Not A Life Choice – Continuing Prep

I won’t get into the graphics to spare some of you. However, this whole surgery prep is a loooong drawn out process.  I have had a number of laser sessions to clear the surgical area. Since I am older, there are a lot of greys, so we are now on to electrolysis. Laser wasn’t too bad, but let me tell you, when they start electrolysis, that is some serious pain. I had some lidocaine cream prescribed, but the operator is allergic. I had to go back and get EMLA. One other note about this is that even with an hour drive out there, I really need to get that cream on before I go. I was finally getting numb by the time were were ready to wrap up. I had tears at some points. I tried to keep my sense of humor up and commented how some people who are ignorant to all we have to go through, say it is a life choice. Um, that much pain and you are ready to spill state secrets.

So I have had two electrology sessions and have another scheduled in three weeks. In the interim, I did get my appointment set up with the nurse coordinator. I will see her a week from Monday. I had to take the day as I have to go into Boston. I am hoping that we can get more details ironed out and potentially get me in the schedule with a date. Given what was told to me at First Event back in February, they were talking they were booked out until next year. I am hoping at worst, they are only booking out a year. That would get me into next year with more time off and hopefully a decent bonus to offset the insurance copays. This stuff ain’t cheap.

In the meantime, I am also continuing my electrolysis on my face. Jen says we are making headway, but my dysphoria rears its head when I have to grow out my beard so she has something to latch onto when zapping hairs. I just noticed my schedule and I am doing another twofer, with bottom clearing one day and face the next. Two different places, as my current electrologist does not do bottom and you have to see specific operators that are educated in what needs to be cleared.

Besides all the pain I have to endure, there is a significant cost. None of the electrolysis is covered by insurance. We are going to try to get the bottom stuff under insurance as that is surgery prep, but that might be a long shot. My breast augmentation had been pre-approved but when  it was submitted they denied it. I had to go back through HR to push it through. For stuff like this, you really have to be your own advocate. Shame that it isn’t easier, but at least my company covers some of the expenses.

I just wanted to give an update. I figure for those who follow this process, you can see how long it takes and all the “gatekeeping” involved. It really flies in the face that this is just a life choice. Why would anyone put themselves through all this pain and expense. I must be nearing 100 sessions for face alone. It would have been nice if I wasn’t old and grey. Laser would have gotten more of it then. Unfortunately, it is the slow process of electrolysis. A slow, arduous march forward.

I will touch base after my meeting with the nurse coordinator Monday after next.

My heart to your heart, one heart, one spirit.

“Lady” Emma Morgaine Croft

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Not A Life Choice – Surgery Prep

Just so people understand, transitioning isn’t like flipping a switch. It is a long, long process. I have been on hormones for over two years now. I was not happy with my breast development, especially for someone my size, so fortunately, my company has the insurance company covering transgender health. I was able to get breast augmentation covered. I feel much happier now. Could go a little larger, but I am hoping another year on hormones will fix that.

I am still going to my electrologist to have my face cleared. Unfortunately, this is not covered by insurance so I am limited on how often I can go. We have pretty much done all the laser we can. We are pretty much stuck with electrolysis for the rest. This could take years to clear. Unfortunately, that is also what is happening with surgery prep.

Laser can only work on dark hairs with light skin. I have heard there is a new laser that can do the grey too, but no one I know has it. So all the rest of my hair removal will be using electrolysis. Nothing like having a probe stuck in your pores and zapping the roots with electricity. I can use lidocaine cream on my face and that takes some sting off, but the person doing my pre-surgery is allergic and needs EMLA cream. Been going without and let me tell you not a happy camper. Really makes you question that whole life choice talk. Okay, let me take a step back as many don’t know what is involved, so let me share some of what the doctor’s office sent me. Guys, you might want to skip this.

Description of a Typical Neo-vaginoplasty

Patients are admitted to the hospital on the day of the procedure.

The operation generally lasts between five and six hours, plus pre-anesthesia and patient preparation and recovery immediately after the surgery. It is always carried out under general anesthetic. Neo-vaginoplasty usually requires the patient to stay for four (4) nights in the hospital from admission until discharge.

We use a penile inversion technique. This means that the skin of the penis will be used to make the new vagina. Sometimes the scrotal skin is also incorporated if the penile skin isn’t sufficient.

The urethra is shortened and repositioned to just in front of the new vaginal opening. Some of the urethra is used to make a strip of pink tissue between the clitoris and urethra.

