There’s nothing quite like a nice Sunday with friends and a pot of gumbo. Ok, make that a couple of hundred friends and over a dozen pots of delicious gumbo, some tasty King cakes, and a fun Mardi Gras atmosphere!
Last year my wife and I went for the first time to the Tennessee Equality Project’s annual gumbo cooking competition. This fundraiser helps out TEP in their efforts in supporting LGBT issues in the state. Anyone can help the cause by buying a ticket, sampling dozens of yummy gumbos, and voting for their favorite. When I went last year I was kicking myself, thinking that this would have been a great opportunity to take Katie out on the town and show support for our good friend, Nathan, who was competing in the event. I made a commitment that this year would be different, and my goodness was it ever!
As this event was a contest/Mardi Gras party, I of course had to break out my good ol’ glue gun and put together some fun and colorful accessories for the event. I knew I wanted to dress up my new hair, so I threw together a nice headpiece, which ended up getting a lot of positive attention. Oh, since my last post I took advantage of some great online deals and got myself a wonderful new wig called Heidi by Jon Renau, and I absolutely love her! 🙂
This year, my wife and I were more than happy to help Nathan out in setting up for the event, transporting some chairs, tables, gumbos, rice, drinks, and many, many King cakes! I made sure to plan accordingly in advance, so I had some nice comfortable flats to help haul everything from the car, and some nice booties for when the paying public started to arrive.
As a general trend, especially with my trip up to the Twin Cities last November, I was much less stressed out or anxious than ever before. The more and more one does this, the easier and less stressful it becomes. I was happy to meet some of the others enlisted by Nathan to help out, and also happy and relaxed to walk around the event floor, meeting so many new people. My good friend Gabby, who knows a ton of people around town introduced me to anyone she knew, and I was more than happy to strike up a conversation.
One of the big things I realize now after a couple of days thinking about the evening was how I kept wanting to walk around the room and interact with people. Nathan’s team, called “Rouxlin’ On The River” had a table set up with chairs, and I could have sat there most of the night, near the table with people I knew, but I instead wanted to keep circling the room to see what would happen. I was stopped a few times by random people for photos, many gave me warm compliments, and others a wonderful smile. In other words, I didn’t think I’d want to put myself out there like that, and as an introvert I usually wouldn’t do that, but damn that was fun! Human interaction…who knew it could be so much fun! LOL 🙂
By the end of the night, I had made some great new friends, met a bunch of new people, and we were all happy and proud for Nathan for receiving third place for his turducken gumbo, which was to die for! What an amazing cook! Congratulations to him for a job well done!!
Much love to all,
As with so many of my previous outings and big events, I like to look at those experiences and try to see how my perspectives have changed and what I’ve learned about myself. With my recent trip to the Twin Cities to visit my friend Hannah and the MN-T Girls group, my views have definitely changed and I certainty have learned quite a lot about myself from such a huge opportunity.
One of the big things I noticed looking back (especially compared to the first time I ever went out in public) was how relaxed and excited I was. In previous occasions, I used to work myself up so much, mentally and physically, about heading out in public, worrying about the general public and what they thought. But by the time I was due to meet Hannah at a nice restaurant in downtown Minneapolis on a Friday night, I wasn’t nervous at all. I was more excited than anything else! The same goes for the day I met up with all the other girls for drinks and dinner. Looking back, this was a big step forward because I hated how anxious I would get sometimes, and now I feel like I can do whatever I want. I don’t care much that I may be 6’6” in heels, and don’t have a voice to match my appearance. This trip really made me focus on the important things, which is to enjoy the company one has around them, and I definitely did!
The positive experiences continued the next day when Hannah, my wife, and I got some makeovers done at an Ulta store by a wonderful makeup artist. But before we meet up at Ulta, I had to do some light makeup, which if you know me at all is a difficult thing for me to do. I love doing big bold eyes and generally makeup on the heavier side of things, but since I was getting makeup done I didn’t want to do my full treatment and I didn’t want to go without any makeup either. That being said, I was happy to learn that I could do a lighter look, something more appropriate for a daytime look. While Hannah was getting her makeup done at Ulta, I wondered around the store with a smile on my face. I was happy to be out in the world, doing everyday things, being the individual I wanted to be on that day, with great company in tow. What more could one ask for!
