This is one area where I'm really benefitting from living in San Francisco. My doctor did a little bit of research and ended up sending me to a really highly recommended doc. The ladies in the front office were like "just to warn you, he's really weird, but he's usually able to get great results," and I was like "it's okay, I'm weird too." :)
I've been three times. The first session started out with him recording me say something like "Hi! My name is Bunny. Today is July 1st. I live in San Francisco. I am working on my voice." We keep repeating this before and after each session so we can compare how things are progressing.
He uses a computer very heavily, which I think is really neat. He's got an application on it that does real-time analysis of the data coming in off the microphone. Most of the time it's on a screen where it shows one chart with two plots on the X-axis... one showing pitch and the other showing volume. He also uses this computer to make notes and record things so we can play them back later.
The first session was mostly my auditioning for him to see if I'm trainable or not and worth him taking on as a patient. I think I passed with flying colors, he was very happy to have me come back. He had me do a range test (I can do 2.5 octaves without straining), and made sure I understood that results are not promised and sometimes it just doesn't work. I said I understand.
The second session was about establishing a baseline for my pitch. He had me do a series of noises (mostly weird grunts) while recording it on the computer. Then he was able to look at the data at determine that I have a natural harmonic in my voice around 250Hz, so we decided to use that as the baseline. 250Hz is pretty high - most female voices are closer to 200Hz and 250Hz is nearing the child range - but I can do it quite easily. At the end of the session he had me repeat the "My name is Bunny" thing and we were both O.O at how good it sounded. Yay!
The session this week (third session) we are starting to get into tone quality and color. Just simply raising my pitch only makes me sound like a male speaking in a falsetto, and that's not at all what I want. This is where the real work is. I'll be working at this part for a long time to come... years I bet.
This weekend I have been playing with some software he recommended. I'm recording things, experimenting with resonation, and playing them back. It's a harsh reality for me just how poor my voice sounds right now, but at least I know it's an issue and I have the tools to change it. I also grabbed an tone generator app for my phone and I have it make a 250Hz tone, which I play into my ear and humm along with to center my pitch back up to 250Hz. That helps as well as I can do that anywhere - even at work before getting on a call with a coworker.
The good news for me, at least, is that I know my voice can do it! That makes working at it worthwhile because I know the goal is obtainable. Yeah, it's gonna be a lotta work, but hopefully there will be a good payout at the end.
Oh, remember when I said I got called Sir at McD's? After my last session I went back there, at night, and did the best I can to order at the drive-thru. I used all of the things I had just learned at my lesson and said "I would like one ice cream cone, please." and the person on the other end said "Is that all, Ma'am?" :) :) That was the first time I'd ever passed on voice alone. :)
I can't keep that up for more than a few sentences right now... but there's a light at the end of the tunnel!! :)
I got called "Sir" yesterday. This is meaningful to me because I actually noticed it.
I was trying to remember the last time that happened (other than talking on the phone, which is a huge issue still), and I can't remember the last time it happened. It hasn't happened since that one time yesterday, eithers.
I noticed it yesterday because it never happens anymore. Yay. :)
But it kinds gives a bad impression of me! I am not an unhappy person at all! In fact, things are actually going pretty well. :)
I am very quickly settling into my new life here on the West Coast. My budget is finally starting to recover. I'm not there yet, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, at least. It's still going to be tight for the next 12-18 months or so, but after that, things should start getting better. I'm very happy about this.
Transition stuffs are going very well. I'm still not up to the full dose of HRT yet (my doctor starts you off slow and works you into it, to make it as easy on you as possible), but I think we're getting close. Every four weeks I go into the office and she takes some blood work to see how I'm doing. My meds are adjusted based on the results of that blood work. It's a lot more scientific than I thought it'd be, and that's pretty cool. (And quite comforting! Yaaaaay for data driven decision making!) Even more of a surprise is that she does NOT monitor hormone levels directly - she uses my Prolactin levels instead.  As of three weeks ago I had finally left the male range, but I'm still a ways away from the normal female range for a non-nursing female of my age. This stuff takes years, after all. :)
Today I wore a dress outside of my apartment for the first time in my life. I figured I'd just test the waters and try it when I went to make my breakfast run (there's a bagel shop I go to so much they greet me by name when I walk in). I figured it was a really safe place to experiment with. Well, that went so well that I didn't change clothes the rest of the day. It's an amazing feeling to me! Both in how people react to me (I'm no different than any other lady in the place), and that I'm so comfortable with myself at this point. At lunch I accidentally spilled my drink and the manager at Taco Bell was all like "Oh, it's okay Miss, we'll clean it up! Here, let me get you a new drink!" It was a nice feeling!
