Work stuff

Mar. 11th, 2013 04:38 pm
agent_dani: (Default)
Had my annual review in late January. My manager changed several of my self-eval rankings, all to increase the rating. I walked out of the meeting with an "Exceptional Performer" overall rating, the second highest. We also talked about some career moves to a different team, which interests me.

A week later, in our weekly 1:1 meeting, he told me he went to HR to reopen the review as he needed to change a rating - he wanted me to have "Distinguished," the highest.

Last Friday I received word about annual bonuses; got 14%.

Today I received word that the move to the other team will, in fact, be a promotion - I'll officially be a Senior System Administrator.
agent_dani: (headphones)
My surgery confirmation packet arrived Saturday. Aside from a mystery $75CDN still on the price (the initial documentation I was sent gave the price for SRS as $19,300 but the contract has $19,375) everything is in order.

Unfortunately, the one thing I don't have is a sense of confidence in this. I feel very conflicted. What if this is a mistake and I will regret it, even if only spending the money on something that has come to mean so little.

Then again, I think back and know I was certain about it at past points. How much of the uncertainty is the years of gatekeeper bullshit?

I just don't know, and doubt I ever will.
agent_dani: (Default)
This took me a while to be able to write, most out of fear that saying this would hurt friends.

Perhaps the most painful thing about 2012 was seeing a number of good friends realize their goals of surgery. I want to be absolutely clear here that I am so very happy for them, and that procedure for them as such is not at all what this is about.

What I found difficult was that many of them began transition well after I did and were able to have progress that I was heavily and intentionally prevented from having in spite of my strong desire to have it. The news brought with it that internal pain - that I had been powerless to change it and yet it still cost me years that I spent living my life on hold until therapists and physicians deigned to grant me permission. Even at the end of it that was made clear, for having no objection left to raise as I had met all of their requirements, they still sought to avoid writing the permission slip for me to have access to surgery.

This came soon after the prescription change that plunged me into depression, and I can't help wondering how much the two were intertwined and part of that night when I first had that horrible vision in my mind (there have been others.)
agent_dani: (Default)
I looked at this blog post today: http://www.librarygeekgirl.net/2012/11/28/ill-say-it-again-be-awesome/ While reading through it I came upon a phrase that spoke to a problem about how privilege and oppression work.

"Now, the next transperson who runs for anything will have to deal with the shade of Stacie Laughton, and re-build the trust–not just in New Hampshire’s Ward 4, but all over the US–that she has tampered with."

The short form of this is explained by xkcd: http://xkcd.com/385/

In the longer form, I'd like to introduce you to one Bob Bolus of Scranton, Pennsylvania: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/bolus-makes-another-quixotic-bid-for-office-1.21654

He's a convicted felon who keeps trying to run for elected office even though the conviction is an absolute bar to his ability to legally hold the office under the Commonwealth's constitution. He tried to run several times in my years living there, and, apparently, tried again since I moved (and had another conviction.)

These two illustrate a specific property of privilege versus oppression on an axis of (non-)membership in a minority group.

1: Bob, as a white, middle-class (at least,) cis man, is seen as an individual actor and not representative of all white, middle-class (at least,) cis men.

2: Stacie, as a trans woman, is seen as reflective of all trans women. There are possibly additional axes present for her; the sentence I quoted above does not regard those and I do not have that information at this time (I'm inclined to presume that, given the charges of which she was convicted, a certain financial situation at least recently was present.)

Bob, by being a white, middle-class, cis man, enjoys the privilege of not having his actions be taken as representative of any/all other white, middle-class, cis men.

Stacie, by being a trans woman (again, with the additional axes caveat,) is taken as reflexive of all trans women.

WHT* post.

Nov. 27th, 2012 11:27 pm
agent_dani: (Default)
1) What’s your name? Dani

2) Who has been most supportive of your transition?

This is a difficult question to answer. In one sense, it would be my parents, as they never had a moment of doubt. In another, it would be my wife, because she had to go a long way to be able to accept and support me, and it was an often painful path for both of us, dealing with various issues such as being a lesbian couple. Years later she would write, "I see again the person I married."