The skin on the sides of the scrotum is used to make the labia. The space in the body in which the vagina goes is located between the bladder and the rectum. Once that space has been created, the inverted penis skin is put in there, forming vagina walls. The depth of the vagina depends on the individual patient factors including the amount of penis skin available and the amount of scrotal skin used. Once the vagina is in place, surgical packing is used to keep the skin inverted within the vaginal cavity until it heals.

The next stage of surgery involves constructing the clitoris using the portion of the glans (tip) that has been retained together with its nerves and blood vessels. The clitoris is placed above the urethral meatus (opening) and a hood is made to cover it, using scrotal skin. Typically patients retain sensitivity and the ability to enjoy full sexual satisfaction.

Surgery is concluded after constructing the vaginal labia and clitoral hood. In most cases all this surgery can be performed at once but, it is not unusual to need small revisions. We would not do any revision procedures until at least four (4) months post-surgery.


They point you to look at a video by Drs. Slama and Oates on Youtube.

Of course, before you even get to this point, you have to endure many hours of laser and electrolysis to prepare. Here is their synopsis on genital hair removal. Once again, guys may want to turn away.

Genital Hair Removal

Hair removal is mandatory prior to neo-vaginoplasty surgery. This is done either via electrolysis or laser.

Electrolysis
Electrolysis uses electrical currents to destroy individual hair follicles, which are then removed one by one.

Laser
Laser hair removal uses an intense, pulsating beam of light to remove unwanted hair. A laser beam passes through the skin to an individual hair follicle. The intense heat of the laser damages the hair follicle, which inhibits future growth. Laser works best for dark, coarse hair.  – (Not so good for us old timers with a lot of white and grey.)

For the scrotal sac
Remove all hair from the scrotum!

For the Penile Shaft
Remove all hair from the penile shaft, including a 1 inch area around the base. Skin from the penile shaft and mid-scrotum will be utilized to create the new vagina, therefore all hair on the penile shaft should be removed so the inside of the vagina will be hair-free.

For the perineum
Remove the hair from the bottom of the scrotum to one inch above the anus in order to clear a 2.5 wide strip.

Timeline
Typically you will need multiple treatments over a 5-6 month period (usually 3-6 clearings for laser, 5-8 for electrolysis) to ensure effective and permanent hair removal.


Now, I have had a number of laser treatments and we have moved on to electrolysis to get those stubborn grey and white boogers. I really need to try to get some EMLA before my next appointment. I could handle the laser, but wow!, having that electrical probe inserted into a hair follicle down there and zapped, Yowza!!! I tell you, that could get anyone to talk. I almost admitted to killing Jimmy Hoffa even though I never knew him. LOL.

Scheduling makes it tough as I have to go late afternoon for this treatment, while I can get my face done at night. My next appointment isn’t until mid–April. Like I said, this is a process not an instant light switch. I hope at that time to have her say that I am clear enough to advise the doctor that it is time to get on the schedule. Given what I heard at First Event from their team, it might not be until next year. Though, I did hear a friend got a date with her doctor in June! I am resigned to it being next year. I need that date so I can plan vacation time. I will need at least two weeks out of work, one spent in the hospital and the other at home.  That’s when the fun begins with dilations.

I hope this has brought more understanding on the process involved. I hope to educate and remove any ignorance. I see the idea of someone saying this is a life choice as being totally dismissive on what we go through. It really isn’t a life choice. No one would just choose this life. I hope that you have gotten a better understanding from this series. I plan on continuing as I move forward.

As always, my heart to your heart, one heart, one spirit.

Emma Morgaine Croft

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Not a Life Choice – Traveling

Visa

One of the things you are told that you should do when you transition, is to update your passport. I haven’t as yet as my driver’s license and birth certificate are in order and no immediate plans to go out of country.  I do need to do that though. Traveling, though, does raise other issues and concerns. Sometimes, you don’t think about it, especially when you live in a Progressive State such as Massachusetts.

