Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Progress with Breast

Actually I had my seventh expansion last Friday morning and the total amount of saline injected is 700 ml; at my last appointment I learned that the doctor had injected me with 200 ml as he finished the first surgery. So it’s not the 500 ml that I thought had been injected but it's 700 ml. 700 ml; that is like the amount of a small bottle of wine or 3 cups of something or 24 oz; and it’s sitting right there on my chest like half of a softball. Sometimes I feel like an ugly duck, because I have this huge thing sitting right there on my chest.

I know that this is just how it is suppose to happen with this breast expander, but I really don’t know what to do with this one oversize ‘boob’ when compared to my other side. My bras really don't fit for the extreme size differences of my two breast, but I stuff and pad the left side with one of my old silicone push up pad that I had. Sometimes it seems to be more noticeable now that a few weeks ago, I sleep on my left side mostly and it pushes my right arm out of the way; or it tries to as I try to find a comfortable position.

I have had more pain and discomfort with this expansion than the other weeks. It is holding its place and I am more aware of my breasts when I breathe, when I walk and swing my arms, when I lay down. I was told to do my stretching every day to help the skin stretch and I can feel the muscle around the expander.

The staff keeps telling me that I will lose some of the extra tissue when they remove the new scar; he opened the old scar that I had from my mastectomy, and I will lose some when the reconstruct a new nipple. But the size that I see now, I think I will be totally happy with the complete new matching breasts. My next appointment is next Monday and we’ll talk about where we go from there.

Monday, July 28, 2008


Ten years ago I had never heard of Lambeth, did not know what a diocese was, nor what a vestry was and certainly did not know that women could serve on a governing body for a church. Then I was introduced to a small Episcopal church. I came with a previous history of being a Baptist with a long hiatus from religion.

The hiatus was a result of seeing a change in the church I had been reared in becoming less tolerant of "the other," no place for women and just what I saw as just plain mean spiritedness. At least some of this was directed to me personally from a little bigoted minister.

I was amazed and delighted to see a that the Episcopal church was very welcoming. I was welcomed into a community that took care of each other. Women were encouraged to take leadership roles in the church AND were taken seriously. Many different views were held by the people in the church and while there may have been discussions, no one expected to have their view "win out."

THEN I met Sarah. She and I became friends and then more. She came out to our church as transgender. There were lots of different opinions some of them difficult to deal with. Finally, after a time, Sarah and I know that we are beloved members of our small Episcopal church. There may be some that disapprove of us but that happens in every community. Eventually, it will all work out.

Lambeth is being held now and bishops are discussing what the place of lgbt's will be in the church and whether blessing of unions may or may not be permissible. For many people the discussions at Lambeth are only a passing interest but for Sarah and I it is very personal. We are the face of the "t" in lgbt and we also look like the "l" in lgbt for those into putting labels on people. This makes me so sad. To know that there are people in England discussing my place in the church and what is available to me in the church.

I wonder what the future will hold in the Episcopal church for the represented by the letters lgbt?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Moral Courage?

Lately I have been reading Barack Obama’s book, The Audacity of Hope, in which he writes about holding moral values. He cites the Senate’s debate about the. “ Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, where he states that there were those who argued that government should not interject itself into civil society, that no law could force white people to associate with blacks. Upon hearing these arguments, Dr. King replied, ‘It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me but it can keep him from lynching me and I think that is pretty important, also.’ “(pg 63). He further says, “…this idea that our communal values, our sense of mutual responsibility and social solidarity, should express themselves not just in the church or the mosque or the synagogue; not just on the blocks where we live, in the places were we work, or within our own families; but also through our government.”

How do we ever justify the many levels of our fractured moral fabric we put forth in our daily living with our families and in our business. How do we tell ourselves that it’s all right to preach to our children about telling the truth, being honest with yourselves, never lie to people, never cheat people out of what they’re due; and then with the people we work with on a daily basis, do to them exactly what we have told our children they shouldn’t do. Where and how did we lose that basic sense of trust; where we had a stack of newspaper and people could take one and leave the money on top of the stack? What happened to the idea that someone’s word or a shake of their hand meant something.

How can we ever explain to those who we love the harm we have committed on other’s for the only reason to get ahead; because we valve pride, wealth, status, etc, over treating someone respectfully, courteously, as an equal. To value and protect those same rights of our fellow man who have the same rights and privileges laid down by our founding fathers in our governing Bill of Rights.