The absolutely biggest thing I learned or realized about myself came to me after we made it back home to Memphis. Going forward, getting all dressed up and having a day in at the house won’t mean as much as it once did. What I mean is now that I’ve pushed my comfort zone to new limits, what I used to do, just won’t do any more. There are new frontiers to explore as Katie and I hope to keep pushing myself with every opportunity that comes along.
One has to be confident and fill ones space to show the world we belong and we don’t have anything to be afraid about. It was great to have this feeling reaffirmed and pushed to new heights.
I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving. Much love to all,
Most years on my birthday I tend not to bring attention to myself. I don’t announce it on Facebook, or let everyone at work know “It’s my birthday”. This year has been a huge difference from all those previous years. One of my best friends in the world, Hannah McKnight, and I have for a long time causally talked about getting together someday to meet in person. Last spring we started to seriously talk about the possibility and since we both share a November birthday, it was only natural that we got together and celebrate. And girl did we ever!
My wife joyed the trip, as we made a nice little vacation out of our visit to Minneapolis. As the time passed and we got closer to November I started to make detailed plans for our trip. I knew I was going to be getting dressed up twice, once for a dinner with Hannah, and then another outing with the MN T-Girls group to a brewery and dinner. I spent a couple of weeks thinking about the outfits that would be appropriate for each event along with the right shoes and purse to go with it. In all, my wife and I had one checked bag and one carry on bag each, giving us some options in case plans changed. More on planning and packing in a future post…
We arrived in town on a Wednesday and headed straight to Surly Brewing Company, which is a very popular craft brewery in town. We thoroughly enjoyed the delicious beer and food along with a fun tour. That night we enjoyed a stand up show by Jim Jefferies, who is one of our favorite comedians, and we were not disappointed as he served up a two hour-long stand up comedy routine.
Thursday was spent going to the Walker Art Center to take in some awesome exhibits they had on display and of course check out the Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture out in the sculpture garden. We also checked out some shopping at the Mall Of America and some shops along Grand Avenue near St. Paul.
The real big events started on Friday when we were due to meet up with Hannah for dinner at Ling and Louie’s downtown Minneapolis, just a few blocks away from our hotel. I started to get ready in the afternoon since I had lots to do, removing hair, doing my makeup, and finally deciding on what I was going to wear. On our walk to the restaurant I was so excited to finally meet my friend who I had only ever communicated with through email. So exciting!! 🙂
Hannah was dressed in a beautiful print dress, while I decided to go with a pair of jeans, and button up top and jacket. The jacket came in handy because for us southerners from Tennessee, it was cold! For Hannah, it was warm enough not to even wear a jacket! LOL. Meeting up with Hannah was amazing. We talked, we ate, we drank, and had an amazing time finally meeting face-to-face.
As the night ended, we finalized the plans for the following day. On Saturday we met up at an Ulta store near St. Paul and we all had something done. Hannah and I had makeover (thank you Tawni!!) while my wife had her hair styled (she looked amazing!!). The hair and makeup people at Ulta did an amazing job on us and were so very helpful. I even got some new products, because a girl can never have too much makeup! 🙂 Hannah was wearing a red hot dress, while I felt amazing in my black crochet dress and jean jackets.
Next up was Sidhe Brewing Company, which is an LGBT-friendly place to enjoy a pint of beer or two. I especially enjoyed the nut brown ale. We also got to meet members of the MN T-Girls group who were celebrating their two-year anniversary as a group. It was great to meet the girls and great to see the brewery so busy with people looking to enjoy some good times.
The night ended with an amazing dinner at PUBLIC, a wonderful restaurant in downtown St. Paul. We sat at the chef’s table as we enjoyed each other’s company over some tasty wine, delicious food, and a yummy cheesecake. I enjoyed getting a chance to talk to the other girls, and make some rough plans for a future get together. Before calling it a night, I thanked everyone for such great company and a warm welcome to the twin cities. I also want to thank Hannah for planning the outings and being such a great host and an amazing friend. This trip really allowed our friendship to bloom. It was a great experience and something completely different to celebrate a birthday.