Here in Massachusetts, it was fairly easy to transition. Oh, there are all the numerous forms that have to be filed and new documents issued and updated. There are sites like the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition that have guides to help you maneuver the many agencies you have to deal with. https://www.masstpc.org/  They also give the recommended order to make the changes. In our State, you need to get your Social Security changed first as the RMV goes by that information. Of course, you will have to return to the Social Security office at a later date to get the gender marker changed. A nuisance, but they wouldn’t change the marker unless I had some sort of medical intervention. Given that I now have my birth certificate stating I was born Emma and female, I just have to have time to go back. I ended up having to go back to have the gender marker changed on my license also but that was more because I didn’t realize I needed that additional form to fill out. So two trips to the RMV just to get my new license.  I still need to get my military records amended, but since I am not eligible for benefits anymore, not a real rush. So, my next concentration is to get that passport.

Of course, getting that passport will be a big step, but something else was brought to my attention when my wife went to a significant other support group meeting. It was brought up about international travel. Someone stated that we could never travel to Mexico. Huh, what, why? Yeah, it turns out that to them we would be considered lesbians and that is illegal. So that opened up a whole new awareness of potential destinations. If we are to travel, we have to be aware of the local customs and restrictions. Simply being transgender could get me imprisoned or even killed in some countries. Hadn’t given much thought to the idea that some places might see us as lesbians which brings a whole new kettle of fish to the table.

While international travel is fraught with issues, even simply traveling in the States can be perilous. There are areas that are hostile to transgender, not sure about lesbians. I don’t think they can jail you in the states, but they could refuse service even in a hospital. So planning a trip means taking extra time to research the local acceptance. It is amazing with all the research that has been done and the information available, that this is still an issue. I used to have to travel to Texas for work. The last time was the time I decided to tell my boss and come out at work. I don’t have to travel anymore, but I have to say that going through scanners concerned me. I heard many horror stories of people being humiliated and pulled out of line because their body gave them away in a full scanner. Of course, after I have GRS, that won’t be an issue anymore, but it is just one more thing that we have to think and be concerned about. I have heard that it is getting better and TSA is starting to get the picture but those brave people who subjected themselves to the searches, that came before helped to educate. This was especially so after lawsuits were filed against the TSA. This was under Obama so there was a positive change, but those protections have been removed by Trump, so who knows.

Given that Massachusetts is one of those States that affords protections to transgender people, maybe it is better that I just stay here and visit all the places I haven’t visited yet in Massachusetts. Hopefully, we can overcome the legions of hate and ignorance that are pushing for a repeal of those protections. That is another story though.

So, for a transgender person, we can’t just take for granted that we will be accepted wherever we go. We have to go that further step beyond getting a flight, car, hotel room, to ensuring that wherever we go around the world, we will not find ourselves thrown in jail or murdered for just being. So remind me again, why this is a life choice?

My heart to your heart, one heart, one spirit.

Emma Morgaine Croft

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Saying Goodbye to the Magazine That Gave me a Chance

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It is sad to see this site going dark. Joe did a heck of a job keeping it going. I remember when they recruited me to write for them. They had seen some of my blog posts and thought I was a good fit. I was given a weekly column and later a video segment. Of course, that was back when I was Ed. I had thought about going back to write for them again. I figured I would reach out to Joe after I got through all the medical issues of transition. I guess I waited too long. Joe has announced that World Wide Hippies was shutting down. Shame.

It seems so long ago now. Joe believed in me and gave me a chance. I was able to cover whatever floated my boat as a columnist. I can’t recall which it was, but I even received an award for online writing, called the Golden Note Award. I remember having that meeting with Joe and being told that. That meant a lot. I enjoyed writing and sharing. However, my life was getting to be a turmoil. The darkness that had enveloped me most of my life was slowing taking over. What people didn’t know was that I was transgender.

I eventually told Joe that I would be stepping away. I really had to deal with my own issues and wasn’t ready to share. I did continue to follow many of my co-writers on Facebook.

Phil Polizzato, who wrote the great book on the 60’s and communes called Hunga Dunga.
Sherry Pasquerello and Diana May-Waldman, whom I endearingly called wifey because she was always on me to make sure I got my column in on time. There was Linda Wolf and PE Nolan, Hippy Woman, Woody, Blind Dog, and of course Winston Smith.

Every week we cranked out articles and news segments that covered a wide range of topics from the environment to activism. It was a way to keep the hippy spirit alive and well. So it is kind of sad to see it go when we need that voice to inspire others to keep the establishment in check. We can only hope that the Parkland kids can keep it going and spread the seed of change. For the first time, I have hope in the new generation.

I want to thank Joe Mcevoy for giving me that chance. The experience I received in writing for World Wide Hippies has helped me to continue writing about things I care about here. I hope that, just as when I wrote for World Wide Hippies, the things I write about, especially my Not A Life Choice series, can inspire, educate, and bring to light the need for change.

