Getting a pap smear as a transmasculine person

I don’t have a gynecologist.  I haven’t had one for probably 15 years.  The reason for that is because I felt so out of place there, so I let that aspect of my health passively slip away.  I’ve always gone to the dentist twice a year.  I was really into chiropractic care for years, consistently.  I’ve gotten eye exams.  I regularly go to a therapist and a psychiatrist.  I even have a primary care physician, and more recently, an endocrinologist.  But I’ve neglected and avoided anything related to my junk (this is just my preferred term for what I got going on down there…)

My last pap smear was in 2012, and I went through that because it was a prerequisite for getting testosterone gel.  That was enough of a motivating factor to go through that.  It was super painful and anxiety inducing, but I had done it!  Since then, there’s been no reason to get it done again, in my mind.  Prior to 2013, I’m not sure how long it had been.

About a year and a half ago, I was on a panel  with two other trans-people, in front of a group of health-care professionals, talking about our experiences with health services.  I mostly talked about my experiences with top-surgery consultations, but during the Q & A, the three of us were asked about sexual and reproductive health.  I was super open about how uncomfortable I am with this aspect of health care, and how I have avoided it.  I even felt a stubborn pride about it – something like, “if I avoid it, that verifies how little I relate to my junk.”  This really makes no sense whatsoever, and why exactly is this a point of pride?  My two peers were much more proactive – they had had lots of experiences with making sure their needs and check-ups were on track.

Two weeks ago, I was eating lunch with a super close friend.  She was mentioning something about her menstrual cycle and about how she needs to get her routine check-up.  I told her how long it’s been since I had a pap smear, and she seemed aghast.  I said I wasn’t going to be getting one either.  She said something to the effect of, “But you have to.”  She sort of role played a scenario in which hypothetically something scary is found, like HPV or cancer, that could have easily been avoided by just getting regular screenings.  The emotions she was pouring into it were what got me.  I kept going back and forth between, “OK, I will get it done,” and “No way never again!”  The conversation stayed with me.

A couple of days later, I had a lump in my armpit.  I’d never had anything like that before.  My spouse told me I should get that checked out.  This was something that was more straightforward!  I could definitely go to the doctor for something like this!  I called and got an appointment for the next morning.  Then it dawned on me that I should be getting a pap smear.  I waffled back and forth for a while, wondering if I’d be able to get myself to call back.  I finally did, pitching my voice as high as I could so it would be apparent that this request would not be totally incongruous.  Blah.

The pap smear was just as painful as the other times I’d gotten one, but I would say it was less anxiety-inducing.  What helped me get through it was trying to stay present in the moment, in the room.  I did this by talking with the nurse practitioner.  “This room is cold.”  “Please use the smallest one possible.”  “This is really hurting.”  Etc.

I gotta admit I do not know the exact reasons pap smears are important – what is being tested, etc.  But I do think I will be more on top of getting them every few years from now on…

To top this all off, on Saturday we were out in the woods with some friends.  Sunday morning, I felt something chafing on my chest, and when I looked, there was a tick latched in right on my nipple!  Eeaughhhh!!!  My spouse tweezed it and pulled it in half.  Half of it is still embedded in my skin.  I’m thinking it will work itself out on its own.  She talked to our friend on the phone – he regularly gets ticks and gets them tested in groups, after he’s collected a bunch.  So far so good but lyme disease is a scary possibility.  Do I have to go back to the doctor?!

 


6 recent LGBTQ+ films to check out

This year was the 25th anniversary of our local annual LGBTQ+ film festival!  We made an effort to invite friends to different films this time around, which was fun – connecting with some people we hadn’t seen much lately was nice.  Most of these links are to trailers, and a couple are to the films’ websites.

Beach Rats – I went to this one by myself, and I was surrounded by gay men, for the most part.  There’s something about that that I really embrace; it doesn’t happen often enough.  The general story-line is that this young man is living a double life – hanging out with his friends drinking, smoking pot, playing handball, going to Coney Island, getting a girlfriend.  When he’s by himself though, he turns to online websites to hook up with older men.  I like the way it was filmed.  Really sparse.  And the story-line takes an unusual twist.

