Penny's Story

A cute little drummer living her dream.

Archive for July, 2009

The Never Ending Granulation


This post is whiny, I feel like shit – just be forewarned.

So, I saw the gynecologist this morning. It was my first time ever. I was actually sort of excited beforehand, even though I know that’s silly. And I was definitely nervous.

Anyway, the doctor I saw was recommended by my mom’s doc, and he was very nice.

So, let’s see, where to begin…

I got there, got checked-in, and forgot that like half the women there would be pregnant, a couple of them were very pregnant. I’m getting better on the whole infertility thing, but it still stings sometimes, and I doubt I’ll ever be “over” it.

I was called in by the nurse. She asked what brought me in today. Okay, well, blah-blah-blah, I had SRS five months ago and I’ve noticed an odor and I think I have granulation tissue internally. She was very sweet. She said, “You had this done just five months ago?” With a very warm smile.

The doctor came in and asked a few questions (he was very cute, because he was almost ~overly~ apologetic about asking questions about my history and surgery). And then he did the exam. Yea, okay, I’m over stirrups, fer sure, and, um, speculum=bad time. He used a pediatric speculum, and even that felt like a lot (which seems weird to me, because I dilate fine and get about 5.75 inches of depth with my biggest dilator – weird). There was a lot of pressure on my urethra (I really felt like I had to pee).

He took a couple cultures to make sure the odor isn’t from an infection.

And then he dropped the bomb of saying that he felt like I do have some internal granulation tissue (he said when he took the culture it bled just being touched by the swab). Son of a…

Also, he said that he didn’t feel comfortable treating me. His first suggestion was for me to call my surgeon in Colorado and see if they knew of anyone local. When I told him that I had already done that and they didn’t he said that he would do some homework and see if he could find someone with experience doing this sort of thing.

So, I know that it’s good for him not to work on me if he doesn’t feel comfortable doing it, and he did say he’d do some research to find someone that did feel comfortable doing it, but in the emotional state I’m in it just came across as if he had said : “not my problem.”


Then he threw in that my vagina seemed “very small.”


Then the woman in front of me checking out was six weeks pregnant, so it was “congratulations” all around.


I did good, I got out of there without crying, but I was really shaken. I called my mommy and told her all this, and when I told her that he said that my vagina was very small she said, “Well, maybe it’s hereditary, because I’m very small.” God, I love my mom. At least I got a little laugh…

So, yea, yet more granulation to deal with. When I had my surgery I told myself that I wanted to feel healed by my 40th birthday (that’s in March), so I’ve got time, but this still just feels like it’s taking forever, and like it’s one thing after another.


Not when you’re wrong

I’m such a noob at being part of a minorty. One of the things that I have learned is that when you kick ass and take names, other members of your minority will chafe against the expectation that they should be as successful. And then there’s the fact that people who aren’t part of the minority will think you’re all the same. And then there are the coat-tail riders. I’m sure there’s more that I’m forgetting right now, but probably the most annoying to me is when a member of the minority misbehaves and then expects unanimous support from the other members of the minority simply due to “shared experience.” (sort of)

[I’m possibly mixing a lot of things in here. I’m being a little flippant about being a member of a minority, since the group I’m talking about is “transgender,” and if I ever was a member of that group (which I doubt more and more everyday) I’m certainly not now. However, women with a history of surgically treated transsexualism are pretty small in number, so I guess I could count that – though I sort of resist referring to my medical condition as grounds for considering myself as part of a minority. The thing I’m really talking about is how we’re all, as sensitive and caring people whether or not we’re trans, supposed to get on board with anyone who is transgender even when they act a damn fool. Well, um, see the thing is, not so much.]

