Moments Like This

Although life can be rough we can never give up.

While the dying world re-defines
The reasons we strive to exist
We feign control though we’re bound to learn
The meaning of moments like this
Cause in the peaceful hour, the quiet spell
Seduced by the promise of bliss
We soon forget that nothing’s happened yet
We’re living for moments like this

On October 25th 2005, something amazing happened.

After years of searching for that one person who might complete me, I thought I’d found her. So sure was I in this assessment that I married her after only physically knowing her for 4 days. We held each other’s hands and heard our vows beautifully spoken in Hawaiian by ‘Auntie Malia’ among one of the few gazebos that adorned Liliuokalani Gardens in Hilo, Hawaii. It was a beautiful day to give away my love, and while there have been times I have doubted the strength of our love, I’ve never lost faith in it. Deep down, I knew that no matter what happened to us, I would always love her.

Now don’t get me wrong; this whirlwind romance didn’t happen as fast as I like to brag… There was a 3 month online courtship; plenty of time to get all of the individual proclivities we might need to get ‘out-of-the way’ prior to taking this plunge. It’s safe to say, we knew just about every single secret each of us had.

Well, almost all the secrets…

If I had the ability to relive this day, I would. I would strip away what you know of me now to assume the role of husband-to-be, and I relish every moment of that day even more than I originally did. However, knowing the inevitability of impending truth and hurt, I’d be compelled to reveal who I was in that moment; I couldn’t do that to her, the moment was too perfect.

To say that I could travel back in time 13 years and annihilate any future I would have with this beautiful woman would be pathetic. And I’m sure the multitude of reader’s who have understood my words in Collateral Damage would cry “hypocrite” for not following through on the suggestion; but I beg you to hear me out.

On the day we were wed I selected a very particular song that I wanted to dance to with her. To this very day, I can’t hear it without being teleported to that day, and that moment. Music has a way of simply making a memory seem timeless.

The song, and this moment will always be apart of me

So hold me 
Whisper gently this is what we live for 
How we learn who we are
It defines us 
Ever reminding us that life never is more precious than this

As most marriages move through periods of adjustment, ours had more to do with myself that I dared to admit; at least at that time. Still ruled by some internalized need to be someone I wasn’t, I also feigned responsibility for all the rough seas we sailed; sometimes even blaming her for all my faults.

An image taken on our first anniversary.

We carried on through moves, vacations, high tides, rough seas and deeper shit than most would dare to admit, but neither of us was ready or willing jump ship. October was always our annual reminder that “we’re here, and we keep defying all the marital odds.”

From the dim light in the grayness 
The aim of the soul tends to miss
When the clouds catch fire and the oceans pitch
We’re made for the moments like this

My world had begun collapsing around me for nearly a decade. As far as the outside world was concerned, we were doing fine, but we were anything but fine. She had no way of knowing what I’d diligently hidden within myself.

I’d been working hard at being “a fixer;” a role that is impossible to fill, but one that someone in the relationship always tries to emissary. In the process, I pushed myself in more manly pursuits.

Such pursuits did nothing to bring me peace with myself. I always felt somehow deficient; never enough for myself and definitely not enough for my wife. I was compensating for something I’d hidden so well, something that I’d chosen to forget about. I suppose that’s why I enjoyed drinking so much; you can say anything and have it dispelled as a drunk’s ramblings. Unfortunately this drunk’s ramblings became very poignant when my wife told me I needed to modify my 10-liters-of-wine-a-week habit.

So in late August 2016 I was forced to reveal who I really was to my wife. I watched her grieve, but more bizarre, I watched her fall slowly in love with me; her husband’s killer. She saw a life in Kira that she never saw in him.

She even bought me a new women’s wedding and anniversary band.

So hold me 
Whisper gently that there’s nothing to fear
You’ll always be near 
To remind me 
To stand behind me
Although life can be rough 
We can never give up

As I quickly became Kira I lost sight of what October meant to Cristina.