 

Tom of Finland – This is the Finnish entry for best foreign language film for the upcoming Academy Awards – how cool is that?!!  This was a really well done bio-pic.  I really didn’t know much about him other than what I saw of his drawings.  He fought in WWII.  He had a complex and interesting relationship with his sister.  He had a long-lasting partner.  He had fans all over the world, but especially in California, and they made sure he knew he was celebrated, flying him in for parties he inspired, etc.  Highly recommend!

The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson – You can watch this movie on Neflix if you want.  So, this is really only some of the story.  There is a lot of controversy surrounding the production of this film and who’s work is being credited, which we only found out about the day before we were going to see it.  Here’s one article that gets into all the details:  What Would Trans Art Look Like if it Was Only Made By Trans People?  To sum it up in one sentence, a trans-woman of color – Reina Gossett – has been working on a film about Marsha P. Johnson, and she had done a ton of legwork and archival studying.  Then this dude – David France – swoops in with his finances and his connections and essentially steals the work that had been made thus far.  So, our experience was a little bit soured, but I have to admit it was still a good film.  And I hope Reina Gossett is still feeling empowered to move ahead and create her own film – the more films that will educate people about transgender people and issues, the better.  I just realized I didn’t say anything about what this film is about – so go watch it on Netflix!  Haha.

Alaska is a Drag – This one was kinda campy.  It features twins who are stuck living in Alaska – a gay guy working at a fish cannery, learning boxing, and fantasizing about making it big as a drag queen, and his sister who has cancer and is getting regular treatments, but her spirits are high, indulging in the world of drag her brother creates.  It was so-so.  Definitely different, but not all that compelling.

Freak Show – This was SUPER campy.  Directed by Trudy Styler (Sting’s wife!)  A kid has to move to a southern state and attend a super conservative high school.  His mom is Bette Midler, er, I mean, a mom played by Bette Midler.  He endures bullying on top of bullying and hate crimes and more and more violence.  He then decides to up the ante and run for homecoming queen.  Laverne Cox has a small role – that was one of the best parts.  Also, costuming was stunning, but otherwise, I wasn’t a huge fan.

Saturday Church – This centers on a 14 year old boy named Ulysses.  Similar themes as Freak Show, but the approach is a little more realistic.  He starts to question his gender identity amidst bullying at school and conservative viewpoints from relatives.  He meets other gender variant people of different stripes, they all convene at a youth service / shelter on Saturday nights.  Kate Bornstein plays the person in charge of the space!!!  They eat together, attend “balls” together, and talk about hardships.  I liked this film a lot!

 


9 months on T injections

I surpassed my best guess at a timeline.  When I started in January, I gave the whole venture 6-8 months.  I thought I’d start getting uncomfortable with the level of masculinization by that time, and I’d stop.  Not for good, just for a while, to level back out, and then most likely start again within another year or two.  Something like that.  BUT!  I really like what’s going on.  I like everything except for the facial hair growth, and that’s been pretty minimal thus far.  Minimal enough to manage, without having to shave.  I like my voice, the muscle growth, legs getting hairier, and clit growth.  I haven’t noticed my hairline receding any further than it already has (I was on a low dose of gel for 3 years and saw my hairline change).  And I really really really like the cessation of menses.  I never had severe symptoms with that, but having it as one less thing, showing up to deal with, cyclically, is a really big plus.

Today was also my 3rd appointment with an endo, and I have a new one now (the one I started with moved to Oregon).  I liked her immediately.  She wrote down notes.  She was curious if my psychiatrist sees other trans-patients, and if I like her, so that she can have someone to refer others to.  Same with my therapist.  She wanted to know about my experience with my top surgeon.  I gave her my full report.  She just seemed to really want to get a grasp on who’s who within trans-health, and to glean a lot of that information from actual patients, which felt really validating.

I asked her questions about needle gauges, and she asked me if I was interested in sub-cutaneous injecting.  I said, “yes!” even though I hadn’t thought about bringing this up in particular, in advance.  It’s just something I’ve heard other trans-people on testosterone talk about as an easier and less painful route.  But I assumed it was something totally different, like a different style needle, possibly a different type of oil, etc.  I learned it’s not – you just use a significantly smaller needle, and inject it into fat instead of muscle.