As always, My heart to your heart, one heart, one spirit.

“Lady” Emma Morgaine Croft, former writer for World Wide Hippies.

Oh and you can check out Phil’s book, Hunga Dunga on Amazon.

Hunga Dunga

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Not a Life Choice – The Long and Winding Road

strongwoman

What irritates me most about people saying this is just a life choice, is they have no idea what we have to go through. This isn’t something that you just wake up one day and say you want to be this or that. It is who you are. What many transgender people struggle with is that getting from A to Z is not a straight path, but often a circuitous one with many potholes, detours, and walls. I have never been comfortable with people saying I am courageous. For me, this isn’t about courage, but just being. However, as I look back at all I have gone through, including the late 80’s and early 90’s when I first attempted to come out, I have to admit to a bit of courage.

When I returned to counseling this time around, one thing my counselor noted was that even though things appeared to be on schedule, on plan, and falling together, I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop. Fortunately, it never did. Or rather, the times when it did, I was better able to handle it as I had love and support this time around. That was the key for me and why I choose to be very public. It is my hope to be the light for someone else and to help to educate people. It is my mission to not only be the best woman I can possibly be, but to also embrace that wolf spirit and be the pathfinder and teacher as my Cherokee friends saw in me.

white_wolf

I was given the name Unega Waya, by my Cherokee friends because I would go out and learn and come back and teach. I was always pretty good at that which is why, I suppose, that Cindy has me give the tours on the farm. I do love to teach people about the alpacas. I think the other aspect of the wolf is how they take care of their family. For me, this also includes my transgender brothers and sisters. I want to be there for them as best I can.

To return to the subject at hand, how can one say it is a life choice, when there are so many obstacles, social, financial, and familial that have to be overcome. Not to mention all the gatekeeping that goes on along the way. When I first tried to come out in the late 80’s, I was with a psychologist, Barbara. At that time, it was still called Gender Identity Disorder. I probably spent the first year of treatment having to prove this was real. Once she was sure, we started working on all aspects of who I was. She basically said we had to tear down the old me so that I can find who I really was. I had lived most of my life being the person everyone else wanted me to be.

Well, as my story went, my life just exploded. I lost my marriage, my home, access to my kids was limited to a Wed night and weekends. I lived in a basement apartment with two bedrooms. Most of the time was spent alone. When I came out at work, suddenly, I found myself out of work. They claimed it was a temporary position. I spent the next six months out of work in the worst climate to find a job due to 9/11. I finally gave up trying to be me and felt I had to return to being what everyone else wanted me to be, despite the protestations of my psychologist. She told me that I had to be me and one day it would catch up to me.

Well fast forward about twenty years or so and I had been remarried. We had a great life together and even started the alpaca farm. Our place was beautiful and peaceful, yet after the death of a dear friend, I became dark. I had gone to his funeral and unlike Catholic Churches, his church allowed people to go up and speak until no one was left. All the beautiful things that were said about him had tears flowing. One thing that kept hammering at me was how authentic his life was. He was loving and caring, not only towards his family but his church community, the Masons, and who knows where else. As someone said about his heart attack, he had a heart that was just too big for his chest.

All of this made me start reflecting on my own life. I was still living the life that was expected of me. I had always excelled at what I did, whether it was winning the Rotarian Award for Food Service in high school, or Best Actor two years in a row for Newport County CYO, (tying in the state both years and losing on coin toss). I had become a Mason and was climbing the ladder. I had been District Ambassador and District Education Officer. I was Senior Steward in my lodge, Education Officer, Ambassador, and a few other functions. I had joined York Rite and was High Priest in my Chapter, Deputy Master in Council and Captain General in Commandery. Yes, I was a Knight Templar. Many spoke of me being Grand Master one day. Not hardly. I even started a fund raiser as a rookie in Masonry that I still take part in today. I strove to be the best I could be.  The only thing I wasn’t being, was me.

So when my wife noted my descent into darkness, she pressed and finally got it out of me. It took her a few days to absorb what I had told her. Then she did an amazing thing. She came to me and told me that we were going to do this and this time there was no turning back. That began an amazing journey to become the woman I am today.

