Thursday, April 30, 2009

Just saw this clip about CNN' story about Susan; I found this in Donna Rose's blog and mention it here.

“T” Woman

Being a “T” woman or a trans woman, or just woman is just being who I am. I might think though that my being “T” might give me special powers to put people in a “trance”, or to become “transparent” enough for them to not ‘see’ a trans woman, but to see just a woman. There have been times when my wife had dragged me into stores while I was, shall we say, not at my best appearance, i.e. no make up, once not having shaved that morning, wearing work clothes, and dirty from working in our church garden; all adventures without anyone giving me a second glance or questioning looks. In the past two days we were watching our God Child and her older sister for a few hours and took them to a local park. Of course it was in the middle of the day and the park was full of mothers and grandparents with children. Again I was without make up but had ‘cleaned’ my face extra carefully that morning and no second looks. Since the girls were getting hungry and thirsty we stopped at a Waffle House to grab a bite to eat, there were looks, but it could have been because we had two beautiful children with us.

Yesterday morning I had to have a heart stress done at the hospital in the radiology department, where I knew one woman. I chatted with Richard the tech who inserted the I.V. about having one arm to use and not being able to give blood because I lived in Germany during ’82; and it went of from there about the pleasures of visiting Germany and other countries. Everyone call me Mrs. Riggle and chatted freely with me giving no concerns or clues that they thought I was anyone but female. My wrist band even identified me as a “W” (white) “F” (female); which I thought was an enormous step. After 20 minutes lying in the CT scan I was taken back to another area and was hooked up to the EKG as the tech had to open my blouse, (I had taken off my bra) exposing my new breasts to have the electrodes attached; again we chatted; no facial questioning. The supervising nurse was observing the procedure and noticing my last name asked me if I was L. Riggle (my ex); she was familiar with my last name and that connection. The technician quickly responded that my name was Sarah; and I said that yes, we did have a connection and there was a story; but I did know her ex quite well. I didn’t provide any further information and we went on to other topics. Then that same night (Wed), I had to have a sleep study done because someone told me that I had sleep apnea; who knew…I haven’t had a sound 8 hrs night sleep in a long time. So, here I am in a room with a night vision camera, hooked up to multiple leads, all over my head, face, legs, a strap across my abdomen an one across my chest, something in my nose to monitor my breathing in my nightgown with the expectation of having a good night sleep. I was able to get some sleep, had to go to the bathroom once and was suddenly awakened at 5 am. Spent the whole night with the three technicians assuming I was nothing but female, again without makeup but having cleaned my face before we went to church that night. Simple straight forward assumptions that I was female and nothing more.

As a update, last week Kay and I had met with a Master’s of Sociology class to discuss our journey as a lesbian couple with one partner who transitioned. It seems that that class has further discuss the lgbt issues which is having a good affect in other classes throughout the campus. We are proud that our message of tolerance and acceptance is spreading.

I shall leave you with these thoughts:

Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

“Our lives are composed of the choices we make, the values we embrace, the crises we experience and the mentors we choose.”
— Larry Greider

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Missing Sarah Jane

I had lived by myself from the time I graduated from nursing school until Sarah and I moved in together.........more than 30 years. I never gave a thought to being by myself most of time and never was scared of being alone. I had not given a lot of thought to how accustomed I had gotten to having Sarah around. How much I liked to cuddle as we drop off to sleep at night. How comforting it is to wake up in the middle of the night with some there.

Sarah is having a sleep study tonight and we were both lamenting about being separated tonight. We finally realized that we have spent only one night apart since we have been married and that was when I had a sleep study about 2 years ago! I am really missing Sarah tonight. The house is a little too quiet. The dogs seem to miss her too and are needing a little extra attention.

It is so easy to take things for granted. Sarah and I are pretty good about saying, "I love you" and expressing our thanks to each other but I don't know that I tell her how much she adds to my life. Tomorrow. Tomorrow I will tell her I missed her a LOT tonight and how grateful I am that we are together.

Sarah Jane.......... I LOVE YOU!!! See you in the morning.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Two boys lost

Yesterday's New York Times carried this story on the "By the numbers" Blog of Charles M. Blow

Oklahoma teacher fired for teaching tolerance

Oklahoma Teacher teaching tolerance

Who links homosexuality & pedophilia?

