Rebirthday 2013

Wow, has it really been over a year since I wrote anything here? That sucks. I’ve been thinking recently that I really should start blogging again but my job kinda nixes writing anything publicly about technical matters; I’ve been waiting for something good to come along that was worth writing about and which wasn’t going to get me in trouble. I think I finally found something :)

Spoiler alert: This post is going to be very personal and not at all technical. I may actually open up comments for the first time in *forever* when I’m done though, so stay tuned.

Yesterday was my Rebirthday – the second anniversary of the day I that I finally made up my mind to transition permanently. I really don’t feel like the same person who made that decision; my world has changed so much since that day and I really do feel like I’ve become an entirely new person. I’m actually quite proud of this shiny new me and it feels like a story that I need to tell – this celebration seems like a good reason to do that, and hopefully it’ll spur me into writing more about transexualism and all it involves. Perhaps someone, somewhere will find something positive in my experience that makes their own journey a little easier, and if not then I guess all you cisgendered folks will just learn a little more about what us trans folks go through on our journeys of self-discovery.


The scene: it’s May 21st 2011, and my wife and I are about to get on a plane to Las Vegas. We’ve bought ourselves tickets to go and see Kylie Minogue at Caesar’s Palace on the last night of her US tour, so a long weekend of fun awaits us. This time things are different though – I’m dressed as a woman, and I’m about to go through my first female TSA patdown.

I had been flirting with changing my gender for about a year and a half, essentially waking up every day and deciding what gender to present for that day. Since I was self-employed I had a lot of flexibility; if I had important meetings that day I would usually present male (so as not to freak anyone out), but otherwise I’d probably present as a woman. I’d go back and forth as necessity dictated, terrified that the sky would fall down on me if I made the wrong choice – dressing as a woman had certainly led to some unexpected encounters (my landlord was a little surprised when he stopped by one day) but I had never had a problem. It had taken me the better part of a decade to sufficiently come to terms with my own gender that I could leave the house dressed as a woman, and I’d found a certain level of comfort in doing so.

That day was different though. I don’t like going through TSA at the best of times (it’s *far* too invasive for my taste) and this time I had no fallback plan – I had decided to present as a woman for the entire trip and had no male clothes with me at all. I was *way* out of my comfort zone, utterly terrified, and yet oddly comforted at the same time – I was, after all, just being myself. I had familiarised myself with the appropriate TSA regulations, I had a lawyer from ACLU on speed-dial in case anything did go wrong, and I was all set for a trip to Vegas.

I have never been so scared in all my life as I was going through that security checkpoint. I kept running through nightmare scenarios in my head, playing out how things could go, trying to plan for every possible eventuality. And then it was over in the blink of an eye, completely uneventful. Nothing happened, and before I knew it we were on the plane and headed to Vegas (still shaking from fear, but otherwise unharmed).

The trip itself was amazing. We got our makeup professionally done before the concert, I got to wear one of my favourite party dresses, Kylie was her usual dazzling self, and the concert was everything we hoped it would be. We gambled, we drank, we partied, and I did it all in dresses and skirts and high heels and makeup and all the trimmings (as Vegas demands!). The trip home was marginally less scary (I’d done it once so it wasn’t as terrifying) and before I knew it it was all over.

It was a day or two after the trip that it really sank in what had happened. I had gone through one of the most terrifying things I could possibly imagine, and not only had TSA been no big deal but I’d ended up *really* glad I had chosen that path for that trip – being myself for those few days had been completely comforting and enjoyable. I’d had a *fabulous* time, and there had been no negative repercussions whatsoever. I quickly realised three things:
1: Whenever I felt like I had a choice, I was choosing to be a woman.
2: Whenever I felt like I *had* to be male it upset me immensely – I truly hated it.
3: If I could cope with TSA as a woman, I could cope with anything.

I finally realised that the only impediment to permanently changing my gender was my own fear, and I also realised that that fear was completely unfounded. I had made my mind up – I was going to stay a woman for the rest of my days, and that I really was able to deal with the world as a woman. A month later I had one of my first surgeries to make that life a little easier, and a month after that I started hormones. My life had finally begun.


Two years on, I fell like that scared little girl is finally (mostly) gone. Estrogen has changed both my brain and my body in so many ways, both expected and unexpected (that’s another post entirely) but almost all good; transition has had very few downsides for me. The worst is that I now get PMS (as my wife calls it) – I’m on a 3-month Estrogen cycle and for the last month of that (when my levels are starting to drop) I get super bitchy, easily upset, and generally a little unstable. Most women are like this for a week every month; I’m like it for a month every 3 months. It occurs to me that when that’s the worst thing I can point to about my life it’s really been a good move for me – it’s really not much of a downside.

On the other hand, I’ve found a level of inner peace and self-acceptance that I never even knew existed. I understand myself, I understand other people, and the world is just so much easier to live in nowadays – I’ve made some *amazing* friends (something I was never really able to do as a man) and I can look myself in the mirror every day and truthfully say that *I like my life* – that’s a really big deal when you’ve spent 33 years in deep depression. Most of the people I see on a daily basis never knew Chris and completely accept me as Kristin; looking back it feels like I never really was Chris, I was just Kristin pretending to be a boy and doing a lousy job of it. I sleep at night. I don’t get random fits of anger and frustration and hatred at the entire world for making me the way I am – I’ve found myself, and I’m finally happy.