In closing, this trip really pushed me outside my normal routines, and I think I really needed it. There were so many new and first time experiences packed into just a couple of days, which I hope to elaborate more in the future. First time traveling with all my femme clothes, first time agonizing about what to pack for a trip, first time getting a makeover, first time using a multi-stall woman’s restroom (most other places I had been to were single occupancy, lower anxiety…), first time dressing up on back-to-back days, first time wandering around downtown St. Paul in 4 inch heels after dinner trying to find where you parked your rental car… LOL. I’m so happy to have made the trip, I am happy to have made some new friends, happy to have experienced and learn so many new things, and happy to have finally met my BFF, Hannah! YAY! 🙂
I hope you all get a chance to experience something new and break the routines from time to time. Much love to all,
So far, this summer has been full of hard work and satisfying rewards; from doing many little projects around our home, celebrating our 10 year wedding anniversary, and in particular interest to this post, growing the family and friends who know the full me. Having the opportunity to open up to a good friend from work and my brother-in-law have been some big highlights of the summer thus far.
Apart from all the hard work, I’ve taken some time to enjoy watching some soccer on TV, especially the woman’s world cup. A good friend from work has also been following the world cup very closely and after work one day we decided to meet up, along with my wife, at a local bar to support the USA. I had thought about opening up to my work friend, G, because I knew she was a very open minded friend, being very proactive in many progressive groups in the city, and since we had many overlapping friends who knew about Katie, I though this would be a good opportunity to talk to her about my gender views.
At half time, my wife and I were discussing, along with G, about the pride parade coming up in the fall. I’m sure it’s held in the fall because it’s just too damn hot in the middle of summer to hold a parade. I told G that I wanted to make plans to go this year because it holds a special place for me, having gone out for the first time as Katie in public almost three years ago at pride. As with all my other experiences, it was overwhelmingly positive. We talked about gender roles in society, trans issues, and we also had a fun discussion about drag and RuPaul’s Drag Race, as she’s a HUGE fan. My wife and I talked about the different seasons, who were our favorite contestants, and about how we’d love to go see Bianca Del Rio perform!
My next big step was over the 4th of July weekend. I had an extra day off, and since the weather had turned much cooler than normal, I took the opportunity to dress up for the 4th, especially having been over a month since my last time all dolled up. I was enjoying the cooler weather, catching up on social media, when my brother-in-law, R, texted me in the evening and wanted to know if I’d like to play some games online. Later that night, while still in full makeup, I logged on and we played some games while chatting over Skype. During this time I made sure that my webcam was off so he couldn’t see me. At this point it’s important to say that my wife and I had talked about telling her brother about Katie, especially since my wife and R are quite close compared to the rest of the family.
During our gaming session, he told me that his son and wife were at a family’s place and that he was by himself. I thought this would be a great time to talk to him one on one about Katie, so before we logged off at the end of the night, I told him I had something important to talk about. At this point my heart was pumping fast as I told him that I was going to turn on the webcam and that he would see something different and that I would explain everything.
Just as before, the experience and reaction was incredibly positive. I began to talk about my past and how I got to this point. Why I decided to open up to him and where the future might take me. R has made choices in his life that he wanted to make for himself, despite what others might have wanted for him. I respect his independence and I think he understood where I was coming from when I told him that I was so much happier now than before, having chosen to be open and honest with myself and others about who I really am. It’s a great feeling when you can open up to someone and no longer have any secrets and nothing to hide. At least now he knows why I love playing strong female characters whenever it’s an option in games. 🙂
After we logged off my heart was still pounding, and as I started to come down from the adrenaline rush, I felt nothing but joy. After taking a shower and heading to bed, I saw that R had texted me. It was an amazing text, because it was only about games and which one we should get next to play online. We went back to normal very quickly, as revealing Katie was no huge thing, in a good way if that makes sense. It wasn’t a roadblock to our relationship.
The next day, R and I texted that we would only talk to his son about Katie when the time was right (he just turned 5). I told R that I was 100% okay with that decision since he’s the father and it’s not my place to say otherwise. I’m sure it’ll be an interesting discussion to have in the future, but one that I know will go well, since R and his wife are raising their son to be open minded and teaching that things aren’t as simple as black or white, that things don’t always fall into two categories, but that life can be a wonderful and beautiful rainbow of possibilities.
I hope you all are having a great summer and staying cool!
