Wow~ Happy New Year Everyone! Time for another one of those 2014 year in review documents. I’m just staggered by the amount of stuff that happened this year.
I started the year as Joe: 28 year old gay male, Computer Technician @ Oak Park and River Forest High School. Dating my boyfriend of a couple of years named Adam.
January & February
2014 has been an interesting year. I started the year working at OPRF and trying to work my way to the root of my sinus issues. January and February didn’t really see a whole lot going on. I was being a normal computer technician and living my life. I was also sponsoring Computer Science Club at OPRF. I had realized that something was a little odd and I needed to finally figure out some of my deeper mental issues, but didn’t have many leads to work with. I was embedding myself into work and TV shows. Was also losing myself in some video games like Banished. I was also struggling to keep up with technical issues created with the PARCC Pilot.
March has always been an interesting month for me. 2014 was no exception. I went to a stylist and finally started getting my hair done. I felt so good in the salon. It was a calming and relaxing place for me. Adam and I got engaged and chose a date of October 14th 2014 for the wedding, wedding planning beginning. I was starting to take work home as an escape from something in my subconscious but I hadn’t put put my finger on it yet. I also started replaying some old games like FFX. I also started building a Windows 8.1 version of my Dungeons and Dragons Character sheet. I bit off a lot in March.
April was another interesting month. Among other topics Windows XP met its end of support. The PARCC pilot was coming to an end and I felt like I could breath a little in April finally. Heart-bleed vulnerability came out and freaked out many people. However I was still pulling some late nights at work. I started indulging my inner feelings again and got some ice cream! 🙂 Muna and Richard had their little one named Aydin. At the same time I was started to work on a guest list for the wedding and studying for my A+ certification! Jeez, I didn’t seem to take a break at all in the first third of 2014. Also during the same time I was starting to get worse and worse sleep.
On May 1st my I wrote up this as a Facebook post “I feel today my fist day leaving work on time in like six months… I know thats an exaggeration its probably been more like 2.” I was starting to see myself getting overworked but I didn’t know why. There was pressure from work to actually start working less. However, I pushed myself more. In retrospect I was escaping. What was I escaping from? Wedding planning had become difficult. In May I got to my first Cubs game of the year. Also, in early May Microsoft put out a patch that fixed a massive security hole in IE… The problem is that it completely broke IE9 on Win 7. That was a horrible, horrible morning and day. Preparation had begun for summer. Summer was going to be very busy and I was starting to feel anxious about that. At this point we were starting to to look at caterers. Wow, planning a wedding is not easy. When May ended school got out and summer was beginning. I was starting to withdraw and feel overwhelmed. I was hunkering down… The work was coming…
And thus, June began. June means the end of school and the beginning of summer. I had a lot to plan for with the summer, although I had some great help from student techs. Among other things we were doing included replacing 200+ desktops and bringing in 770 Chromebooks as new devices. At the same time I had to continue studying for my A+ test. Because shipments couldn’t come in until July 1, we started by pulling out desktops that were to be replaced over the summer. This was the result of us pulling desktops:
During the summer we don’t have as many people to support in the building so it’s easier to be off in your own little world and thinking. I got distracted easily and did make some mistakes and what not because of it. I was off thinking about the various things in my life that have caused me pain over the years, although I had yet to find a common link between them I felt like they were all related. I couldn’t put my finger on anything yet but it seemed to revolve around issues in social or private settings where I was expected to fill certain roles I just was not comfortable with. What was the common link? June was such a difficult month for me that things like this started to happen: “Yesterday was such a difficult day I walked home not remembering that I drove to work… The kicker is I didn’t realize that happened Until I went to drive to work this morning…” So I sat down to watch a movie from one of the moments I felt most comfortable in my life… The day I cross-dressed and went to “Rocky Horror Picture Show” Hmmmm…. That tidbit got filed away for later.
That was only half of June… The other half consisted of a trip to Japan. There was a lot of culture shock. Probably one of the biggest things happened really early in the trip. My host was an English teacher about my age. His mom introduced herself as a housewife and mother before anything else. Later, she told me she was the secretary to the president of a major newspaper. I was dumbfounded. In America being a housewife is always said second if you have another job to talk about. There’s something about being a housewife. There’s something about the feminine role that’s starting to die in America. I realized that I could fit in socially. For some reason Japan was really accepting toward me. I felt comfortable there. It allowed me to as time went on in Japan take the filter down. At the time I didn’t even know I was filtering but when I got back… I was a different person. I had realized that for many many years I filtered everything I said, everything I did everything I thought was filtered though this prism before it was shown to the world. There was only one question left. Why did the filter go up in the first place?
