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  • 28 Apr 2011
    Will anyone recall me? Really, it's been so long since I last posted. So much has happened.    I last wrote in the fall of 2009 and it's now the spring of 2011. I am almost a different person.   Perhaps the best news I can offer is that I have finally threaded the needle of transition and have scheduled my SRS in Montreal for January of 2012. Finally, it will happen. It was a trial to get here. It was in October 2007 that I stepped out into the world completely as Ann. It is fortunate that the rush one enjoys at finally taking that step blinds one to all the stares and comments. It was a tentative time but I was blissfully unaware of the impression I was making.   Over the months and now years, I found myself -- or rather, I shed all of the insecurities of my former self and was left with this ephemeral feeling of normality. Actual, what I felt was the absence of 'wrongness' to my life. At 6' and nearly 200 lbs, I'm an attraction at the very minimum. Acceptance by others, though, came more from my growing comfort with self and acceptance of self. My confidence carries the day.   Perhaps the greatest measure of success over the last 3-1/2 years is my ability to 'dress-down' now. And how ironic that I am most readily accepted in my neighbourhood when casual in jeans and a t-shirt. Slowly, I'm tossing my early attempts at attire. How right the truism that the difference between a transvestite and a transsexual is the comfort of her shoes. I'd  add clothes to that.   This hasn't been without strain, however. With mother's passing I was at risk of being tossed from her house, where I had cared for her for 2-1/2 years by all of my siblings save one. My older brother is my hero. Nearly 18 months since her passing and I still fighting to take as my inheritance mother's house. It is safe and familiar. It is a claim to my former life that I cannot yet surrender.    I started back at school in the spring of 2010. The first courses went well but it was a challenge. The school tested me and discovered that I was, on top of everything else, ADHD. it actually felt good to know why I had struggled at school before. The help from the college has been wonderful.   My first full academic year however was a bust. Emotionally, I just wasn't strong enough. The experience however was dazzling -- magic. I took a Women's Studies Course -- which I'd recommend to everyone. My new existence unfolded in this class in ways I couldn't have imagined. I made friends - albeit, young - who accepted and responded to me. My best incident came when helping a classmate with her essay in the college library. Looking very earnestly at me during a pause in our research she tentatively asked, "May I ask a personal question?"   "Certainly." I replied, anticipating the topic   "Given how hard it must be now, what made you decide to change from business to social work?"   "Really?" I thought but didn't say aloud. How strange it is when one worries about one thing and finds that others cannot even see it.   I was asked to make some presentations. I was happy to do so.   I have applied to Social Work. I aspire to find a new career as a Social Worker or counsellor. We shall see.   Slowly things are falling into place -- in ways unimagined. I am finding the nooks and crannies of my true personality. There is a new confidence of self that is emerging between the dying embers of uncertainty, self-doubt and even self-loathing.    Gender Dysphoria has left scars. I will continue to suffer depression through my life. But there is promise of a new kind and, yes, I can even say I'm happy.
    3240 Posted by Ann Teve
  • 17 Nov 2008
    Evening at the grocery. I was on my way home. I'd stopped for a few items as I often do. The Gala apples looked good but I was tending toward the Macintosh. In the middle of my consideration, I heard heels clicking resolutely toward me on the tiles behind. A tall well-dressed blonde passed me, glancing as if inconvenienced at me as she headed toward the deli section. I chose the Macintosh.Pushing my card through the vegetable bins, I adjusted my red ski jacket for comfort. Its one of those puffy sort of jackets, it's principal merit being warmth but it does have a tucked in waist. At work I wear a short (just above the knee) blue denim skirt and white sneakers with scrunchy socks. I think I look it makes me look athletic. The heels clicked toward me again. She passed -- again -- but this time three or so steps beyond she stopped and turned muttering about the challenges of finding some item or other. I had a better look at her. She was about my age and even about my size. She was very well made up and looked very professional in a black knit dress. I pushed my cart past her toward the bakery section.It happens -- and not so infrequently -- that your route through the grocery is the same as others and you see them throughout your visit. This seemed to be the case with this woman for there she was in the bakery, an aisle or two over inspecting a loaf of bread (which, being North America can be taken as odd because all bread comes pre-sliced and packaged in plastic, the texture of the which being the only means of judging the quality of the bread within). I went for the 12-grain whole wheat bread because it has lots of flax and I'm hoping to lose some weight. I was reading the nutritional facts when I realized that I was not alone. I looked up."Are you T G?" she asked leaning slightly forward as if presenting a password challenge to a co-conspirator. I took as a compliment that there was a bit of hesitation in her voice. Clearly, with her so close I realized that she was."Yes." I don't know why but I had an overwhelming urge to turn up my collar, to take the safety off my Barretta, to check around to see if we were still incognito and whisper."Well put your shoulders back, you walk like a guy! I clocked you the moment that I saw you."  