Last Friday I wrote a skirt to work, again for the first time, and it also was a total non-issue. I even went on the Muni train to see my therapist and took the ferry to and from downtown San Francisco... looks like the thing that was holding me back was me... which is kinda normal for me, I think.
The emotional side of this is very different than I figured it would be. Both in the timeline and how strong it is. I'm already becoming a very different person. Here's an example... last week I went to see a foot doctor about a constant pain I've had in my right foot for many years. (It was never a problem, really, until I moved here and started walking a lot.) I showed him the back of my shoes and how it's all torn up inside and he was kinda shocked. After that he looked at my feet and quickly determined that I have Achilles Tendon Bursitis on my right foot.  He mumbled something about "need to get a drop of steroid in there" and told me to flip over on my belly, which I did.
He then injected my foot with a cortisone shot. OMG did that hurt. Like, really, really, really hurt. I was hurting so bad that I just started crying right there in the office. I was overwhelmed with a feeling of "I need to cuddle something," but I didn't have a plushie with me, so I just cuddled with my purse. (It was the only thing I had with me. I didn't know this was coming, or else I would have brought a friend with me.) The doctor could see I was hurting (duh), and was like "It's okay sweetie. Take as much time as you need to recover. When you're ready, get your shoes back on, and let me see you walk around the office a bit so I know you're okay." So I sat there in the doctor's office, cuddling a purse and crying for a few minutes. It wouldn't have gone down that way before... I would have just walked it off. Nor do I think it would have hurt so much, testosterone is good at covering up things like that.
I am _totally_ not complaining here! I like the new me! Very very much so. It's just very different than before, and I know I'm roughly three months into a 24 to 36 month thing... so there's still a lot more to come.
My new job is going great, too. We just wrapped up a really big project that's pretty much been my whole world at this company. (It kicked off right as I was getting there.) I'm excited to see what comes next, as there's a lot of things coming in the future, and all of it is going to need support from Ops in some way.
I talked with my team lead for a few minutes this morning. I said that when I knew how big of a project this was going to be (a few months into my employment), I decided to step back and focus on the things I'm good at, and then pick up other holes in my knowledge later. My goal was to take the day-to-day heat off the rest of the team so they could work on the project work. He then told me something that, to me at least, is a really big compliment. He said that one of the things they saw in me during the interview process is that I'm a really good Production Engineer. They knew they'd be able to drop me into the Production environment and thrive right away, which I have done. The holes in my knowledge are over project work - things that happen before something gets to production - but the actual part of running services in production is my thing.
I'd never really thought about it like that, but yeah, that's exactly right. I do thrive in a production environment. I understand very well that my customers are the company's customers, and that we want them to give us money... and they do so with the machines I'm running. I kinda find some project work to be really boring, while other people thrive in it. (And other people hate the pressure of working on the front lines!)
Needless to say, I know without a shadow of a doubt I'm in the right job and that I love what I do. It's a small company, so who knows how long things are gonna last, but for right now, while the band is together, I'm really enjoying it. I'm doing my best to savor it while it lasts, because it may not last for forever!
I could go on and on here. :)
Lots of things are going very well. I'm sorry that the last few months of posts were completely negative... it's not actually like that! I guess things are so good that when bad things come along they seem reeeealllllly bad and I turn to writing to work out my emotions.
Lop lop lop! :) <3
- Current Mood: happy
A little bit of background. I moved to California December 30th, 2013 from Texas. I had just re-registered my car in Texas before I moved. My Texas plates did not expire until December 2014. The CA DMV gives you 20 days to have your car re-registered in CA after moving to the state. I knew this.  What I also knew is that every time I've registered a car, about a month later I'm hit with a flood of advertisements in the mail, phone calls from telemarketers, and "your car warranty is about to expire" scammers.
A few days after arriving in CA I filed to have my name legally changed. I filed the paperwork with the court on Jan 3rd, 2014. My court date was not until March 28th, 2014.... way after the 20 day mark.