I returned from Japan on 9AM on July 2nd. I returned to work at noon on July 2nd. There was literally no down time. Why? I couldn’t handle it. I couldn’t handle being alone right now. If I let myself think, I would end up in a place that was not good. I saw depression, anxiety and anger right around the corner… I felt like I had put up a filter for many years that kept me from really meeting emotionally anyway. It was good I went to work anyway, because there were deliveries that day on July 2nd. Then deliveries came in and in and in and in. We had to unbox and prepare devices as quickly as possible. This is what we would spend the rest of the summer doing at OPRF. While I had student techs helping with this, this was not the only project on our plate. One day alone: July 11… 425 boxes of devices came in. They were un-boxed the same day, but that was a long day. July 12th I took and passed both A+ tests. That was the end of studying and that provided me more time to think about my problems…. However, I refused to do that. So I became a workaholic. I spent sometimes as much as 60 hours per week at work. I had no problem with coming in weekends, staying late at nights… On the face it was to help with the obsene amount of work we had to handle this summer. I wanted to go back to Japan. I felt at home there. Why Did I have this filter? Why was it here? Why can’t I get rid of it? At the same time I almost forgot… WEDDING PLANNING.
August brought forth the rush to the school year. I could claim that we needed to rush to keep me at work. That’s right. I wanted to be at work. I was escaping from ever larger thoughts creeping into my head and driving me batty. I was happy to be able to say: “Today probably starts the day where I will begin being at work 7 days a week… Goodbye social life! See you in September!” And that very much was the story of August. Nearing the end of August I could feel the stress getting to me. As the school year started in mid August the tickets started rolling in. We had many reports of problems, just keeping up with them was amazingly difficult. I also could not handle wedding planning and we decided to postpone the wedding until March 2015. Specifically 3/14/15. Pi Day. Every day that August went on I could feel myself getting worse and worse and worse. However the moment I took a break from thinking about work, I started thinking about my filter and why it’s there. I also started playing Ocarina of Time for the 29th time.
September meant that people were starting to get settled into the school year. The tickets could no longer sustain my stressful hours. As my hours started rolling down I started getting more and more anxious. There was something just out of my reach that I hadn’t put together. I spent time on work again. I started thinking about it all the time, I started playing video games from the past to forget. I started doing projects with my personal technology to escape. As I worked less and less, my stress rolled up because I wasn’t dead tired every day. I began to have trouble sleeping and reentered therapy for stress related anxiety. I could no longer sleep well, I could no longer think clearly. Then I took a leave of absence from work. Clearly there was something I needed to work on. The first thing I wanted to sort out was… What’s important to me. On September 20th 2014 I married my fiancé. It was the marriage I always wanted. However, it was not the weding I wanted. I imageined myself in a dress… And that will still happen, but the date is TBD. I decided that I would write my entire history of times that I was depressed, anxious, or uncomfortable and finally find the link. I didn’t edit, I didn’t plan. I just wrote, and cried. Remembering some of the things I remembered were tough and unlocked other things to remember that I had repressed. I was starting to find links between the unconnected difficult events of my life. I started understanding the pieces I missed. The end of September is when I first gave credence to the idea that I was not supposed to be a boy. If you make the assumption that I should be a girl… Everything in my life fits. I started thinking about names. I would change my first name to Josephine and leave my last name alone. My middle name, I din’t know what to do with. I started telling people that I was thinking that maybe I should have been a girl instead and that I would be more comfortable as a girl.
October was a month of introspection. I spent most of the month writing a raw, difficult, and honest history of my life all the difficulties all the pain all the memories I had that related to anything that had to do with anxiety, depression, anger, gender, etc. Adam and my psychologist became my sounding board every step of the way. They are the only two people that have read (and probably will ever read) this document. I thought long and hard about if I should be a girl. It was the only solution that made my life make sense. I started researching the process to transition while also beginning to think about if I could do a transition like that in my current job. If it was even the right job for me. I weighed all the options and looked at all the various steps of transitioning from man to woman. I drew it all all out and the first step was to come out. To tell people that I was not a man in my heart. I realized OPRF was not the place for me to transition. In fact, staying at OPRF would distract me from the transition I needed to make. I started putting out my resume and seeing if there was any bites. I started telling people that in fact it was true. I am a woman inside. I chose very specific people to start. I even got the comment “I’ve known for a while, I just didn’t know how to talk to you about it.” It was so heart warming. Now, I felt comfortable telling people. I started telling everyone around me. Everyone was so supportive. It was amazing. I had a bite for a job, an interview and subsequently a job offer. It would be a better position for me going though all of this because one thing that was special about this job is that I had to leave work at work. I could not take it home. I also could not work overtime. I was forced to have the time off for me to refresh. I learned something about myself. If I can lose myself in work… I will. On October 31st 2014 I resigned from OPRF.
