Welcome to the New My Life Without Tits!

Friends, Interweb Travellers, Gawkers, and the Gender-Curious,

It's pronounced E-Lie

It’s alive!

Let me reintroduce you to the blog My Life Without Tits.

Ta-dah!

Now let’s take this rig for a spin.  Please watch your step as you board the blogcraft.

-Just north of this post in the address bar you will notice a new url: mylifewithouttits.com.  Yes,  I have purchased my domain name and own rights to everything within it (unless otherwise noted).  So all those top surgery pics are mine, all mine!  And remember to update your bookmark!

-No doubt you notice a new theme: I wanted one in which I could customize the sidebar and widgets, and the old one just wouldn’t do.  But it did serve me well, and I thank the WordPress overlords for use of it.  With this new theme you get:

-An updated About Eli & About His Blog tab

-Updated Blogroll and Related Sites tab with some of the old and trusted blogs (Shout out to Transman, Karen,  Maddox, and friends) alongside some new blogs of interest and sites with trans resources.  Go and get to clickin’!

-The new Education/Public Speaking tab for employers, community organizations, and educators who would like to work with me in a professional capacity.

-I cleaned up all the old/broken links and messy tags and categories.  Looking for top surgery info?  Just type “top surgery” in the search box and all those posts have been properly tagged.  Want more information on my experience with testosterone, click on the Testosterone category in the side bar and there you’ll have all my bitching, right before your eyes!

This has been a labor of love, and I’m pleased with how all the changes have manifested themselves.  But of course this blog updating activity is always a process, so if you find a link that doesn’t work, or a tag missing, let me know.

I hope you enjoy your time here on MLWT.  If you’re new here, welcome.  If this is old hat to you, welcome back.  For the foreseeable future, please expect a new post weekly, likely on Fridays.

Thanks for dropping by, and be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli

 

2nd Birthday

Guess what my new state-issued ID calls me…

A New Man

Portions have been blurred to protect my sexy identity.

This morning I had my court date at Daley Center, and it was crazy easy.  I was nervous  because I knew nothing about the judge, and he could deny my request, and all that money would have been for nothing and I would be stuck with my girly birth name.

We got to the court room early, and waited outside for Hunter, the TJLPI volunteer who was going to sit with me and be legal support.  He’s not a lawyer, but he has been though the name change process himself, and was familiar with the proceedings.

There was one other person there, a woman trying to change her name, and her situation put mine in perspective.  She hadn’t filled out her paperwork.  She couldn’t remember how to spell her name, and was uncertain what year she was born in.  Watching her in front of the judge was just heart wrenching.  The judge, thankfully, was very kind.  He tried to help her, and clearly wanted to grant her request, but as he put it, “What kind of judge would grant a petition to someone who can’t verify their own name, or birthdate, or birth place?”  She was obviously mentally unstable, and I was thankful for Hunter and the judge this morning.  They both were really kind, treated her respectfully, and tried their best to help her–she just didn’t have all the necessary information.  Oh, and some other dude there, who seemed very much of sound mind and body, didn’t even bring any paperwork with him: he just showed up to court empty handed and in blue jeans–dafuck is wrong with people?

When my number was called (there were only a handful of us in the court room–this room was for name change petitions only), I approached the bench and was sworn in.  But the swearing in was for naught: the judge looked at my petition and judgment order, my birth certificate and xeroxed copy of my state ID, then glanced up at me and said, “Well, this all appears to be in order,” and then indicated that I should go sit back down.

So I did.

The judge got up and left.  The bailiff declared that court was in recess.  I sat in awkward silence, not sure what was happening or what signal I was waiting for.  A few minutes later the clerk called my case number again, wrote “ok to certify” on the bottom of my petition, said, “Here ya go,” and handed it back to me.  And that was it.  Elias Michael was born.

Hunter, Kae, and I went down a few floors to get the judgment order certified.  We had to get multiple copies certified because places like the Social Security Administration and the DMV won’t take some broke ass xerox copy.  They want the real deal:

Embossed like a boss.

Embossed like a boss.

After paying ten bucks a piece, I had multiple uber legit state documents proving my new legal name is, well, legal.

So we walked across the street to the Thompson Center, which in Chicago is a super futuristic mall with a food court and DMV in the basement.

From the ground up: Philip K. Dick's DMV of the future.

From the ground up: Philip K. Dick’s government office of the future.

After the first clerk refused to accept my printed-from-the-internet electric bill as proof of residency, and the second clerk got all lippy in my face about shit he didn’t understand, I finally talked to someone that treated me like a person.  He was totally cool, said my electric bill was a fine piece of corroborating evidence of my residence, and so thoroughly understood where I was coming from that as he said “Now, Elias,” he pointed down at my gender marker and asked, “is this changing today too?”  I said no, and he said, “Oh, that’s fine.  We get you guys in here all the time.”  And suddenly I felt much more at ease.  I’m not happy with my picture on my ID, but no one is.  What’s important is the name.

