Penny's Story

A cute little drummer living her dream.

Archive for January, 2009

Beautiful Woman

I was talking with a woman at church this evening, and I wanted to share the conversation.

To set the context, during the service this evening I received an email from my surgeon’s assistant letting me know that my file was complete and that she had received all the necessary items from me that I needed to provide pre-surgery (checks, letters of recommendation, medical history, etc…). I was pretty ecstatic after getting this email, I even had to excuse myself from the service for a moment to jump for joy in the hallway (seriously). I guess my joy was expressed in my playing, because this woman came up to me after the service and said that she could hear the happiness in my playing.

I explained to her why I was so elated. I told her that I’m transgendered and that my surgery is February 24th and I finally have all of my ducks in a row.

We talked a little about me and being transgendered and all that stuff, and then this exchange happened:

Her: “Penny, can I ask you a personal question?”
Me: “Sure, being transgendered I’ve gotten used to personal questions.”
Her: “What biological sex were you born?”
Me: “Well, there was some ambiguity, but I was born with a penis and one testicle.”
Her: “But, Penny, you’re such a beautiful woman.”

Okay, so that was one of the coolest things anyone has said to me. I think I’ve got this whole thing pretty well down. I’ve spoken with this woman a few times before, and I’ve always thought she was cool; this conversation only made me like her even more.  😉

Oh, and there is still the little news about my file being complete with my surgeon.



In Massachusetts, people can get an “F” in sex early

This won’t have an impact on me since I’m about to embark on my excellent adventure, but it’s really cool, and it’s about time:

Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles releases policy change for changing gender markers

January 26th, 2009 by gunner in AnnouncementNews


The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) is pleased to announce that the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles has amended its policy regarding changing gender markers on state issued identification such as driver’s licenses or Massachusetts ID.

The new policy requires a person who wishes to change the gender marker on their state issued identification to submit an updated application together with a Gender Designation Change Form, signed by him or her and a medical provider attesting to the gender that the individual considers himself or herself to be. The policy no longer requires a person to submit medical proof of sex reassignment surgery or an amended birth certificate. The next edition of the Registry of Motor Vehicles Driver’s Manual will reflect the agency’s policy amendments.

In the coming weeks, MTPC will provide a comprehensive “how to” guide for changing gender marker that reflects this new policy as well as the requirements of other State and Federal agencies.

MTPC has been working collaboratively with Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD), MassEquality and Representative Carl Sciortino advocating for this policy change with the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles.

Arisia ’09 was just super

There is more to Arisia going on tomorrow, but I won’t be heading back into Boston to attend the few events left.

I did manage to crawl out of bed this morning at 8:00 AM after getting to sleep sometime around 3:30 AM with the plan of getting into the hotel by 9:45 AM so I  could have breakfast before the first panel I wanted to attend at 11:00 AM. So, it decided to snow last night and this morning, so the drive in was complicated slightly, but I got a space in the MIT garage, where Arisia attendees could park for free. I was purely giddy on my walk to the hotel; I was so excited to be on my way back to the con, and the snow was lovely falling so fluffy. Yay.

I made it into the hotel by 9:45 AM, even in the snow, checked my coat, and headed up to the restaurant for the breakfast buffet. Because I was there alone I sat at the bar. I sat next to this really nice guy who’s a literary agent and we had a great chat about other conventions and people in general. While we were chatting he gave what I thought was a great description of Arisia, and that is that it’s a lifestyle convention with a permanent sci-fi contingent. This is one of those things that just would not have happened in the olden days, I probably wouldn’t even have gone to the restaurant by myself, let alone chat for an hour with someone who just happened to be sitting next to me at the bar.