This next paragraph is going to be kinda graphic, heads up if you have a needle phobia!  So, imagine using a fairly long and thick needle and just jabbing that straight down into your quad muscle, perpendicularly.  And then having to push the oil out of the syringe, which does take some force because the oil is thick.  This has been painful, to varying degrees, and often there is blood.  Sometimes my muscle is sore that night and into the next day.  Now, instead!!!  I’m gonna get to use a thinner needle, and just slide that in at an angle, but fairly parallel with the skin.  It’ll only have to go in a half inch or so, not one-and-a-half inches.  It’ll still be hard to push the oil out and in, but just the fact that it’s a layer of fat and not a thick meaty muscle sounds pretty good to me!  I can’t wait to switch over!  I’ll have to watch some videos or something.  The endo did suggest I could come in and a nurse practitioner could show me, but I think I got it.

The one thing about the appointment that felt a little off was she gave me a quick exam, with all my clothes on.  This was in itself was fine, although I was caught a little off guard..  She checked my lymph nodes, breathing, throat, etc.  Then she said to lay down, and even though I was wearing a t-shirt and hoodie zipped up all the way, she kind of put her hands under there and said she wanted to take a look at my chest.  Maybe she could have asked.  I probably would have said sure.  But she was like, touching my nipples and commenting on skin retraction.  And it felt weird.  It’s not like it was lingering in a bad way.  I pretty much immediately got over it.  It was just very unexpected.

And, like always, here’s my face:

before injections

9 months

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


A local doctor was fired for providing HRT

This actually happened a few months ago – she was fired from a nearby college on May 24th.  It’s only now hitting larger news outlets because there are now three state-level civil rights complaints, trying to get her re-instated.  I read about it in the newspaper while at work, yesterday.

She was treating transgender students who came to her with a previous diagnosis.  She was definitely qualified to do so, having gone through many hours of training in trans-health care, attending a conference sponsored by WPATH (World Professional Association for Transgender Health), etc.  She was doing this at the college’s expense, which just makes it seem like it was condoned by the college, right?!!

WPATH’s stance is, “With appropriate training, …hormone therapy can be managed by a variety of providers, including nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and primary care physicians.”  Apparently, this was outside the scope of what the Student Health Center did, but this was never communicated to her.  The termination came from out of the blue.

Hormones are prescribed for other reasons at the health center, with no problem.  Birth control, ovarian disease, and low testosterone are all treated regularly.

Interestingly, the information on the Student Health Center’s website changed two months after her firing:  While it had said, “comprehensive primary care,” and “continuity of care,” it now says, “basic primary care” and has no mention of continuous care.  At least they’re being accurate about the downgrade???

This just angers me to no end because this doctor took it upon herself to step it up and become well versed in an area that, for whatever reason, makes so many medical professionals so squeamish and stand-offish.  And if this was something she did of her own volition, and it was well within the standards of care, then back it up!  What was the university afraid of?  There are standards in this field, despite the fact that the medical professions are grotesquely behind the curve with this, in general.  A bunch of transgender students were left in the lurch.

The college’s associate vice president of student wellness was quoted as saying, “We are fortunate to be situated in [city], where there is a strong medical community rich with resources.”  As if to say that students can just go elsewhere.  I’ve tried “elsewhere” around here, as an adult, and it was a super-frustrating process.  If I think back to who I was at age 18 or 19, disrupted care at the on-campus center in this regard would have definitely sent me into a tailspin and/or mental health crisis.  I would have felt like I didn’t have the means or psychic energy to find out another path.  I would have felt deeply cut, in a personal way, by my institution’s sudden change in policy.

It just seemed like this college was at the forefront – it could have laid the groundwork for other area places of higher education to follow.  And then it just took a huge leap back into the wrong direction.  One step forward, two steps back sometimes I guess, right?

I had a bunch of problems with getting continuous care.  I was first getting hormones from a sketchy-ass doctor.  I finally felt so disgusted with his practice that I sought out another path.  I went to one specifically because she was listed as being LGBT friendly and knowledgeable.  That ended up being wrong basically – she told me she didn’t know how she had gotten on that resource list.  I had to have a pretty heated conversation with her – her stance first was that I could come to her for primary care, but I should continue to get my hormone prescriptions through that other doctor.  I told her I wasn’t going to do that.  She told me this was beyond her scope and if she had a male patient with low-testosterone, she would not even monitor him for that reason.