Dr. King's words "It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me but it can keep him from lynching me and I think that is pretty important, also.", is just important to remember in these troubled times as we struggle with gender discrimination and fighting for inclusiveness in state and city government. I once heard someone describe on a video that if a person has never felt the burning desire to wear underpants of the opposite gender, then they can never understand the passion and fear of living as the other gender. We can't make all those people understand our feelings and need to live the other gender, but me must make it unlawful to discriminate against us; make it unlawful to beat us because we live a different life than they do; make it unlawful to stir hatred in the name of religion because we live differently than they do.

How could I, a father of three children who preached to them that they were to live their lives honestly and righteously and with integrity; face myself while I was spending considerable time and effort trying to keep secrets by not being truthful to my children about who I was. In trying to hide my secret, I wasn’t being truthful or honest with my life, which was separate but not equal to my life that I lived with them as their father.

As a First Sergeant, and a student in the Sergeant’s Major Academy, I had the moral obligation to enforce all military rules and regulations; to ensure that each of the soldiers under my authority adhered to certain standards of conduct; which the same rules of conduct were in direct conflict with my guilt from dressing as Sarah; when I could find a solitary place and time. So my being dismissed from the Army was the result of the moral conflict raging within me; to finally live a life based on integrity and not on secrets.

This conflict continued to rage and occupy my time and efforts as I was trying to teach my children to live their lives with integrity; until the time of my divorce and my coming out, as it were. It appears that my sons may never come to terms with my being trans; but I keep them in my prayers that one day that may understand and we can talk about my being trans.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Progress with Breast

Had my fifth expansion last Friday morning and the total amount of saline injected is 440 cc; it has taken a few days for the discomfort (slight) to show up. I realize that I can ‘feel’ how the breast lays on my chest when I breathe. Also, I can feel the increased size of the breast or expander within my armpit, as it were. I am finally realizing and visualizing the final shape that my breast should take, which is much better than I have ever imagined them to be.

Happily, they are something to deal with at night as I try desperately to settle into a comfortable position. With the new breast and my greater propensity for hot flashes it’s not easy to find a good sleeping position; I usually sleep on my left side because I find I am more restless when I am on my back. So, I am always turning this way and that all night.

It’s has been over 9 weeks since I had the first surgery; having been told it could be 6 to 10 weeks of expansion appointments. My next appointment will be with the PA and Dr. Mast to determine when to proceed with the final replacement surgery. We’ll just have to be patient for what comes next…..

I am looking lovingly to when I can try on the more daring bras and sun dresses.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Bible or ‘says’, or is it ‘Reads’?

As I understand the transformation that is happening within the Protestant Church’s since middle 1900s is that scripture is being defined as the “literal Word of G-d”. Leaders of various Christian movements are using the pulpit as a platform to define what the Bible is telling us to do, ‘The Word of G-d’, “the Bible Say’s”. These church leaders give us their interpretations of various snatches of scripture, lifted from the core of the written history and acts of holy men and how they describe their lives with the life of Jesus Christ. With that said, the history during which the texts for the New Testaments were compiled as recollection was more likely written using terms and words that had several different meanings and connotations at the time it was written on paper.

We have seen how the meanings of words in our language have shifted meaning during our own lifetimes. Of how the word ‘gay’ has been redefined from the adjective meaning of the 1st syn. ‘Merry, blithe, festive, gleeful, jolly’, or the 2nd syn. “Lively”, as in ‘alert spirited, vivacious’ to the 5 syn. ‘Homosexual, homophile, inverted queer, uranian, as found in the 1976 edition of Webster’s Collegiate Thesaurus.

From Wikipedia’s definitions: By the mid-20th century, "gay" was well-established as an antonym for "straight" (which had connotations of respectability), and to refer to the lifestyles of unmarried and/or unattached people. Other connotations of frivolousness and showiness in dress ("gay attire") led to association with camp and effeminacy. This association no doubt helped the gradual narrowing in scope of the term towards its current dominant meaning, which was at first confined to subcultures.

Or this: One of the many characters invented by 1950s TV comic Ernie Kovacs was a "gay-acting" poet named Percy Dovetonsils. In one of his poems (which were always read to an imaginary off-screen character named "Bruce") he mentions the expression "gay caballero".

By 1963, the word "gay" was known well enough by the straight community to be used by Albert Ellis in his book The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Man-Hunting.