I decided that I'd just suck it up and pay whatever fines I might be hit with from registering my car late because the _LAST_ thing in the world I wanted was for the flood of mail, telemarketers and scammers to come at me using a name I was trying desperately to get rid of. It was gonna cost me, but I just didn't want to have to deal with the agony of mailbox full of junk to my old name. (And mind you, I had just paid the car tax in Texas. My car was still legal for a whole year.)
Fast forward to today. My name's been legally changed, I've updated all of my accounts everywhere, and even my drivers' license is now correct. I made an appointment about a month ago for today with the DMV.
I got all prepared. This morning before I showed up I went to the DMV's website and downloaded all of the forms I'd need, filled them out completely on my computer (I even had to call the Credit Union where my loan is to get some information), triple checked it all, and the printed out the forms and shoved them into a folder. In that folder I also had the car's bill of sale, a certified copy of my name change court order, and my Texas birth certificate. Everything needed to prove that I'm me.
I got to my appointment a bit early and waited for them to do the vehicle verification and all that. No big deal. When it was time for my appointment my number was called. (They called me at exactly the time my appointment was, which was cool.) I had no idea what was about to happen next; I thought this was going to be a really quick five minute thing.
Immediately there was a problem. The name on my car's registration isn't my legal name. (It's my old name, of course.) I handed the clerk my certified copy of my court-orders name name and my birth certificate. She went and make photocopies of them (with my permission) and to talk to her supervisor about what to do.
I'm told that they have to process the registration with my old name and I'd need to sign for it that way. I refused since 1.) I don't like that name, and most importantly 2.) I'd be committing fraud if I did since that's not my name anymore. At no point did she explain why this was the case, only that that's just how it was. (I only figured out what the issue was hours later after I'd calmed down and thought about it.)
After I refused to do that she went to talk with her supervisor again. She came back wanting me to sign this "Statement of Facts" saying something like "I, ______, am legally changing my name to ______." I also refused to sign this because it's also incorrect. I'm not in the process of changing my name, I've already done so. Finally I had to sign another "Statement of Facts" that said "I _______ and ________ are the same person," which I did sign, because at least _THAT_ one was true.
I was humiliated. I had to sign a document basically outing myself right there in the DMV. I had already handed then a certified copy of my court order - THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN ENOUGH. In this country a court order from a Judge is about the highest "Statement of Facts" there is, right?
But, it gets worse. This is where the dehumanizing part comes in.
Back to the fees for registering late. From looking at the DMV's website, I thought it was going to be about $30-100. Wrong, it was closer to $250.
I was really upset at this point. I'd just had a bombshell dropped on me that not only is my car's registration going to be in a name that'd left in the past, I owed them more money than I had in my checking account at the time.
Completely upset and emotional, I tossed my credit card onto the clerk's computer keyboard when she wasn't looking at me, rather than hand it to her. She got really, really mad at me for "throwing things at her," and proceeded to lecture me on how she's "being respectful" and that she expects the same from me. I got overridden with guilt and started saying "I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry I shouldn't have done that" over and over again. I felt like I was 6" tall. I was just really upset and not trying to hurt anyone.
I showed a tiny bit of emotion and got yelled at for it. Well gosh lady, I'm sorry, but I was really upset right then. I just was not allowed to show any emotion at all. :( :(
So after my scolding she hands me the credit card back and tells me they don't take credit cards. If she'd give me a few minutes I'd transfer some money into my checking account and we could use my debit card. She said okay. So I grabbed my phone out of my purse and moved $300 from savings to checking and paid my bill.
At this point I did what I normally do when overwhelmed with emotions... I started to tear up and just recessed deep into my shell. I quit talking completely and refused to make eye contact with anyone. :(
I don't know what happened after that, really, because I was just so upset at this point. I know I now have CA plates and all that, so I'm guessing it all worked out okay, but the name on the registration I have is my old name. :(
Before I left the parking lot I texted a friend and just said "call me please." She did like 20 seconds later.
I broke down while talking with her (using the handsfree thingy built into my car radio). I got into a full-on cry and was yelling things. The phone call didn't last long because I was so choked up I just couldn't speak.