Our first anniversary following my being “out” was supposed to be a romantic getaway between her and her husband; an offer I said I would keep. But she relented because she wanted me to have a good time. In the end, it was a missed opportunity for closure; one that I selfishly didn’t take stock of until the man was a distant memory.

It’s November 13th 2016, I’m smiling because I am officially ”out” to everyone, and I’m ignorant that today is my wife’s birthday.

One ruined anniversary, that quickly bled into a ruined birthday. I came out to her family, one day before her birthday; in the midst of becoming me, I once again allowed my own selfishness to destroy a critical moment for us to bond.

It’s in our power
To face the storm with all its fury and madness
The flash of thunder roll behind us with a longing and sadness
The clouds will break…

As a year goes by, I become increasingly consumed by my transition; what is the next step, and how quickly can I take it.

The day I legally became Kira.

In an effort to respect some of the boundaries my wife has set, I didn’t rush to self-medicating; instead opting to wait 6 months before beginning Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT).

HRT officially began on February 16th 2017, and before my wife had time to catch her breath, a week later we were at the county court house making my name official.

She smiles for the photo, but inside of her, another piece of her husband has died.

For me it’s not happening fast enough. All my ID’s say I’m male, and all the fear of what that could mean fills my every thought. I scrounge up just enough to have a procedure that will change all of that.

Unfortunately many states require some letter of surgical alteration before they will acknowledge a change of gender on an official document. The language usually needs to read… Patient has undergone a “permanent and irreversible” procedure. Each state has their own caveats, and some won’t allow a birth certificate gender change; regardless of medical proof. That person’s gendered fate resides on what an M.D. extrapolates from their genitalia on the day they emerge from their mother’s womb.

My own paranoia regarding our current administration fuels my desire for this change, and on September 1st 2017, I have this surgery. Over the next 2 months all my documents (including passport — which I never possessed prior) are made to read female.

In the fray we didn’t end up celebrating much of our anniversary, we did however get to see Eddie Izzard (a transgender comedian) on October 14th, and while it wasn’t much, it was the best we could have done amidst my own selfish crusade.

On the Sunday before Cristina’s birthday, we took in a “Paint-n-Cheers” class. For all intents and purpose, it was an enjoyable time, but my selfishness was not absent in the moment.

I had made it abundantly clear that I had designs on painting something completely different than what the instructor had in store. This behavior doesn’t shock him because he encourages his patrons to have fun with the art.

As if creating a visual embodiment of an Against Me! lyric, I took my art seriously.

“What God doesn’t give to you, you’ve got to go and get it for yourself.” — Bamboo Bones by Against Me! (if you didn’t know, Against Me’s lead singer and founder is Transgender)

I painted “That which God denied me.”

Cristina was not surprised, or even shocked; we enjoyed the rest of the day. Unfortunately this was a warning shot; a means to say I wasn’t ready to stop transitioning.

What many might not realize is that when I revealed my most honest self to my wife on August 27th 2016, I still lied to her. I felt that our marriage was contingent on my anatomy, and as hurtful as it was to tell her that I was never a man, I also told her I would keep my manhood if it meant keeping her.

In that moment, it didn’t feel untrue, I thought it was something I could manage. But from the very day I knew I could be rid of of this cursed appendage, I’d wanted it gone. It made me some kind of monster that even I (still a man) hated. Eventually I stopped talking about Gender Reassignment Surgery like an impossibility, and more of an inevitability. I’d watch her gaze as I did so; she seemed unphased, but deep down I knew that wasn’t true.

A couple weeks after the painting class we’d discussed how we wanted to hang our paintings, but she didn’t want me to hang mine.

Things got heated.

I remember shouting that I wanted to rename the piece from “That which God denied me” to “That which YOU denied me.” As if having my vagina proudly hung on the wall would have given me some closure; as close to the real thing as I could afford.

