Welcome from Salem, Oregon…only about a ten-hour plane flight from Amsterdam. This blog is an attempt on my part to foster dialogue and engender the sharing of resources between transgender advocates in North America and the European Union. The Internet has started to bring the world together in so many ways. There is so much we can learn from one another in our common struggle for human rights and transgender equality on both sides of the Atlantic and in the world. I hope you will join me in this endeavor.
MY JOURNEY AS A TRANSSEXUAL
In 1997 I completed my Masters Degree in Psychology from Seattle University. Due to other pursuits at the time, the degree was just another piece of paper to make student loan payments on. Then in 2003, after hearing the homophobic rants of a Fundamentalist preacher and seeing the movie about Gwen Arujo, I began to revisit my past and dance again with those demons in my childhood. In the 1950s and almost all of the 1960s, there was no language to describe gender dysphoria, birth gender vs affirmed gender, etc. After my first marriage failed after only a few months, I went to a psychiatrist/psychoanalyst to see if he could help me stop wearing women’s clothes. The doctor surmised that I was “neurotic” and not “psychotic.” So there was hope for me. Later, after I got fired from my job, I dropped out and gave guitar lessons for a living.
In 1978 I fled the drug scene in California and moved to Washington State, near the Canadian border. There I got a job and met a nice lady to whom I was married for 29 years. (We are still friends.). Before we got married I told Judy I had to sleep in women’s night gowns. That was OK with her, as long as it didn’t go any farther.
Fastforward to 2003. Questions about my true gender identity rose up in me, again. Judy and I attended some support meetings and met other transgender persons in various stages of transition. Relying on what I learned from the groups and keeping in mind my finances, I decided to change my name ($75 court fee), change the name on my Social Security card and other pieces of ID, and start going to a Gender Therapist. The Gender Therapist later got the gender marker on my Washington Driver’s License changed from M to F.
Judy supported me in my gender affirmation until 2008, when we dissolved the marriage. I then moved to the Olympia area in Washington, where I was active in a Benedictine Oblate community. Being a military veteran, I applied for transgender medical services from the Veterans Administration. In 2009 I filed for gender change with the Superior Court. Now I was Female on both the state and Federal levels. In 2013, there were some formalities I had to endure before I could get a passport with a Female gender marker.
BACK TO EUROPE
When I signed up for military service in the U.S. Army (1961-1964), I was deployed to Paris where I was attached to the American Embassy. While in France I learned French, the classic guitar, and visited other European countries before there was a EU like today. Reluctantly, I came home, completed university, and never could forget those days as a young man over there…
Then, early in 2014, a lady from Sweden contacted me on my Facebook page. She said she was my cousin! It seems when Grampa went back to Sweden to visit his sick sister in 1937, he fathered a daughter with the caregiver! After a decade-long search in Sweden and the U.S., my aunt and cousin found Grampa’s grandsons (?). This grandson became his granddaughter! All the more reason to rejoice! In Septeber of that year I flew to Europe and spent three weeks with my aunt, cousin, and the extended family in Skåne. My transgender status was not an oddity or something to be feared by my Swedish family. It was my affirmation of who I was as a human being. Besides knowing French, Spanish, and German…I now have to learn Swedish. Det är många bra med mig!
Back in 1997 Gender Identity Dysphoria may have been in the DSM-IV, but it was not a subject for Psychological study. And I didn’t come out until 2003. After experiencing the love of my Swedish family and doing some searches on the Internet, in early 2015, I decided to resurrect my MA degree. I joined the American Psychological Association as an Associate Member and joined APA Div. 44 (LGBT Issues). Advocacy-wise I am involved with a transgender support group in Salem and this fall I want to get a workshop going on MICROAGGRESSIONS and invite the whole town to it. There is also a lot of reading on my plate that I have to do in the meantime.
This post gets this blog going. As a “beginning blogger” I have a lot to learn and I will make mistakes. English, to me, is the best language to do this in. EU publications are in English and for those with English-only keyboards communicating won’t be complicated. WELCOME! And let’s get this thing rolling!😀😀😀