Why does Miss California's church believe that homosexuality and pedophilia are linked?
“There is a plethora of bad information out there which stigmatizes the lgbt community as disease ridden sexual deviants.

And the people who are pushing this bad information aren’t wearing hoods and sheets. They don’t burn crosses or use secret handshakes.

They are the people in America’s churches; in the pews and in the pulpits.”

This article and question is taken from Pam's house Blend

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Immigration Equality

As the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), the legislation that will grant equal immigration rights to same sex binational couples, picks up momentum in the 111th Congress, a pretty cool cartoon has been created to explain the situation in layman's terms.
This is posted on Pam's House Blend, a great voice in the LGBT community

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Transgender Rights. A Christian Speaks Out

Change of Venue or is it a new focus!

To those of you who have followed my postings here on this, our little sliver of blogsville, you might have become aware the comments and references have drifted more on the political side than the everyday twittering of my trans life. It’s not that those are not important, but the cement has finally hardened enough that my life is just me.

As I tell my story and how it has become entwined with Kay’s life to those with open minds and to those who will at least hear what we have to say, I will boil it down to the important points of having been declared male gender at birth and over my life span of wondering why this clashing of dissonance of harmonic music flowing around my being finally took me to places I have prayed, and dreamed, and hoped for. That subconscious dissonance has finally resolved to a comforting melodic harmony and resolutions by my acceptance of my being female. That I have forged my own direction splitting away from the straight and narrow path others had lain before me.

My transition happened quietly for the most part with incremental steps as I gained confidence with each new excursion into the world of women who gave acceptance of what they saw. I experimented with different brands of make up, of buying various brands, styles and sizes of pantyhose and tights, of high heel, slips and material to create acceptable breasts. I discovered what works for me by years of trial and error; because I had no one to tell me what would work and what I didn’t need. These years of discovery were injected along side with me trying to maintain the illusion that I was the man people told me I had to be; trying to raise my three children as best that I knew how. All the years of attempting to hide the real me from my family as I supported them, taking them to soccer, and band practice, to cub and boy scout meeting and camping trips; all the while giving small hints and clues that they should be accepting of others who might be different; that they should live their lives with honesty and integrity and not be judgmental or condemning.

As I have discovered how to live my life as Sarah by forging a new trail, connections with the male person and life were quickly severed as my wife filed for divorce and set me free. With the divorce, my retirement was cut in half as directed by Sailors and Soldiers Act of 1952, I think, which says that any couple who had been married for a least 10 year while the soldier was on active duty would have equal share of that soldier’s retirement pension. But having received an Honorable Discharge entitled me to keep my military sponsored health care benefits! So by my being diagnosed with male breast cancer, my medical treatments were paid for my health care provider. My modified radical mastectomy to remove possible affected tissue and lymph nodes; my breast prosthesis and bras that I used for two years, my hormone blocking shots that I took for 2 ½ years; and finally the removal of my sexual organs as viable treatment for the male breast cancer; all were authorized by my being eligible for my health care. My health care deems this procedure as ‘feminization’ surgery and does not automatically authorize the treatment; but since I had ‘male breast cancer’, they referred the request to higher medical authority that overturned the initial request that had been denied twice.

Having achieved recognition as a woman and acceptance by other women and living on a very limited income, hindered by debts incurred during my early years of transition and the buying a new car (when I was still employed), has cast large shadows and gathered rain clouds on the possibility of being able to pay for GRS; I have redirected my priorities. Kay and I are trying to change peoples thinking by letting them get to know us as a lesbian couple before we selectively disclose that one of us is trans. We were interview by two students in the Masters of Sociology program and were furthered asked to speak with the rest of the class, after their presentations. I was flattered when the second student that interviewed us had to ask which one of us was the transgendered person before he started the interview. Letting people get to know us as a couple is our way of making others comfortable with who we are and hopefully they will see that as a trans person I am not the heinous sociopaths that other try to make trans people out to be. That I have been living as Sarah these five years and have successfully functioned and have ‘passed’ while out and about; without being accosted or arrested for trying to deceive people by my ‘putting on a dress’ should be a testament that trans just want to live authentic lives without being subjected to the venomous hate spewing homophobic people who are content to let others control their lives. That by being visible in the community we are just women. Women who shop and use the restroom, go to concerts and plays; go to an embracing church community; go to the movies and PFALG and church conferences and just being like other women of the community.