Transgender mayor’s clothes spur complaint
(story with video here)

See, this bothers me because it so plays into what was my worst fear before my transition. I teach drum lessons to (mostly) kids between 8 and 15 years old. I was really scared that people would have baseless fears about letting me continue as their kid’s drum teacher (the owner of the store ~specifically~ asked if I was going to come to work in mini-skirts – seriously). Fortunately, my students and their parents believed in me and my drumming and teaching ability, and my sense to not make a spectacle out of myself. Most people won’t even notice that this mayor self-identifies as a crossdresser and not transsexual, they’ll just lump us all together and question ~my~ competance under guilt-by-association. (And just for the record, that halter top looks like incredibly hot material – the “heat” excuse just doesn’t wash with me.)

M2F Transgender kept in male prison

Here’s where I become an essentialist hag (and yes, I’m well aware of the hole I’m creating for other people to attack me, so be it). You see, what are we supposed to do with a person in this situation? I’m not feeling super-groovy about funding a sex-change procedure (if that’s even desired) on tax-payer money (I paid for mine out-of-pocket, afterall, and if we’re not going to cover law-abiding citizens we really shouldn’t be covering people in jail). I chafed against the fact that I couldn’t change my birth certificate until I had surgery, and yet I understood why. This person, legally female, still has a penis, and wants to be put in women’s prison. Um, I really don’t think that makes sense. Likewise, I do understand that men’s prison is not a great alternative. I have a big enough heart that I can see that the reality for this prisoner is mostly protective-custody for the bulk of their prison stay. But I can also see that perhaps not committing the crime in the first place might have been prudent.

I know that I’m supposed to be all onboard the tranny-train, but I have my own impressions, and reservations. I admit to not being 100% comfortable with crossdressers using the ladies room (which isn’t the same as saying I think they ~shouldn’t~ use the ladies room, because I think they should, but I’m admitting to feeling a little iffy about it). I admit to thinking that there’s a difference between transgender folks and transsexuals; I don’t understand transgenderists, genderqueers, or the pregnant man (which isn’t to say that I think negatively of them, just that they’re different from me and that I don’t understand them).

I guess I’m combining a few similar but different thoughts in this post. First, I am uncomfortable with the concept of the “transgender umbrella;” I really do see transsexualism in a different way to the gender-deconstruction that seems so essential to transgender people. Next, if I see someone behaving badly I will acknowledge their bad behavior, especially if they’re associated with me (whether incorrectly or no) by others. Finally, while I often consider blurring my way into the woodwork, I do think it remains important for me to be at least reservedly open about my history. (I have noticed, though, that every time I think about it, the qualifiers get stronger – first it was “out,” then it was “partially” open, now it’s “reservedly” open. Hmm, I bet that means something.)

But, yeah, just because you’re trans I won’t stick up for you if you’re a bonehead (that’s one of my most fundamental rules of life: “Don’t be a bonehead”).

I still hate the “N”-word, and yet…

I’ve never been a big fan of the word “normal.” I felt for so long that it was used against me in a way to be specifically hurtful. I was called a lot of names which all had as their underlying meaning: “not normal.” (some of those, of course, were “weird,” “freak,” “strange,” and on and on – always compared to “normal,” which meant the way people should be)

And then, I think late last year, while I was chatting with someone I said something about just being a “normal girl with a penis.” And then, after I had surgery, anything that I had ever felt about being a freak, or strange, or abnormal melted away pretty quickly (most of that baggage was long gone by then anyway). I feel so bloody “normal” at this point it’s almost strange.

I’ve realized that so much of what made me feel outside of “normal” in the past was trying to live the wrong life, and at this point it seems even more specifically – having the wrong body (I think at some point I joked that all that time I had thought I was a “weird” and it turned out that I was just a woman).

I understand how limited language is when trying to describe elements of human feelings, which compounds the problem.

So, I guess I actually think of myself as normal at this point, yet I still dislike that word. It was used for so long in a fairly intentional way to cause me pain, and it is still used in that way to cause people I love pain.

Words are weird, and I have always tried my best to recognize intent and context when speaking with people. I still rankle at the word “normal,” though, even though it seems I am.

very strange

~much~ TMI about scent

I’m starting to smell the way I’m supposed to.

