TDOR 2017

Today is November 20th and for those who don’t know it’s also the TDOR (transgender day of remembrance).

I wrote something to help Present a challis lighting to a local church and was able to experience some amazing people in the process but many others have not had that second chance. I was welcomed with open arms as a transgender female and welcomes to speak to those who wanted to hear.

As transgender individuals we are criticized, chastised, ostracized and otherwise degraded in our own lives. We run the risk of being murdered for just being us to becoming part of the 41% who attempted to stop the pain on our own.

As many of you know I survived 4 attempts to take my own life and now I try to stand as a beacon to those who are scared. I tel others it will be ok and I stand to help everyone to see that love can win. It takes love to shed the darkness we all live in.

This goes out to those who didn’t get that second chance. This is to remember those lost to violence and those lost to society. We must say their names. We must not forget.

We are all in this together and I for one have better things to do than hate.

Image found through google search

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Change

Fall is here at last and it’s late to say the least. Leaves are changing colors and falling to the ground post haste in an effort to catch up with all the weather confusion. From 70’s to snow in 2 weeks or so. With this change of season we all can also find a change in ourselves.

I have always had a fear of change and a want to avoid anything that could change the status quo. I became what I was always told I should be. I couldn’t change even the smallest details. Everything had to stay exactly the same.

In the middle of the year I had a job change and for the first time ever I wasn’t scared. I embraced that I had a degree to show and a willingness to learn. While earning my degree however I knew there was one demographic I never imagined working with… Children. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to as much as it was my not thinking I had an ability to connect or help. Dealing in this arena there is a host of challenges that I never expected to face.

Sure, runny noses and reminding them to cough into their arm are just a fraction of their lives. In my position I don’t just act an adult to follow them but I have to become a part of the whole dynamic. I have to integrate into their lives to continue helping them without disruption.

This is all change that I endured along with the obvious but a larger change I didn’t see coming was no longer having my past. I’m no longer that trans girl at Lowes and I am now viewed as Ms. Ali the TSS (aside from a few people who found out at least). I certainly have not forgot the past but it’s nice to not have that everyday. Being trans isn’t all of me… it was just a small part and I take solace in the fact that my clients may never know that I am a transgender woman helping them navigate a portion of their life, but I will. I can hold on to the fact that I’m doing my best to help a child enjoy a better tomorrow. I’m working for them to no longer need me.

Another interesting change recently is I accepted an invitation to speak at a church for the Transgender Day of remembrance. Yes… a church. It been years since I have cross the sill of those doors and I’ll admit I’m a bit nervous but I will be writing a short speech and working on my best strong face to make it through.

This day and age I just keep reminding myself with Michael Jackson singing “man in the mirror”.

“If you want to make the world a better place just look at yourself and make that change. “

Explanation and a happy dance.  

It’s been a while since I posted a blog so I’ll explain.  I changed jobs, started a YouTube channel (Ms. Autolali if you want to look), and I’ve been concentrating on life.  
With my job change a lot of what I had to deal with has vanished.  I’m Just Ms. Ali to my clients and just Ali to my coworkers.  No more strings of being “that trans one”.   My clients don’t know and those adults that do just don’t care.   It is like life has slowed to “normal”.  
I do plan to continue writing and hope that it won’t be too boring with the limited amount of things happening but I’ll do my best.    Now on to the congratulations…
Congratulations to my girls for their placing in a figure skating completion in Orlando!  Other congratulations goes to Danica Roem who managed to pull a victory in VA for the house.  
We will talk soon!  
Ali

Dear me….

I think today requires me to take you all on a journey.  A trip that started from a video my friend Erin posted a year ago to my Timeline.   I’ve found myself more than once pondering about what would life be if this or that.  I’ve wondered if transition the way I did it was right and I’ve pondered where I would be if I started 5…. 10….. even 15 years ago.  As much as I ponder this I’m always pulled back to the reality that I am who I am not just for what I’ve done, but everything that has ever affected my life.  From the loss of some friends to the gaining of others everyone had a roll to play.  Giving the due credit to where I’m at I decided today I’m going to write letters to the younger me.   Not just one letter, but many that address different points in my life.  

Dear 5 year old me:

I know you’re confused, conflicted, and stressed.  I know you don’t understand those thoughts in your head but believe me, one day everything will make sense.  Don’t give up on being you… even if you don’t know who the real you is yet.  Keep playing dress up and hope you don’t get caught….. again.

Dear 10 year old me:

Tomorrow is another day.  Sure you know that there is something that isn’t right but you have no idea how to describe it.  Playing football and releasing the stress will work for a bit but believe me the future holds something much bigger.  Just keep your eyes forward.  For Petes sake…. be nice to your sister….   you will thank me someday.  