We finally landed on a compromise.  She would continue to prescribe what I was already at, and she would monitor that.  If I wanted to make any changes though, I would have to do that through other means.

When I did want to make other changes, I first got on a long waiting list for an LGBT-specific clinic.  I kept hearing negative stories about the quality of care there, so I decided to also try another approach:  an endocrinologist.  I had to get on a long waiting list for that, as well.  I’ve been going there since January, and so far, I’m happy because I don’t have to deal with the PCP anymore.  Getting an endo was not like adding yet another medical professional and another series of appointments.  It was more like, instead.  Unless I get like, a rash or something, then I’d go back to my PCP.

All of this was hard enough, and I am an adult who has worked really hard at advocating for myself.  Thinking back to who I was as a student I would have withered under this kind of stress.  Students need to be able to access trans-specific care on their campuses.  Period.

A note about the lack of specifics in this post:  I left out the doctor’s name and the name of the college, city, etc. because that’s been the way I’ve always operated with this blog, in order to keep some anonymity.  I’m not sure anymore whether it’s all necessary, but I’m not about to try to figure that out here-and-now.  If you’d like specifics and the names of the sources I got a lot of this information from, just leave a comment, and I’ll get back to you!

 


3 ways I have asserted my gender identity, recently

As top surgery results and testosterone have been working their magic, I have felt less hung up on how I am perceived.  This is great news!  I feel less drained when I go out in public, generally.  I’ve taken things into my own hands when I feel like I’ve needed to, and this had not been psychically difficult, by any means!  Here are some ways I have been true to my non-binary identity:

1.  I Tampered With My Driver’s License.
Since I don’t live in Oregon or California, I still have to legally be either “Male” or “Female.”  Although I legally changed my name to something more masculine, I opted to remain “female,” legally.  This has led to feelings of dysphoria, but being “male” would have anyway, as well.  So, as of a few months ago, I decided to put a bright neon sticker over my “Sex” on my driver’s license.  At first it was neon orange.  Currently it’s neon green.  The color doesn’t make too much of a difference – just the fact that no one can see whether it’s “M” or “F” is huge for me.  I’ve shown it at the pharmacy, bought beer with it, gotten “carded” at restaurants, shown it to bouncers at bars and nightclubs.  No one has commented or had an issue with it – they just need to know how old I am, and that I am who I say I am!  That’s it.  (As an aside, when I traveled abroad, I did take the sticker off, because I didn’t think TSA agents would be too thrilled about that…)

2.  School Pictures
I am an elementary school janitor – every year, I go through the same routines:  first day of school, winter concerts, spring concerts, curriculum nights, open house, book fair, the 5th grade breakfast, last day of school, etc.  No one can forget school pictures!  They happen within the first weeks of school – this year, it was a week ago, today.  As a staff member, I have to participate, and then I get some free photos, and I get a sheet of all the faculty and staff, every year.  In the past, I have gone by the initials that I used to go by, which was “KT” and then [last name].  Unless I wasn’t feeling like speaking up (which was the case on a couple of occasions) I made sure the picture company had me down as “KT” instead of “Mrs.,” “Ms.,” or “Mr.”  This year, surprisingly, I “passed” as male, as I saw the picture lady write down, “Mr.” and then ask me what my last name is.  Without hesitating, I gave her my last name (new, legally changed), and then said, “Can you change that ‘Mr.’ to ‘Mx.’?  It’s neither ‘Mr.’ nor ‘Ms.’ ”  She replied, “I guess I can,” and I watched her cross out what she had and re-write “Mx.”  It was awesome!  I kinda can’t wait to get my sheet of faculty and staff photos this year.