3) What do most enjoy about your life since beginning transition? That is, what are some of the things you love doing now, that you couldn’t do before? And if you’re not there yet, what about the possibility of transition excites you the most? What do you look forward to?

I'm in the midst of it, and the only thing I can say that I look forward to is looking back on transition - that it is in my past.

4) Who are your trans role models? or Who have you looked up to in the trans community? Who inspires you? Whether it’s someone you know, or someone you’ve admired from afar, this is your chance to give a shout out.

I can't say there's really anyone. I've learned some important things about putting people on that pedestal - when they fall, both get hurt.

5) What change(s) would you most like to see in the world?

To have my experiences of transition, which are of heavy-handed gatekeeping, become a thing of the past for everyone, never happening to others, so that they don't know what it is to be told that transition can't be right for them due to their hobbies, clothing preferences, sexual orientation, or lack of interest in surgery. I do include non-binary IDs, though that was not one of the issues I encountered (I ID as woman.)

6) What are you doing to make those changes happen?

At present? Nothing, as I still need their permission to progress in my transition, which makes it impossible to speak against them without risking repercussions. In the future, when I'm free of that? I plan to undertake some projects to raise the visibility of better, particularly Informed Consent resources in the region.

7, tell us something, anything, special and unique about you, your interests, your story.

I'm a survivor of many things. In addition to the gatekeeping above, I have survived physical and emotional child abuse, and medically sanctioned sexual assault. I have not allowed that to define me, but I do deal with it, accepting that it is a part of who I am and has an important impact on how I view and interact with the world.

I grew-up on a dairy farm in rural Pennsylvania; the sixth, and final, generation to do so.

I have one sibling, with whom I do not have contact.

I have been married for thirteen years and in that relationship for seventeen.

I'm a hobbyist photographer.

I learned to ride motorcycles eight years ago.

I'm an IT professional who is early in a promising career for a certain software company, having spent many years doing IT support work in university environments before this. It's been an incredible move for me, as I've had more career progress in a single year at this company than in most of two decades at the universities.

Also, if I had to begin transition again, knowing what I do today, I would not do it. It's not that I regret what it is intrinsically, but that it has meant pain for too many I love because of a society that is cisnormative and heteronormative. My heart breaks every time my parents have to navigate holidays when they want to spend time with their family but certain segments of it will not be present if I am. I deal with transition providers (perhaps more than most - I've had three different ones for my HRT alone) who project their stereotypes onto me and require that I fulfill them to be granted the endocrinology equivalent of crumbs from their table - years of doses that could not reasonably be expected to accomplish the reason they were prescribed. Ultimately, to be plunged into suicidal depression as a result of those approaches to HRT; a problem with which I struggle to this day. It's that I regret these external factors of which I have no control.
agent_dani: (Default)
I don't often get political here; this is my exception. I feel that the results of today's election are more important to me than I have for any past election. I realize this is a bit verbose; if you want to understand a bit more about me, please do read this.

The past four years have held amazing amounts of change for me. Things I could only begin to imagine possible - an future so incredible that I was just starting to see what could be - have come to be reality in my life. Granted, a lot of this is in my private life, but significant aspects are from policies that have come under this administration.

One policy change in particular had a quick, positive, and direct impact on me. In the early fall of 2011, there was a change in the employment eligibility verification system: the gender field, which had been optional for a number of years, was no longer accepted. While this might seem small, even insignificant, to most, it was far from that for me. This was a common way for a discrimination against trans people to happen; due to various laws and policies, many of us have periods where our lived gender - the one in which we live and interact with the world, and are viewed by others - does not match the one that government(s) consider us. I am no exception to that. If the employer entered a gender marker that did not match the one on record for the employee a "gender no match" letter was generated, notifying the employer of this. While I never experienced this, I know people who have, and the experiences they had were across the range of possibilities.