I was so upset and emotional that I wanted to pull off into a parking lot so I could cry my eyes out without risking hurting anyone. I drove for quite a bit looking for a parking lot, but this is the Bay Area and free parking lots are no where to be found... and I sure as heck was not going to pay $5 to sit in my car and cry.
Since there was no place to park I just drove home in that state. I have no idea how I got home, but I did. (Because, hey, THAT'S safe, right?)
Here's how this should have played out.
The moment the clerk noticed the problem, she should have said something like this:
I'm sorry ma'am, but you're not the owner of your car right now, your Credit Union is. I can't issue you a new registration with your name changed because you don't own the car, they do. They're the ones that need to get the title changed first.
...and then presented me with a couple of options. Things like, maybe if I pay the fees I've racked up, she'd give me a 60 day temp plate so I could work things out with the Credit Union and then try again. Or maybe offer to contact the Credit Union.
But what shouldn't have happened is the ask me to break the law by forging a document. And something that should have never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever happened was making me sign that "Statement of Facts" outing myself. I handed them a court order signed by a Judge... what more could they possibly want? The DMV is not above the law.
To me, as a transexual female, my identity is very important. I've worked very hard to get where I am. Its cost me a lot of time, money and heartache to get here. The DMV needs to train their employees just how vital this is to us and learn how to be "respectful" to us, as well.
So what did my desire to not get flooded with junk mail and scammers calling me my old name get me? $250 in fines, total humiliation, and a wasted day. It's past my bedtime right now and I'm still extremely broken up over this. It didn't work, either, since my car is still registered in my old name. (How exactly they were able to issue a car registration to someone that doesn't legally exist I have no idea. I guess the DMV has magical powers.)
I'll work out the title name issue with the Credit Union. And the fines suck, but I know they apply those to everyone and I wasn't being singled out.
But the humiliation of being forced to sign a "Statement of Facts" admitting I'm trans? Or getting scolded for showing emotion? Those two things should never happen to anyone. Ever.
I spent the first 28 years of my life very deep in the church. Really deep. I have family members that are graduates of the Southern Baptist Seminaries and everything. It runs really deep in my family and has been since I was born.
Now that I'm a few years on the other side of it and have had a chance to start sorting out my own feelings from the ones I was taught as a child (and then over and over again as an adult), there is one thing I keep coming back to: the concept of Hell.
Southern Baptist churches are independent churches that elect to join the Southern Baptist Convention. Each church is otherwise independent, but they share a common doctrine, the Baptist Faith and Message.
Section X ("Last Things") of the 2000 edition of the Baptist Faith and Message states: "The unrighteous will be consigned to Hell, the place of everlasting punishment." 
The more I think about this statement, the more messed up it seems.
If you think about what this is really saying, it's saying "Do what we tell you, or else God will punish you so bad not even death itself will save you." What a messed up idea that is... the idea that if you don't do what the church tells you, you're going to be burning in a lake of fire for all entirety.
This idea helped shaped my entire life up until the point I left the church. I was so scared of being true to myself because I didn't want to get tossed into the everlasting bonfire. I'd heard this since I was a kid, to the point that I just believed it to be true without giving it much thought. (Today I believe that religion has no place around children. Let them make up their own mind when they are older.)
The picture the church paints is "Hell is a horrible place! We love you, let us save you from it!" Which... just makes me mad, now, thinking about it. There's this horrible place that we made up and we're going to save you from it! :(
There's a traveling show that goes around Baptist Churches every now and then called "Heaven's Gates and Hell's Flames." Take a few minutes and watch the trailer for it on their website. 
This show came to my church when I was in high school. I'm still trying to recover from it. It's just amazing that churches use fear of being punished even after death as a motivator for their message.
I feel like I let fear of a fictional construct called Hell rule my life for so long. Being able to be punished so hard that not even death will save you is.... horrifying.
I let something designed to help churches win over people from being true to myself for over three decades.
The move was not pain free. I chose the moving company that I did because they were able to come pick my stuff up on December 26th. (I had to be here by Dec 29th.) That would have given me a nice three day drive to get here, if I left after they were done on the 26h. My plan was to go to see the Grand Canyon and see what I could see along the way. I even paid a little more because they were going to get there on the 26th instead of the 27th like everyone else had said.