So of course the legal name change is just the tip of the ice berg.  Now I have to change my name with:

-Student Loan Companies

-Utilities

-Credit Card Companies/Banks

-Previous Colleges

-The Public Library

-The IRS

-My Landlord

-Credit Reporting Agencies

-My Veterinarian

-My Oncologist/Other Doctors

-Netflix

-Amazon

-The Sun Magazine (my one and only magazine subscription)

And the Social Security administration for a new SS card.  And that, in turn, is what I need to change my name with my employer.  Oh, and I’m sure lots of other places I’m forgetting.

But, all in all, today was a good day, a success, and there was a nice cool breeze that came along with it.

In closing, my first birthday:

Gangsta.

Gangsta.

And my second:

Birthday 2.0 comes with a hot  girlfriend, and a better hair cut than 1.0.

Birthday 2.0 comes with a hot girlfriend, and a better hair cut than 1.0.

Cheers, and be nice to yourselves!
Your Pal Eli

Coming out…again, and again, and again.

So, a few weeks ago I posted a note in the break room at work:

“Dear friends and co-workers:

Your co-worker Eli is transgender.  Being transgender can mean many different things for many different people.  For Eli, it means he would prefer male pronouns when referring to him.

Thank you for your support.

Your pal,
Eli”

And it was up on the board where the schedule is posted, so many people would see it.  It was there for a few days.

I still get pretty consistently referred to with female pronouns.  And I want to be patient.  And I do understand, that it is (for many) just a matter of breaking an old habit.  Some people, who knew me before the name change, sometimes slip and call me by my birth name.  They usually correct themselves immediately.  And I understand, really, I do.

But sometimes it just irks me, ya know?  Sometimes I just wanna say, “look, I went to the trouble to learn your name and call you by your pronoun preference, I would appreciate the same courtesy from you.”  Sometimes, I just wanna ask them to be a bit more mindful, and acknowledge that there are more than cis- people in the world.  I am not going to apologize for the space I take up on this planet.  And I am not going to apologize for being myself, finally.

They can now thank me for not requiring gender-neutral pronouns, or the much-lauded, grammatically-troubling “singular they” in place of “she.”

So, I get to have, in a very busy and loud grocery store, daily conversations about my gender, just to get the goddamn pronoun right.  I get to correct people who may or may not have read the note.  I get to correct people who have told me they “think [they] will never get it right.”  And I hate doing that.  I hate feeling like I’m being picky or up somebody’s ass all the time because I don’t know when I should or should not correct someone, so I just better do it all the time and what an ass I must sound like, patrolling everyone’s pronouns usage.

Ahem.  Ok, I’m done bitching.

Actually, the people I work with are great.  They want to do this the right way, and are trying.  I am just feeling a bit impatient, and a bit unnerved at the fact that I have to keep talking about being trans at work.  It’s not exactly the most comfortable subject to discuss in the check out line.  So I get a bit testy–because no one likes to feel exposed like that.  No one likes to discuss their personal gender shit at work.  But English does come with gendered pronouns, so I have to muddle through these shitty conversations, again and again, until everyone is on board.

And I hate it.  I hate that I’m the only trans person at work.  Why couldn’t there have been one to come before me, so I could just stroll onto the scene and be like, “Yeah, me too, see what that guy had?  I’ll take one of those: proper gendered pronouns and complete understanding of my singular experience to go with it.  Thanks.”

I am thankful that my co-workers are good-natured about it, and do want to do right by me, and are trying.  I suppose the least I could do would be to give them the benefit of the doubt and allow them a few “she/her” get out of jail free cards.  And I do allow them the space to fuck it up: in fact, I usually don’t correct them, because I know many of them slip-up and realize the second it leaves their mouth that “she” was wrong.

But some of them don’t know, some of them were on vacation when the note was up, or didn’t see the schedule board during those few days, or whatever.  So as they refer to me with female pronouns, on the sale floor, surrounded by customers, I get to decide on the spot: do I just cringe and take it in the hopes that they figure it out, or do I correct them on the floor and have that “Um, you just called me by female pronouns and I go by male pronouns now” conversation punctuated by “Excuse me, where is the cream cheese?”

I think this would be easier for them, for my friends and co-workers, if I was on T.  Right now, they look at me and I look the same (minus the tits) and I sound the same as when I was going by my birth name and using female pronouns.  But they don’t realize that back then, in that body with that chest and those pronouns, I didn’t see myself the way they saw me.  I was always a guy in my head, and so nothing has changed for me.  I have had all this time, over 30 years, to see myself as male, and many of them have only had a week or two.  So how long does it take?  Some are calling me by male pronouns and using Eli really easily, and some have even told me that this makes more sense to them, that referring to me as male is easier for them than it was to refer to me as female.

