Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Lists

Thanksgiving season steps on the heels of Christmas Celebrations and blurs the demarcation live between the two. These months are a time for reflections of the good things we share with others; and just as dramatic is a time of loneliness and pain. I pray that those who are estranged from their family find unity and acceptance. I pray that those of us who are struggling be at peace with themselves. I pray for understanding and hope that we can live in harmony with those who disagree with us. I pray the hatred, and violence will stop hurting our brothers and sisters who defy labels.

I am thankful for finding my Kay and having celebrated our second wedding anniversary; I have never been happier in my lives. I am thankful for my three children and what they have managed to do with their lives; as well as my two grandchildren. I truly love them and am sorry, very sorry for the pain I have caused them in years past.

I am thankful for my life as it has unfolded and getting to share all the joys with my wife Kay. I am thankful for being so close to Kay’s family, for their acceptance of me and including me as a welcomed member of the family. I am thankful for being a Godmother to little Sophianna, thank you Chris and Catherine for asking us to be a spiritual mentor to your family.

I am thankful for each and every member of the new PFLAG group that Kay and I started with Becky. All of you deserve a family who accepts and welcomes without judgment. I am thankful for being a member of Integrity, the LGBT group within the Episcopal Church, fighting for the right of inclusion for everyone, pushing for rites of marriage within the Churches governing body.

I am thankful for the opportunity to tell my story to students at the University; not to change ones mind but to open new understanding of our struggle to live in our communities without the hate and anger and violence inflicted upon us. To let them see a loving couple who shares the story of a transgender partner.

I am grateful for being a member of the Vagina Monologue last year, for going to New Orleans for 10th Celebration of VDay, for going to Southern Comfort 08 and meeting wonderful people who celebrate being themselves in a safe place.

I am ever so thankful for the good results about my breast cancer treatment, my breast surgery, and my other partial surgery, which gets me off the monthly Lupron shot. I am thankful for the peace and joy of my live since I have accepted myself as ‘Sarah’.

May the Season of Celebration found within Thanksgiving and the Days of Christmas bring Happiness of Joy to you and your family, the Light of Love to those you care about, and the Peace of mind and body to be true to yourself in life.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Emotional Colors

I have been attempting to examine what has happened to my emotional and spiritual self before and after transition. Since becoming my true self, my emotional colors are bright and cheery; I live in the present and am very happy. I can’t change the past; that’s done and over and dominated the life of ‘John’. As for the future, that hasn’t been written and the possibilities are endless as to where I shall find myself with my wife, Kay.

Someone suggested that we should read the Shack which is on the bestsellers booklist. This book will twist what you think you know about God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit and their relationship to us. It just gives me another way to look at our lives, relationships and understandings of the power of giving ones self to something higher.

I remember the old comic strip Lit’Abner being read to me by my father while I sat on his lap. There was a character in the strip that always had a black cloud hanging over his head, everywhere he went, I’m not sure of his name, but he was always a gloomy figure. I think that was how I was before I transitioned, gloomy, surrounded by different intensity of grays; hardly any color. I was colored with a mix of grays because my family and I didn’t confront the fact that I was dressing and going out and it affected and dulled the emotional coloring of our relationship. My ex couldn’t stand the thought of anyone seeing me dressed as Sarah; anything feminine that might suggest or hint of someone other than ‘John’ was frightening to her because she had no control over what I was doing and that scared the hell out of her.

I spent a half of a lifetime trying to second guess the decisions of my past life; ‘What if I had only done this!”; “What I should have done was that!”, “What I would only give if I could take this or that back”. Living in the past only made my gray cloud more intense. Now as I am living in the present, and Kay and I have had many heart to heart discussions about me, where I am, where we are, what makes us so rich emotionally is because we are so open and truthful; by removing the thick frosty covering from myself I can feel the tension dissolve. I truly believe that the Holy Spirit lives in both of us as we develop our relationships with each other; going about helping others, watching our neighbor’s children, visiting the sick, etc.. I am much more relaxed, and at peace with myself, having let the past languish in the past; and am excited about the future and what I could bring.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Love Know no Bounds

