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Friday, July 30, 2010

Transition Thoughts & Reflections - Stace

She's 30-something, close to her parents and family, and does well in her career.

She lives in The Netherlands.

She's also trans.

Musings of an (I)Tgirl is the name of Stace's blog. I've been following her blog from the beginning but sometimes it is interesting to go back and re-read some of the early posts to see how the blog and the person has changed.

I did that this morning, and Stace has changed quite a bit since beginning her blog. One thing that hasn't changed, however, is the honesty and from-the-heart thoughts that she shares with us.

Today, we feature her story.

Stace doesn't have a published email address, but you may find her on the T-Central Facebook page, at the bottom of this page, or you can contact her via my email address.

- Calie

In between ‘Non Transitioning’ and ‘In Transition’

When Calie asked me to write this essay I was wondering what to put in it. Ideas flickered in and out of my head, of how I could make my path clear and understandable. The problem with describing it is that I am not sure what the path is – so instead I thought I’d do an essay on the why of my path instead of what my path is. With any luck that will make more sense.
I expect my background story reads like most: I knew from an early age, started dressing in my teens and tried to do everything in my power to suppress it. I grew up, went to university, got a job abroad, found a lovely wife and brought a nice house. So far so good.
Then about three years ago things started to get more… interesting. The feelings I was suppressing started to bubble up to the surface much more frequently, and with more intensity. There were days when I could hardly concentrate and I started to look at the front of trains as they pulled into stations more and more. I wouldn’t have thrown myself in front of one, but when you are considering which part of the train would be best there is obviously an issue that needs resolving. I started to dress a bit more often (it had been on and off, with my wife’s knowledge – but only on the odd occasion that she was not there), but that really didn’t work.
About 18 months ago panic attacks started, I would suddenly get really anxious for no reason, and get very wound up. They started getting more frequent, and worse until April last year when I had a conversation with my wife, discussing the need to dress, and the need to do it more openly in the house. Directly after that discussion I had a fairly major panic attack. It started with what felt like an asthma attack – difficulty breathing and having to concentrate – which transformed into hyperventilating. I tried to control it, but without success and ended up in the A&E of our local hospital, being fed valium whilst breathing though a mask to reduce the oxygen intake. After several hours I was sent home, but it cost me a week’s sick leave to recover from the valium-induced tiredness.
Fast forward to December last year and I felt the same kind of thing happening. My wife asked what was wrong and I decided to tell her everything. Long discussions ensued and I said that I would fight transitioning with everything that I had. My wife made me go to the doctor’s to get a referral to the VUMC – one of only two gender clinics in the Netherlands – in order to do what I could to resolve my problems.
Over the last 8 months, whilst waiting for an appointment to come through, I was still getting panic attacks – only now the root thought that was causing them had changed somewhat. I was now panicking about the whole ‘fight it at every cost’ statement and specifically whether I had it in me to do that. I didn’t want to promise something to my wife that I could not deliver. Eventually we had another talk, with me telling her that I am not going into therapy with of view of transitioning. But at the same time I am not going in with a view *not* to transition either. Since the time I have had quite a large spell where I have been so down I could hardly function – I spent my time at work staring at my screen, with the tiniest interruption removing my concentration, needing 30 minutes to build it back up again. But I haven’t had another panic attack since.
So after the rambling history how does that fit into the in between status? Well, I spend 25% of my time at home as Stacy now. I have started going to therapy as Stacy – stepping out for the first time a couple of weeks ago. I am planning on having the hair removed from my face and every few weeks epilate my legs and arms to keep them hair free. In that regard yes, I am in some sort of transition I suppose. Though nothing there that can’t be kept in male life as well (I hate my beard full stop, not just for Stacy). But the end of the journey, for a myriad of reasons, is still not ‘I must transition’ and neither is it ‘I must *not* transition’. I’ve spent probably 30 conscious years suppressing my feelings. Until I know where I need to go to I am not setting anything in my head.
I suppose the best way to put it is I am being pragmatic. With a little luck therapy will help me figure out where I need to be in life, and what I have to do in order to achieve that. At the VU they assess your personality type to see if they feel you are strong enough to cope with transition, if that seems the right way to go. People have misinterpreted that as me following whatever the doctors say, and thinking that the doctors are making me jump through hoops. I am not so sure, to transition and regret it would, I fear, be worse than not to transition in the first place. I’ll only do it if or when it seems like my best path forward.
It hope that makes some kind of sense to where I am in my journey, even if the ‘to’ is still totally unknown for now.