So, trans friends out in internet-world, tell me about your trans-related work woes: did you come out?  How did it go?  What advice do you have for me?

Or, cis-folks and work friends, tell me, how can I make this transition easier for you?

Be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli

Today at the Grocer…

I was walking down the frozen aisle and saw a little girl, oh, 3 or so, wearing 5 or 6 headbands at one time.  I thought it bold, and the kind of out-of-the-box thinking that should be rewarded with some verbal affirmation.  And so this:

Me: I love your headbands; they’re totally working.

Her (scowling): You’re a boy.

Me (pleased): Thank you.

*Fin*

And the last customer interaction of the day:

Eli and an older gentleman go for the same opening in an otherwise very crowded aisle. Both of us stop, to allow the other to pass.

Older Gentleman: Oh, excuse me miss, I mean sir.

Me (walking through the opening): No problem.

*Fin*

So there you have it: children and the elderly, per usual, get it.

Be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli

How Did I Get Here? Where Am I Going?

For college, I went to an expensive private school in the Midwest, because my girlfriend went there, and I got in, and no one advised me on how student loans worked.  All I knew was, I was a poor kid, and I got accepted to a fancy school, and they were giving me half in grants and half in loans and I wanted to be a teacher so I would just pay them back later.*

Dare I say, I had a fantastic time at school: I broke up with the old, shitty, lying girlfriend and got a new one.  I read interesting things and got exposed to exciting ideas.  I was active on campus: my first year there I won the 1st place award the school’s literary journal gave out.  I won honorable mention, too.  The next year I was that magazine’s Poetry Editor.  And the year after I was Editor-in-Cheif.  I was in the English department building more than I was at home.  I was a tutor and TA for more than one professor.  I won lots of other awards, for writing and for being poor.  But best of all, I had some really great professors.  Ones that encouraged me, ones that saw things in me I was afraid to believe in before because I had no outlet for them.

Then I got into grad school.  I realized there I was not a special fucking snowflake.  My first workshop I brought a poem in that the professor claimed was so shitty he “didn’t even know if it was a poem.”  I had no community there.  I had few friends.  I lost my voice, and wrote poems that were funny because I was afraid to be serious.  I am embarrassed by my thesis.  The last punch in the mouth I got there came in the form of a cruel twist of tired symbolism: I got cancer.  When I graduated, I limped home to Chicago, tail between my legs, my self-critic so loud in my ears I have been incapable of writing a single poem for almost 4 years.  Before that, I hadn’t stopped writing poetry for a decade.  When I think about writing poetry, it is acutely painful.  It is like looking a friend in the face after you have inflicted a deep betrayal.  Oh, yeah, and there are no jobs, either.

So I work at a wildly popular grocery store chain, that pays my bills and is the place that I met my current and forever girlfriend.  But I am pretty pissed off at the way school turned out for me.  I owe more money than I will ever pay back in my lifetime and I have a job that I could have gotten without a high school diploma.  I teach adjunct here and there but the longer time goes on the more likely it becomes that I will never get a full-time gig.  And so returning to the scene of the crime every fall just feels more and more like an insult.  I feel used, like I’m the piece on the side that’s not good enough to take home to mom.  Like every December, when the term is up, the college I’m adjuncting for just leaves my stipend on the nightstand and tells me to lock the door when I leave.

So I don’t think I’m going to do that anymore.  I really wanted to be a teacher, a creative writing professor (I have a Masters degree in Fine Arts in Poetry), but those jobs are going to people with lots of books published, with PhDs, and I am not that person.  I’m just good in the classroom, and I get great student evaluations at the end of the term, but I’m not Robert Pinksy.  I’m not a name the school can use to bring in the money, ahem, excuse me, I mean the students.

I have thought of myself as a teacher for a long time now, tied my identity to my occupation in a way that has harmed me.  I am thinking too narrowly about this: I can volunteer and use my talents that way (because, since I am bringing in money, who gives a toss if my students aren’t paying some school shittons to listen to me talk?  And really, the thing I miss most is being in a room talking to people about poetry).  The core problem here is that I am smart and I have talents that are going underutilized.  Essentially, I need an outlet.  One that doesn’t involve putting perishables into a bag while someone talks on their cellphone.

The plan?

I am going to stop wasting my time trying to be accepted into academia.  They clearly don’t want me.  I am going to switch gears–I have some volunteer options in the city I will check out when I move home.  And I am going to dust off the gears in my brain and start working on a little creative memoir project I keep putting off.  And I am going to post little pieces of it here, just to keep myself on track and honest.

Thanks for reading and be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli

*Of course I knew teachers didn’t make oodles of money, but they wouldn’t charge me a king’s ransom for an education with no job waiting for me on the other end, now would they?