The other night, Kay and I decided to see a movie which happened to be sold out, so as we were standing at the ticket window we picked to see the new Madagascar 2, movie; and were completed delighted. The movie had really two different themes if you will; about the young son who being captured off the reserve finds his way to the New York Zoo where he meet new friend and learns dancing skills. As he finds his way back to Africa and is reunited with his family, his different lion skills eventually saves his father and him. The other theme takes a different look at love between two different individuals and their love breaches all boundaries of traditional relationships and are united in marriage at the end of the movie.
Wow, their ‘love knows no bounds’; what a wonderful example to use in explaining to children that ‘love of someone’ can move beyond traditional examples. That to really love someone, be it between a Giraffe and a Hippo, or between a man and a man, or a woman and another woman, that giving yourself to that one other person that you really care about is love.
I am so glad that the creators of this movie took it upon themselves to give us such a powerful example of this different ‘love between two individuals’ on the big screen; and that the evangelical churches have not raised a stink about this wonderful example by the fact that it is showing on the big screen and children love the movie. And that it has so magically given children a powerful example of how true love and devotion is OK and can look past differences. The creators of this movie have shown us how to explain the power of love that is different and that’s ok; that sometimes love of another person is more important than for a marriage to have children.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Watching Change Happen?

I know this is a little different that what I have been writing about but we have to stand as a United America and each one of us must figure out how we can do our small part in changing the collective of America. We wanted change and we as America overwhelmingly voted change upon our country. We got movement in the financial market, the stock market, the housing market, the big 3 automakers, airlines, everyone wants the government to back everything up. I read where some CEO’s have said they won’t take their bonus this year that they will have to scrape by with their plus million dollar salary. The big oil guys have made record profits this year so why don’t we let them ante up and infuse the big 3 automakers with sizable low interest loans.

And why are the gas prices falling at a nice slow steady pace now that President Bush and Dick Chaney are on the way out. Is it because the Oil companies have milked everyone out of their Christmas money? Is it because President Elect Obama is pushing for alternative energy sources? Are gas prices dropping because the oil companies want America to forget about pursuing alternative energy, because gas is cheap? Didn’t the American people react this way during the last gas shortage when the auto makers pretended to build more efficient cars? What did they do when because available again?

Thank you Big Oil Companies for dropping the price of gas but lets hope America demands that we build a new life going green and expanding alternative energy efforts. Go America, go green!!!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Breast Cancer: Blessing or Bane

I guess that real answer is that as a Military Retiree and Vietnam Veteran, getting to serve my country was an honor. As an Army musician, is had some great personal experiences that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. Serving my country and receiving an Honorable discharge has had it benefits.

As a military retiree, I am entitled to use the military health care system. Their policies concerning what kinds of treatment they are limited to providing is very specific but the HMO is a good program. For example, they will not pay for gender reassignment surgery. But when I started to transition they approved the drugs for my HRT treatments. When I developed male breast cancer, they paid for my mastectomy; they couldn’t deny the treatment on the basis of gender. Since they paid for the mastectomy, they paid for my breast prosthesis and bras; they also paid for breast reconstruction and bi-lateral implants. No questions or raised concerns for these medical treatments.

However, because I developed male breast cancer ie, infiltrating ductal carcinoma which was treated with modified radical mastectomy with axillary node dissection; the cancer was estrogen receptor positive and the only acceptable treatment was with tamoxifen and monthly lupron shots. Lupron is used to suppress male hormone testosterone production and I would be required to take the injections for life. Having to get the monthly Lupron shot played havoc with my hormones, it was a rollercoaster ride with frequent and extreme hot flashes; especially when it came time for my next shot. The alternative to ongoing Lupron shots is to perform the bilateral orchiectomy , and since one of the benefits, (for me anyway), was the feminization of the body. Never mind that bilaterial orchiectomy is the preferred treatment when there is no anticipation that the Lupron can be stopped anytime in the future.

When the bilaterial orchiectomy was first proposed by my urologist and my oncologist; the procedure was immediately denied and the first appeal was also denied. It had to take a third appeal and a decision by a physician specializing in urology who was associated with MAXIMUS, a professional medical review organization to make the determination for proper treatment and overturn the original denial.