So the meaning of terms and definitions can shift and change over a relatively short period of history. So with the difference of almost 1900 years between the times the Gospels were put down on paper and the different understands of terms, phrases, and words, to the present; where we preach the literal textural readings of lifted texts from the old and new testaments. Our tunnel interpretations’ of the meaning and connotations of words and phrases we garner from the literal reading is quite different from the original written word. So in order for us to have a better understanding of our readings of the Bible, we should be encouraged to better understand the history of the world and its direct influence on the men who dictated or wrote their own understanding of their history and influence that Jesus Christ had on their personal lives.

So let us break the violence perpetuated by a small number of 'Christian' warriors who have draped the cloak of judge, and executioner upon their shoulders in order to justify the religious violence inflicted upon those person who don't subject themselves to their ideology of Christian beliefs.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Sex Identification

One of the boxes that are on any company or government form when applying for anything is the boxes they use to identify one’s sex. Do you check the F or M box on forms? Why do you have to mark either one, when the government says that the company can’t discriminate?

i.e Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin

Just why does your boss really have to know what sex you ascribe to? I would like to know. Just why does the government need that box on your state’s driver’s license? My Military Identification Card doesn’t have that box on its card; why is it needed on other forms of identification? Is it to make sure that the company hires equal numbers of males and females, and couldn’t they determine that fact in the initial interview? The Social Security Administration knows the sex of each one of us, and their data is never changed, so why do we need to mark one of those boxes on the form we fill out. What will happen if we don’t mark it? I always thought it strange that while I was an Army First Sergeant, I was required to treat everyone the same, that on the front lines it didn’t matter what one’s ancestry was; but several government department required that we brake down all personnel accounting data according to race and sex when it came time to report the information to the appropriate government office.

Do the government bean counter hiding in their little cubicles, really need to know how many males or female a company hires. Is this why we are so stuck on classifying people according to a binary system identification of sex traits? Do we really need to have the sex identifier on our national ID card? We just can’t waltz into any government and ask for a new driver license to change our name, no! We must submit a document and have the legal system review the request and then have a judge sign the thing. How many times are we fingerprinted in our life, or do we require fingerprinting? Believe me; if I was ever arrested because the government thought I was someone else, I would be glad if they could do a fingerprint check to tell the government we are not the bad person they are looking for. But having us put our sex identifier on our national ID card; is that really necessary?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Turn of Events

It have become my habit to walk every, if not, most mornings. The route I walk takes me two circuits around the University’s main campus. Nice wide front lawn carefully mowed and cared for is a weekly task by the large numbers of ground keepers. The campus has a great many pine and magnolia trees and azalea bushes which are beautiful when they bloom in early spring. It is a pleasant walk which takes about an hour to complete; it is a quiet time for me since I prefer to walk without headphones. I get charged for the day just listening to sounds of the birds and wind in the trees and even the rush as the cars whiz by; but it is also a good time to think, have dialogues with myself answering pointed questions as I think of them.

Which brings me to my becoming involved with the PFLAG movement; last school term, several groups with the University sponsored a diversity day on the front lawn of main campus and one of the tables was for PFLAG. Kay and I had been talking with a therapist about what we could do to support our GLBT students and families. In wondering how to get invitations to talk to civic groups explaining the purpose of PFLAG and our purpose is to provide a safe place to meet and discuss the problems that people face on a daily basis.

The dialogues turned into sermons and lectures as to how I should best response to rejection and anger that I am imagining will happen. My thoughts jump to the story of Jesus and the woman at the well and I talk about the woman’s societal place and that Jesus, as a Jew, is not suppose to even talk to her because she is an adulterous woman; and has no husband. In asking her to draw him a cup of water he is reaching out to a woman who has been marginalized by society and is not one to associate with. The point that I get from this story is who Jesus will time and again reach out to the people who have been cast aside by society to forgive them, bless them and bring them into the fold of his new flock. And then tie the previous moral lesson to other stories of Jesus and what who he told us to love. All this to make people think about the value of their child life as opposed to the "unworthiness" with his or her being gay.

Anyway the turn of events seems to be how I have managed to redirect my energies to successively organizing a chapter of PFLAG in our growing metropolis in South Georgia. We want to bring people who have been scorned or ridiculed by our society to a safe place where they tell their story.