  1. Thanks for your story, Stace! Often I've come to blogs late, and although if I can I try to read from the beginning, often I don't get the whole story. I think you have summed yours up quite well.

    I hope things keep going well for you. I think I have noted that there are many places in the gender cloud that an individual might find is the right place for them.

  2. Stace, you are a very sweet person and I am so very happy to have discovered your blog. Your nice and easy does it approach, seems to be working well for you, and I hope it leads you in the right direction. I'm also very happy, that you have such a supportive spouse and parents! Whichever way your path leads you, I know you will do just fine!

    Melissa XX

  3. Hi Stace.

    I cannot tell you how many "posts/blogs" describing your situation that I have read.

    It is the common thread that makes up of the fabric of the TG condition.

    It has long been my belief that the early diagnosis and treatment is the best most effective, compassionate and humane way to treat/deal with this condition.

    Some of us were lucky enough to have confronted this dichotomy of mind and body early enough that transition was relatively drama free. That is not to say that it was easy. In my case, the social transition was, in that I was quite young, "passed" easily, and had the support of my Mother. The surgical recovery was another matter altogether, being long, painful and arduous.

    My hope is that given the amount of open communication and support and possible education provided by blogs such as this, that a grassroots, EXPERIENCED BASED body of knowledge can be built and provide an alternative to the established "narrative" that has been constructed mostly by men who not only DO NOT have a clear experientially based understanding of our condition, but whose arrogance allows them to blindly TELL US who WE are.

    I can tell you from experience that it did not work 40 years ago, when I went My own way and "fixed" what needed fixing and it is NOT working now as can be seen by a review of the myriads of blogs, stories and post recounting the decades, lost in torment, and the families torn apart.

    IMHO there needs to be a movement towards early diagnosis AND an examination of EFFECTIVE alternatives available for individuals in all the different stages of this condition.

    For people like you, Stace, my suggestion would be to seriously consider something along the lines of what Callie is doing. On the other hand, Alex is living, walking, talking proof that transition can be effected successfully later in life, albeit at a higher price.

    The choices, difficlut as they are, belong to YOU and you alone.

    You have my best wishes and support.


  4. Thanks all for the kind words.

    I am extemely lucky in the way that my parents are supporting me, the way my brother reacted when I told him, and of course the support that Mrs Stace has given me - no matter what happens in the future.

    As to early transition... That would have made my life so much easier, but I wold not be the me I am now had that have happened. I would not be living in a different country, would never have met my wife.

    Looking back in hindsight makes it difficult to say that yes I would have prefered to do something differently. Of course transitioning as a teenager would have made life much simpler in the long term. But the cost would have also been quite high - I just wouldn't have known it.

    I guess there are swings and roundabouts to everything...


  5. IMO there is little to be gained from looking backwards. Perhaps it is true that one can and should learn from one's mistakes, but then who is to say what were 'mistakes' and what were 'learning experiences'.

    One learns very well that fire is hot. One can be told that it burns. But one UNDERSTANDS that fire can burn very painfully, once one is burnt. The price of course from such a direct experience, is of course the scar.

    In a situation such as yours, Stace, you MUST be totally and even brutally honest with yourself and your family. You must listen to them closely and understand everything you can about how your potential change could and might effect them.

    Then you must listen to yourself and weigh the needs and possible consequences of your actions. IMHO this is the only way.

    In today's social and finacial and technological environment, it is very possible that some accomodation can be reached that will allow for the possibility that you and your familiy will continue together as one and prosper. This would be my hope. That would be my goal.

    The choices are yours, as will be the potential consequences and/or rewards.

    When I was very young and was trying to figure out who I was, I came up with a theory. I theorize that who I was was the total sum of my genetic predispositions, acted upon by my environment, (the conditions of my birth, how I was reared, etc.)AND the results of the DECISIONS that I made. THat is all that I am today, a relatively happy, contented and middle aged woman.

    Had I made different decisions in my life....? Who is to say what might have been the outcome. I might have had children, I might have died young. Who knows...All I know is that I am still here, on the green side of the grass, ALIVE, and still kicking.

    We must all make our own way. Choose YOUR way wisely.

    Again, I wish you all the best.


  6. Anything can be a learning experience, Anne -- as long as we learn from it. :)


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