Dear 15 year old me:

You have survived….  suicide is a constant feeling and depression is your only friend.  You have started to see Jerry springer and those girls on there….   you’re like them yet nothing like them.   You still don’t have a name for that fleeting feeling but trust me…   soon enough you will understand.   In a few more years you will start dating that girl you’ve admired since 7th grade and that girl is the one thing that will pull you through it all… even when you don’t want to.  One other thing…. be nice you your sister.   

Dear 20 year old me:

You will be married to that amazing girl and in less than a year your first beautiful daughter will be born.  Yes… I know you keep saying you don’t want kids but believe me, you most certainly do.  The internet will give you a truthful name for who you are and you will find an amazing girl to start you on your way.   Life isn’t going to be easy and you will have 2 more failed suicide attempts.   One day you will realize that those failures are a good thing.  One other thing….   be nice you your sister… she will always be your biggest fan and your greatest supporter.   

Dear 25 year old me:

Look how far you have come.  Married for 5 year and a father to your precious girl and you will have 2 more soon here… life should feel complete yet it doesn’t.   All that happiness seems for not.  You’re 2-3 years away from some of the most amazing years of your life but first you will need a wake up call.   It will come.  You will know when it’s time.  No matter what… don’t give up.   Soon you will be starting back to school, you will meet amazing friends, you will find strength and support.   You will find your voice but not before that one last wake up call.    You will be coming out soon and believe me it’s no where near as bad as you think it is.  When you find that voice, your sister will be your first call.   She will be there for you and  your family.  She will be the rock in all these troubled times.  

Dear 30 year old me:

Your journey is just beginning.   You’re looking back and having regrets.  You are now dreaming about what if I transitioned 5 or 10 years ago and believe me…. one day you will understand that it’s better this way.  As your starting this journey you’re fearing loss.  Loss of family, friends, spouse, kids….   you’re fearing that it will all be gone.  It will be a long road filled with many challenges but don’t look back.   One day it will all make sense.  

Dear 35 year old me:

I am now a bit under 3 months and I’ll be 36 so let’s talk about how far you have come.   Your name is done… gender is fixed… you have your degree…. made some amazing friends… but there is something so much more.  You have the love of your family.  Mom, Dad, Chrissy, Aaron, Gram, Cindy, and all your daughters.   They love you for you.  All of those fears you carried….   they haven’t come true…. but everything you have done has made you… you.  

Dear future me:

Be the real you.  Everyone deserves that including yourself.  The love will be there when your ready and the people who are important will be there for the journey.  Love everyone everyday and never forget… love wins!  No one will ever be left behind.  Don’t stop until every last person feels safe being themselves.  

Image credits to my friend Jess who made my amazing cover photo.  

The waterworks

I spent many years of my life hiding.  I sat  in high school and college classes letting my life pass me by knowing there was something deeper I needed to deal with.  I continued to hide and left that secrete with one person to carry with me.   One day in college I just came out to a group of strangers and I expected to be chastised, criticized, and outcast.   I threw myself in the fire after 29 years of my life knowing that if it didn’t work I could still fall back to my original plan.  Death…. it just seemed right when all felt wrong.  Well what I expected was in no way what I received.  I received love.  

From the start I was accepted, included, and supported.   I found some amazing friends and a new found love for my family.   I also found new meaning to my life as the mountainous climbs felt became more like a speed bump.  With this I felt different in some amazing ways.   I was no longer that mouthy country boy with the long hair in the back of the class.  I actually had an identity.  

After many years and many struggles I kept trying to get to a point where I could “finish” my transition (it’s never truly done) and be able to concentrate on other things.  This required a lot of steps and if it wasn’t for my amazing wife, I would still be stuck.   

We rented a house from my aunt and her parents lived right next door.   We always felt like we were watched.  Like some parent was keeping tabs on when we worked, slept, etc.  Everything felt like a production and I allowed this to hold me back for years until Cindy and I decided we were moving.     I found a house that I liked and being the socially inept (I despise being on a phone) and prepping for my 4th of July foreworks trip Cindy said she would call.   

She called and she did more then talk….   she negotiated and settled the deal on our home.  She is fully credited for the entire deal and when I came back from that weekend we were set on course to move on up.   After the move life became cosumed by home remodeling, kids, and everything else a parent and partner should be.   Life put my transition on hold and I didn’t mind so much anymore.  Things were feeling pretty good.  

Life was on course and after managing our lives Cindy and I finally came together to handle my name change.  I was excited to say the least and what followed was 6 months of stress, anxiety, worry, and fear.   Thoughts of if it was right (it was) and where it would lead.  Through it all and through all this Cindy held me and consoled me.   She even posted both of my notification submissions one due to my anxiety and one because I was out of town.  The only time she couldn’t be by my side was. The day of the hearing but she was still my first call when it was done.   She has gone through hell with me and how she has managed to not kill me…. I have no idea… but here she stands.  