Starting a chapter of PFLAG in our community has opened so many connections and opportunities that it’s mind boggling. We are encouraged by the number of young people who have stepped forward and embrace their true identity; people are hearing about us and seeing PFLAG out in the community encourages us but lets us know that we have a lot of hills of discrimination to conquer.

So I will be challenging all who read our little blog to remember the hate we have overcome and the miles we have to go. To pressure our government to support and pass the Hate Crimes Bill, support Equal Marriage Rights, support the removal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, remove the Defense Of Marriage Act, support gender rights and equality; to enforce basic Civil Rights for everyone.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Judy Shepard

Send a letter or call you representatives, Lets stand with the Human Rights Campaign and pass the Hate Crimes Bill.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Chasing Rainbows?

Angie Zapata Trial

This trial is being followed very closely by a lot of people, very important for the LGBT community and passing of the Hate Crime Bill before congress.

Biblical inerrancy?

and this video and same sex marriage in Mass.

These two video were copies from Susan Russell's blog, she is an Episcopal Priest and President of Integrity. Thanks for letting me share your wonderful messages of inclusion.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

What a Good Scare Will Do To You

This morning Sarah and I had a little scare. She has GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) and has been having some discomfort this week. However, this morning after getting up and getting dressed she announced to me that she was having pain in the substernal area and it was "different." Okay, that is all it took. I picked up the car keys, slid on my dress and we were out the door to the emergency room. It scared the crap out of both of us!! To know that someone you love is facing something that may be life threatening makes you realize how much you love them. Thank goodness, after spending the day in the ER, all the tests came back normal. We will follow up with her primary care doctor tomorrow for a stress test.

A few months ago, I had joined Facebook. All the people who were friends on Facebook were people who know Sarah and I as a couple. However, a few weeks ago I got requests from a number of friends from high school (40 years ago). Some I had not seen since graduation, one of the people 3 or 4 times since graduation and one in February at a wedding. I figured that there would be questions and I would explain about Sarah and I but somehow that didn't happen. We said hello, made a few superficial comments and most didn't refer to their spouses so I didn't. But it left me feeling like I was not being truthful and I did not know how to open the subject. Also, I mention Sarah in my Facebook and I am sure this left people wondering. Well after the wake up call this morning I decided to be proactive. So I wrote a note and tagged all my high school friends:

I have never been able to live with an untruth or a half truth. Most of the people who are friends on Facebook know me and my spouse………. until recently. I have received messages from a number of my old high school friends and it has been a delight to reconnect with you. However, we have been separated by time and space…………..for forty years. It is unbelievable that that many years have gone by since graduation. Each of you have special places in my memories. I hope we will remain friends at least through Facebook. It would be wonderful to see each of you. I did see Jane at a recent family wedding. Reconnecting with you has caused a little anxiety for me because it presents a need for me let you know a little more about me.

What I am about to reveal to you is known by all my friends with whom I have contact and all of my surviving family. Thankfully, with only one exception, this information has been received with love and acceptance. I met a wonderful person several years ago and we were married. The person I married is transgender. Originally, this person was born a male, however, after 50 something years he realized with the help of counseling that he was transgender. Basically, this means that a person is assigned a sex at birth (as we all are); however, they come to know that they are the opposite sex. So, the person I am legally married to was born male but is now female. Her name is Sarah.

Sarah can remember from her very early years that something was wrong/different with her. This led to a struggle for her for most of her life. After acknowledging that she was transgender her life has been more peaceful and happy.

Sarah and I began our relationship after her divorce and at the beginning of her transition. I thought that we would be friends upon learning that she was transgender. However, after a time we both realized that our relationship was more than a friendship. As a result, we were married in November 2006 and we are very happy.

