From: (Laura Werner)
Subject: Transformations
Date: Sun, 12 Jan 1997 00:47:38 -0800

I've been a little quiet here lately, bogged down in preparations for my trip to Portland this Tuesday. I've let Rosy write all the posts explaining the logistics of where we'll be and when we'll be there. But before I leave, I want to share my feelings about my upcoming adventure and the part this newsgroup is playing in it. I don't know exactly what I want to say. But I do know that I'm sitting here in front of my computer with tears in my eyes, overwhelmed by all of the support, caring, and love that I've received here.

I know that some of the newcomers to our community have been a bit puzzled by Rosy's and my recent posts, because we haven't come right out and said what this trip is all about. Well, to explain that, I have to "come out" again. As those who were here last summer already know, I'm transsexual. That is, I'm a woman who used to be a man. Or to be more pedantic about it, a woman who was born in the wrong body. I lived the first thirty years of my life trying to be a man. I wasn't very good at it. I felt like I was defective somehow, and I often ended up hating myself for my failures.

Eventually, perhaps six years ago, I discovered that there were a lot of other people who felt the same way about themselves. The way in which that happened will sound familiar -- I found a newsgroup on the subject. In much the same way that this group has helped many of us come to grips with a form of sexuality that is outside the norm, that group helped me. It helped me realize that there might be a reason I felt the way I did, that there were plenty of other people with the same problem, and that there was something I could do about it.

That realization started me on a long and sometimes difficult journey. I knew in the back of my mind that I should be a woman and that I should transform my body and my mind in order to live as that woman. But between the realization and the transformation was a huge abyss of fear. I had spent thirty years trying my best to live as the man I thought I was. Before I could make this transition, I had to give up on that life. Had to let the male part of myself die, in a sense, in order for the female part to be born.

Just over a year ago, in October of 1995, I finally made up my mind, worked up the necessary courage, and jumped through the right medical hoops to start transforming my body with female hormones and to make the transition to living as a woman. The time since then has been quite a journey. It's been a roller coaster at times, as parts of my old personality withered away to be replaced by something new and, at the time, unknown.

At first, I had a lot of fear about whether I'd ever be accepted as a woman. The reception I received on this newsgroup, both before and after I came out as transsexual here, went a long way toward alleviating that fear. There was not even the slightest hint of hostility when I made my first coming out post here last summer. Instead, I received more support than I had ever felt possible, and I made a few amazing new friends. I have felt more accepted, cared for, and loved here than I ever thought possible.

One of those amazing new friends I made was Rosy. I'm not sure what to say about her, other than that for me she's become part best friend, part big sister, and part mom. It was, and still is, stormy at times, as I worked through a lot of my self-acceptance and self-identity issues, and she dealt with a few issues of her own. In addition to the support she offered me herself, Rosy introduced me to an amazing bunch of women friends. I have felt so loved and accepted by those incredible women, and they've helped me to open my heart in new ways and to accept my new womanhood.

Even though it's been over a year since I changed my name, my hormones, and my looks, there's one thing that hasn't changed. Every time I go to a clothing-optional party or sit down to go to the bathroom, I'm reminded of my past. Next Friday that's going to change. I'm finally having the genital surgery -- sex reassignment surgery, or SRS -- that will give me the body to match my psyche.

For the last few months, I've been telling myself that this surgery is no big deal. The big change was last year's transition in the way I live my life. In comparison, the surgery is an afterthought. That's even what I told the surgeon when I went up to interview him in September. There will be a lot of nice little changes in my life. I'll be able to use locker rooms again. I'll be able to wear a bathing suit. And last but not least, I can become a sexual being again. Those are all nice things, but compared to last year it's no big deal.

Or is it? Sometimes I have a tendency to over-intellectualize the events that happen in my life. It's a way of defending myself from them, I suppose. If I consider everything rationally, I don't have to be afraid. But some of your wonderful, supportive notes made me realize that I was losing the joy of this experience along with the fear.

A week or so ago, I started to realize that next Friday is going to be a transcendent experience for me. It will be hard, and it will be scary, but it will also be joyous. Part of that joy is knowing how many of you will have me in your thoughts. When I wake up Friday afternoon and realize that, for the first time in my life, I have the body I was meant to have, I will be thinking of all of you. Even though most of you can't be there in person, you'll certainly be in my thoughts.

I want to close with two quotes that sum up the way I feel about the surgery. The first is from a story that Pablo posted here recently. This afternoon he sent it to me again in a very sweet email message, one that brought me to tears and helped me realize the enormity of what's happening to me:

"My kid sister. She looks so small, so vulnerable. I want to keep her from trouble, to protect her from pain. This time, though, perhaps all I can do is help her understand why the pain is necessary, help her to see the good things that lie on the other side."

The other quote is from a TV show. This really resonated with my subconscious the first time I heard it, and now I know why:

"The future is all around us, waiting, in moments of transition, to be born in moments of revelation. No one knows the shape of that future or where it will take us. We know only that it is always born in pain."

For me, next Friday is going to be one of those moments of revelation.


PS: an update on my schedule: I'm leaving for Portland on Tuesday 1/14. The surgery is Friday, 1/17, at around 8 am. I'll be in a hospital room for three days and then in an extended care facility for another week, both at Eastmoreland Hospital in Portland. (If you want the phone # or address, ask me or just look it up in BigBook.) If all goes well, Rosy and I will fly back to the Bay Area on Monday, 1/27. We'll both be off the net during that time, but a few folks here who live in Portland have volunteered to post occasional updates.