As of January 24th, 2017 my name has been legally changed and many of you have seen this posted on my page.   I’ve followed every emotion from fear to joy but as all the dust settled and I begins the process of changing every document ever attached to me I find a calming feeling.   The stress has withered away and I no longer feel like I’m acting.   I feel complete but now I always feel fearful. 

This entire journey has taken its toll and even with the hugs, high 5’s and cheers I need to take stock.   I realized that through this entire journey my biggest supporter was the person who took the hardest part of journey. She was the one who took the brunt of rough times and she took blame when it was mostly my fault.  More than anything she gave herself and everything she had to support me in this journey.   Now the question is….  is it to late?   Did I take to much and give to little?

Funny… for so long I said one can not pour from an empty cup.   I became a bit selfish and a bit consumed in this journey yet she is still there.   She poured from an empty cup for more years then I could have ever imagined.   She is sure someone special and if there is one piece of advice I will give anyone…  Don’t lose grip of those who love you while chasing that dream.   Don’t lose the ones you love.  We are family and in the end, family is what we all have.  

I love you Cindy!!!   Thank you for everything!!! Now it’s my turn to treat you as you should have been treated all the while.  

More then just a label

Labels can hold many distinctions in our societal circles.  They hold stigmas and sterotypes both good and bad, some are able to easily own up to their labels while others are repressed by them.   Now in this I can highlight some of the easy to spot labels but others are a bit deeper and easier to dismiss.  I will hit them all and while it may seem trite to some they can make a major difference in the society we live in and I’m going to start right off with the most confusing of them all… Normal.

Yesterday I did something I like to regularly do as a thought experiment.   There was no right or wrong answer.  Just a couple simple questions without me guiding the conversation.  “What is normal?  Along that line, what labels have been used to describe you.  In this questioning I notice a trend that made me smile and that is the reality that normal isn’t some stone set way of living.   Normal is imaginary.  It’s some made up in the idea that we all have to be some cookie cutter mold of the other.   We see this in TV adds, magazines, and movies where we must be this thin, this tall or this type of person to be “normal”in our society.  Thankfully in my friends list and hopefully more outreaching outside of them are finding this as more common.  Normal is more a setting on a dryer then a descriptor of a person.  

This leads to labels.   Sure we have all seen the common ones, but when the labels are used not as a descriptor but as an insult it tends to get overwhelming very quickly.   And even more so when you add in other micro aggressions like missed pronouns, dead names or complete denial of the other.   Pretending a situation doesn’t exists doesn’t make it disappear but sadly this all to well what happens.    Labels used to discredit, belittle, or degrade someone all in the search for some power of the other.   We have seen this not only in recent times with happenings around our local area of Western PA but also coming on a national level.   

This is why I’ve become a part of an amazing group here.   A start up group that has grown very fast in the Mercer county area.  This all stemmed from the growing realization that many in the LGBT community felt alone.  Like no one was around for them.  As this group has grown we have made many strides all in building an amazing group for everyone.   We have started discussing  some ideas and key phrases to build on and one many of us liked is what became the title to this post “More than just a label”.   
I am a spouse, parent, daughter, mechanic, employee, college graduate, friend, writer, advocate, and so much more.   Sure I happen to be transgender but in the context of life that is the smallest part of me.   Being transgender hasn’t limited my life, it has explained it in more ways then I could ever imagine.  
Now tell your story.   Tell everyone who you are.   Tell the world you are more than just one thing.   You are more than just a label.    

Image care of my good friend Dave S.   Someone who I meet for one small reason, yet have grown so much more from having him in my life.  

A time to listen and a time to talk. 

In my studies I learned that in any good conversation there is a time to listen, a time to talk, a time to think, and a time to act.  Complications can come into play when one is emotionally charged in the situation.  Yesterday was one of those days for me that moved into an emotionally fueled rant on Facebook.   Was I right in my thinking… I think I was but in the process of such a post, fairness may seem irrelevant to the bigger picture and with it the possibility that another may think I’m judging.   Today, I’m going to talk about this post and I’m going to set straight some of the comments I made.   I’ll save you the hassle of looking for it as I’ll post it here before I begin.  

“There is this idea in my head and I wish I had a way to express it but alas I’m with few words at this point. This feeling is not for any other reason than a post I seen on my friend Carla’s wall.  

41% of transgender people attempt suicide…. 41% and as she stated, this number is skewed by the fact that it was taken by the ones of us who survived. How high would this number be if we could ask the rest? I’ll bet much higher yet when the topic of transgender people come up, this number is minimized as some magical number that was pulled from the sky.    