With all that said, because I have military health care as a veteran, it was only because I developed breast cancer that I was able to get a great pair of breasts and get genitalia surgery at a considerable reduced cost. The disadvantage of getting male breast cancer was the crashing of my emotions; loosing a piece of your body just when it was beginning to blossom. The months of physical recovery and knowing that you can never take estrogen in any form!

At my next appointment we will discuss the next procedure to reconstruct my nipple and the tattoo. I am very pleased with my new body.
Peace, Sarah

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Time flies when you are having fun!! Today is our second wedding anniversary. I can hardly believe that we have been married that long. Seems that our relationship just keeps getting better. I can only wonder what I did without Sarah before.

Life is so full.............truly full! We have so much fun together. A friend of ours remarked one day during a disagreement Sarah and I were having that we were the only people he knew that laughed while we argued.

Life is good.


Sunday, November 9, 2008

Voting in a Red State

There seem to be a large question about transgender and their chance or problems to vote in this last election.

Someone ought to dig around a few contested states as to whether or not there were problems with voting by transgender people. Those of us whose name on the driver’s license doesn’t match the name we are using and did we really had problems on election day.

I voted a few elections back presenting myself as Sarah with a drivers license that had my picture as Sarah but my male name and the elections official changed my name on the official roles and I thought that was that. I even live in the Deep South and a Red state to boot she didn’t blink an eye when I showed her my mixed driver’s license. When the election board went through the list of voters and purged the roles, I got a new voters card with my old name, even after it had been crossed out and Sarah was inserted when I voted. Another county vote cast and again she remembered changing my name for the previous county elections, no questions. So just to make it official a few weeks later, I walked into the County Elections Office with a copy of my official name change documents and filled out a name change, attaching the court documents. A few weeks later I received my corrected Voters Registration Card with Sarah’s name.

All of this in a county and state that went for McCain; times really are changing.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Veteran's Voice of Light

Voices of Light

Soldiers who fought the Fight
Voices of War’s, telling truth’s light
Of those who lived the horrors of War
Each true voice, a single shard of light
Truth in the telling of Armies history
Lived on far distant shores
By collective voices of Soldier’s might
Shining like beacons
Together blinding the words
Of lies and deceit

As each soldier who fought
Grows older and falls, so dims the light
And memories of War with time
As each shard of light is extinguished
The beacons of Truth wavers and blurs
But, we who are washed with beacons light
Must listen ever louder
To the dimming voices of truth
Proclaiming the true lessons of War
Against the voices of lies and deceit

SJ Riggle

As the anniversary of Veteran’s Day approaches and our country is mending the small fractures sustained during the two years of political posturing, let’s not forget how we have built our great Nation. Let’s not forget the Veterans who fought in all the Great Struggles of Mankind. Let us all take the time this year to invite a Veteran into our Schools or Churches to talk about their historical perspective of WWII or Korea, or Vietnam, or Veterans of the Gulf Wars and what they have done to keep America free.
Our cherished Veterans of the Great War are dying at an alarming rate and their stories can only shine the Truths if they are retold and retold and we listen and learn to speak with them with greater light. Don’t let those who claim the Holocaust didn’t happen speak louder than the voices of fellow Americans mixed with the Veteran’s Voice of Truth.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

CNN Just Projected Obama as WINNER

Tonight is an amazing night. A little earlier I was running some errands and just as I was getting out of the car the possibility of Barack Obama becoming president became real for me. I have wanted him to win. Sarah and I both voted for him and volunteered at his local headquarters.

I believe that this will mark a historic change for America. I hope that this will be another level of racial healing in this country. I hope that America can regain some of our standing in foreign countries. I hope our economy improves. I hope that access to health care improves. I hope. I have hope.

John McCain is making his concession speech on TV as I am writing. Sarah Palin is on the stage with McCain with tears in her eyes.

Barack Obama cannot solve all the problems. No one can but I believe we look forward to positive change. This is a historic night!!