3.  Playing It By Ear, As I Go
This last one is a bit of a contradiction -I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I cannot assert my non-binary identity in every and all cases, so, if people are given a heads-up that I’ve changed my name and pronouns, in some situations, that is good enough.  Especially at work.  Teachers have been great about switching over.  And I honestly don’t know how many of them get the nuances I’ve tried to convey.  A couple of them for sure, because they asked me questions, and I had some really satisfying conversations.  But in addition to this, there’s a larger group of people who are slowly hearing about it (or not) by word of mouth – mainly buildings and grounds workers.  Electricians, plumbers, HVAC specialists, people I see now and then, but certainly not every day.  If they get that I am a trans-person, and they are respectful, then, that is good enough.  There’s this one guy who is over at our school a lot.  A few weeks ago, he took me aside, and, obviously nervous about the exchange, he said, “So, I just want to know, because we are friends… It’s Kameron now?”  He was just verifying something he wanted to make sure he was getting right, and, in my eyes, I was really psyched about this because he’s a guy that I think other workers look up to.  So, the more positivity around it, the better.  The less nasty gossip behind my back, the better.  And, to that end, I just went to a union meeting two days ago, and the secretary addressed me by my old moniker, “KT.”  I almost didn’t correct her, because… I don’t know… the picking your battles thing, I guess.  BUT!  Someone else corrected her, someone that I didn’t know knew yet!  And so, I riffed off of that, asserting, “Yep, it’s Kameron now.  I changed my name.”  She shrunk into herself at hearing that, but, whatever.  Another buildings and grounds guy took it from there, telling me loudly that his “niece” just transitioned recently into his “nephew.”  We sat down and continued to converse so that anyone and everyone could hear, if they tuned in.  He was just overjoyed to be accepting “Shane,” his middle-school-aged family member.   At no point did I try to assert that I was neither male nor female.  If he got the gist that I am trans, and he spreads the word with a positive attitude, then that is better than good enough.  Acceptance, even if limited in understanding, is still worth it!


I was in Turkey and Greece!

So I went on a really big trip this summer – I visited my brother!  I flew into Istanbul, stayed with him there for two nights, and then we rented a car and went up to Sile on the Black Sea, Yalova on the Marmara Sea, the city of Bursa, and Ayvalik on the Aegean Sea.  We took a ferry to the Greek island of Lesbos / Midilli.  We also saw ancient ruins in Bergama and went to a Turkish bath with natural hot springs in Inegol.  We crammed a lot into 10 days!  This was my first time overseas since 11th grade, when I took a class trip to England and Scotland.  It was the first time I’d seen my brother in three years – it was pretty great to reconnect.  We did lots of swimming and hiking and we also went to a Whirling Dervishes festival, which was going on continuously for 114 days of summer.

If you wanna read more, I wrote about this trip, through the lens of someone who is non-binary, here!  I wrote about TSA stuff, but more excitingly, I wrote about feeling more comfortable in a “male” role in a way that I am not, in America.  I even swam without a shirt on, in front of others – something that I didn’t plan on ever doing!
Traveling Non-Binary:  Gender Perceptions in Two Cultures

The website is called Transgender Universe, and I’ve written for them before (this is my 4th piece).  I like switching it up with blog writing every now and then.


Happy pride weekend, much belated

So, our city celebrates Pride long after the anniversary of Stonewall, for some strange reason.  It is always the 2nd full week in July, with the parade and festival and picnic landing right in the middle of July.  I was overly busy at that time, and kept stalling on writing a re-cap.  But I feel motivated, largely because it’s something I’ve kept up with every year, thus far.  Here are posts about past Prides!

Happy pride weekend, and The People
Happy pride weekend and BRAWL
Happy pride weekend

This year, I had ideas for what to do in the parade, but had zero time for prep-work.  Good thing I had a lot of stuff on hand!  I woke up at 9am and needed to meet my spouse’s employer’s group (a Food Co-op) by 12:45, about 2.5 miles from our house.  This proved difficult because I had a funky ride I was trying to pedal (see below!)  The store had no cohesion – it was a total free for all.  In the past, we’ve handed out coupons, or people have walked with a shopping cart, dressed as vegetables.  But there was nothing like that this time ’round.

