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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.
    3414 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.
    1921 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.
    1869 Posted by Ann Teve
  • 10 Dec 2011
    As I write, there is a beautiful, bright, cold Canadian winter day beyond the window. I'm all set at my computer for some work but before I start, I just have to write and tell you – friends who might remember me, and others here – my good news. On January 11, I fully start a new life as Ann. That is the date of my SRS. I am sol fortunate that this is covered by the Canadian Health Service, otherwise, I would not be able to afford it. It has been a very long path and at moments especially dispiriting, at moments uncertain and at moments exhillerating and at many, many moments just plain ordinary.   I have been fortunate to be able to return to school to study for another degree. I am uncertain about returning to the business world so I am working toward a degree in Social Work. I have wonderful profs and equally wonderful classmates. For the most part they are very young and beautiful women – competent, ambitious and oh so smart. After a false start last year, I have done well this year and am very pleased. Certainly there are moments where being 58 I am simply out of step with my classmates most of whom are under 25. I could be a parent to any one of them.   Along with school I have a parttime job in research. I am a research assistant in a Transgender/Transsexual study in Ontario, Canada and also working on an international HIV study. Both are incredibly interesting. The research group is wonderful and they have totally accepted me.   I am often 'accused' of being courageous in this journey. I would characterize my journey as more the product of being too obstinate (or dumb) to stop.   My surgery takes place on January 11th in Montreal, Canada. As this final step approaches, I have many clarifying (and terrifying) moments. I've always been an 'keep all options open' kind of girl. With surgery, there are doors that are finally closed. Before I can close those doors, there is much to bring to a final resolution. It is a good thing. I can feel the emotions in me; my confidence, like random buds in a spring garden appears randomly and increasingly.   This part of my journey, though, will not be visible to my friends. Coming out and living full-time was the outwardly visible step. Living full-time was the step that let me claim my place in society, to find the fit and friends and fulfillment that I had been seeking all my life. The surgery, is my personal claim to me. I will be complete and fully committed to my new life. (I'll be able to go back to the beach, finally.)   The Gender Society and all of the wonderful people – past and present – was a safe-haven and truly wonderful place to express myself, know that I was not alone and not invisible. You understood my challenges, consoled and comforted and guided me through the rough and shared the joys and successes. For that I am enormously thankful. I've made friends around the world and although our connection has been tenuous in the last years, you are never far from my thoughts.   I've loved the chat. That is where my personality was able to blossom – even if my humour is corny. I hope that I've been an interesting and positive contribution to that.   Hmmm, this is sounding more and more like a goodbye letter. It is not. My intention is solely to share an introspective moment with old friends.   I am facing about a month's recovery. During that time, I hope to do a lot of reading. I'll probably appear in the chat, too. Come spring I'm going to buy a nice bathing suit (age appropriate, of course) and reclaim the beach, which I love. I'll go sunning and swimming. What an amazing spring this will be.   For all of you, where ever you are on your path to whatever destination, stay hopeful and positive. I won't call this a 'dream-come-true', it is a destination finally reached. My new horizon is still distant but it is in sight. The winds are now favourable. I set sail in uncertainty but I am arriving in confidene and expectancy. Ironically, this part of my journey – which means so much to me – beyond a beaming smile will be invisible to everyone around me. But you and I will know.
    1777 Posted by Ann Teve
Society Girl's Personal Blogs 1,940 views Sep 30, 2009
And So It is Done
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.