Well, that hurt. She turned and walked away.Nobody but trans-people use the expression ' clock '. Personally, I find it really tacky, an affectation of our ' community '. I have realized that being 'clocked' is not something that others do but something that we do to ourselves. If you're not looking for a response in the eyes of others, you won't find it. But, I couldn't leave the encounter at that. I gave chase."Excuse me." I offered, negotiating the bins of cheese in dairy. She stopped. I wondered if she was in some way embarassed by me. Hey, I'm on my way home from work as a clerk. I didn't know that I had to dress to go shopping."My name is Ann." I offered my hand. "Joanne."I really don't recall the substance of the conversation -- why I don't know. There aren't a lot of professional girls to get to know and I hoped that we might. I said so. The conversation was short and ended with my offer to get together for coffee. I began to search my purse for a pen. She pushed a card into my hand, "You call me." I considered the card for moment. There was a name from high school. Surely very few people have that last name. If not them, could Joanne be related to a high school friend of my brother? Can't be.William's Coffee Shop is a great place to meet. Nice ambiance; good coffee. I waited on Joanne. I was early; She arrived a few minutes late. We talked. We talked about the issues of being trans, about the slights and injuries of our life, the people we knew and lost and new friends that we made. We talked for about an hour and as conversations tend to do, it became slowly more personal, more intimate."Did you grow up in London," I asked. My home town."Yes.""Where did you go to high school?" I pursued. My High School."Westminster." Could this be?"May I ask what your previous name was?""W___ ." she said. "You had a old Chevy Biscayne." Her eyes widened."And you have a brother, G_____." she responded with growing recognition. "I do." confirming what we both now knew. We had spend high school together eating lunches with my brother and other friends. It was then that I truly knew that my gender dysphoria was caused by going to high school.
    1863 Posted by Ann Teve
  • 30 Sep 2009
    It was just after 9:00 am on Monday, September 21st 2009 that mother passed away. It was exactly one month from the day that I acted to fulfill her final wish and brought her home. It was three months since I'd had known that her time was near, nine months since I knew that she was even ill and nearly three years since the day I'd arrived at home to be her company in her final years and to begin the final steps of my own transition.I have lived as Ann for two years now. It has passed in a blink. It wasn't as I imagined it would be. In some ways it was incredibly easy. From the very first day that I arrived at work as Ann, I didn't feel special in any way. Within days, as I now recall, I was Ann. After a life's denial, I guess I expected that it would feel special, different, but it didn't. Did that mean that I'd found myself or was I missing the whole point?Confidence came quickly to me and for that I must credit my few friends and especially my mother. She'd lost a son but gained a daughter but she did so with grace and kindness and without qualification. We spent a lot of time together, she and I. We'd go shopping and I'd give all the time that she wanted. We'd stop for coffee at Tim Horton's. We'd sit and she'd review her life with candor and honesty, sharing with me as a friend more than as one of her children. She accepted me, wholly. It was a wonderful time.The pain of crisis that I had endured in the final months before my decision to transition became a reality -- the moment when I left behind my old life, a wife, a house and home, a business, my whole world -- to be myself melted away in her company. I found a style as Ann very similar to my style as Michael. I found inside me the very same person I'd always been. Why does the outward appearance matter so much to us? We must have been quite a pair as we shopped for groceries, we were noticed and often clerks or stock boys would talk to us. We became known. Our lives intertwined. She talked of the future and the little time left, but it wasn't real.I visited her every day in hospital. She seemed well enough. Certainly, she could be feisty. My siblings came and determined that I could no longer look after her. I 'wasn't well enough'. Mother accepted this at first but as time passed her mind changed. She wanted to go home. The family resisted and pressured her. She resisted in silence, often doubting that she could survive in palliative care or even a home for the elderly. "What ever it is that you wish, mother, that I what I will do."A day came that the doctor told her, "There are only a few months now." and she turned to me and said, "Please, would you take me home?"  I did.The anger of the family at this was soon revealed. She came home able to walk with a walker, but no one came to visit. No one called. "I have done the right thing." she would say to me, "I just want to be at home." In that first week, she walked to the table each morning. We watched the morning sun sparkle through the branches and onto the lawn. I cooked porridge and she'd ask for Cream of Wheat. I'd make scrambled eggs and she would ask for a poached egg. I happily complied. We talked until she tired. Slowly she would find her way back to the bedroom to rest. I would sit in the garden and wait and wonder what the end would be like -- for both of us.Being a caregiver is quite beyond the effort of simply being company. The load was greater than I expected and tenderness and attention take great effort. I began to weaken with the effort and grew resentful that the family was silent and absent -- their way of showing displeasure. As I stood in the dark silence of evening garden, sipping the day's last coffee, smoking a cigarette to calm myself, my neighbour would peer over the garden fence and invite me into his garden for a few minutes conversation and a beer."Where is your family?" he would ask. He would share insights of his mother's passing at home and assured me of my strength. I felt comforted.In the second week, the walker was surrendered to a wheelchair. Support nurses began to visit each day. The local hospice came with support for me. I could finally sleep. The house began to change as furniture was moved to make way for the wheelchair and the meals became small. Her naps grew longer and more frequent. I sat in longer, deeper silence with my thoughts. I wondered at my future. I felt alone and unable.There was no time for a job now. I asked for a leave but was told I was now "too unreliable" and they couldn't commit to my return. I left in anger and relief, but I was scared. I had no job.There was support in the house now -- for mother and for me -- but still no family. At the end of the second week, mother lapsed badly. I called the family. An army of siblings arrived with partners in tow. I was displaced as if I were no more than staff. Mother regained and could talk. Tears were shed, help was offered. And then they all left.In the third week the wheelchair too was surrendered, for only brief moments was mother out of bed. A hospital bed arrived, and oxygen. With each day, home slipped away. Meals became delicate, quiet and brief. My infringement of her dignity, the essential intimacy of patient and caregiver grew, as I helped her with her toilet and helped her to and from bed. She talked little and slept often. I brought a flower each day from the garden. Each was her favourite. The summer began to wane and I worked the garden to find some peace and sense.  