PARTY BIKE!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I tricked out a clown bike I got from a friend with balloons and signs that said, “WAYO 104.3” and “Kryptic Pop Thrills” (just because I wanted to do some self promotion for the fact that I am a radio DJ!) plus I made a sign for my spouse that said, “Summer of Love Trumps Hate.”  The theme of the parade was Summer of Love.  I brought a boombox for my sister-in-law (actually, she gave me the boombox for xmas one year), and we played an old mix tape entitled “Pride Parade Jamz” – a remnant of a parade of yore, in which my drag buddy and I marched to the beat of our own drum.  I was dressed as a snazzy mis-matched dandy bicyclist, and my spouse was dressed in some sort of psychedelic fashion.  It was us, 3 friends, two shareholders with their kid / toddler, sister-in-law, and a former employee with his wife and baby.  I was sometimes pedaling / sometimes walking, straddling the bike.  I was alternately shouting about WAYO, the Co-op, and Pride.  I handed out pop rocks to like 5 kids, and a whole movie-theatre-sized spree to a group of teenagers, and sweet tarts to an unsuspecting woman who was wearing a t-shirt that said, “Vagetarian.”  I told her I liked her shirt because I am a “Sagittarius.”  I realize this doesn’t make total sense, but if you say the words out loud, they sound close enough!  I also told an audience participant that he “looks just like Boy George,” and I got my pic taken a lot and I hugged a lot of friends on the sidelines, if I was fortunate enough to spot them.

 

Afterwards, we skipped the festival and just hung out at home.  Later, I texted my friend who had given me the bike, and they had vague plans to go to a gay bar, but he quickly changed his mind and said they’d meet at this new bowling alley, etc. which is what I suggested.  This place is insane.  It is a warehouse turned bowling alley / ping pong, ski ball, shuffleboard, astroturf lawn games / restaurant / whiskey bar / cocktail bar.  The four of us chatted in a super animated way for about an hour, and I was in bed by 9:30.

I also participated in an event at our local art gallery, the following day, which was new for me.  I got roped in, last minute, to set up a table to show some historical / archival gay stuff from our city over the years (I just got connected to do this based on some old photos and things I had been posting on facebook to gear up for Pride!)  The event was not super well attended or anything (people were probably busy day drinking and picnicking) but I had a lot of fun anyway.  I got to meet some people and explore the art gallery (there was a specific video installation of a drag queen which was sooooo amazing!)

My spouse’s family met us down there, and we then went out to eat and then to a movie.

I loved the fact that I saw every one of my spouse’s immediate family members over the course of the Pride Weekend!


Summer of t-shirts #9

This post is a continuation I started last summer, basically in celebration of the fact that I can now wear t-shirts without feeling uncomfortable and self-conscious.  Hooray for top-surgery, which was now a year and two months ago.

This beautiful specimen of a shirt was uncovered in a thrift store in Spencer, MA, just outside of Worchester, last summer while my spouse and I were visiting one of my friends from high school, and her husband and toddler.  In case it’s hard to make out the print, this says,

 

“THE MORAL MAJORITY IS NEITHER.”

What does that mean???  At first, I didn’t know, and I don’t have a smart phone to “gooooogle” the phrase ASAP, so I just bought it an forgot about it.  I did know I needed to have it, but I wasn’t going to start flaunting it until I found out what it was all about.  I had a vague recollection of the term “moral majority” and that it was bad according to me (It really does just sound bad!!!), but that was about it.

I’m sure there’s more to the story, but according to wikipedia, the Moral Majority was a political organization started by Jerry Fallwell (The New Christian Right), mostly active in the 1980s.  Critics started stating that “The Moral Majority is neither,” meaning the organization was neither moral nor a majority, and the slogan spread to bumper stickers, and other “swag” items.

This appears to be a homemade t-shirt from that time period (I’m following clues from the tag of the shirt.  I could be mistaken), and it seems like it’s iron-on letters that are slightly felted.  This added to me falling in love with this shirt.  I feel that it is a good time and place to be wearing this t-shirt out and about, frequently, and proudly!


Summer of t-shirts #9

One year ago today, take or leave a day or two, I was at an incredible record store in Concord, NH.  I was still recuperating from top surgery, but the worst of it was over, so my spouse and I went on vacation for a week.  (OK, for her it was only a partial vacation – she was scheduled to attend a conference for work in Concord for 2 days.

We first went to Greenfield, Northampton, and Worcester, MA to visit friends.  We went hiking, swimming (well, for me, it was only up to my torso cuz of surgery), blueberry picking, and shopping.  We visited a botanical garden at Smith College, and when we got rained out, we ended up on the semi-precious gemstone wing of the science building.  We also tried a Gose-style beer for the first time, and we watched Straight Outta Compton one night after the baby / toddler went to bed.