Everyday I’m on social media and I see all the comments. Some mundane yet mean to the down right ruthless. I hear from others about comments they have seen. It’s disturbing and down right crazy that people actually say these things. They look at the computer monitor or screen of their smart phone and can remove themselves from the fact that these are people.   

This disconnect has given way to brazen keyboard warriors who have nothing better to do then “have fun” harassing others. Well I’m here to tell you that there is more to this. There is more than some trolling comments to rouse the others. There are people behind the other screen. They see your hate and find themselves feeling hopeless…. Lost…. Depressed. This is more than a number. This is lives in the balance and somehow we all need to find the love and come together as a country.   

41% people. And as you think of that number, look at the argument being passed to our wonderful bathroomgate… If it saves one person it is worth it… So why is it not acceptable to save us? Why is this acceptable in 2016? It should not be.   

Transgender people wanting to kill themselves to prove a point. To be martyrs in the fight to be equal… No person should ever have to feel this way ever. While some of society thinks we should change for the sake of few people with an axe to grind, I’m going to stand here and say that they need to change. If we are less than 1% of the population…. Why is so difficult to accept and move on?   

41%+ is an atrocity to “society”. It’s time to start this conversation. It’s time for us to talk about the reality of this and considering I’m part of that “41%” with 4 failed suicides I’m going to speak. I failed die when i had no voice and now that I’m finally living…. Your damn sure going to listen what I and every other transgender person has to say…. even if you don’t like the sound.”

So obviously I went off the rails here a bit on the rate of suicide for people like me and to be honest, I tried my best to not pull punches on any one person.   I also will not explain my reasons for what triggered me for the fact that it’s my own situation to deal with.  Don’t worry, I’m safe… but not all of us are.   Before I posted this rant I was talking with a friend Alli and we spoke about how lucky we were about our acceptance level in our lives.  

Alli and I have a few things in common.  We methodically planned what was happening.   We carefully played card after card to get where we are.   We also have made great strides to be accepted as we are by most all family, friends, and co workers yet are we really lucky… Or just smart?

When I finally came to terms with myself, it was years before I made any large changes.    I plotted who would be told, when, and how.    Fist it was a few close friends (Tim and Eric).  I surprised them and even with shock, they didn’t care.   This built me up a bit to come out to a class eventually leading me to family. 

I know who my family works.   So on the dark, rainy night I spoke to my mom, then my sister and brother (in law).   I had so many fears of my dad and how I would be a disappointment to him.   I mean how do you tell a man who’s pride in his son and grandkids that he didn’t actually have a son.   My mom and sister handled that.   I’m glad to, because I don’t know where I would be if I did.   

From there, I went on to continuing a slow exposure with coworkers at Kmart, and Lowes.   I found acceptance this way as no one had a sudden jolt of “here I am!”    I didn’t even post a lot of picture because of my parents to somehow shelter them from my progression.   I asked my mom if I could wear my nail polish to their house because I was sick of taking it off every day.      Eventually, I changed my name on Facebook to its current (and final) place.   No big post, just change and wait.   People noticed…. Quickly.   I will always remember sending a message to my friend Jen and her response was an epic… “YOU CHANGED YOUR NAME!!!”    This was the start of my support.   Eventually things moved on and became easier as the days moved on.   I learned makeup from Kellie and took it to my own style.    I made steady progress only because I knew when to listen, and knew when to talk.     

It was 5 years in the making and the only thing that pulled me out of my funk and depression was the people around me.   I was no longer ashamed of being a transgender girl and realized with out thinking… I was just a girl.   Now this acceptance hasn’t just been from certain people, but a mass of people spanning backgrounds from my shooting friends to religious friends.   They have all come to me and shown a support in my journey that I think only a few can match.   Maybe it was my approach, but whatever it was worked.  

So as you read my rant and think about what I said, remember this: 

I am supported by devoutly religious people, atheists, friends, family, coworkers, kids, and everyone in between.   So as my rant went online I could have boiled it down to a few sentences.   

Having the right people in our lives is what saves us and those people are not from the same place.   They are around this country and world with backgrounds from welding to education.  Big bearded men to soft feminine women.   Gay or  trans to cisstraight people.   It’s about love of another, even if you don’t understand why.   It’s sometimes about listening instead of talking.  Its about living, and having the support to do so.   Hate is a 4 letter word that is bad for us all and will become the dagger that stabs the heart of all American people.  

Live life, laugh often, and be true to yourself.  Society may be a few steps behind but they are trying.   

Image above is a screen shot of my friend Erin from high school days, complimenting me (and my attempts at learning how to take them) and my friend Nick… Who managed to win the Internet with his reply.  Both based off of a before and after I posted and will post below.  Showing that love and laughs are saving lives.  
Spread the love and spread the laughs.  It’s makes life so much better for us all.