I get up early on the 26th, and as I packing up my bedroom I get a call saying they're not going to make it to my place that day. The dispatcher said that my contract said they could come on the 26th or 27th, and they were going to take the 27th. I was not happy, but that's what was on the contract, so I couldn't really argue much.
On the 27th they didn't show up until almost lunch time, and when they did, it was just a crew of two guys. The last few times I had moved a crew of 4-5 showed up - most of them would pack while the rest loaded. In this case it was just two. I was not a happy camper. They didn't get done until 8pm that night. (I will give them props for not stopping for a break the whole time, however - they just kept right at it until they were done.)
So on the 27th I just took off after they were done and made it to Abilene, TX. At least I was able to get a few hours out of the way.
On the 28th I kept on driving and got to Flagstaff, AZ, and then on the 29th I was able to get the rest of the way here. That was a killer two days of driving, but I had made it and I'm here now.
Once I got here all I had was an air mattress, my clothes, a few plushies, and a small TV. I went to Home Depot the next day and bought a TV tray and a folding chair, and that's what I had to work with for two weeks.
The moving company was late getting here. They had until Jan 11th to deliver, but of course they didn't show up until the 13th. I need to file a claim with the moving company to get some money back because they missed the delivery spread, but I haven't done it yet. (At this point I am just ready to be done with this and don't really want to talk to them anymore, but I know I need to be assertive on this because I spent a lot of money with them and I should get what I paid for.)
My house is still a mess. There's boxes everywhere. I was shadowing the on call person last week so I really didn't get a weekend. (We had issues last weekend that needed to be dealt with.) I hope to get a lot of unpacking done in the next few days, but my feet are killing me because I walk a lot and I need new shoes.
Until my house feels like a home again I won't call this move "100% Done," but at least I'm here and settling into my new life and role.
I drove up to Arlington, TX on Christmas Eve to see my folks and stayed overnight until Christmas Day. I left in the middle of the afternoon to come home to Austin so that I could get ready for my move.
My grandparents came over on Christmas. They really are getting old. It's kinda hard to see my Grandmother in the state she's in (she has dementia), but I am happy to get to see them nonetheless. Lunch consisted of stuffed shells and tamales.
Christmas was one of the few times that I've gone around "in drag." (Which to me means Men's clothes, not the other way around.) I've chosen to not come out to my grandparents. At their age and background growing up, there is nothing good that would become of that. My grandmother already has dementia - her brain just can't cope with change. And my Grandfather... well I don't even want to find out.
It was weird not carrying a purse after I've gotten used to it. There's a lot of changes I've had to get used to, but carrying a purse isn't one of them. Purses pretty much rock.
My birthday was just a normal day, more or less. I set my title on SL to "Birthday Bunny" so at least people would know it was my birthday. I did the same on Twitter and I received a bunch of people telling me happy birthday. That was kinda neat. Also found out that I share a birthday with a bunch of people on Twitter, too.
I can't report a list of gifts that I received, because I didn't receive any.
I took myself out to dinner on my birthday over to a salad bar I like. It was good and I was able to say my goodbyes to a number of the staff there that I had befriended over the few years I was a regular there.
Christmas can be a rather difficult emotional time for me. It makes me wish I had a family of my own. It's hard to watch other people have lots of fun with their families and stuff on things like Twitter and LJ, when I don't get to participate. Maybe someday, I suppose.
Normally this really isn't a problem. I guess it leads to me being pretty polite because I'm scared to interrupt people and all that... but right now it's an issue.
I have had a whole lot on my mind lately. There's a lot going on in my life. I'm kinda scared to go talk to people about it because I feel like "Oh, they've heard this all before. I just sound like a broken record. I doubt they want to hear me talk about this anymore. I'd better shut up so I don't bother them."
This is one reason why I'm using LJ a lot right now. Here I can post whatever I want to post, and if someone doesn't want to hear it... they can just not read it.
I've gotten myself really down because of this. I want to go talk about things. I want to talk about some of the things that are going on in my life. I just want to talk to someone because I live alone and a lot of times I just don't talk out loud... but I'm constantly scared of bothering people. This leads to me feeling all alone and isolated.
Even if they tell me "It's okay Bun. I don't mind," it still bothers me. I start asking myself if they're only telling me that because they think that's what I want to hear, or do they really mean that?