Less than two weeks after that policy change was in effect I was contacted by a recruiter for my current job, and I had already been planning to change jobs. I don't think there's any way I can fully express the relief I felt, knowing that I wouldn't have to face having that job taken away from me a few days into it, or a confrontation, which may not be handed with proper decorum, because of that letter.

I'll wager that many of you never give that process a second thought. Please try to understand what it is to have had to be so very aware of it and know that it could be used against me in a way that had nothing to do with its designed purpose, and then to have that institutional oppression removed from my life.
agent_dani: (Default)
Today, October 11, is National Coming Out Day.

I want to preface what I write here with a simple, vital statement: coming or being out is a decision each individual must be given the freedom to make for themselves, and the choice or need to not be out on the part of a given individual must be respected. Additionally, when you do know about someone’s history, please be circumspect about discussing it, as they may have environments in which they are not comfortable having such discussions, and they may have areas of their life in which they are not out.

A fact of my life that I haven’t kept remotely hidden is that I am lesbian. I am out about that in all parts of my life.

Only somewhat less known is that I am a transgender person, specifically a trans woman, which has been a lengthy, sometimes painful, and overall rewarding path in my life. On a note of usage: “trans” is an adjective, requiring a noun to modify. There are parts of my life where I am not out about this. I am intentionally not out at work due to the price I can reasonably expect that being out would bring - I know someone who was because they transitioned while employed there and were subject to some poor treatment, such as being required to use facilities inconsistent with their gender.

I have endured a great deal to get where I am, including things some of you probably can’t imagine: I was threatened with being involuntarily committed, had medical and mental health professionals attempting to enforce gender stereotypes on me, i.e. that women musn’t ride motorcycles or must wear skirts and heels, and lost family. However, I have gained so very much more, including a fantastic amount of professional success.

I am also poly, but am in a monogamous relationship so that aspect is largely academic.
agent_dani: (Default)
I really don't seem to be able to catch much in the way of breaks when it comes dealing with the various professionals for transition. Sure, I've not had a lot of major issues (there have been some, no doubt,) but there are just so many little issues that have meant various couple days to weeks delays, and it really adds up.

Today I received word from the surgeon's office that they have not received the second letter. I put that in the post nearly three weeks ago, so it's most likely AWOL. Fortunately, I insisted on having a second copy for my own records, so I can fax a copy of it to the surgeon's office tomorrow.

I learned to do this after the problems with my first endo and getting a copy of my own HRT letter; it was two full years after the letter was written before I had a copy, and with no Informed Consent providers operating in the region then, that matter amounted to iron-fisted therapist control over ones transition.

Obviously, this latest isn't a major issue, but I have to wonder just how far out the asymptotic probability curve my particular combination of issues (some big; a lot small) has run.
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Apparently, my first therapist did manage to get some letters written in a timely fashion through the summer, allowing people to meet the requirements to get dates with the same surgeon in the later part of this year. This was during the time that she was unresponsive for me, taking months to write mine.

This makes for a clear pattern of behavior. She intentionally made longer requirements for me for both access to HRT and surgery. When, due to life circumstances, the longer requirement for a surgery letter didn't impact me she went out of her way to cause a delay (and, for the record, it did cause a delay of my surgery date, but not a significant one.)
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On Tuesday I had a Noon appointment scheduled with a new therapist to see about getting a first letter since Kimball's office had been non-responsive for a month. At 10-11 that morning, I called her office again, reached one of her staff, and learned that my letter was written and about to be faxed to the surgeon's office!

I went to the therapy appointment anyhow, owing to the late lead time for cancelling and that I didn't actually have a copy of that letter yet (I requested that they send me it; they did via e-mail and it arrived as an attachment in a proprietary file format.) I still don't have a serviceable copy of my own, but I do know that the surgeon's office has received it.

This comes four years to the day - and nearly to the hour - after my first session with Kimball.

On Wednesday I received two copies of my second letter, too.