I slept in her displaced bed, next to the hospital bed. She slipped further away.In the fourth week, the family arrived. The trials of the passed weeks were ignored. My older sister took over. She interceded with the doctor and nurses who visited. I was given instructions of what I should be doing. I was now told how to care for mother. I was hurt more deeply than I know and angered too. My desire to fulfill mother's last wish to me was usurped. I felt petty and guilty for my anger. Emotions boiled and all the while mother slipped further away, but we shared a nightly vigil.I have worked in a hospital. I have seen dying and death. I have been dispassionate, but you cannot be so with family. Mother had guided me through the darkest parts of my transition, through the losses, the regrets and the doubts. She had been a constant in my life. That light was going out. Finally, her voice and perhaps thoughts were silenced. Throughout, mother had declined painkillers. I don't know if she felt pain but certainly she wanted to be aware and awake as long as possible. My sister and I argued. "Leave her be!", I wanted to shout at my sister. Medication was given once and then rejected by mother by silent waves and pursed lips. Finally in a moment of clarity, mother accepted the nurse's suggestion of morphine. I knew with that that the end had come.I stayed with her that night, each few hours administering a needle of morphine. It was not a long night, nor was it tiring. It was a night that seemed to take place all at once in my memory. I brushed her hair lightly not to disturb her sleep. Her breathing faded. I lay in the bed beside, without thoughts. At dawn I gave her a last needle. I knew that for me she was already gone. I woke my sister that she might share whatever last moments remained. Whatever last moment my sister needed with mother I wanted her to have. At 9:00 am the nurse came quietly out of the room and announced her passing. I didn't cry. I didn't feel sadness or regret. I felt relief that her struggle was over. I hoped that I had fulfilled her wish.
    1858 Posted by Ann Teve
  • 29 Oct 2008
    I was coffee, muffin, soft drink and purse in hand as I walked up the sidewalk to my car. It had snowed this morning -- a couple of inches -- and I was going slowly. I was expecting to drop something. A construction worker brushed past me, walking briskly up ahead. He stopped, he paused, he turned."Do you still work at Lee Valley?" he asked. I was amazed. How is that totally across town, someone can identify me?"Yes, I do." I smiled a big smile. He smiled and walked away. I think he was nervous. Ow!! So close to a date. Just kidding.In the grocery store, striding from the milk display toward the bread aready, I approached a very young woman pushing a grocery cart with a young boy in the cart seat - his back to me. The girl glanced at me. I smiled as I walked by."Mommy, look at the BIG GIRL!" came a stong young voice. I had to laugh, it was too cute. I didn't look bad however.I was stopped at the mall by a really pretty young woman. Would I like to join a women's gym? I took the coupon with a smile. Yeah, right!I kept the coupon in my purse and glanced at it once or twice. Mel -- my best friend -- and we went out for coffee. Seizing the opportunity, I asked her to accompany me to the club. I was going to join. As Mel said to my fretting on the trip there, "What can they say? Its discrimination not to accept you." I'm really not the type to lean on points of law. Oh, well.After a brief questionaire about one's aspirations for fitness, the 'tour' came. I thought I might get to see the machines but was totally surprised to be taken through the change room. No, on one was there. Well, one lady was, but she wasn't much to look at. Wow! So does this mean I can join? Yup, it did. So I did. I haven't gone there yet... I'm still working up to that.A friend has a young (4) daughter. Somedays she likes me. Somedays not. Last evening was a liking day. We played Unicorn which involved my 'chasing' her at a glacial pace around her playroom in the basement. She began to laugh. It was the heartiest laugh of a child totally enjoying themselves. I started to cry, realizing in that moment that this was the cost I was paying with my family. Denied access to my neices and nephews, I didn't until that moment realize how massive that lose was.I was invited to dinner by a sister-in-law. She had her two teenage girls join us for dinner. I was surprised. They are shy of course but I was so taken by her willingness to bring me back into the family - or a part of it. I was very, very touched. It was pork with potatoes and green beans.I wonder if I'll ever get a real job, again. Most days I feel very good. There are odd days still where I feel like I have a sign on my back that says, "Was a Guy!". Funny how that happens. Then the next day, I float through feeling perfectly contented.There is a marvellous irony to my life now. Here I am in public -- Ann - boldly going where I please, as I please. Sometimes, I'm looked at and I can feel them thinking, "That's a guy wearing women's clothes." and I don't care. Contrast this with more than 40 years where I did everything possible to prevent even a hint of who I was showing to the public. Wow, what wasted effort.It feels a bit of a celebration to update my blog. I haven't had the chances of before to keep it current or to descend deeply into my thoughts. Don't worry, though, I will.
    1819 Posted by Ann Teve
Society Girl's Personal Blogs 1,667 views Aug 02, 2009
Back
Wow, I absolutely can't believe that my last blog was in February. A lot has happened since then. The biggest news, without doubt, is that my mother is terminally ill. She has, according to the doctors, only about two to three months left. It is so very difficult to believe this as she is the picture of health at the moment.