Much love to all,
Those words from my four year old nephew, which will be explained shortly, but first things first, wow has it been a long time since I’ve written a blog post. So what’s happened since my last post, besides leaving it collect dust on the heap of forgotten blogs? Well, the biggest thing that’s taken place, and what’s consumed quite a bit of time is the fact that we searched for our first home, found it, bought it, moved into it, have been doing quite a bit of work in it, and now enjoying it.
Since my last post I’ve gotten some new ideas of things to write about as it relates to Katie in my everyday life. The first story has to do with video games. I’ve always enjoyed playing video games, having great memories as a kid waking up early on a weekend morning to play some Nintendo with my brother. Early on, whenever there was an option to choose a character, I would often go for the female role. In recent years I’ve created and played female characters in games like Skyrim and Animal Crossing and really get a kick out of it. One reason is the fact that I enjoy seeing female characters as the lead role, as the heroine, and of course I’m able to play as my alter ego in a way.
This leads to our new home. Once we moved, we bought a new gaming console in order to be able to play with my wife’s brother and his four year old son. Online gaming has been something I’ve shied away from because most of my friends don’t play games and I don’t like to play with complete strangers. But now that we have some family who are gamers, I wanted to connect with them more often, especially with my nephew through some games.
Minecraft is my nephew’s favorite game, a game where you can be whom ever you want and create anything you want. Just up my alley! So of course I choose to play as a girl, in this case a mermaid (how fun!). As soon as my nephew saw me in the game he said “why are you a girl?” and then “can you please change to a boy?”. It was a strange feeling. It was adorable and totally broke my heart at the same time. To realize that at age four, kids already know what gender roles to play in order to keep within societies rules, and the fact that my brother-in-law and his son don’t yet know about the real truth. The truth that I can’t stop my feminine side from expressing its self.
This strange feeling didn’t last long as I took it upon myself to disobey his request, I wasn’t going to change, and in fact I get a kick out of annoying him, in a fun way that is. Now that we’ve been playing online once or twice a week now for several months, he doesn’t even bring the issue up anymore. I guess we’ve just got to stick to our principles, and along the way help a four year old realize that you can play and be anyone.
I’m happy that I have a couple of nice wigs in my closet, one old Jon Renau Zara wig, which I wear around the apartment, and my new Zara wig, which is brand new and shinny for when I go out, but of course, with double the wigs comes double the work in maintaining them. When I first started buying wigs, I had no clue how to take care of them, and my old Zara wig shows the wear and tare from the initial neglect. I bought some cheap synthetic wig shampoo and conditioner from a big company and after washing the wig in cold water, taking my time to untangle all the fibers, and applying the conditioner, I wasn’t completely happy with the end result. It wasn’t like new.
When I bought my new Zara wig late last year, I bought some new shampoo and conditioner from the company that makes the wig (Jon Renau), and boy does it make a difference. It does take quite some time to go through the wig, piece by piece to untangle the fibers, but the end result is silky and smooth, especially after applying the conditioner. It’s so nice to be able to run your fingers through the hair and not have them get caught up. With regular washing and proper care, I’m sure I’ll be keeping my hair in good shape for quite some time, and save some $$$.
I hope you all had a great weekend,
For a while now I’ve been thinking that I’m well overdue for a new wig. A synthetic wig only last so long, and I’m assuming much less when you’re new to the world of wigs and don’t completely know how to take care of them. I’ve only owned a handful of wigs, and my favorite one I use all the time is my Jon Renau Zara wig. It was my first expensive wig, and after spending a lot of time online researching colors, styles, and brands, I was rewarded with an amazing head of hair. So, when it came time last month to take advantage of amazing online deals, which new wig would I go for?
Looking back now to when I first purchased my Zara wig, almost two and a half years ago, I’ve developed a style around it that has represented who I am. A lot of the style comes from the clothes I choose for my figure, along with the style and color of my hair. With that said, I found it very hard to picture myself wearing a different style or color, especially since I’ve gotten many compliments already with what I have now. It was at this point that the decision was clear to me, I would purchase the same wig in the same color (130-4), and I couldn’t be happier.
I thought it would be a great idea to show how my wig has changed over the course of its use when compared to a brand new one. It’s important to note that during the first year I had my original Zara wig, I don’t know how to take care of it at all and I’m sure its current condition reflects that neglect. I now wash my wigs on a regular basis with the proper wig shampoos and conditioners. The only difference between the two is that I was able to find my new Zara wig in a larger cap size, which works great for my head.
