This blog contains 1000 posts. Posting to Blogger with such a large archive has become unwieldy. Also, your blogista, who is sewing a kesa, is not writing much at present. She has ceased adding new posts. Still-active links are here.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Safely in my possession

The lawyer's office would have gotten me my name change decree weeks ago, but the office lady had a baby and her backup was away, so ... I called, said I'd love to come by and get it, and it turned out it hadn't even gone back to the court for final signature. There was a flurry of activity, and this past Monday the 18th, I went in at 11:30 in the morning and got my hands on my name for the first time.

The decree had been enacted on the 6th.


But it's safely in my possession now. I am Risa Stephanie Bear forever.

I had to go back to work. But I took part of Tuesday off, and went to:

Social Security Administration. Friendly. Nice. Less than 1/2 hour.

Department of Motor Vehicles (I chose the one in Springfield, a town noted for its rabid anti-LGBT activists; the population is actually very friendly towards me and the DMV office there is the nicest one I know). I got a new driver's license and the picture even came out well! Friendly. Nice. Less than 1/2 hour.

My bank. New checks in two weeks, Floral pattern. Friendly. Nice. Less than 1/2 hour.

Personnel/Payroll at my employer. As they're also where I did all my undergraduate and graduate degrees, the name change was effective on my transcripts immediately. From there I went to the Photo ID office and posed for a new Faculty ID Card. It turned well, also. Friendly. Nice. Less than 1/2 hour.

I've been carrying my cards around all week.

"Have you seen..."

"Yes, you showed them to me yesterday."


"And the day before."


Heh ... sweep hair out of eyes, look away, look back, change subject.


A friend from upstairs admired the pictures dutifully and agreed they were sweet and then showed up the next morning with a basket of dresses she's never worn. They're so me! Turtleneck top, long sleeves, solid color, good material, almost ankle length. Burgundy,, black, green. And a blue denim that's a little small, but I hope to shrink myself to fit.

It turns out that some dozen or so of women from throughout the building are planning a "What Not to Wear" day for me next Saturday, at a local mall. One group will take me to the hairdresser, another, to the makeup specialist, and another, shopping. To be followed by a potluck for all participants. I'm amazed by all the attention but not surprised by the focused and organized approach -- they/we have done as much for others, we're just a fairly close-knit bunch.


I am taking voice lessons this term. It's fun and interesting. The coach is a student, learning to apply her experience as a dramatist, teacher, and singer to her new career choice, voice therapy. Her professor sometimes joins in, sometimes observes unobtrusively. They are wonderful people.

We were doing three-word phrases like "wonderful Irish sausages" or "troublesome jitney oranges" and listing to the playback, and my coach caught me falling into a black hole.

"What's up?"

"I sound like a guy this week. I hate it."

"Well, dear, you will have some habits of speech that will try to stay with you ... but you have your naturally high range, and your musicality. And no one likes their voice played back to them."

"I know, but ... but ..."

"Can you identify the sound that was bothering you there?"

"It's -- it's -- at the ends of the sentences, when it drops. I hear him."

"I don't; but, then, I never knew him. I only know you." she smiled.

At this point I expected to smile back, but burst into tears instead. She reached me the tissues.

Here, these -- we keep them in every room, you know, it's O.K, it's -- oh, now I'm crying, too."

"I'm sorry."

No, it's fine. Better now?"

I had seen an image, in my mind, of myself when I was eight. When I'd promised myself I wasn't going to be a guy. And then the way I had disappeared into the testosterone fog ...

My reply came in a whisper.

"I was trapped in there a long time."

We ended the session with a serious hug.

-- risa

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Party girl

I'm not a party animal but I do like to hang with my friends from work. We had a mid-day surprise party for a colleague and friend of mine, who has been acheiving fabulous things for the Library, and who had reached the fifty-year benchmark.

The party took place in one of those beer halls favored by the students; I hadn't been there in over fifteen years. Love the decor, could do without most of the clientele. I had, think, never partied with my peers off-campus in a dress before, so it was a kind of an occasion for me, too.

I felt relaxed and at home, and it wasn't because of the beer, because I didn't have any.

While we were there, a downpour commenced, so when I left to return to work, I used my sweater as an umbrella, trailing it above and behind me like a banner at arm's length. I felt like I was in a scene from a romantic Italian movie, and when a couple of guys turned to watch me go by (I felt that it was with approval), the feeling was confirmed for me.


So, because the endocrinologist "couldn't" see me, my doctor gave me the name of a GNP who has experience with hormones and I left a message there. Got a callback from her receptionist, who asked what I had in mind.

"I'm on hormone replacement therapy, MTF, and need LDL and HDL advice."

"Oh, ok, lemme see if she does that. I'll call you right back, OK?"

It's been a week.

I repeat, for the benefit of the medical profession: just because I wasn't wearing what you regard as a seat belt when I crashed, does not obligate you to refuse me care.