It all started very unremarkably in November when mother -- who is 86 -- had a regular x-ray done. There was a 'consolidation' in one of her lungs. She had spoken of 'not being right' for a while, but what does that mean with an elderly person? I should have paid more attention. Another x-ray was scheduled for December. Consequent to this, Mother was asked to visit a clinic. On December 22nd it was explained that she had plueral effusion -- the build up of fluid in the cavity containing the lungs. It was decided to delay the procedure to drain this fluid until after Christmas.

Shortly after Christmas and before the scheduled appointment I awoke to a crisis. There in the kitchen was mother, quite blue, gasping for air. An ambulance was called. The family was called. Panic set in. The fluid had displaced mother's lungs and, in the hospital, an emergency procedure drained the fluid. Mother could again breathe. The family arrived, at first braced with panic. This quickly devolved to anger. How could I, as mother's principal caregiver -- I've been living with her since, my own breakdown -- allow this to happen? Shaken by the thought that mother might die, I was now crushed by this new turn. I have been mother's constant companion since I came home slightly over two years ago. For two years, she nurtured me as I faced the losses incurred by finally accepting my transition. Now I nurtured her. I had given her time, love and care. I had allowed her to continue to live her life just as she wanted. To my family, the house wasn't clean enough, the pantry empty and mother frail. But all these were mother's choices. I felt betrayed; I felt I had failed.