After all that fun stuff, we headed up to New Hampshire, and pretty much parted ways for the next two days because my spouse had work to do.  It was awesome!  We first went to the local co-op together to load up on snacks and drinks.  After that, we just crashed at this hotel that was getting paid for by her employer.  I hadn’t stayed at a hotel in roughly 10 years at that point, so the novelty factor was HUGE!  I just kept getting ice from the ice machine, checking out other places my key card gave me access to (like the gym and pool, even though I could barely utilize these perks).

On the one day, I basically walked up and down the main street and did whatever I could do, for a full morning and afternoon.  This involved spending many many hours in this old-time-y record store.  I even bought a t-shirt from them, to commemorate the experience:

I liked it because it is an iconic image that literally has a pitchfork in it.  And often, “pitchfork” and music are synonymous in this way:  pitchfork.com

But I strongly feel that this record store preceded the website by many many years.  OK, so I just had to follow through and look it up:  The store launched in 1973, while pitchfork.com launched in 1995.

It appears as if not much has changed in this store since 1973, which is why I was so happy to just go treasure hunting in there for hours- I got a bunch of cassette tapes that had never been opened, for like a dollar each.  And I got soooooo many records for under $3.  I had a blast.  I wanted to get this shirt in a gold color, but they were out of that color in my size.  So I settled for yellow.  Not my favorite color, but not a bad one either!

Some of my favorite things to do, ever, are:  try new beverages, hunt for records in new towns and cities, and go swimming!  And I’m so glad that I can swim again now – so far this summer, I’ve gone 3 times!

Oh, also big news on the traveling / swimming front:  I finally solidified plans to visit my brother in Turkey, next month!  We are going to explore ancient ruins and go swimming in the Mediterranean Sea.  Can’t wait!!!


I finally made a resource page, of sorts

This is just an announcement that I added some stuff to my blog!  For the longest time, the additional tabs were “ask me something,” “what it’s about,” and “glossary of janitorial words and phrases.”  And that was it.

About two weeks ago, an outreach specialist who works for drugrehab.com reached out and asked if I would add their website.  She wrote,

“Studies have shown that individuals in the LGBT community are more likely to use and abuse alcohol and drugs and tend to continue abuse throughout their lives. We work to spread awareness and to be an informational resource for those impacted by alcohol and drug dependence.

I believe that our website would be a valuable addition to your resources listed on your page.  Would you please review our resource and consider adding it to your website to spread awareness”

And that got me thinking, because I don’t have anything like that on my blog!  But I decided that I could – she kind of got me going to start organizing a resource page.  I told her, “I’ll need to start from scratch because I have yet to provide a resource page at all, but I love the idea, so thanks for that push!”  And then I started working.

I had always been of the mindset that although many blogs do have links to online safe spaces, hotlines, etc., I don’t need to be one of those blogs – people can google whatever they want to google and glean information from myriad places.  I wouldn’t even know how to narrow down a page.  Some, like Micah’s on Neutrois Nonsense, for example, are so comprehensive, I don’t really have anything to add!

So, mine might be a bit random, and it’s definitely not complete, by a long shot.  I included the one for the drug rehab site first, since she was the one to get me going.  I then added two overarching sites for mental health, Micah’s blog (of course!), the blog of a professional gender therapist who is very hands-on, and then two sites that are geared toward brainstorming and creativity, when it comes to gender.

You can take a look here:  LGBTQIA-GSM Resources.  Please lemme know if you want me to add anything in particular…  (The GSM stands for “gender and sexual minorities,” because there are not enough letters in the alphabet to cover everyone!)

I’ll just end with a little more information about the drug rehab website, mostly because I was so tickled that they wrote and wanted me to “advertise” for them.  It makes me feel like, wow, cool, my blog really is reaching people.  (This is something that waxes and wanes for me, whether it’s really out there or not.)  So, the outreach specialist said,

We are a free informational resource for those  battling mental health and substance abuse issues. Our website tackles many issues currently facing society today. We have a team of doctors and writers who update our content daily.
We do have a hotline that you can call with questions about different treatment options, as we know every individual is unique and so should treatment be as well.
If you want further information, check out my new resource page!!!  LGBTQIA-GSM Resources