In what felt like a pitiful attempt to help me feel some semblance of my femininity she took the painting and actually proceeded to hang it!

Unable to see past the rage of the argument, and that she was hanging a picture I’m certain she secretly hated; I was unable to see this act as anything more than spiteful. I ended the argument like the man I’ve hated for four decades would have— I punched a hole through the canvas and broke the frame over my knee. She wanted her husband, and for that moment, he’d been resurrected; enraged that his death — his eternal slumber — had been interrupted.

As time went on, we continued to try make this marriage work. From the outset it’s often appeared as though we’ve thrived as a couple in transition. Some even hold us up as role models; a flag that neither of us feels confident in waving. But if what you’ve read thus far has taught you anything it’s that you often see what we allow you to see. When our doors are closed, and it’s just the two of us things tend to get very ‘real’ and very ‘raw.’

Recently as I have been aggressively pushing towards some intensive transition related surgeries, and ultimately GRS, my wife made a comment that cut me to the core. As someone who loves the fall, the colors, the pumpkins, the fun of the holidays, our birthdays, and most importantly, our anniversary; she told me that “October was quickly become her most hated month.”

I was left with this stark realization that my course was so focused on self-actualization that I stopped asking or even caring how it affected her.

This year is no less selfish than the last two. I underwent a lower body lift, and butt lift on October 10th. A surgery I deemed so necessary that I depleted my entire retirement fund just to make it happen. Unfortunately in my rush to become Kira, I invalidated our ability to attend a (Garbage) concert we’d planned many months prior…

Again, blinded by my own selfishness.

On November 7th, 2018 I will finally undergo Gender Reassignment; my body will finally be a reflection of the woman I’ve longed to be since I was 6 years old. I look to this event as a rebirth (ironically occurring only 2 days after my birthday), but when it’s over, I don’t anticipate waves of happiness to wash over me. I will be merely free from the last shackle that held me from feeling complete. It will not erase the damage caused by my own tunnel-vision.

As much as I share this story as a cautionary tail of never forgetting your loved ones, they too can be selfish; and on some level they are allowed to be selfish. Remember, you aren’t saying goodbye to them, but as you fade out of existence, they need to find peace in saying goodbye to you.

On November 7th my wife will say goodbye to the last vestige of her husband, and hopefully find peace with her wife. I know that I’ve dragged her though hell on this journey, and I have been extremely self-centered throughout this process.

Hold me 
Whisper gently this is what we live for 
How we learn how we are
It defines us 
Ever reminding us that life never is more precious than this

It’s a dream of mine that October can once again become a month that my wife loves. A month of bright leaves, pumpkins and anniversaries. With what I hope are the last of my selfish months about to be behind me, I find myself fixated on another milestone in OUR transition…

I envision a crowd of loved ones and family. Flowers draped over a beautiful white trellis. My wife smiling at me while wearing a white dress that she never imagined being married in; myself dressed in kind. With my eyes locked on her, my grin beaming, and tears resting gently on my lower lids; forcing me to question just how waterproof my mascara really is… I will feel complete.

This is the day I longed to relive. Only this time, I’m truly me.

As I look to my right our friend Sara Cunningham stands tall and proud adorned by her rainbow colored Stole. Her blessing of our union will hopefully be the bookend to many selfish years. Not just years spent trying to actualize myself without a care, but the selfishness of others who’s innate sense of grief prevented them from saying goodbye to a man they never really knew but for some reason believed resolute.

On this distant (unknown) October 25th, I want my wife to look at me with new eyes. Eyes that do not well-up because of a man who was only partially alive, but eyes that well-up for a woman now fully alive, and completely hers…


And of course, we will dance to Moments Like This…

Hold me
Whisper gently that there’s nothing to fear 
You’ll always be near 
To remind me 
Stand behind me
Although life can be rough 
We can never give up….

If you’ve never heard Moments Like This by Alison Krauss & Union Station, you NEED to.

Although life can be rough, we can never give up.