from the map. I arrived in the vicinity of the church by 11:05, but found no parking spaces. I should have known I was in trouble when I saw the sign, "Park at the bank and ride our shuttle bus." Finally I found a space, two blocks from the sanctuary, straight uphill.
Now I found myself walking very gingerly down what must be the steepest hill in Roswell. It's 32 degrees. I was warm everywhere but my legs; I'm sorry, but pantyhose just don't get it. And I stepped very carefully in two inch heels. I reached the bottom and walked past the sign at the front of the church. The sign... that said "Sunday services at 9:00 and 10:30." What?
There was no way I would walk in 40 minutes late. Berating my lack of advance planning, I turned around and walked back up the hill. This was, fortunately, easier than walking down. I sat in the car and turned the heat on high for a few minutes. Then I drove to Kroger and bought ingredients for tonight's supper before driving back to the condo and admitting defeat to Angela.
This afternoon Jerry, my cousin who lives here, called. He invited me to stop by Tuesday night for coffee and a visit. He and Jill seem to be very accepting of me to this point. If only they will still feel the same way when they have met Cousin Becky.
Monday, December 13
Finally we seemed to be at a catch-up point. The furniture, such as it is, is arranged and reasonably clean; the floors are vacuumed; the papers and books are neatly organized where I can almost find everything. The only missing-in-action from the move is the remote control to the VCR. I could buy a universal remote, but I don't think it would set the clock on the VCR; so until we find the remote, we will watch the little display on the front of the recorder say "set clock time'. I suppose we can live with that.
So I treated myself to a little shopping for non-essential items. The most interesting facet of shopping now is that I can shop for hours, return home emptyhanded, and say to myself, "I really got a lot done." Maybe someday I'll have money to spend again!
Tuesday, December 14
Part of Angela's problem became clear today. Her children are at eventful times in their school careers: Holly in the sixth grade, Randy in the ninth. They will be having graduations from elementary and junior high school this spring. Angela sees herself missing those events. More immediately, she sees herself missing Holly's narration of the church Christmas pageant coming up later this week.
"I can't go," she lamented. "The pastor has told me he doesn't welcome me any more. And I don't want to embarrass Holly."
"What I would do," I suggested, "Is go to the program. Sit in the back. Call Peggy first and tell her you are coming. She can tell Holly if she thinks it's wise. And don't let the pastor keep you away. It's the Lord's house and not any one man's.."
After a lengthy dialogue, she decided to go. The more she thought about it, she decided to go and stay several days. Then she increased it to through Christmas. I was becoming more and more confused about her plans. During the discussion, I tried to emphasize my feelings that I wanted us to remain the best of friends, but that any real intimacy between us was inappropriate, and not what we wanted. To my relief, she agreed with my point of view.
I made a dish to carry over to Jerry's. When we were growing up in Mississippi, our two families would be together for most holiday occasions. One of the treats we both remembered was English pie, with raisins, pecans, eggs, butter, and sugar. It's so easy to make, but Jerry said he had not had one in years. I thought I might correct that oversight.
Our visit exceeded my expectations for love and acceptance. Jerry and Jill were very warm to me. Jill had prepared a "welcome to Roswell" basket for me with information about shopping and sightseeing. They loved the pie! I brought a copy of The Uninvited Dilemma, which I consider the best explanation of transsexualism for an educated observer. Jerry asked very appropriate questions and let me tell my story. I stayed for about two hours before returning home and packing for my trip.
Wednesday, December 15
Angela seemed very down and depressed when I was getting ready to leave. "Don't be upset," I told her. "Holly is going to be so surprised and happy when she sees you." I couldn't really get her smiling; when I left for Jackson, I was concerned about her and her trip back to Charlotte.. But my own appointments in Jackson began at 2:00, so I had to leave early. I beat the early morning traffic into I-285 and was safely heading out of town by 7:00.
At Meridian I picked up lunch at a fast food drive-through. The sound of the employee saying, "Thank you, ma'am," was the highlight of the meal. Finally I am passing by voice alone.
I reached Jackson in time for my appointment with Sandra at Gregory System Jackson at 2:00. Now that I was no longer practicing medicine in Jackson, I had no fear of getting an electrology session. I wanted to have as much electrolysis done as possible these two days, since I haven't resumed my treatments in Atlanta yet. Sandra's bad back still caused her problems, so she had her best operator work on me.
It was so nice to have supper with Lee Frances again, and later to spend some time with my former secretary - now my good friend - Carrie, at her apartment. Around 11:00 I excused myself to return to the motel and wrote a letter to Sheryl, again expressing my love and concern for her and Mark. I would not see her this trip; she cannot yet bear to see Becky. But I will mail the letter tomorrow before leaving Jackson.
Thursday, December 16
It felt so strange to awaken in Jackson, yet in a motel. Clearly I am not a Jacksonian any more. I dressed, checked out, and made a quick stop at the office to pick up my checks and leave several items related to closing my practice. Then I drove to New Orleans, arriving at noon. Everyone at Gregory System was happy to see me. I enjoyed telling Karla about Atlanta while she worked.
Even the magic of New Orleans was not enough to tempt me to stay. When the electrology was finished at 3:00, I headed for Atlanta... for home. I bought a sandwich to eat on the road, and stopped only for fueling before finally reaching Roswell by 11:00. I was fatigued from the drive and went directly to bed.
© 1996 Rebecca Anne Allison