I’m glad I didn’t kill myself

I’m glad I didn’t kill myself.

Yah, so I’ve danced around this subject in the past because some of this history is a little raw. I’d struggled with being transgender my entire life. I was diagnosed with cancer in 2009. I was 50 years old. After the cancer, I started taking hormones I got from some Thai pharmacy over the Internet. I made up my own doses. And, I started getting laser hair removal. Needless to say, my wife Birgit wasn’t happy with the hair loss and other changes I started seeing.

The trigger to my transition was a complete breakdown in December of 2010. Here I was, on the way to transition and I’d dealt with nothing. Nothing. I needed to do this, yet I was scared to death of doing this. And there is the phrase. I was scared to death.

A minor incident on Christmas pretty much instantly lead me into the breakdown. I left the house. When I eventually contacted the family, I was incoherent. I know that I drove around thinking about driving off a bridge. The details are fuzzy to me, but when the family finally got to me, they took me to an emergency room. That was five years ago and I still don’t have the keys to the gun safes. I haven’t asked for them.

The emergency room doctors gave me a list of mental health providers in the area. The first few got to hear a stream of 40 years of dysphoria. But eventually they pointed me to local support groups and they to experienced therapists. Soon, I was in therapy and that lead to transition. But that is actually a side of the story I’ve talked about before.

What I don’t discuss is the crying. The deep deep depression and fear. The realizations of what the costs were going to be. Costs. Financial costs, relationship costs. I had no idea. The pain was bad. And I wanted to die many times. I just wanted it to end.

But I weathered though it. Many nights, I would just sit and cry. My life was built on sand and I could see it slipping away. It’s pretty daunting — changing gender at my age.

I came out to my company’s human resources people. Locally, they were very supportive. But despite being a California based company my company’s insurance policy had a firm and strongly worded transsexual exclusion policy. I could argue to change it. But in the mean time I was on my own.

During a sales conference, I scheduled a meeting with the powers that be to discuss my situation. When I met with my company’s VP of Human Resources and insurance coverage was flatly refused, Oh boy…..I cried myself to sleep on the red eye from L.A. To D.C. And then the next night I sat in the basement sobbing in the dark. I felt so guilty. How could I take money from my family to do this? Again, death seemed like an escape. But Birgit came down stairs and turned on the lights…in more ways than one. “Do it” she said. And so I looked into scheduling some surgeries and researched all the other changes I needed to do.

I think that was the turning point. Oh, by no means was it the end. I had to come out to my kids. Come out to friends. Work. Everywhere. I started a surgery plan. That December of 2012 I changed my name, had my first surgery, and came out to most of the world. And in the months that followed, I looked like hell, and struggled to live my new life. And that dark monster surfaced now and again.

My status at work changed quite a bit. I was isolated, and ignored. Previously, I’d lead a team of technical people doing $1 Billion a year. Now, I was alone. And — the company flatly refused to change its insurance policy. By this time, California companies were required to provide transgender care. But as a “self-insured” company, my company was excluded from this regulation. During October of 2013, I thought of killing myself at work at least once a day. Then two things happened. First my friend Breanna started posting a thing she was grateful for each day on Facebook. I joined in. This simple game helped pull me from the edge. Then, because of my loud and persistent complaints, my company relented and changed its insurance policy. I’d already spent a load of money. But starting on January I wouldn’t have to keep doing that.

What a trip it’s been.

The last dark patch was dating related. I’ve had a checkered dating history. But one date in particular… I call it the 30 second date. My date said the most atrocious things and stormed off after,,yah about 30 seconds. I was pretty devastated. I did an 80 mile bike ride the next day and pretty much thought about riding in front of a truck the whole time. Again, Birgit saved me. She called some friends and my dear friend Mari dragged me out to Freddies, a gay bar in Crystal City.

Believe it or not, a group of three swinger couples tried to pick us both up and wanted us to go to a party with them. Um, a “party”. We said no. But the absurdity of the situation overwhelmed us and I laughed.

So I kept dating. I changed from not disclosing until after several dates, to putting it up font in my dating profile. And I met Ken. Ken is a wonderful and smart and broad minded man. He actually can’t believe that anyone would not see me as the woman I am. And, he treats me like a princess. We’ve been together almost nine months.

Last night, Ken reached over as we went to sleep and drew me close to cuddle. I cried. I’m glad I didn’t kill myself. Things can get better. Things have gotten better for me. Love did it. The love of my family and friends and a good man. I’m glad I didn’t kill myself.

I didn’t think it would get better, but it did. I’m glad I didn’t kill myself.