One sad part about all of this is my family. I’ve really enjoyed re-meeting people and getting to know them all over again, and I’ve not had the chance to do that with my family yet – and I probably never will with my parents. I’ll never forget when I came out to them and my father asked if it meant I was “going to start sniffing bicycle saddles”, as if transexualism was synonymous with the most deviant sexual fetishism that humankind can conjure; likewise I’ll never forget when my mother (after encouraging me to wear what I wanted when I was visiting) scolded me for going to get something from my car while wearing a skirt, because “What if the neighbours see?”. They instilled in me a shame and self-loathing that took me a very long time to get over and made me alienate much of the rest of my family along the way (after equating them with the same viewpoint); after they found out the truth and I found out that most of them are actually wonderful, caring people who really don’t see a problem I’ve been trying to rebuild some bridges. It’s hard to keep in touch when you’re a continent away but Facebook helps a lot, and I’m looking forward to getting an opportunity to see them again soon. I miss having parents but it’s taken me a long, long time to get over the way they made me feel about myself, and I don’t know that I can cope yet with re-introducing that into my life. Some day, perhaps, but not today.

It’s hard to think of a “best thing” that’s come out of this for me – there are so many. I love finally being able to dress the way I want to, I love wearing makeup (I like to think I’m pretty good with it by now), I love understanding myself and being able to have true, close friends. I love being able to interact with the world in a way that actually makes sense to me, and have the world interact with me in similar fashion; I love seeing the effect that my vanishing depression has had on my wife as her constant worrying about me lifts and eases. I love my life, I love my friends, and while (of course) there’s still things I would change, I’ve finally found a place in this world that I’m happy with.

So hi. I’m Kristin, a 2-year-old woman. Would you like to be friends? :)

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12 Responses to Rebirthday 2013

  1. John Kelley says:

    I am continually delighted by your bravery and am proud to have you as a friend.

    Tech blogging moratoriums suck; I wish I could say I’ve done some since I’ve left, but startups leave little time. Maybe once the next board ships…

  2. 0ff_killter says:

    Kristin,

    we love you for who you are. keep pushing forward and don’t look back!

  3. Kristin says:

    Thanks, John :) It’s a little odd but I don’t really see it as bravery – I’ve only done what I had to do, the alternative being a very unhappy life (and a statistical 41% chance of suicide). Not really much of a choice…

  4. Irene Knapp says:

    Hi, Kristin! A mutual friend linked me here, because I’m also trans and he wanted to show support and understanding, as cisgendered people are wont to do – well, the nicer ones at least.

    Just saying hi mostly. :)

    The TSA is one of my own fears as well. I’m early in things yet (just went full-time two weeks ago!), but I have no plans to travel by air in the near future, despite friends wanting me to visit them etc etc. Since said friends are overseas, there’s of course also the passport issue… anyway.

    Oh, I should insert this plug – I’m one of the moderators on a Google+ trans community for support and general chat that’s become fairly vibrant. If you’re not there already, we’d love to have you! Er, not sure how to link to it, but let me know if you’re interested and I’ll figure it out. :)

  5. John Kelley says:

    I’ve known people with unhappy lives due to relatively simple problems that they are loathe to admit and change even though the solutions are small, relatively painless and don’t draw the ire of small minded people.

    It’s with this in mind that I call you brave. However you see it, I’m just glad you’re happy :)

  6. Kristin says:

    Irene: TSA has been an oddly bittersweet experience since my transition, I try to avoid them but still need to fly sometimes. They are their usual invasive selves as always, but they do seem to be well-trained on how to handle trans folks – the policy is that they MUST treat you as the gender you are presenting, no questions asked. I’ve *never* had a problem, and there’s something oddly affirming about hearing them yell “FEMALE OPT OUT!” whenever I go through security :)

    By all means post a link here to the Google+ community you mentioned – just paste the URL and it should automagically get linkified (and I’ll tweak it if not).

    John: I’ve definitely gained a lower tolerance towards people who refuse to solve their own problems, or who wallow in self-pity. It’s hard to be sympathetic, for sure, but I do also understand how crippling depression can be. I try to just be a positive influence on anyone around me – it seems that gets reflected back, and I’m happier as a result. Works for me so far :)

  7. Irene Knapp says:

    Yeah, I can definitely see how that would be affirming! I’m glad to hear they’re well-trained, and may reconsider and fly after all… Haha.

    https://plus.google.com/communities/103580384270522074098 is the community URL. :) Hope to see you there!

  8. Lisa says:

    Happy rebirthday! So awesome that following your heart has brought you such peace and happiness…

  9. Phil says:

    Congratulations, Kristin! Shout out to your wife, she sounds incredibly supportive! :-)

  10. Kristin says:

    She is indeed amazing – she knew about my gender dysphoria before we even met in person (we chatted online for a couple years first), so she more or less knew what she was getting into when we got together. We’ve gotten so much closer through all the changes; our relationship has matured and deepened in so many ways and seeing my happiness reflected in her is definitely one of my favourite things :D

  11. Abhi says:

    Good to see you back to blogging. Now lets have something for what we all love you ;)

  12. cybergibbons says:

    Am I allowed to say how annoyed I am that your job stops technical posts? :P

    Happy re-birthday!