So, at 11:00 I went to “Responsible Monogamy.” The panel was great, and I feel like I got a lot of good advice for dealing with being in a relationship for the long term and handling things like fighting and communication; it was brilliant. I even talked about my previous relationships and asked about dealing with my current situation. I’ve always been very “fast-track” when it comes to relationships and now I’m dating a man who seems decidely “slow-track;” it’s interesting balancing that out. Though, the real thing that I think is complicating things isn’t so much the fast-track/slow-track thing, as much as it is the 300 miles that separate Tim and I. Anyway, it was a great panel and I felt like I got a lot out of it; and they’re advice for me was basically to be patient – heh, like I’ve never had anyone tell me ~that~ before.  lol

Next I went to a panel on bioethics. This panel went all over the place, from the process of kidney donation and how the kidneys are allocated to autonomy and who gets to decide what’s best for someone and if it isn’t themselves, why. I talked in this panel too, and told of how my therapist had committed me when she considered me a danger to myself (we were talking about autonomy).

After that I went to a panel called: “The Nature of Gender: Past, Present & Future.” This was a really good one, too. And, I talked in this panel, as well; I guess once I found my voice it got easier and easier. We gradually got to talking about transgender folks being able to change their birth certificates. A man in room said that he had problems with changing a birth certificate seemed like trying to change history and he couldn’t see that ever being a good thing. So, first I outed myself as trans (and I definitely heard most of the room go: “ohhhhhh” – it’s really cool to pass as well as I do), and then I explained that from my perspective changing a birth certificate is about correcting a mistake. The man still stuck to his point, though and seemed to prefer maintaining the mistake to correcting it. He and I ended up talking after the panel, and it just seemed like he didn’t really understand all the ramifications involved.

After that panel I went up to the art show and really ahd a good look at everything. Some of the artists works were really stunning. I also got to really stare at the work that bought yesterday for a little bit (the artist has a pic of it on her website here); it’s just awesome. It’s a steampunk character, and I think that this work of art has spurred an interest in steampunk that I never knew I had. I want to create a costume for next year’s Arisia based on the costume the girl in the drawing is wearing.

Next Sarah and I went to “Coming Out Stories.” You guessed it, I talked in this panel, too. I told how when I came out to my gram she was so cool, and how my mom has said that I’m the daughter that she always wanted. I also talked a little bit about how I believe that the fact that I have transitioned to being a straight woman makes my transition easier for people to understand. Most of other coming out stories had to do with folks coming out as poly or kinky or bi. At the end of the hour, another transgendered person was talking, and they were comparing “normal” people and “transgendered” people – and it really pissed me off; I guess my face was really obvious, because one of the panelists came up to me afterward and said that she could see how upset I was and that she was sorry I had to deal with that (I think she agreed that the “N-word” wasn’t a good choice for the other transperson to use).

I got to talk to Tim for a little bit during a break; I’ve been so busy this weekend that it’s been hard for us to talk much at all, so it was really nice that I got to talk to him.

We went to “Body Modifications: Past and Future” after that. This was a really good panel, talking about all sorts of extreme and not-so-extreme body modifications. I found it fascinating, but I was starting to get really tired, so I pretty much just sat there and took this one in.

Finally we went to “The Singularity: The SF Rapture.” The “singularity” is a hypothesis that some development will happen that will cause such amazing advancement that we can’t even predict the slightest bit of what that future will look like. This panel was awesome; this was one of those psycho over-the-top brilliant groups of folks. I loved it, and I think I followed most of what was said, but my brain was turning very sleepy. It was a perfect way to end the weekend

I’m thinking that I’d actually being on a panel next year; I’ve been bitten by the bug, I’d say.

I can’t wait till Arisia 2010!


Arisia ’09 – day 2

Today was the second day of Arisia, just like last year, it feels like I’ve crammed more into the time that has elapsed than is physically possible. I must go to sleep as it’s almost 3:00 am, and I’ve told myself I’m getting up at 8:00 so I can have breakfast at the hotel before beginning the day.

So, just a brief rundown of the day’s events.

I taught until 2:30 and got in to the con around 3:30. I was really excited to be there earlier than I expected because I got to attend a panel titled “GLBT Friendly Comics.” It was a really cool panel for several reasons, not the least of which being the inclusion of a 13 year-old bisexual on the panel. I went away with a whole list of comics that I want to check out with GLBT characters. This was a great one.

After that was a panel entitled “How do we pay for the future.” This was one of those panels that makes me feel like the dumbest girl in the room; the panels members were all brilliant. They talked about abundance and scarcity and how society and economies could look in the future. It was fascinating and really heavy; I am so glad I went. One of the reasons I love Arisia is that I can go and talk about GLBT comics and then right after that talk about the economic outlook for the future and what science can or should do about it.