I am excited and look forward to our PFLAG chapter being a supported resource to the community.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


There is a small group in town that is charging forward to organize a chapter of PFLAG. We have had 3 planning meetings and hope to have our first organized meeting in August (keep checking this blog for more updates if you do not have a myspace page.) If you do have a page with myspace, then go to www.myspace.com/genderconversations to keep in touch with what is happening around our town.
As always, we celebrate diversity and encourage those who consider themselves to be GLBT, Genderqueer or whatever you think yourself to be and especially parents of children who have declared themselves to be 'gay' to come to any meeting for support and encouragement.
We will show videos, movies, and have copies of resource book and information.
We all are G-ds children and are loved by him.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Today’s appointment

Today I had my 5th appointment to be injected; only 60 cc since I am doing quite well. The tissue expander is doing its job very nicely; however because I had some lymph nodes removed when I had my mastectomy, my underarm has quite a small area that is drawn up! Anyway, I have noticed a similarity between the breast prosthesis that I was using and the shape that my breast has taken after 380 cc’s of saline being injected into the expander.

I am aware that my arm brushes against my breast just as it did when I wore the prosthesis. I am also noticing a defined shape to the edges of the breast and that my left breast is really getting envious of the right; but only for a few more weeks. I had bought two new bras a few weeks after my surgery; but with the quick development of the right breast, those are not going to work much longer. Tonight I am having some mild discomfort with today’s procedure; and not sure if is wearing the new bras or something else.

A few years ago Kay and I went to Tallahassee to go support some friends because they were doing a drag show as part of the King’s performance. But one the female performers doing her solo act was sporting a pair of ‘HH’ boobs, (they were the size of volley balls at least). I now know what she must have subjected herself to in order to get breast that large, and she didn’t have to start expanding after a mastectomy.

I now know that I will have about 4 more appointments in order to over expand my breast tissue and then we will replace with silicone implants. They will need the extra tissue to construct a new nipple and the PA will match the color of my left nipple when she tattoos a matching areola. It will be great to have two headlights instead of just the one (sorry) so if and when I go braless or wear something sheer; not see through, but sheer, they will at least match.

Stay tuned for more!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Celebrations and Ceremonies


Soldier’s parade marching in step

Bands play music timed with steady beat

Precision oozing from every pore

Established military sequence to be followed

National colors placed in center of troops

Military honors given, heads bare

Hands over heart, Lyrics recited

Old Soldiers stand, eyes filled with tearful

Memories of bygone years

Chest full of fading ribbons

Metals for campaigns won

Remembering company buddies

Fallen comrades left on the battlefield

Ceremonies conclude with “Pass-in-Review”

The band leads the marching troops

To their respective place

Found before the Retiring Soldier

Marches played to the Troops in passing

Finishes the final salute

Leaving with the “Army Song”

As they march into the rising mist

SJ Riggle

January 31, 2002

Today is a day of ceremonies and remembrance of our counties struggle to be free. As a Viet-nam era veteran, and with 20 some years connected with the military community, how I remember well all those July 4ths of years past of parties, and fireworks and concerts played on the parade fields.

But as with Veterans Day and Memorial Day let us look our veterans in the eye's and tell them thanks for a job well done. Sit with them to hear their stories of their glories and heartbreak for fallen friends. This is our Independence Day but the celebration and ceremonies rests of the shoulders of military veterans. Well Done, Band of Brothers, Well done.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Next Chapter

The continuing story of the ballooning expander.

Since my last post I have had two appointments to inject saline into the expander. I really have had no amount of pain as of today. With 320 cc of saline having been injected, she is a looking pretty good; I’ve got some real nice cleavage going showing when I want. The other breast is getting some strong boob envy; but that will work out when they replace the expander with the implants. We have one more appointment for some more saline and then the Doctor will decide the next step. We’re getting a real close to being done.

The only pain is from the two different sticks from the two syringes that the doctor has to use to put 100 cc for each appointment. I’m not saying that the next person won’t have pain, but I haven’t had any pain at all.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Some People

Some people absolutely baffle me. Tonight we hosted a meeting in our home. One of the women is a very disagreeable and critical sort. She had fussed at the kids during dinner. After dinner, while we were talking, she began a discussion about Bp. Gene Robinson. She stated that 1300 bishops had signed some kind of letter opposing him at Lambeth. And then she made a comment about his being gay and living with his partner. That's when I corrected her and told her he was now married. "She almost had a "conniption fit." She said that was not possible. I assured her it was possible in New Hampshire. Thank God, one of the other women abruptly changed the subject.

Did she miss the fact that the 2 women in whose home she was a guest is in a transgender relationship?? Did she not see that we present as a lesbian couple? Surely, she did not miss the gossip when we were legally married.

I think this situation may illustrate some of the problems we face in society. In a nutshell, it simply has to do with good old fashioned manners. Now that I have this off my chest, maybe I can go to sleep.

Good night to all.