I went back into counseling and despite all the forward progress, it always felt like the other shoe was going to drop. It took a bit for my counselor to help me see the progress. I was on hormones again, and starting to get centered. With Cindy’s help, we set milestones together. HRT, check! Wait a while and allow hormones to start their work while growing out nails and hair. Check. Develop a strategy to come out at work. Start paperwork for name change. Check. With milestones in place, now was time to implement. Always the PTSD from my previous attempt to come out was in the back of my mind, but I just kept moving forward.

After about a year on hormones, it was time. Now, I had to start extricating myself from all the bodies in Masonry. This was hard. I loved the guys I was with and enjoyed doing the ritual. I also enjoyed teaching at the Lodge of Instruction. On the upside, I would have all those nights back. I let it be known that I was stepping away from Masonry for personal reasons. I held a dinner for some of my close companions and let them in on it. There were a lot of tears, mostly mine, but as one put it, even though you will now be my sister, you will still be my Brother. They understood my reasoning for stepping away. Though I was told I did not have to demit since I was a lifetime member. I told them that it was for the better, harmony being the strength and support of all institutions….

My paperwork was submitted to court for my name change. In my county, you have to post in the local paper also. Why? Who knows. So that outed me to the one or two who actually read legal notices. I also had to travel to Austin for a data center move. My boss would be there and my HR rep was there so it was the perfect time to address that. So I traveled to Austin and did meet with my boss. He was very supportive and asked if I wanted to tell the team or if I wanted him to. I told him I would. As it was, the move did not go entirely as planned so I did not have the time to meet with them, we did that after I returned home. I will say that my company has treated me exceptionally well. HR advised that once my paperwork was in order and I got my new Social Security card to turn that all in to them and they would process the changes. In all, my biggest fear, besides Cindy leaving me, was losing my job. Rather than lose it, I received a lot of support.

Upon returning home, the letter came in with my name change approved. I was now offically, legally, and forever, Emma Morgaine Croft! Next came the arduous task of changing my name on all legal forms, credit cards, bank accounts and such. What a headache! I still have to go back and get my gender designation changed with Social Security as they required you to have had medical intervention first. Check!

I have been living full time for quite a while now. I have never been happier. The day before Thanksgiving, I had my breast augmentation, so no more forms! I am in the process of getting everything squared away for bottom surgery. I have had two clearing sessions with laser for the surgical area. I have met with the doctor and his team. Once cleared, I will get my date.

Remember how I said about the circuitous path? Well, this is probably the one step where we see the gatekeeping that makes the Not A Life Choice argument. In order to get approval for the surgery, you have to have approval from your PCP, your Endo, and two letters from psychological professionals. My counselor had provided me with a letter, but I had to visit with another psychologist, at additional cost, to get the second letter. Laser for clearing is not cheap. I have already had two sessions and have two more scheduled. Once she certifies that I am clear, then I will finally get my date. In talking with their team at First Event, they are currently scheduling out to next February. It will probably be next Spring before I can have my surgery.

Meanwhile, I also continue with electrolysis on my face to remove that beard from testosterone poisoning. We are finally making headway there, but still have a great many sessions to go.

So hopefully, my sharing better informs people, that to flippantly say, this is a life choice, makes zero sense. This is a long, long process. There are many legal, medical, and social hurdles that one must overcome. So I guess people are right, I am courageous. It takes a bit of courage to face all of this. It is my hope that I can remove ignorance and shed some light to bring better understanding and acceptance.

My heart to your heart, one heart, one spirit.

Emma Morgaine Croft

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Not A Life Choice – Resources

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Probably one of the best places to connect with the resources you need on your journey, for education, medical, or just to connect friends, are the various conventions that come together through the year. I just had an amazing time at First Event which is put on by the Tiffany Club here in Massachusetts.

These conventions offer a great many resources. Many offer workshops that will cover various topics that may help you on your journey. Many also have workshops and resources for spouses. I will speak from the perspective of First Event, as that is the only one I have been able to attend. Keep in mind, that Keystone is coming up March 7-11th in Harrisburg. There are links to some of the conferences towards the end of this missive.

This as my third year attending First Event. The first time was overwhelming at first. I was fortunate to know a few people so had some guidance. My wife joined me and we either sat in on workshops together or she went off to one and I to another so we could cover more ground.  While I knew quite a bit already, it was an eye opener for Cindy. I have to admit, she was making friends in no time. Everyone is usually pretty welcoming.