I knew it was supposed to happen, but I’m surprised it’s so soon. And it’s very groovy.


I noticed a new aroma just about a week ago. I asked two doctors and one friend about it, and they all said not to worry about it. It seems like I’m starting to grow the proper balance of vaginal flora; I think that’s pretty damned cool. I must confess to being a little obsessed with my new scent; it really is developing a whole new area of my body, and it’s fascinating and awesome. I think this ties into my increased awareness of smells in general, too, because I notice my own scent constantly (though it has diminished a bit since the first few days), but no one else seems to notice it.

I’m sorry, but I just find this beautiful in so many ways. I even ~smell~ right now. Ah, the peacefulness of having to proper body. 😉

More with the Soldering Iron


Well, I guess that should be:

*owie* *owie* *owie*

So, I saw the local surgeon again today. The granulation tissue at my vaginal opening seems to be greatly reduced (though not totally eradicated), but I had noticed some more up on top of my clitoris. I asked the doctor about it, and he said that if I wanted he could remove it with the same method as before. I was a bit intimidated by the thought of having a that same procedure done right at the heart of every last nerve ending known to man. I mean, seriously, would you be thrilled to have a soldering iron directed at your clitoris? The answer is: No, you wouldn’t.

This hurt considerably more than the last time. Like, ouch, seriously, and that’s after the shot of lidocaine.

Remind me: no soldering irons near the clitoris.


So, I’m seeing him again in three weeks, and I think there might be a little bit more at my vaginal opening for him to take out. But I think I’m gradually getting to the end of this process.

Oh, and I need to do some stretching exercises to get my legs into those damn stirrups. I’ve already had enough of stirrups.

WTF is “read” anyway?

Yesterday I hung out with a friend. We had an interaction with a third person (my interaction with the third person was very limited, while my friend’s interaction with them was direct). After the interaction with the third person, my friend told me that she thought that the third person had “read” me.

I guess I’m struggling with a lot of this.

I don’t know what being “read” means in relation to me anymore. I’m a woman that happens to be tall. Does being “read” mean that someone thinks I look masculine? I sure as hell don’t think I do. Does being “read” mean that someone has divined something about the nature of my genitals at birth? If so, that’s pretty impressive. Does being “read” somehow invalidate my status as a woman? I don’t think so, but who knows what my friend thinks.

Actually, when my friend explained why she thought this third person had “read” me, I thought there were many possible explanations, and that my having been “read” seemed less obvious than other possibilities. I also can’t understand, even if it were true, why this friend would think it made sense to share this with me. To me it’s as if this friend had said: “Hey, they could tell you used to be a guy.” Which is just fucked up on only about a million levels. First, I never “used to be a guy,” I’ve always been a woman (well, girl first) struggling to exist in the world. Also, what about all the women that were born with their vaginas factory-installed yet appear more masculine than me (and there are plenty of them)? Do we get to guess about their legitimacy as woman by trying to “read” them?

Guess what: I’m a woman; telling me that you think someone “read” me is incredibly insulting. Incredibly.

This friend is also trans, though in a different place on her journey, and she’s dealing with her own self-acceptance issues, and I see this pretty clearly as her projecting some of her stuff onto to me, but it makes it very tough to be around her when she bleeds her perceptions onto me. I’m very willing to be supportive and helpful, but not when part of that is her pulling me down, even if she’s doing it unintentionally. I’m done with any sort of thinking that society doesn’t see me as a normal woman, because ~it does~. I understand that this friend still needs time to process the fact that she’s not a freak, but I don’t. We are both normal.

It’s funny how sometimes it seems like cis gender people that “get it” get it better than some trans folk. I totally understand the trans people that get the hell out of the trans ghetto and just exist in the real world (I actually mostly do, but I don’t feel right abandoning people struggling with stuff I once struggled with). In the real world I’m real.

I am a woman.