Time for a census.

Number of people in my immediate workplace who support my transition:


Number opposed; They haven't said so to my face, but I gathers it's:


Number of people in my congregation who support my transition:


Number who have "expressed reservations:"


Number of family members who support me:


Number opposed:

1, if he knew about it, but my mom has asked me to shield him. He's 88.

Doctors and dentists and nurses and lab technicians, supporting:

at last count, about 13.


2 endos.

Counselors, against: 2



That's what, 213 for and 9 against in my immediate environment. I could throw in my support group, of about 40 more, 253/9, plus the HRC, with which I'm working on City Code changes, 273/9, and, oh, yes, my entire workplace has a policy specifically supporting transpeople, and it's a big workplace, so we can say 25,273 approximately:

For: 25,273



Hmm, do you suppose I could get 25,273 letters to the endocrinologists? Nah, these are busy people. I think, instead, I'll just work on my counselor to be comfortable with my own doctor's lab results, which are perfectly acceptable, according to all the post-op women I know.

Speaking of my mom, I was talking to her on the phone and she told me about all her friends that were talking about their daughters:

"Mine had a surprise party for me and fifty people came."

"Well, mine says she's going to take care of me so I won't have to go in the nursing home."

And she said to herself: "Gee, I don't have a daughter...."

And then she said to herself:

"Wait a minute. Yes, I do!"

I'll put up her vote against anybody's, any day.

-- risa

Monday, April 11, 2005

A night to remember

Photo by Dan Fuehring

Our Gala at the Hult Center's Soreng Theater was a huge success. Our producer, Vicki Koch, worked tirelessly for months, and I was kept moderately busy as her publicity assistant. With help from many volunteers, we found enough sponsors, advertisers, and contributors to make sure every purchased ticket was in the black, and that there would be a show worth seeing.

Mother Kali's Bookstore was pleased to be a sponsor, had raffled tickets and promoted us to their loyal following. "Our banner will be flying in the Hult!" their newsletter proclaimed. Equity Foundation, another sponsor, sent four people all the way from Portland to table during the intermission and meet folks. The Human Rights Commission shared a lobby table with Equity, and Family Values, a support/advocacy organization for LGBTQ families with young children, shared a table with PFLAG's volunteers.

Lots of people came, the "Rainbow Circle" ($25) tickets did well, and we made almost $5,000.00 for LGBTQ Youth Programs in our area.

The show was great, too. The drag queens, from the Imperial Sovereign Court of the Emerald Empire and Shebang!, who were the originally envisioned performers, gave their all, and their charisma won over many who thought they wouldn't like drag shows. WYMPROV! is a wickedly funny improv group that teaches about ageism, sexism, homophobia, and the like, while keeping you in stitches! But the big audience-pleaser for many, especially the young women in the audience, was the new drag-king troupe, Kingdom Come, pulled together for the occasion by the energetic and hugely talented performer and choreographer, Katie Strong. The rap number was particularly amazing.

These disparate elements were stitched together by an electrifying emcee presence in the form of Alan Brown, whose stage persona, Sally B. Goode, pulled in the audience and kept us reminded of the good and beautiful things in life, while encouraging us to fight for the right of everyone to share in those things. Alan has trained young queens for years in the practical aspects of the entertainment business. "Each of them now knows how to put on a complete charity benefit in just about any venue," he said a few days later.

Beloved was there with me, in the front row, center, and Daughter was ten rows back, with her boyfriend. Scattered throughout the audience were many of the new friends I've made in the past year, and even a few from decades back.

In the third act, things halted for a bit so that Vicki could recognize the performers with roses. It was amazing to see how shy some of them were after such gutsy performances. Then I heard my own name.

"Risa, where are you, darling? Come up here!"


Daughter said she could hear calls of "Risa, Steffi!" from all over the room. Boyfriend said, "Hey, that's your other mom!" Strangers patted her on the shoulder.

Vicki gave me a bouquet of yellow flowers (they are still doing well on the dining room table), and said lovely, lovely things. They then turned me around and there was Sally B. Goode, holding a plush bunny in her arms. Sally's speech I cannot recall well, for by this time I was in tears, but I gather the bunny is in recognition of the lost decades without access to my true gender, and that Sally will be my big sister, since I never had one before.

omygod ... in front of over three hundred people, under a spotlight.

I'm not sure how I made it back to my seat. Beloved said, "Well ... luv, this is your night."

Yes ... should it all be downhill from here, it's a pretty good night to remember ...

The aftershow party was to be at Neighbors, a night spot owned by one of the sponsors, but some of our own group were under 21. So the family took me to an all-night restaurant, which had a straighter crowd than I felt like facing with my ruined mascara, but Hunnybunny (named for a pet French Lop rabbit from our dim past) sat in my lap in the booth and bravely waved to everyone that came by.

-- risa b


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