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

Double L meet single L. 

Friendship means something different to everyone but the bigger question is what is that friendship based on.    Is it a long history like I have with Tim going all the way back to first grade or something more recent.  Work, school, hobbies, and activities all bring us together in one way or another and with Facebook it adds another dimension of connection. 

As many of you would remember I took a trip in the fall to visit a friend I had found through our works intranet site.  We had a blast visiting the beach and connecting on a personal level that the computer or phone just lacks.  This pushed me to make a mental list of the people I would truly love to meet and hang out with and I’ve been slowly picking away at my list.  One person really stood out on that list and it seemed impossible that I could ever meet her because of her work schedule and the fact that her apartment is completely on the other side of the country.    So let’s imagine my surprise when we were able to hash out travel plans for a concert two weeks out and everything dropping perfectly. 

So let’s talk about this friend for a bit.  She is humorous, interesting, intelligent, relatable, awesome…. and she has really great taste in music and that’s just the beginning.   She and I relate in so many ways from our children to our outlook at life that it’s almost scary.  This is why I wanted to meet her so badly and the weekend I had….   wow.  

So Alli had to fly in from her current job location in Florida to Pittsburg (of course a layover in NC to boot) to be in PA just over 25 hours.  I picked her up and gave her the super exciting tour of my town (you know that Taco Bell combined with KFC was quite interesting) and taking her to Easter bunny lane (yes, I was that goofy) after which we picked up Erin for an epic night of fun, singing and togetherness.  From singing “all by myself” in the car to our usual whit it was like we have all known each other for years.  

The biggest thing outside of the concert was for me to take Alli to Burgatory and of course the wait was well past when we had to be at the venue so we hit Jimmy Johns (I felt like I failed her and it was my idea).   So we proceed into the venue and proceed to enjoy two of my favorite bands under one roof and on to an unforgettable night.  Side note… if you have the chance to see Against Me and Green Day together….  DO IT!

As we awoke to a Sunday morning and I was ready to order us a breakfast strombolli it dawns on us that we had time to hit Burgatory before she had to fly out.   We traveled down and in her own words “sweet baby Jesus that’s a lot of food”.   She was in a Burgatory Coma until her NC layover I’ll presume. 

As we arrived at the airport and my weekend had come to a close I felt saddened that I had to drop her off so soon.  She was exactly how I thought she would be and more and I sure can’t wait until the next visit with her.   Alli…. you’re one in a million and don’t ever change that!  

“It’s something unpredictable but in the end is right…. I hope you had the time of your life.”   

Now…. if I could only figure out a way to get her a job site here.  

She was there. 

“It’s a phase”, “Think of your family”, “are you sure this is right”?   Questions ever reoccurring on a soundtrack set on repeat for everyone to hear.  The sounds of family trying to come to grips with a new reality that has been laid before them.  The thought that one day someone woke up and thought “Gee, this sounds like fun”.  There is a lot more to it and to best describe it I will use a 2 sided role of the mind.  The struggle in ones own head, well my own head at least.  

In elementary school we start our socialization.   The entire purpose in truth is to educate, but there is an underlying education of who we are to be.   “Be a man” or “Act like a lady” become staples of daily life as if being a Tom boy or feminine guy is not an option.  Buck the trends and you get your labels…. the Tom boys are “butch” or “jocks” while the boys are deamed “sissy” and “gay”.   A pre conceived ideal of the perfection we are chosen to be.   There is something more though… something deeper.  We don’t all deal with it but for the ones that do it becomes a fear that will haunt and tournent for the next 5 to 50 years.  For me this torment became years of viewing life through borrowed eyes.  

She was there in elementary school when  we learned that it’s not ok to be different.   We were born a certain way and it’s not ok to go against that.   We were separated into genders and I was told this is where I stand.   It doesn’t feel right but how could they be wrong.  I was different yet who would have believed me?   They could never understand could they?

She was there playing football.  The fact that she had to stay hidden drove me to be more then I was.   I had anger, hatred, and no sense of self.  The days of band I wasn’t one of the girls nor was I one of the guys.  I remember staying back and not dancing.  Wanting nothing more then to wear the dresses they dreaded to wear.  I remember being jelous of the girls in school with their Mary Janes, cute outfits and freedoms.    No one saw it… or saw her…  what else was I to do but hide. 

Graduation day.   The boys wore red and the girls wore white cloaks and hats.  It was only a color and they were identical in every other way yet here we were.  She was weeping as I doned the red veil that I was told to wear over my dress shirt, tie and dress shoes.   I longed for the ability to wear a dress and heels.  I longed to look how I felt.  I continued to hide… maybe I just needed to grow up an “be a man” like they taught us all those years ago. 

She was there when it came to the time of marriage.   Truthfully one of the most amazing, prolific, and happiest days in my life.   You would never this know by the pictures though as  I looked miserable or distant depending on the image.  That hidden girl was crying.  She wanted to wear a dress and she wanted to look even half as beautiful as the one she was marrying.   Strange to think back now and think about the fact that Cindy had no interest in wearing a dress and heels and that’s all I wanted.   