Mother recovered. The cause of the fluid was left a mystery. My siblings returned to their lives.

Mother's appetite waned. Diabetic doses of insulin calibrated to a full diet were now massive overdoses as she ate less and less. I pleaded with her to make changes. Ever independent she bristled at my intrusion into her life. Our relationship began to slip. Her strength diminished. She became pale and weak. The more I pleaded, the more she resisted. A second crisis arrived.

Mother was rushed to hospital.  Tests were done; the family was called. An x-ray revealed a massive increase in fluid. All day I sat by mother's bed in the emergency ward. And into the night. I was unnerved but tried to be strong for her. Late at night an emergency procedure was again done. More than three litres (some 30% of her lung capacity) was drained away. Frail from malnutrition and perilously low blood sugar levels, mother was weak and helpless. The possible loss of mother -- the person who had salvaged my life as I had struggled with my identity -- shattered me. I went home to an empty house. I hugged Smudge my cat. I sobbed.

Hospitals are places of miracles. Day by day, mother's health and strength improved. Her colour came back. She was still weak and breathless but growing stronger. Doctors came. Therapists came. Social Workers came. Nurses hovered attentively. The Canadian health care system worked its magic. The only concern was mother's well-being. She became more talkative and more feisty. She came back to me. The family returned.

"Ann can't look after mother!"  How can a trans-woman and someone bi-polar at that, take care of an elderly woman. My siblings kicked into gear, efficiently kicking me aside. I was devastated.

Being bi-polar and not knowing of the condition is a nightmare. One faces days of depression -- the inability to muster one's resources to accomplish anything. Then there are the days of brilliance, when nothing is too great a challenge and one's efficiency and creativity climbs through the roof. And continues to climb, and climb and climb until, like a firework at its apogee, one simply explodes and descents as fizzling fading ineffectual particles. The stress seemed to create that mania in me. I became obsessive at work. I got 'written up' for obsessively helping customers. I became angry and paranoid that my manager was out to get me. I began to smoke obsessively. I gardened until my hands were immovably cramped, my knees ached and my back was burned by the sun. I slept fitfully, awaking early unable to return to sleep. I cried spontaneously. I felt profoundly lonely. I took a leave from work.