I had the urge to reach out to my birth mother. I realized I was in a place where I was finally accepting who I was and fixing myself. When I became a girl, it would be much harder to reunite. I asked my mom for all the information she had. Mom provided it but it was limited. I learned a couple of important things. I learned that she would reach back if I reached out. I learned a little bit more about her mentality and personality. I tried to track down the Adoption agency, it had since gone away. I tried to track down the Adoption agent. She unfortunately had passed. I consulted Facebook. All I really had to go on was a name, and a picture. Much to my happiness for Facebook that’s enough. I sent the person I thought to be my birth mom a friend request and a message on November 2nd.
I accepted my new position. I work for Atos Inc on paper. In reality I work for Microsoft in one their Chicago Data Centers. Here is a video talking about the Microsoft Cloud and how it operates. It specifically looks at my data center also. Please be aware it is a 10 minute video and some parts of it are a little technical. However it is very educational about the “Cloud” and how that cloud works:
On November 10th I started my new position. It’s absolutely amazing! Keeping my work at work and my home life at home caused me to work both issues evenly throughout my life. I had finally found the balance I never had before.
My birthday is in November (Nov 17th) and it was a big day for me. I beat Zelda: Ocarina of Time for the 29th time. I realized that I am becoming a new person. I realized that “Joe” would die and “Jo” would be born out of the ashes of that man. As the filter came down I started being more honest with myself and those around me. I realized that while this was my 29th birthday years of life start counting from Zero. I would be entering year 30. I started setting goals for the next year. By the time I turned 30… I wanted to be well on the way to the person I needed to be. I started settling into work and the idea of a transition. I made sure to tell everyone in my life about my intent except for work.
I was somewhat said not to hear from my birth mom, but I assumed it’s because she hadn’t seen the Facebook message or friend request yet.
As December started I started apologizing to those I felt needed an apology because I mistreated them over the years. On December 7th I decided to start blogging about my history and transition and wrote Looking at Life Differently~ I started settling into my job. I was very happy to see that it is 90% hardware and cabling, not as much software and OS issues. Rule of thumb is that if the server turns on and connects to the network, my job is more or less done. I was in day shift during training but I would be moving to night shift in mid-December. I kept trying to write a blog post week. I started converting the history I had written into a sanitized version that I could share with the world. I started really wrestling with how I was going to make this transition. Each step made it a little more real. I joined a transgender support group and started defining myself as trans-feminine. As night shift started that was quite an adjustment. That happened on the week of Christmas. I also sent an e-mail to HR at work about the fact that I am transgender and that I would like to transition. I started telling a couple of people on my shift that would work directly with me as well.
On Christmas, I mentioned to my dad that I had reached out to my biological mom and he said “hang on” he went up stairs to get a bunch of paperwork from the adoption and a series of letters and documentation dating from the adoption up until 1992. He also gave me the paperwork around all my psychological testing done between 6th grade and high school. I learned to understand my parents more, and I wanted to reach out to my biological mother again. After finding her address online (I was quite amazed I could do that, it was quite creepy) I spent 4 hours writing a 5 page hand written letter. I had to start it at least 30 times before I had a first sentence I was happy with…. I dropped it in the mail in the wee hours of a Monday morning. Tuesday night when I woke up… There was an e-mail from her in my inbox. It was amazing to reconnect with her. I told her about being transgender and she was accepting to! I also have a half-brother and half-sister also. However, the best bit is that they are younger than I am. For once, I’m the big sibling. Although when my mom told my half-brother about my being transgender (they already knew about me and that I was a boy) he reacted with “Another sister?!”
Also, as December ended almost everyone has started using Jo instead of Joe and many people are asking about the change in pronouns…
It seems the transition has already begun…
I ended the year as Jo: 29 year old trans-feminine woman, Data Center Technician @ Microsoft. Married to my husband Adam.
2014 was an amazingly productive but difficult. I have great hope and excitement for 2015.
I have many goals for 2015. I don’t know how many I’ll accomplish but here they are:
- Begin to fix many of the emotional relationships I’ve damaged though not knowing who I am.
- Get closer to my Biological Family and form emotional connections there as well.
- Get settled into working at Microsoft and plan to stay there for at least a couple of years.
- Begin to transition to being a woman
- Come out to the rest of work
- Start to wear androgynous clothing from the female side of the store 😉
- Start Hormone Therapy
- Start to decide about Sex Reassignment Surgery and other surgeries: Breast Augmentation etc.
- Legally change my name, and all the documentation related to my legal name.
- Start to consider, and maybe wear, more feminine clothing
- Once transition is well underway start planning for the wedding I’ve always dreamed of.
That’s my plan for the new year…. I’m super excited that I may be able to look at myself in the mirror, or in pictures and be happy with the person I am. I’m nothing but excited for the new year! I’m hoping it’s as fabulous as I want it to be! I have one last thing to say….
DON’T STOP ME NOW!