It's over! I've finally won that gatekeeping battle. I have cried so many tears of relief and joy this week that I can't express it. There's nothing left but to wait for mid-May to arrive.
agent_dani: (Default)
This post will probably get a little dark. I assure you that I am okay, just not great right now.

I've struggled with thoughts of suicide. Last night I realized that one of the more powerful motivators against it for me is that if I did, my death would be used as part of the fucked-up justification supporting ever more restrictions of the bullshit sort that I have endured for four years (and counting.) That's how it works with gatekeepers and their supporters - that people have problems under that system is used as proof that the system is good. That I have any regrets from dealing with the process, even that those regrets are of having to deal with the bullshit, are taken as proof that it is necessary and needs to be made even more stringent.

I describe myself as both lesbian and a trans woman. While neither can be truly separated for me because they are tightly intertwined, they are still distinct in many ways. One example is that I am comfortable being out as lesbian at work but I am not comfortable being out as a trans woman at work. There's a simple reason at play: being out as lesbian does not put me under undue scrutiny while being out as a trans woman will. It's a matter of familiarity; lesbian and gay individuals aren't so foreign to them and, thus, the actions of one aren't so much used to judge all. I know that I get a significant amount of that already as a woman in a part of the IT field which is very much overwhelmingly male; being out as a trans woman would most likely make me the only one they know and that has the effect of putting me under a microscope that I do not want.

I am also asexual, which doesn't factor into this point, though I have had punitive treatment from medical professionals for that reason.)

I feel even more that I sold my soul. With the customer last week I was directly supporting something with which I strongly disagree. Also, a part that I didn't say from the therapy appointment, was seeing someone I know, who is fairly early in transition, walk in for the next appointment as I was leaving, knowing I had effectively just reinforced what was being enforced upon her.
agent_dani: (Default)
They say that every person has their price. I used to pride myself on not having one, but this week I discovered in a major way both that I do and what mine is.

From a more personal and moral position was my Wednesday session with my first therapist for a surgery letter. To get that I had to agree to (claim to) fit so very many trans tropes and stereotypes. Some do, indeed, describe bits of my life (i.e. that I knew from a very young age) but I have a disagreement with those being a required part of this process because it is part of claiming invalid the gender of those who did not have those experiences, and I deeply hate having to be a part of that. My choice was to be complicit or to find another therapist and delay surgery by a year.

On a professional side, I have long said there were places for whom I would not work because of my own disagreements with what they do. Tomorrow I begin a week of doing work for such an agency as part of my job. It means being able to afford surgery.

I've made my choices; now I need to live with them and find my peace.
agent_dani: (Default)
1376 days...that's how long it's been since this journey began; how long since I began the fight for proper medical care.

Today, while at work and, fortunately, in my office, I received a phone call from Planned Parenthood, a follow-up on the dose increase I requested at my last appointment, which couldn't be done at the time because the physician was on vacation (I see a clinician.) The answer given to me today was, "so long as you understand the risks, there is no medical reason to not increase your dose." I got the increase that I requested!

With those words that nearly four-year battle ended. I closed my office door and began to weep in joy and relief. It's over; it's really over.
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Last night, due to a conversation that was happening, I re-read Chapter 7 (specifically, beginning around page 115) of "Whipping Girl." This is a chapter that is heavily about gatekeepers and the problems they created or facilitated.

"One of the most active areas of sexological study has been transsexuality and that work was possible because trans people have often been required to subject themselves to research in order to gain access to hormones and surgery. [...] However, this body of research, tough presented as 'scientific' and 'objective' reveals more about the researchers' biases and assumptions than it does about the transgender population." This quite easily extends to the professional interactions with transitioning patients. The text goes on to describe how it worked in that way and specifically note that this behavior still occurs with those who position themselves as gatekeepers.

