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Hi, I’m Karen, and welcome to my Cornbury blog. This blogging thing is a new adventure for me, but several of my friends have been urging me to keep one for awhile now. I’ll do my best. I hope you will be patient with me when I stumble, but mostly, I hope that this blog will help make this business of being trans a little less weird, maybe a little less scary. If you’re here, there’s a good chance that you, or someone you know, is dealing with the same issues that I have been. (Please note the past tense. I'm very proud of that.) I want to tell you that it’s going to be alright. You hear that? It’s going to be alright. I’m speaking from experience. So who am I to talk? Well, when I started all this, I was a pre-op trans woman in the middle of her RLE, her so-called “real life experience.” While I had lived (almost) full time for several years, in 2010 I finally decided to seek gender reassignment surgery. (Note: the accepted term for this among medical professionals is now gender confirmation surgery–an improvement, to my mind on all kinds of levels.) Whatever we call it, to qualify, one of the hoops that must be jumped is this RLE. That means living full time in female mode; no going back. Before I could apply for surgery, I was required to have lived as a woman for at least 12 months. The reasoning behind this is that by doing so, the applicant, me, in this case, would have a better idea what life would be like, should she decide to press forward. This meant finally coming out to my son and my elderly father, both of whom have been reluctantly supportive. I have been very blessed in this. Others have not been so lucky. Coming out is risky. Living full time is even riskier. A trans friend of mine once remarked, “Being out as trans means laying everything on the table. And you have no idea what you’re going to be allowed to keep.” You can literally lose everything: family, home, friends, colleagues, job, career, savings, pension, everything. I know people who have. But I have not, though I would be lying to say that this has been easy, or that there have not been strains, and deep, deep pain. Still, I have been blessed with an understanding, if not always totally supportive spouse, and with a family that has tried mightily to accept and come to terms with (in their eyes) the loss of a father and the emergence of this new person, Karen, who in her new hormonal adolescence, seems at times a stranger. (A nice one, though, I hope; one they can eventually come to love.) What I have discovered through all this, is that while the journey into Mordor is long and fraught with danger, it is filled with unexpected beauty and joy as well. Since coming out, (to everyone, family included,) I have been accepted, even loved, by people I never expected would be on my side, and in places I never expected (or thought) to go. In the past few months I have joined an all women’s Latin dance class, sung female tenor in a wonderful choir, learned basic silversmithing, (I make my own jewelry! How cool is that?), and surrounded myself with wonderful friends. I was supported by an amazing counsellor, (alas, recently retired), who connected me with a speech therapist who specializes in teaching feminine voice. (It has taken time, but it’s coming! I can hardly believe it!) And I have discovered that the future is not a road to be travelled, but a landscape to be constructed. The world I live in is one that I am building for myself, and you can do it, too. This one is a world filled with color, with love, and with joy, and for the first time in my life, I feel whole and totally alive. And the voice in my heart tells me, “This is soooo right! And about time, too!”

On the pain of keeping the secret; and the paralysis of fear (Part 1)

Jane Austen famously opened her novel, Pride and Prejudice with the line, “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” There are other truths universally acknowledged as well, some of them sadder ones. My “universally acknowledged” truth, as the title suggests, is the power that secrets have over our lives. They bring us into painful confrontation with with our true, though denied, selves; they teach us the paralysis of fear.


I am the Witch

With gender, as with witchcraft, we, most of us, believe what appears to be true.

Someone looks at your genitalia. (That’s the test.) You’re a girl. Or a boy. How do they know? You look like one.

But how do you know? There’s something inside your head that tells you. You don’t have to look. You don’t need the test. You know. And as some of us know from personal experience, the “test” isn’t necessarily a reliable one. The world tells us we are male or female, and they treat us accordingly, but we know it isn’t so. In life, nothing is as simple as it seems. Gender is no exception.


Global News airs series on being Transgender

All this week, Global news has been airing a series on what it is like to be transgender, specifically, what it is like if you are TS. If you have missed seeing these mini-documentaries, they can still be viewed on the Global webpage as of Friday, April 22. The final(?) item will air tonight at 6:30. They are worth a look. What follows is my own response to the series so far.


Changing Keys

Changing Keys is a trans voice workshop offered by Speech Language Pathologist Shelagh Davies. Offered in Vancouver through Trans Health as a seven week course, Shelagh recently travelled to Victoria for an intensive three day workshop with seven Vancouver Island girls, all living full time, some pre-op, some post-op. I was fortunate enough to be one of those girls. What follows is my recollection of (yet another) transformative experience, one of many I’ve had along the way since finally deciding I had no choice but to honor the person I am within. I am Karen, and at last, I can say that in my own voice.

Stephanie, for all the grace and generosity you have shown me these past few months, I dedicate this, my first blog ever, to you.