One of the biggest differences I’ve noticed is from the lace-front part to the wig. The old wig has thinned quite a bit over the years when you compare it to the thicker cap of the new one. Another noticeable difference comes from the condition of the fibers, especially towards the ends. The old fibers are rough and frizzled, compared to the smooth fibers of the new one. One of the surprises I found was that the color of the old wig didn’t fade much over the years, if at all.
Now that I have two Zara wigs, I plan to use the old one for days I’m just being lazy around the apartment, and use the new one for days I go out on the town. With the experience I’ve gained I’m sure I’ll be able to better care for my new investment, and I’ll have to see who the new Zara looks like in two years.
Have a great week everyone,
That’s right folks, I’m starting my third year writing on this blog, and the fourth year since rediscovering who I am, in an effort to be a more complete individual. This past year has been meet with achievements and setbacks, goals achieved, goals missed, and accomplishments of things I never thought possible.
Looking back to what I wrote last January, my goals for this past year were very vague. I wasn’t quite sure at the time of specific things I wanted to do for the year, I just let the time go by and tried to live in the moment. Some of the goals I wanted to achieve didn’t quite get checked off. I didn’t go out much and I didn’t get myself involved in the local community as much as I wanted.
On the other side, there have been many positive achievements I’ve been able to accomplish over the past year. I’ve continued the trend of coming out to close friends, which has lead to some very interesting and deep conversations about society, trans, and gender issues, all of which have been very rewarding. I continue to work on defining my style and of course taking advantage of sales whenever possible. I’m happy that I FINALY bought my first little black dress, something I ‘ve hesitated over because of worry on how a dress would work with my figure. The end result…I couldn’t be happier.
Making more connections online, through Facebook and Instagram, has opened my world up to so many new and wonderful friends, while at the same time dealing with the dark side to some in the social media landscape, which at times cause a bit of anxiety.
Of course the most significant achievement of last year would be coming out to my mom, a goal that wasn’t on my radar at the beginning of the year, but started to develop after a visit from my parents in the summer. That visit lead to the idea that it was time to at least tell my mom about how happy this aspect of my life has made me, and how I have become a more perfect individual by acknowledging the feminine side to my identity.
I am happy that over the last two years I’ve been able to share my thoughts and feelings as I deal with the equilibrium between my masculine and feminine sides. I’m happy that many visitors have found these stories and thoughts useful; as I am sometimes hesitant to give outright advise. I see advise as a hard topic to grasp, especially when everyone’s situation is so different from mine. I find that stories and thoughts are more useful, and the more stories you can read from a diverse group of individuals, the more one can gain a perspective on the past, present, and future.
So, what’s in the future? Nothing specific, only general goals similar to last year. I would like to go out more and make some connections in the local community. I’ve also been thinking that there are so many great friends I’ve made in the past two years I would love to meet. So I would love to take any advantage to meet these great individuals in person.
I wish you all a great weekend and a happy 2014.
Twice in my life have I experienced a situation where two hours flew by so fast. The first time was when I defended my masters thesis, where I was so nervous and anxious that before I knew it, my two hour oral examination was over (I passed, of course). The second time occurred last Sunday when I came out to my Mom and told her about my rediscovered identity. I was equally nervous, and time flew by equally fast.
This Christmas we had to visit family out-of-state a couple of weeks before the holiday, and since I had set a goal to come out to my parents this year (at least my Mom for sure), I knew that this was my last opportunity to talk to them on a deep level in person. I decided that I would come out to my Mom (who I’m much closer to than my Dad) on Sunday, after my Dad left on a business trip, when we could be alone and talk things out, one-on-one. I went back and forth so many times in my head. Should I? Should I not? Then by 10 pm on the last night we were in town, I was sick of asking myself whether or not I would say anything that I told her I had some thing to reveal. I told her that I had rediscovered something important about myself, something positive after loosing all that weight and getting myself healthy, both physically and mentally. This was a way of telling her that what I was about to say was a positive thing, something that made me happy. Then I showed her a picture of Katie, and from the moment I saw her facial expression, I knew this was going to be a long and tough conversation. The plan I had in my head of how this was going to go down flew out the window, and the words to begin to explain this part of myself were hard to come by.