So much of this still remains with the professionals who offer to treat trans people. It's even more powerful for me to read this today since the previous time I read this part of the book was in June-July of 2008, two months before I first saw a therapist and two years before the doctor to whom I was referred would yield to my persistence and prescribe an anti-androgen to me, and I'm certain the only reason she agreed to do so was because my wife attended that appointment and also made the request. She routinely questioned me about my sexual orientation, my manner of dress with emphasis on how often I wore overtly feminine clothing, and was critical of some of my activities. That I rode (and still ride) motorcycles was clearly unacceptable to her as well. Later, with a subsequent doctor, an additional point was that I was comfortable with my loss of sex drive; I was, in fact, overjoyed that it was gone.

While every one of these can be positioned as insignificant, what emerges is a pattern of bias-based behavior. This is significant because no other explanation sufficiently describes the observable data. Certainly, she presented excuses, but they fail to stand up to examination, e.g. having a single male relative who had a heart attack over the age of 60 does not, in fact, mean one has what is considered to be a high hereditary risk (the age threshold for that is generally considerably lower.)

I will be very happy to never again experience an examination with an orchidometer, too; my first doctor required that on a recurring basis as a condition of obtaining and continuing HRT.

Bragging!*

May. 8th, 2012 10:32 pm
agent_dani: (Default)
What girl has a 4.0 cumulative GPA?!

THIS GIRL!
I aced Anthropology 440 at Carolina!

* Because, with the North Carolina amendment results so far, I need something positive tonight.
agent_dani: (Default)
A point I made in my last post was taken the wrong way a bit. I don't mean the comparison to others to be about measuring my life or transition, but to be a measure of what is possible and how unreasonable the treatment I've received actually is.

I have an appointment with an LPN at Planned Parenthood on Monday to transfer my treatment there. A location near me provides services for trans women.
agent_dani: (Default)
Feeling like I am and/or my life is simply falling apart, and that I should just give up. I've been in a very difficult emotional space this year. In my view it's due to the drastic HRT changes as that's when this all began. I've found myself in emotional places that I had dearly hoped I would never again visit: at different points, on the verge of being suicidal and self-injuring, both things I haven't felt for years (and, for those who knew me in my younger years, when I persistently picked scabs on my body and wouldn't let them heal, that was why I was doing it, even if I couldn't answer "why?" then because the only answer I could give - that it felt good - didn't go over well.)

I think the reason it seems so much more painful now - more painful than it ever did in the past - is because today I know something that I didn't then: what it is to not feel this way. For seven months, from July of 2011 to February of 2012, I was on a dose on which I truly felt good in a way that I never did for 30-odd years before that.

I see so many others having the happy moments - making the progress, scheduling the surgeries, and getting past that - and I'm so happy for them, but I'm also seeing that most of them started well after me and didn't have fights for something so basic. And I'm desperate for anything even beginning to resemble that kind of progress, and particularly not to suffer loss of progress like I have, because the place I'm in just fucking hurts. At least once a day, on average, I'm in tears for no other identifiable reason. I sit at work or driving home struggling to keep the tears from flowing.

This coming Saturday, May 5, marks exactly three years since I first saw a doctor for HRT. It's nowhere near that long for HRT itself; that didn't happen for five more months as that endo required that I do at least three months of therapy before HRT (which became five, and was in addition to the seven I had already done.)

HRT

Apr. 29th, 2012 02:22 pm
agent_dani: (Default)
Pulling together a history of HRT in preparation for switching doctors. Posting it here should it be useful to anyone else.

Note: with the exception of the October 21, 2011, lab, all labs were one week before the appointment where the dose change listed in the next column was made. October 21 was the appointment following the October 12 labs and my endo didn't trust the result of that lab (she has since declared that both the October 12 and October 21 E labs had to be defective in light of the Feburary 2012 result.)