She was there when I thought having kids would make me a man.  To be daddy, father, parent.  To become half the man my father was.  This surely had to stop that feeling deep within.  My kids can never know what I’ve been through.   Has every boy gone through this?  Is this what the coming of age really is?  

She was there in 2010.   She sat quiet as I wanted to end this life.   She watched as I trembled.  As I tried.  As I failed.    I couldn’t believe after all those attempts that that I was still here… and so was she.  It was her turn, her time.   I needed to stop pretending that this was some split or disconnect and finally admit that she… was the real me.  This brought me to many feelings of failure as I realized that 29 years of my life had been an act.   I was playing a part to fit into the play of life.   

It’s been almost 7 years since that day.  7 years I’ve lived on time I tried to give away.   Depression, fear, angst all played a part in the reality that was him.  Now…
She is there for every play her kids are in, she never misses a game or horse event, she never hides in the shadows.   Social anxiety that goes down every week and the ability to press on when all seems like to much.  She is there for her friends, family, and holiday.  Every kiss, trip, hug, and drive has more meaning.    All this has relevance now when before it felt fake and manufactured.    We always fear tomorrow when it’s the same old thing and I enjoy the fact that I now embrace tomorrow.   It has a meaning and purpose.  She was there when he wasn’t.  

She will not be silenced anymore.   
 

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.  

Meaning of friendship

Each friendship in our lives can mean something much different and with the advent of social media we tend to expand our horizons.   Now personally I am friends with many people on social media.  Some famous (or almost famous) and others being everyday people. I know people from Canada, Australia, Germany, and the U.K. just to name a few.   Will I meet most or even some of them… I hope one day but in the greater context of life I know many will stay online as that’s how life goes.   Rarely do we make friends that become close enough to us over such a distance but when it does happen… we can feel lost as we wish they were closer.  A wish to hug that person who became so important in our lives.  

This leads me to last weekend and one of the best weekend trips a girl could take.  For the past year and a half I have become very close to my friend CJ.  She is someone I confided in and someone who is always there on the good days and bad.  She is one of the few girls I strived to meet and I hoped that one day I could.   Well thanks to my close friend Keira that happened.  Keira lives locally and has become one amazing friend in a very short period of time.   Like CJ she has become an integral part of my life and I introduced them to each other… obviously online.   Those two have also become friends and it seemed that we all needed to meet one day and that one day finally came last weekend.  Friday I came home from work, handled the homely duties I had to do and was able to spend a small amount of time with Cindy for our 16th anniversary.   After that we jumped into Keira’s Ranger and headed off into the great unknown traveling 9-10 hours to Virginia from western PA to meet someone who has been one of the most amazing friends.  Two girls riding off into the darkness heading to uncertainty while one of them tried to stay awake past 10:00 (that would be me).   We rolled into CJ’s around 2:00 am and for the first time I was able to hug one of my best friends after riding down with another.   

After arriving we settled in for a short round of sleep followed by an amazing day filled with visiting that didn’t involve Facebook… followed by a day on the beach.  Lucky to catch a 75 degree day in mid November.  It was peaceful that the only time I had to use my phone was for my kids and pictures.  We could actually converse.   It was nice to walk along the beach and see the vast expanse of the ocean and to realize the world is so much bigger then we realize.   Walking along the beach and later down the boardwalk we basked in the sun and I for one was able to lose myself in the moment.    Keira, CJ, Steph, and I out on the town lobingbthe day… followed by some amazing Jumbalia…

As we roll through life we play it safe.   We hope for acceptance, worry for safety, fear the old friendships, and question what tomorrow will bring.  We spend years coming out and many more trying to keep friends or making new ones.  We worry about the future of ourselves and the semblance our lives can have.  In all this worry we lose site of the small things that  are in our lives.   Online friends who help you cope or the local friends you love to spend time with.  

Life isn’t all about the mundane and we need to keep site on who we are and why we are alive.    We must work to live not live to work.   Sure we may love our jobs but we all need an escape.  We must live for the good times.   From the road trip to the visit I felt alive.   Feeling the warm air kiss my skin and the cold water touching my toes.  Life became so much more then a passing glance…. I glanced at what was passing me by.  Don’t lose site like I did… thankfully I had some amazing friends pointing me back on my course due north and now thinking of my next adventure… where I go I don’t know, but I know who to thank for living again.   For brightening the candle flame.  
Another friend once quoted:

“I keep waiting in the dark for someone to come and save me, I’ve been holding on to something I could never change, We all search for higher ground, When the world comes crashing down, But I know, Nobody will come into the dark and save me”

~Crown the Empire, Initiation~
I can only say…. when we bring all our candle lights together we become a bright beacon.   We must shine our light for everyone so no mater how dark it is where they stand…. they will see the light of us all.