It was at this point I pored myself a glass of good Scotch and began to explain all the things I’ve learned from this community over years. How society paints gender as a binary, when in reality it’s so much more complicated. She asked whether I was gay, or needed to have sex with men, which was awkward to me since I’ve never felt like that. It took time to explain to her that I am happy in the middle of the gender spectrum, I have no desire to transition, take hormones, or have surgeries. She asked, “what if that changes in 10 years? What then?” I could only reply by saying I am happy as a man and as a woman. She had concerns about my wife, how she’s handled it? It again took time to explain that we are open and honest with each other, and that we have never been happier.
Her biggest concern was about children; future children to be exact, which we haven’t even planed for yet. She is concerned that we’ll screw up our kid’s lives if we’re not careful. All I could say is that my wife and I will make the best choices we can for the future. Mom was also conceded about Dad, and she felt very strongly that we shouldn’t tell him, for now at least, as she thought he might not handle it well. My family has never been good about expressing emotions or talking about deep feelings. These topics would best be avoided while I was growing up. Also, being from South America, my parent’s view on culture and society is very different from mine. The idea of alternative lifestyles is very foreign to them.
By 12:30 am, we had gotten to a good place to stop for the night. She could see where I was coming from and since my wife and I have our lives in good shape (we both have good degrees, good jobs, savings, etc.) this was a facet of my life she felt she could handle, we even ended the night by going through some of my favorite pictures she wanted to see.
This of course is not the end of the story; it’s only the beginning, which I am only beginning to understand. A couple of days after this emotional conversation, I realized I had made a mistake. It came after speaking to Mom over the phone, and I could feel her anxiety about holding this information from Dad. By telling only my Mom, I had placed her in an awkward situation where she couldn’t tell Dad about this. It’s not a fair situation and we decided that if either one of us felt like opening up to Dad, we would do it together the next time we see each other in person.
I keep asking myself, would I do it again given another chance? Right now I don’t feel that big weight lifted of my chest, but maybe with time this will be a positive aspect of our relationship. Taking the easy way by avoiding the conversation only leads to a more distant relationship. It was a tough road, a road that I am still traveling on, but I hope that it will be a rewarding, more fulfilling path. We all have so much more to learn…
I hope that you all have a wonderful holiday season and Merry Christmas to all,
The 100th post! Wow, how time flies by, and what better way to write about it than to talk about sharing, that thing our parents always told us to do. Over the last 99 posts I’ve been happy to share my thoughts and stories as it relates to ones character and identity. Another aspect of sharing has been the ability to open up to others around me, in an effort to solidify my identity, and to build strong relationships with people I care about.
Last month something happened that I didn’t ever expect to happen. I came out to a close friend from work. Opening up to someone from a workplace can be a tricky situation, and one that I thought might one day happen, but was never expecting to occur. A friend from work, my wife, and I were at a local brewery, enjoying some drink, music, and a beautiful fall day. We were having a great time conversing and eventually we all began to share some personal things about ourselves. It was at this point that I decided it was a good time to share my story as a genderfluid/trans individual. Following the trend so far, things turned out great. I felt like this friendship went to a whole new level. We talked for quite a while about all things gender, which all helped reaffirm my decision to come out to him. The funniest question I was asked was weather I had ever been hit on while out as Katie, which lead me to talk about my experience at my first drag show.
A couple of weeks later, we all had another chance to hang out over some good food and drinks. I figured that it would take some time for things to settle in before we had a chance to talk about this topic again. We all had some great and engaging conversations about LGBT issues, which I find helps me out so much. When I get a chance to engage with someone, I find that it helps to reinforce the ideas that I’ve thought about for the last couple of years.
During our conversation I had an epiphany, a connection of dots that became clear to me. It relates to one of the things my friend, Anna, talked about (#28), as well as a couple of TED talk videos posted by my friend Ariana. It has to do with shame. I could have chosen to live my life with shame for the way I am. Instead, I chose the path of self-love, a path of sharing. I find that by sharing who I am with people close to me, I’m living a life of my choosing, and a life that no one can argue against. By choosing this path I take the power away from those who would rather see me be ashamed of who I am.
With that said, have a great weekend. Love,