Total
DateLab result(s)Dose changeTotal dose
October 2009unknown*+0.05 mg/day Vivelle-Dot0.05mg/day Vivelle-Dot
(Initial HRT dose)
Jan/Feb 2010unknown*+0.025 mg/day Vivelle-Dot0.075mg/day Vivelle-Dot
July 2010unknown*+0.025 mg/day Vivelle-Dot
+200mg/day Spironolactone
0.10mg/day Vivelle-Dot
200mg/day Spironolactone
October 2010unknown*+0.025 mg/day Vivelle-Dot0.125mg/day Vivelle-Dot
200mg/day Spironolactone
March 2011E 65pg/mL
T 12ng/dL
+0.075 mg/day Vivelle-Dot0.20mg/day Vivelle-Dot
200mg/day Spironolactone
July 2011E 109pg/mL+2mg/day oral Estradiol0.20mg/day Vivelle-Dot
2mg/day oral Estradiol
200mg/day Spironolactone
October 12 2011E 76pg/mL
T 37ng/dL
n/a0.20mg/day Vivelle-Dot
2mg/day oral Estradiol
200mg/day Spironolactone
October 21 2011E 186pg/mLn/a0.20mg/day Vivelle-Dot
2mg/day oral Estradiol
200mg/day Spironolactone
February 2012E 357pg/mL
T 37ng/dL
-0.20 mg/day Vivelle-Dot2mg/day oral Estradiol
200mg/day Spironolactone
March 2012E 49pg/mL+1mg oral Estradiol3mg/day oral Estradiol
200mg/day Spironolactone
April 2012E 55pg/mL+1mg oral Estradiol4mg/day oral Estradiol
200mg/day Spironolactone


* T and E were tested, but the doctor did not share those results with me. My information about my actual levels begins with my final appointment with my first endocrinologist.

Updatiness

Apr. 15th, 2012 11:20 pm
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Life is going well, all things considered.

On Monday we bought another motorcycle. A coworker was selling a 1998 BMW R1100R for a good price and we decided it was the right addition for us. We had long wanted to get another bike that we can both ride and had planned for that to be behind some other expenses, but opportunity knocked.

Friday my parents came over to get a mirror hung on the wall in our dining room (over the side bar.) WR said that the only thing missing was a black cat; we had ladders and mirrors on Friday the 13th. Afterwards we had dinner and, being unable to secure a decent time reservation at one restaurant or get out of work in time to get to another that gets really busy on Friday evenings, I made a reservation at a little restaurant in Durham named Four Square that we'd never patronized before. It's a bit more upscale than I expected but was quite good.

Saturday began early, due to me incorrectly reading the schedule for a group ride (it's next Saturday, and we can't go because we have other plans) so we went to Burlington, NC, then rode a while, rather aimlessly...okay, we went south on NC 49 until we reached US 64, then headed home (64 to US 15-501.) In the afternoon we went to Crabtree Valley Mall in Raleigh, doing two-up riding on my Voyager and with the trailer. I scared WR with a few turns in the garage complex around the mall, mostly due to the fun combination of grade changes (top or bottom of ramps) that happened at bumps (raised or depressions.) Two-up riding is still an interesting experience, and that's the first time we did so with the trailer. It's one of trust - a lot of trust on both of our parts. Her part, as the passenger, is probably pretty obvious, but also that I trust her because movements she makes affect the bike. This choice of transportation proved fortuitous when we were able to score a prime parking spot that couldn't be used by any cars. It was some wasted space in an angled parking aisle where a stairwell took space. The entrance between the concrete curb and the line was about five feet, a bit wider than the trailer.

Sunday we got up early to head to Brier Creek to meet up with a women motorcyclist group for a ride to a place called Locked and Loaded in Garner, NC, for an annual festival they have. I rode the BMW and WR her ZR-7s; the BMW attracted a surprising amount of attention. We had a nice ride home by way of Falls Lake and Creedmoor. In the evening, I rode with WR to work, then met her there when we rode to dinner then home (she took the car as she was tired.)

I'm really liking this bike. It's been a long time since I've ridden anything that wasn't an inline 4-cylinder and I've forgotten what having low-end torque is like. I also realized that it means I've ridden (seriously ridden - at least hundreds of miles and at highway speeds) bikes with five different engine types - V-twin, parallel-twin, V-four, inline-four, and, now a boxer-twin.
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