Probably the key is the informative workshops that go on during the day. Workshops are there that cover many aspects from surgery, hair removal, and makeup courses, to working through coming out to spouses, families and friends, and most importantly, work. There are some that cover spirituality too, so most bases are covered. One of the most helpful, I found, was the one on how to navigate changing your credentials. Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition also has a site that shows how to change over various documents in Massachusetts.
https://www.masstpc.org/get-help/identity-documents/

Freedom Massachusetts, https://www.freedommassachusetts.org/, runs a workshop on the current legal standings as well as the order in which you should go about changing over your documents. There are other workshops that also go over law changes especially in the current political environment.

There are also a number of workshops geared towards the kids. These are geared for Parent’s and Families, Young Adults, Trans Teens, and Trans Youth and is hosted by Greater Boston PFLAG & First Event.

When not in workshops, you might stop by the vendor area and meet with some of the vendors that work with transgender folk. There are vendors like Sephora who are doing makeovers, wig purveyors, jewelry, as well as booths for the various surgical facilities, hair removal, etc. There was a woman who made beaded jewelry there and I picked up some nice earrings.

At First Event, they close out Friday night with a Fashion Show. This one is lots of fun as it has music, singing, and lots of models. They had various categories such as Hobby, Night of Elegance and Fantasy. This was my first year trying the Fashion Show and I chose the Hobby (Alpaca Farmer) and Night of Elegance (Victorian Style).
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Saturday night ends with a banquet dinner and keynote speaker. This years speaker was Raffi Freedman-Gurspan. Raffi is the Director of External Relations at the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), where she oversees public education and field organizing operations. She was both a Senior Associate Director for Public Engagement, where she served as the primary liaison to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, and Outreach and Recruitment Director for Presidential Personnel at the White House from 2015-2017. Raffi was the first openly transgender staffer to work at the White House. She also currently sits on the United States Holocaust Memorial Council as an appointee named by President Barack Obama.

Keystone appears to follow the same format somewhat, their Keynote Speaker will be Carmen Carrera. Carmen Carrera is a mother, actor, advocate and one of the world’s highest profile transgender women. As a model signed to Elite, she has been photographed by David La Chapelle, Mark Seliger and Steven Meisel to name a few. As an actor she has recently appeared on shows and films like HBO’s Outpost, Jane the Virgin, The Bold and the Beautiful and Ricki & The Flash with Meryl Streep.

There are dance parties most nights and there was an Open Mic night at First Event. Each year, they just seem to be improving and reaching out to more people. The resources available are amazing, sometimes it can be overwhelming.  So if you are in the area of one of these events, you might just want to take a mini-vacation. You never know who you might connect up with. I know, for me, First Event is a great chance for me to finally get together with many of my Facebook friends.

Keystone Conference
Harrisburg, PA Mar 7, 2018 to Mar 11, 2018

River City Gems Tenth Anniversary
Sacramento, CA Mar 10, 2018

Fenway Health’s 7th annual LGBT Elders in an Ever Changing World
Boston, MA Mar 16, 2018

Transgender Lives Conference
Farmington, CT Apr 28, 2018

Heartland TG Spring Soiree
Oklahoma City, OK May 4, 2018 to May 6, 2018

Espirt
Port Angeles, WA May 13, 2018 to May 18, 2018

Gender Odyssey
Los Angeles, CA Jun 21, 2018 to Jun 24, 2018

Sparkle
Manchester, UK, Jul 6, 2018 to Jul 8, 2018

Philadelphia Trans Health
Philadelphia, PA Aug 2, 2018 to Aug 4, 2018

Gender Odyssey
Seattle, WA Aug 9, 2018 to Aug 12, 2018

There is also these others:

Fantasia Fair
Provincetown, RI Oct 14, 2018 to Oct 21, 2018

Heartland TG Fall Party
Oklahoma City, OK Nov 2, 2018 to Nov 4, 2018

Transgender Spectrum Conference
St. Louis, MO Nov 9, 2018 to Nov 10, 2018

Lake Erie Gala
Erie, PA Nov 14, 2018 to Nov 18, 2018

 

As always, my heart to your heart, one heart, one spirit.

“Lady” Emma Morgaine Croft

P. S. I have met with my doctor for my surgery. Once I have the surgical area cleared of hair, I will get my surgical date. At this point, we may be looking at early 2019. A lot depends on how quickly they can clear the area. Laser and electrolysis are slow processes.  I will be chronicling that journey here also.