If you would like more information about transgender individuals you can get factual information in these internet sites:

Gender Identity 101

Meaning of Transgender


Sarah and have started a PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians, Gays and Transgender People) in Valdosta and have met some wonderful people. We have attended national LGBT events. We speak to groups at VSU and many other places to increase education and visibility of what and who transgender people are and the discrimination they face.

Being a transgender couple is not the only thing we are. We are Episcopalians and are very active in our church. We are loved by the majority of our church family. We quilt. We love to travel, read and enjoy music and plays. We both sing in the church choir. Sarah is the singer. She has a beautiful voice and sings with the local symphony chorus and choral guild. She has a Masters in Music. I retired as a Women’s Health nurse practitioner after 34 years in public health. Once nurse, always a nurse. Life is strange. Life is wonderful.

I am sure that some of you could care less about this. Others may be horrified and still others may have questions. You may or may not know someone who is transgender. There is a good chance that you may know a transgender person and not know they are transgender. I hope that this will be helpful information for you.

There are people who because of religious beliefs cannot deal with people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. If you are one of those and cannot deal with my referring to my spouse, Sarah, by all means defriend me on Facebook. Believe me; I faced much worse in my life.

Why did I decide to reveal this today? Well, Sarah awoke this morning with chest pain. We spent the day in emergency department of the hospital. This made me realize how much I love Sarah and that to deny her in anyway is wrong. She adds so much happiness to my life.

I am not sure what the reaction will be. The only thing I know for sure is that Sarah is the most important person in my life and she deserves to be acknowledged as such. That is taken care of now.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Vagina Monologues

My experience with this years Vagina Monologues has been very humbling. All the girls have done a terriffic job with their monologues. If you had asked me about how they were getting along, I would have said I wasn't sure. But last night the girls were in top form; it helped that the house was quite enthusiastic and upbeat with approvals. As usual the mix of emotions were quite extreme and some of the girls 'costumes' added an extra taste that you got from some of the more depressing stories.

We have scheduled three performances this year and last night was almost sold out. It really helped that the production was written up in the local paper and the story was featured in the local TV news. I have seen the confidence of the girls soar after doing the monologues, and I hope they have a better understanding of their responsibility to be safe. I was very pleased with their performances last night and I heard some great reviews as people milled around after the show.

Doing this play at this time only highlights the need for more awareness a the kinds of violence that women must endure. It is time to give up the notions that our society is divided into the binary gender form. We must grow in resolving our personal issues with our sexuality in order to accept gender variant people. We must stop the killing of those who dare to walk a different path.

There are some interesting local and national news stories on the Angie Zapata murder trial:

The New York Times - Murder Trial Tests Colorado Hate-Crime Statute

In the shadow of events happening a half country away news comes that a North Carolina drag performer was stabbed to death yesterday in Fayetteville, NC (details on PHB).

Help cancel hate where ever you find it; killing of others only inflicts more killing.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Support Gay Marriage

As someone once stated, "It's not the gays that is destroying marriage, it's all the straight men who stray and violate the marriage bed by having secret affairs".

Monday, April 13, 2009

BRCA testing results

Good News

Today I received the results of the hereditary breast cancer testing for BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations to be negative. I am happy with the results, but I am not sure if anyone else in my family has been tested. I was quite surprised to be negative with two of my four sisters being diagnosed with the same aggressive breast cancer that I was diagnosed with. This puts my mind at ease for my daughter and her future prospects for getting breast cancer could be significantly reduced, but I would impress upon her to do self breast exams and should get early mammograms.

Post Easter, Surgery Thoughts

With Easter behind us and filling our hearts, I look forward to the rest of the month doings. Kay and I are involved with the Church in many ways; I am one of the regular readers of New Testament readings, and church musician. Our little Episcopal Church is growing so we had a good combined attendance to both the Great Easter Vigil at 6:30 am and again at the 11 am Easter Kay and I helped with playing the hand chimes for several pieces. We had to take a break between services to take naps while the children hunted the Easter Eggs we had rolled out. Long Day for both of us.