Doing Enough?

Something I’ve pondered more than once is how to balance my life and activism and outreach and education.

I’ve never been super politically active. Sure, I vote, and sometimes I’ll talk to friends about political things, but I’ve never done any campaigning or fundraising or donating even.

I just want to live my simple little boring life and wring as much happiness out of the world as I can. I’m actually doing a pretty good job; I’m probably one of the happier people I know.

But a weird thought occurs to me every now and then – am I doing enough? I’ve been very surprised to find that I’m a fairly gender-normative woman. I drum, sure, but no one is 100% in one direction or the other; I seem to fall well within the “typical woman” range. I know I never signed up to fight the gender binary and all that, but sometimes when I feel so comfortable with it, I wonder if I’m some sort of traitor to the cause. I remember once upon a time when I was all set to challenge society’s perception of gender and now I find that, while I still think most folks could stand a little broadening of their understanding of gender, it feels so much less pertinent to my day to day reality.

Once upon a time a I was a bisexual transsexual; I was fine with the label “queer,” now I’m a heterosxeual woman. I guess this is more stuff about human nature and issues which directly impact our lives being the ones we care about most directly.

Which is different from saying that I don’t care about those issues. I strongly believe in discrimination and hate crimes protections for people outside the gender binary, even though I feel that I fall within the gender binary nowadays (yes, I’m aware that in some people’s eyes I’m ~way~ outside the gender binary and always will be). I believe in same-sex marriage rights even though it probably won’t be an issue that directly impacts my life.

It’s becoming an interesting balancing act, being open about my history when appropriate, but also just living my life as makes the most sense.

No Slack Anymore

It’s always amazing to me how human relationships work, and then don’t work.

It’s funny how when you love someone things are easy to overlook or put the best face on; whereas once things end it’s easy to see things in the worst possible way.

It’s too bad, I guess, but then I guess it’s just part of how human relationships work, with a beginning, middle, and end, and all that.

It’s that whole “love and hate” are two sides of the same emotion. It takes a while before the emtions can settle down enough to think clearly (at least for me).

Just like I’ve never been able to completely pinpoint ~why~ I’ve been in love with someone, I’ve never fully understood why when the love ends there is so much anger. Compromise and understanding are replaced with bitterness, frustration and even suspicion.

Like I said the other day, I don’t really have a problem with people thinking I’m crazy or over emotional; I spent way too much of my life burying emotions. I am who I am. It’s funny how perceptions can change even about things like that; before I was emotional and full of life and experiencing things passionately – now I’m crazy. Oh well.

I know it’s part of the whole “to everything there is a seaon” thing, and that when a relationship dies there is pain involved, I guess I just wish, in my typical little Pollyanna way, that the two halves of the former couple could do things right for each other, and help each other get over the breakup. But, I suppose, if the relationship was working that smoothly and both halves of the couple were doing such a good job at caring for each other, maybe the relationship wouldn’t have ended in the first place.

It’s just sad…

Love Lessons from Valeria

I re-watched Conan The Barbarian the other day. I’m such a geek; I ~so~ love that movie. But a line stuck out at me: Conan is close to death, and his love interest says this to him:

Valeria: All the gods, they cannot sever us. If I were dead and you were still fighting for life, I’d come back from the darkness. Back from the pit of hell to fight at your side.

And that’s the kind of love I feel, and that I want to feel. I accept that some people have a more detached and rational way of being in love, but I don’t understand it. This quote is what love is for me, and describes what kind of love I need from someone else…

I’m tired of making apologies for being emotional and sensitive and hyper and intense; I effin’ rock.

Learning on the Beach

My brain is busy enough and fragmented enough that I can be making out with a guy on the beach with jazz music playing in the background having a pretty nice time, and still be thinking and processing. I’m complicated, what can I say?

So, anyway, yea, two first dates with two new guys in the last two days. I’m not gonna blab too much (for a change) other than to say they both went well, and I think if either of them asked me out again I’d probably go out with each of them.