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Not A Life Choice – More on Medical

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Probably one of the hardest things for a lot of transgender folk is being able to afford the medical bills. For many, they are lucky if insurance will cover their hormones. The rest of the expense is all on them. As I showed in an earlier blog, these costs can mount quickly. I usually pay around $70/hr for electrolysis just to have my face cleared. As I prepare to have my second surgery, I will have to go to another electrologist to have the surgical area cleared as they are experienced and know what the medical center is requiring. (My current electrologist does not do that work.)  It takes a number of sessions spanning years to clear just the face. I will have to travel an hour away to get the other work done.

While insurance still doesn’t cover electrology. I was fortunate in working with my company to get many procedures covered under our insurance. This allowed me to afford my breast augmentation. Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) can take you a long way, but after two years, I was still a little light. Given that I have a large frame, I needed a little more up top.

Interesting note on the breast augmentation. My doctor would normally do the procedure in his surgical room in his office. The cost for saline, about $6,500.  Because we were using insurance, that had to be done in the hospital, per insurance requirement. This increased the cost to over $10,000. Once it was scheduled, the hospital was calling for its money before the surgery. Though, if I prepaid, then I would get 10% off. Okay, so $1,600 later, I was scheduled. I am still recovering and still not allowed to life much more than five pounds. For those who don’t know what is involved, they put a slit under each breast and lift the muscle to make a pocket. They then slide the silicone into the pouch they create and then sew that up. Oh right, because it was insurance, got upgraded to silicone also. So it is interesting that due to insurance, the cost of the procedure went up significantly.

Now there are a number of other procedures that you could have done. Some do go for an orchiectomy (removal of testes) for about $4,600. Some will go for Facial Feminization Surgery, which has a myriad of procedures. These are all intended to soften the contours of the face to reduce the masculine aspects. Some will even go for buttocks augmentation to give them fuller hips. Prices for these can range from around $3600 for a tracheal shave to reduce the Adam’s Apple, to $9500 for buttocks augmentation.

None of this is cheap. So, remind me again of how this would be someone’s life choice?

For me, I am happy with my top surgery. I will be glad when the pain subsides and I can lift things again. However, it is so nice to not have to depend on forms to give you shape.  Now to go to Macy’s and get my bra right-sized.

I have initiated the process for bottom surgery. This is going to be a looooong process. As I stated above, first the area will need to be cleared of hair. I have my first appointment next week and then will have to continue for a few months to get everything cleared. In the meantime, I will have to set up an appointment with another counselor. This is, once again, an insurance requirement. Even as adults, we need permission from strangers. They call this gate-keeping. I am a 59 year old woman, I should not need permission. However, I will follow procedure and spend more money so they can write a second letter stating that I need this surgery. I already have the one from my counselor.

Besides the letter from two counselors, I also need one from my endocrinologist certifying that I have been under her care for HRT for at least two years. (It was two years in November.) I just hope that it isn’t like the form she had to fill out to have my birth certificate changed. That took six months for her legal department to okay for her to sign it. Thing is, I have my portal and can download all this information, but they need a letter.

I have a Doctor appointment with my PCP later this month also and he will need to send them his health assessment of me.  So between my surgery and all these doctor appointments, I think I made my deductible this year. Have to start putting money aside for this also. I have a little left in my old 401k which hopefully will cover the copay. We will see.

This next year will be quite the journey. Hopefully things will go somewhat smooth, but I have worked my way through many of the bumps and road blocks thrown in my way. I will be back at First Event in February to give my talk again on Just Owning It. It will be good to see a lot of my friends that I don’t get to see to often.

So it is hard to understand why some people flippantly call this a life choice. For many of us, it is more a life sentence. You will hear many talk about testosterone poisoning, in referencing the damage done to us by this hormone. The cost to reverse what it did can be a serious burden to many. For some, so much so, they take their life. We need to move beyond the ignorance and hate and either have all insurance companies cover these procedures, or get rid of insurance companies and go Medicaid for All with coverage for these procedures. In the current hate and ugliness of this administration, I don’t see that happening. There is hope though. Just as they have successfully transplanted a womb and that woman went on to have a baby, there is hope for the generations to come, that they will be able to one day even know the joy of giving birth. We need to continue to progress!

Thank you for sharing my journey. I hope that I have helped to educate and inform.

My heart to your heart, one heart, one spirit.

“Lady” Emma Morgaine Croft

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