I visited mother every day. We would sit and talk. Every day she improved. When the family visited, I would leave offering that, "it allows you to have more personal time with mother." I declined invitations to dinner with my visiting siblings. I was drawing away from them, they felt. They felt maligned. "What's the matter with Michael?" My brothers could not bring themselves to call me Ann. I felt alone without choice. My world seemed to be collapsing. My job was in peril, my energy gone. The one person who had stood by me without question was slipping away.

It was cancer. Perhaps 6 months; perhaps a year. My siblings received the news stoically. Arrangements had to be made. Care given. They conferred dispassionately. Duties were assigned. I retreated to a now vacant house and cried. Just at this moment when my life as Ann was coalescing into happiness, at the moment when I could see a future, the most important person in my life was losing hers.

My mania grew. I gardened. I smoked cigarettes. I cried. My mind filled with words that I had to get out. My job -- now reduced to 16 hours per week -- barely paid for food. I had to get these words down.

"Perhaps three months. Perhaps less." Their words left me cold and empty. I had never felt so alone. Our time together was slipping away too quickly. I sold my ROLEX, a watch that I had purchased when I was 18 and which had been my constant companion. I cried at its loss but I bought a computer.

I am not religious but I am profoundly spiritual. A scientific, critical mind is my curse. I wish it was so simple to believe in a God and a Heaven. But I cannot. If a God exists; they must be beyond earthly conception. It cannot be so simple. But it cannot end like this. I could not sleep for tears and fear and loneliness. And in the morning it came to me in a poem for mother.

Where Will Your Spirit Go?

where will your spirit go,
when your final rest has come
where will your spirit go,
when we’ve said our last farewell
and the warmth has left your hand

where will your spirit go
when you’ve closed your eyes
and I’ve whispered my goodbye
where will your spirit go
when I’m left alone to cry
 
into the garden where your roses are
and onto the dappled lawn
into the cherries that the birds would eat
and the pears the squirrels steal
into the bough of strawberries
the nasturtiums, the columbine

by the curve of the road you once walked
and the gap in the backyard fence
at the stop for the bus where you once stood
and the places where you worked
into all the hearts of all the friends
that you have ever known.

where will your spirit go
when your rest at last has come
when you say goodbye and close your eyes
and I am all alone

into Smudge’s gentle curl on your now empty bed,
and into her silent padded tread,
and the pleasure that she gave.
into her search for her missing friend,
and the spot next to where you sat
reserved for her alone.

where will your spirit go
when your rest at last has come
when you say goodbye and close your eyes
and I am all alone

into the words you spoke to me
and the kindness I recall
into the hours that we spend
and the places we would go 

into the pictures you once held
and the stories that you told,
into the tune you searched to find,
on the piano in the hall.
into the music father played
and the quiet late at night
when I lie sleepless in my bed

where will your spirit go
when your rest at last has come
when you say goodbye and close your eyes
and I am all alone
 

into the doubts that you put at bay
and the courage that you gave
into the joy that your friendship brought
and the tears together shed
into the comfort that I’ll feel
knowing I am now my own

into this new life you’ve given me
and all the trials that it took,
into the happiness that I’ll find
and all I’ve yet to do,

into the family that I have
Geoff, Jon and Jen and Kate
and the people who they love
into the memories they hold of you
and their hearts for ever more

where will your spirit go
when your rest at last has come
when you say goodbye and close your eyes
and I am all alone

into the eyes of a yet born child
to whom we’ll tell your stories
and the stories we have of you
 
where will your spirit go,
when your final rest has come
where will your spirit go,
when we’ve said our last farewell
and the warmth has left your hand
where will your spirit go
when you’ve closed your eyes
and I’ve whispered my goodbye
where will your spirit go
when I’m left alone to cry

into the shade of the quiet bough
and onto a granite plaque,
where I'll touch your name
where a date’s now etched
and I'll find you there and comfort too,

and I will be at home.


Ann 2009