But what’s most interesting is how helpful going out with guys is in helping me figure out what I really want and what is truly important to me.

Already I’ve met guys whom I have a lot in common with, and can have fun with. I know it’s silly, but every time I find myself single, I worry about ever finding someone that will be special again. I don’t think I’ve found the next special person yet (I usually know ~very~ quickly who’ll be special), but I’ve done it several times in the past, so it’s important for me to remember that it’ll happen again.

I don’t think I’m over my recent breakup; though I’m not sure exactly what that means, because I’m not certain that I’m over my divorce. I think I could be open to meeting a new special man, but until then I won’t be surprised if I pine a bit over the last special man.

So, thoughts:

I am super-excitable. If I fall for someone I will be overwhelming. The day after I met my last boyfriend I told my mom that I had “met my husband.” I was excited, and even though we never did end up getting married, I stand by that statement. I don’t think I would ever want to date someone who in the first few days I couldn’t picture being married to. Yes, I’m impulsive, and I make snap decisions, but it’s more than that – it’s about potential. If I can’t picture myself potentially married to someone, why would I want to waste any time with them?

I believe in love. Strongly. Passionately. Fully. I’ve been burned by love more than once, yet I remain as innocently sure that love is pure magic as I’ve ever been. Love is all there is, and I mean that in the best way possible. When I am in love with someone I will give them every last ounce of my soul. Just that very fact might be too much for some people to handle (I think it was too much for my last boyfriend, honestly), but I have no interest in loving any other way.

I need to be able to have fun with someone before my heart will become the slightest bit interested. There must be a playful ease in pretty much every type of communication, from being able to be very jokey to being very natural physically. I think this might be the most important component, actually. If you aren’t having fun together, why the hell would you be together?

My first dance at my wedding was “All I Ask of You” from Phantom of the Opera. The premise of the song is “love me, that’s all I ask of you.” I think the line from the song that most describes what I believe about love is this: “Anywhere you go let me go too.” The reason I broke up with my last boyfriend is that he wouldn’t let me go where he was (that’s it in a nutshell, I wanted to be with him, and he didn’t want me to be). If I love someone I will want to be with them – a lot, and I need someone who will feel the same way. Pretty much whatever it takes, within a certain amount of reason, to be together is what I will do, and is what I require in return.

I’ve realized that how someone smells has become extremely important to me. I’m not sure if it’s really more important than it used to be, although it does feel that way. My sense of smell seems to have gotten more sensitive in the last few years, and I really notice how people smell nowadays. I can still smell people days later, so it’s clear why appreciating someones aroma would be important.

I’m pretty flexible in terms of physical appearance. Eyes and eye contact are very important. Teeth must be reasonable (one of my few deal-breakers is gross teeth). I really prefer people who displace more mass than I do; taller than me is super-awesome, but “bigger” than me is bordering on essential. That seems like it (see, I told you it was pretty flexible).

Life gives you what it will. I thought I would be married forever, and I certainly thought my last relationship would last much longer than it did. But both of those relationships ended, and other relationships I’ve been involved in have ended, and I still believe in being open for the new loves that will come into my life. I learned a long time ago: no guarantees. I’d like to get married again and I’d love to have at least one child, but life doesn’t really care what you want, you take what you get and you run with it and cherish it, because you only get about a hundred years (if you’re lucky), and that’s not very much time to waste not being engaged in your life.

I’m learning that I like folks that are at least a little aggressive physically. I’m pretty passionate, and I’d like to feel like my partner is as into it as I am, perhaps even more so. Sex isn’t the most important thing in the world to me, but it is the thing that sets a “lover” relationship apart from other relationships. So, yea, I’m horny, and sex is important. So sue me.

I’m feeling better about myself all the way around, which is really nice. I’ve had enough time in my life feeling like crap, I’m tired of it.

As a student of mine once said: “Growth is frustrating.”

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