Sigh. This is hard for me and I really have no idea why.
- Current Location:Austin, TX
I got a new job in downtown San Francisco. I have been working there since Nov 11, 2013. I spent the first week actually in SF, staying in a hotel downtown, and I've been working from home here in Austin after that. (If you've been reading along, I went full time as a girl on Nov 9th...)
The office is closed for remodeling right now, so they figured rather than ask me to move out there and then work from home anyhow, why not just stay here in Austin for an extra month and enjoy the holidays here... and then move when things are very slow and we're closed for the holiday break.
My old gig was for a company that I'm going to call Intergalactic Probes. (That's not actually the name, hehe.) I worked on the team that kept all customer-facing web assets up and running. If someone from outside of the company could reach it, my team owned it. It was our job to ensure the stability and uptime of the website, a mission we took very seriously.
I'm proud to say that when I got there the website was really up-and-down, but 2013 was the highest level of stability that ip.com had ever seen in the company history. (Again, not the real URL!) I can't take the credit for that, I was just a member of the team that did it, but it was a good challenge. One of our subdomains was "sine.ip.com" and the joke inside the company is that we named it that as a warning to our customers that it goes up and down and up and down. :)
The old gig was very corporate. There were 7,000 employes in the company and it was publicly traded, which meant things like SOX were very much in effect.
The new gig is ... totally different.
It's a small company - around 200 - and while it's not a startup, it's way smaller and way more laid back. There are more people in the eCommerce team at IP than there are in the entire company here.
I'm on the operations team for the company's products. We operate at a much bigger scale than I ever did at IP. At IP my team worked with dozens of production servers - here we have thousands. It's going to take me a while to get spun up, but I'm enjoying all of the new things I'm getting to learn.
If there's one thing I learned at IP, it's that I am not a corporate kinda gal. When I worked for the school I was on a small team. We had the power to do whatever we needed to do to get things done. At IP it was heavily siloed, which I found extremely frustrating. What seemed like simple things to me became very complex because suddenly I was having to do cross-team communication and all sorts of cross-team things to do what felt like something that should have just taken me a few minutes to do.
I know this is very normal in corporate environments. The folks on my team were largely from the corporate background and were just used to it. Their normal response is "yeah, that's how it works." And I get that. In a big company, it has to be siloed like that... that's how I was able to leave and it was not a big deal. My total impact, while important to the area I had control over, was not that huge in scope. It's easy to replace someone in that sort of situation because everyone's roles are well defined. I get it!
It's just not my style. I like being on a small team that owns the entire stack.
I have zero ill will against IP. If I had kids and my job was not the main thing in my life, it might have been a paradise. They treat the employees very well and the management is very easy to work with. They were super, super nice to me and I am very thankful for that. Most of the people I worked with were either parents, or planning on being parents, and in that sort of lifestyle, IP is a great place to work.
I dreaded for years how I was going to come out at work. I'd been there long enough that everyone knew my by my old name. There were no unisex bathrooms. I am sure we could have made something work, but it was a huge stressor to me knowing that sooner or later I'd have to come out at work and tackle these issues head on. (To be fair to IP, the senior management of the company had my back and I'm pretty sure they would have done anything they could have to make it work!)
Oddly enough, even for a company that's 30+ years old and founded and headquartered in Austin, I would have been the first openly trans employee. I'm not sure that's an honor I really wanted to have.
On my first day at the new job, it went like this. "Hi everyone. This is Bunny. She's our new engineer." ...and that was that. All the stress I had of coming out at work, and it was over in like three or four seconds. Switching jobs was the right move without a doubt! It took all of the stress away. I guess that's a big benefit of working for a tech company in the Bay Area.
My new team is amazing. They didn't even bat an eye. I'm just one of the girls there now. I wish all transwomen were as lucky as I am in this regard.
I was in the Bay Area last week looking for an apartment. I knew I had found the right place when the apartment manager and I had a long, fun talk about house rabbits. Turns out she fosters for HRS and has four rabbits in her apartment. She even brought me a cute buck named Clover to hug and play with when it came time to sign the lease. No, I'm not planning on opening my doors new bun just yet, but it's really nice to know that when I'm ready, there will be no issues with my apartment manager. :)
I always seem to find the house rabbit people no matter where I am. This time I did it before I had even moved in!