It didn’t help that the day before, we spent all day cleaning our house since we were having a party for the cast members of this year’s Vagina Monologues; it was a Slumber Party to have a kind of women’s bonding session, by introducing sex products to this crowd. As a returning cast member and oldest participant, I felt like the cast members hadn’t taken the time to get to know each other as we had last year. However, I believe the ‘girls’ are doing a great job in getting emotionally involved with each of the pieces and telling the stories of the Monologues. We start this week with dress rehearsals and the show goes on this coming Friday night; we are doing three shows this year because we over sold tickets and the auditorium was really crowded. I am looking forward to doing the monologues again this year. There is never enough education about how to stop the violence that is inflicted upon women around the world. Changing attitudes with young women about looking out for their safety is difficult when some can’t even say the ‘Vagina’ word. We have let other define us, use us, abuse us and let ourselves be manipulated into thinking that we want to be sexually abused and used for the pleasure of men. I was saddened when watching a documentary about the systematic rape of women in the Congo as a weapon of war, and 15 to 20 men walked out in the middle of the lecture video. How can we change the attitudes of men when they won’t sit at the table with us? How can we ensure the safety of young trans women who are seeking a person who will love them for who they are, not what they are. What else can we do to ensure protection is in place to give transwomen their civil rights and elevate those rights to ensure the same protection under the law? How do we ensure that the killers of transwomen receive the same criminal sentencing that other killers are given?

I am about 4 week post nipple reconstruction and it is healing quite nicely, my doctor’s skills are amazing. Kay doesn’t think there will be too much of a scar by a year’s time. Considering what he had to start with there is quite a nice side profile and I am so glad he used silicone implants rather than saline. I can not emphasis enough to find a good doctor. I was very lucky when I decided to restart my search for doctors who would help me and ensure that I was happy with the results. Oh I talked with doctors who would do the surgery, but I didn’t think they could heal the patient. And one doctor chose to decline because she realized she didn’t have the skills to work with male breast tissue in a male to female trans woman with breast cancer. She did try to help by referring me to a doctor in Atlanta, but my insurance company failed to authorize the surgery I needed.

I am so happy that I waited until I found Dr. Mast; with what he and his staff provided in concerned care and professionalism is truly remarkable.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Blog of Walker: Queermonton: Ch-ch-changes

The Blog of Walker: Queermonton: Ch-ch-changes

I have noticed that there seems to be a lot of hits from the Edmonton, Canada area on this blog. Just wanted to thank all of you for finding and reading our little blog. The same problems with some issues do not have boarders. Just educate whenever you can and be visible walking your own path.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Light a Candle be Visible


A single flame shines in the night
In the still room burning bright
The flame dancing on the wick
Tended and held in place by melting wax
Purpose of life is single in need
Casting aside darkness in its way
Its life too fragile and short
In the wind it wavers and flickers
Then is gone
Then is gone

SJ Riggle
January 6, 2002

Every trans person is a candle in the window, shinning rays of hope, and love, and encouragement into the dark places, into people's soul, whether they want it or not.
To many of us place our selves under the large jar of shame and fear, not giving our trans life a chance to shine. Last month we celebrated Transgender Day of Visibility; let all our shinning rays of hope and love join to become beacons of light. Create a wide path of light showing us the way, letting us hold hands, helping each other across the dark waters of hate. Let us become the vessel which holds and tends the flames of truth and honesty and acceptance in life to burn bright and long.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

4 States down, 46 to go

This is HUGE for all of us. With Iowa, and Vermont giving legal right to same sex marriages and to Washington DC in recognizing same sex marriages from other states this is the beginning crack in the Marriage Dam.
Three Cheers for those who get it!!!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Valdosta Pride 09

Students were steppin out at the Valdosta Pride and having fun. There were other events like pudding wrestling, very yucky; and a Drag show and lots of traffic, light but steady all day. Didn't go to the party after, too late for us.

After all the rain we had during the week, the weather was beautiful, sunny lots of students on the front lawn.

Always seem to have a good number of students gathering around the PFLAG table. Had a group that danced.

Overall had good response from people who discovered that there was a PFLAG group that met in Valdosta, very positive day for us. The person from the paper didn't show us, but that was to be expected. Maybe next year.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Trans Allies

This is a wonderful youtube post from someone who see us for who we really are. It's an older post from Donna Rose's blog. But it's worth the watch.

Anyway today we celebrate Trans Visibility Day, i think.