After that I went to panel called “Beloved Ghosts vs. Evil Dead.” Pretty much they talked about representations of the dead (ghosts and zombies) in movies and literature as well as myths regarding the same. It was okay, but largely a meh for me.

I took a break after that panel and hung out with Sarah a bit. We ended up in the room of a couple friends who were entertaining a few other friends. Two of the friends were a couple and they had their 18 month-old daughter; she was just the cutest kid ever. Have I mentioned that my biological clock sounds like Big Ben ringing in my ears. Hanging around with babies and toddlers just really pushes that button in my brain: I WANT A BABY!

We ran up to the art show before it closed for the evening, and I ended up buying a really cool pencil drawing of a female steam-punk character. I also bought a print of a female version of Boba Fett called “Babs Fett.” Yay for art! I am really excited about the piece I bought; I can’t wait to bring it home so I can find an appropriate place to hang it.

After that art show I ended up at “Your kink is okay.” This was a really cool panel. I love spaces where there are kinky folks and everyone is cool with everyone else’s kink. It’s funny just how vanilla I feel in a room full of kinky folk – lol!

Next was “Knowing the Score: Music in Sci-Fi and Fantasy.” This was okay, but fairly forgettable.

Last for the evening was the reading of “The Eye of Argon.” This was a highlight last year for me, and this year it was more of the same. “The Eye of Argon” is a horrible sci-fi short story, with terrible grammar and many typos. The “reading” is actually a contest: people read until they make a mistake, and they have to pronounce the typos as written, and they can’t laugh. It is a ton of fun. I’ve been too chicken to even give it a try last year and this year, maybe next year I’ll try my luck. The contestants were great this year, it took an hour and a half to finally crown a winner. It’s impossible to explain if you’ve never experienced it, but it is tons of fun.

And then I was out to the car and home.

And now sleep.

Arisia as a commuter

Arisia started tonight. Arisia is a ~very~ cool sci-fi convention held each year in Boston. A couple months ago it looked like Tim might be able to head north for the con, but complications at work have kept him trapped in New Jersey (grrrrr). I was also expecting to have a hotel room but that didn’t happen either, so I’m not there all day everyday, but I’ll be there as much as I can this weekend.

I went this evening and already attended three panels.

First was “What if they’d been invented earlier.” It was a fun panel that considered the possible ramifications if things like lasers and guns and space travel had been invented earlier than they were, and sometimes looking at why things were discovered only to be forgotten and then rediscovered. It was very interesting and it could have gone on for another two hours and I’m sure I would have been just as entertained.

Next I went to “Science Fiction is a girl thing too.” My inner feminist sort of told me that I ~had~ to go to this one. It pretty much consisted of everyone trying to create a list of sci-fi books that would be good for teen-aged girls to read. I found it horribly boring. And, as someone who doesn’t read as much as she’d like (for a whole host of reasons, not the least of which being laziness), I just felt like the dumb kid in the room.

Lastly for this evening was “The Modern Burlesque Revival.” This panel was awesome. They had folks from The Boston Babydolls burlesque troupe leading he panel, and one young woman who has a burlesque group at her college. This panel was fun and informative; they gave some history of burlesque, talked about “neo-burlesque,” and even got into issues such as how society tends to look down on burlesque performers. One of the audience memebers, who performs as a drag-king, brought up the similarities and crossover between burlesque and drag, and that was fascinating. It was a great panel. I almost didn’t go to that one; I’m very glad I did.

After that I decided to head home for the evening because I have to teach in the morning before I can head back for more geeky goodness. Arisia is awesome; I could try to explain why, but if you’re a geek you already understand, and if you’re not a geek you never could…


The Hero Pilot

Pilot praised for ‘masterful’ landing

  • Story Highlights
  • NEW: Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger has been a pilot with US Airways since 1980
  • NEW: Former Air Force fighter pilot has worked with NASA as safety consultant
  • NYC mayor says pilot checked plane twice for passengers before leaving
  • “I’ve flown in a lot of planes and that was a phenomenal landing,” passenger said

(CNN) — Passengers on the US Airways flight that crash-landed into the Hudson River Thursday afternoon praised the actions and courage of the pilot, a safety consultant with 40 years of experience in the aviation industry.

Sources tell CNN that Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger was piloting US Airways flight 1549 from New York’s LaGuardia airport to Charlotte, North Carolina, when at least one of the plane’s engines failed.

Passenger Jeff Kolodjay offered “kudos” to Sullenberger for a landing that minimized damage to the aircraft and its 155 passengers and crew.

“All of a sudden the captain came on and he told us to brace ourselves and probably brace ourselves pretty hard. But he did an amazing job — kudos to him on that landing,” said Kolodjay, who was sitting in seat 22A.

Sullenberger’s wife told CNN that she was stunned to hear the news from her husband after it was all over.

“I hadn’t been watching the news. I’ve heard Sully say to people, ‘It’s rare for an airline pilot to have an incident in their career,’ ” said Lori Sullenberger of Danville, California.

“When he called me he said, ‘There’s been an accident.’ At first I thought it was something minor, but then he told me the circumstances and my body started shaking and I rushed to get our daughters out of school.”

US Airways said all 155 passengers and crew are alive and safely off the plane.

The crash-landing has also earned the former fighter pilot and private safety consultant accolades from state and government officials.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg commended the pilot for not leaving the plane without checking to make sure every passenger had been evacuated.

“It would appear that the pilot did a masterful job of landing the plane in the river and then making sure that everybody got out,” Bloomberg said at a press conference Thursday.

“I had a long conversation with the pilot. He walked the plane twice after everybody else was off and tried to verify that there was nobody else on board — and assures us there was not.”

Sullenberger apparently was forced to make an emergency landing after geese were sucked into one or both of the jet’s engines. An eyewitness working on the west side of Manhattan said the belly of the plane touched the water first.

An official who heard tape recordings of the radio traffic from Flight 1549 reported the pilot was extraordinarily calm during the event.

“There was no panic, no hysterics,” the official said. “It was professional, it was calm, it was methodical. It was everything you hoped it could be.”

The pilot and air traffic controller discussed options, including landing at Teterboro airport in New Jersey, the official said. Then there was a “period of time where there was no communications back, and I’m assuming he was concentrating on more important things.”

Sullenberger’s background in aviation appeared to have prepared him for such a situation.

He has been a pilot with US Airways since 1980, following seven years in the U.S. Air Force.

His resume — posted on the Web site for his safety consulting firm, Safety Reliability Methods, Inc. — lists piloting procedures, technical safety strategies, emergency management and operations improvement, as areas of industry expertise.

He served as an instructor and Air Line Pilots Association safety chairman, accident investigator and national technical committee member, according to a biography on the site. He participated in several USAF and National Transportation Safety Board accident investigations, and worked with NASA scientists on a paper on error and aviation, his site says.

For the passengers on flight 1549, Sullenberger’s skill and expertise were apparent.

“I’ve flown in a lot of planes and that was a phenomenal landing,” said passenger Fred Berretta said.

Berretta was sitting in seat 16A right over one of the engines when it failed and the pilot turned the plane to align it with the Hudson River. He described silence in the plane as the passengers waited to hear from the crew.

A few moments later, the direction to brace for landing came.

“It was an amazing piece of airmanship,” said Peter Goelz, a former NTSB managing director.

All AboutUS Airways Group Inc. • LaGuardia Airport • Charlotte (North Carolina) • Michael Bloomberg

Links referenced within this article 

US Airways
Michael Bloomberg
US Airways Group Inc.
LaGuardia Airport
Charlotte (North Carolina)
Michael Bloomberg

Find this article at:

An interesting confluence on the countdown

Today is January 13th, and it’s a Tuesday. Something occured to me: today is exactly six weeks until my surgery, and two months until my birthday. It’s just a cute coincidence so I thought I would point it out.

Also, I was filling out some forms in preperation for the surgery last night, and my emotions were just overflowing; talk about all I ever wanted actually happening.


%d bloggers like this: