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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Clothes Make the Lady

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How quickly one runs out of hangers.

I figured I would do something a little more lighthearted. Clothes. In a previous blog, I spoke about the costs involved in transition. Those costs highlighted the costs for procedures and surgeries to help make ones body align with ones mind. I am not sure if I covered clothes. Ah yes, clothes.

Once I was committed to being Emma full time all the time, I started to purge my male wardrobe and replace with new clothes. Most women get to do this over an elongated space of time, but a transgender person has a more accelerated time frame. We do collect things over time, so there are those few pieces. Yet, we have to get all the accouterments and varieties of clothes. You learn to take advantage of bargains, sales, etc. A lot of transgender people often hit places like Savers or the Salvation Army stores, where deals can be had. Many turn to online sites to avoid human contact during that early transition period where you are concerned with passing. There is also the fear of being read as a man and trying to go into the women’s changing room. You learn to find the online places that have good return policies as most women trans or cis know, sizes are different from store to store.

I find when I go to Old Navy or Frugal Fannies, I wear a 2x. I think the same when I go to Target. Yet, when I go online, I find that this store I am a large (18/20) and that one a 2x and sometimes a 3x. When I wore men’s clothes, I knew exactly what size all the time no matter the store. Cindy would often comment about how fast I could shop. I would go in, pick my size and take it home. No dressing room needed. Everything always fit perfect. Now I have to try things on, unless I have bought from them in the past and know my sizes.  I do have to say that with Roamans, the clothes have always fit. I had checked the size chart and it said I was Large (18/20). I think the only time something didn’t fit was when I bought my first pair of capris and they weren’t listed as 18/20, they were 18 or 20. I bought 18, bzzzt, wrong. Big butt. Fortunately, the next order was for 20 and they fit perfectly. I started ordering from Amazon in size 20 and found they were perfect also. Cindy loves me in skinny jeans.

Oh, I have to take a moment as I did mention Frugal Fannies. This is kind of a warehouse store in Norwood, I believe. I had been joking with Cindy, when we saw the commercial on TV, how she never took me there. So off we went. I was overwhelmed. This place was a warehouse with bright lighting and a gazillion clothes!!! Cindy helped me get started and pointed me to an area that was more my sizes. I did spot the jewelry section and swung by there and got some earrings and necklaces. Clothes though, their carts have a bar that you can hang your clothes on. I think the limit for the dressing room is sixteen items. I had about ten and headed there. Cindy stopped me and looked at my cart, then back to hers. She took some off her cart and put it on mine. She said if I wasn’t going to take sixteen, then she was going to use my capacity. We tried on our clothes and returned the ones that didn’t fit quite right or we didn’t like the look. In all, we really got some nice clothes at a great price. The only thing is that I saw aisle after aisle of shoes and boots, but a quick inspection showed that they were no where near my size. Of course, that is the  same with most brick and mortar stores.

Shoes are my downfall. I am 6’2 and 226 pounds. Yes, I am way down from my cruising weight of 255 that I maintained for the past ten years. Anyway, being of large stature, enduring the teasing as a kid of being called Large Marge, I have big feet. The only place I can get shoes is online. I found Amazon, Payless, and Avenue all carry 13, though not a large selection. So trust me, when I find a pair I like, I will sometimes buy two just to ensure I have a pair. There are a few other places online, but some inch towards kinky boots or spiked heels. Um, I am 6’2, I don’t need to add to it. I might go with a one inch heel, after all, I used to wear cowboy boots for a while. The downside is that there isn’t a lot of variety at this size. So while I have clothes pretty much covered, shoes are still a sticking point. I do have to admit, I like the boots I got from Payless, so now have them in brown and black. I have some really nice ones from Avenue, but they are wide calf. I still have gotten a few positive comments on them though.

Probably one of the hardest things is wearing a bra. Unfortunately, just because you start taking hormones doesn’t mean that you wake up the next morning with fully formed breasts. Just like any teen girl, it takes time, years for most. Investing in a great fitting bra doesn’t work that well if you are still developing. Heck, there are many ciswomen who don’t have the right bra. I found a Groupon for sports bras. I bought a few and that seems to work for now. I do have some nice regular bras, but I still have some growing to do. The sports bras work fine for now and are comfortable.

So by taking advantage of sales at Roamans, Women Within, Old Navy, Target, and Avenue, I have been able to expand my wardrobe.  I have had a few “girls” days like going shopping with Cindy or the time Neilie, Cindy and I went shopping.  I really enjoyed it. Most of my shopping is done online. Yet, there is something about going somewhere and trying things on and getting feedback from others with you. I have found that the clothes I get from Roamans fit well and stand up. I have quite a few from Old Navy that I like also. I have yet to hit Lane Bryant or Chicos. Funds are tight as you pay for electrolysis and laser treatments, hormones, blood work, and doctor appointments. Yet, I have managed to amass a decent wardrobe. I tell you, I get why some women love shopping. It is always great to find that one piece of clothing that fits just right and looks good. It is even better if it is on sale!

Just sharing my journey,

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

Emma

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Be The Light

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When I made the decision to come out publicly, it was not done lightly. I had attempted to come out back in the 90’s and was beaten back. This time, I had the support of my wife. After the initial shock, Cindy turned to me and told me that we are going to do this and this time there is no turning back this time. With her support, I set up a plan and moved forward.

I have to admit that I did have a lot of fear in doing so. The time before, I lost everything. I lost my marriage, my job, finances, and limited access to my kids. I had even started HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) and electrolysis. After I lost my job, I struggled greatly. As unemployment was running out, I made the conscious decision to just conform. I gave up who I was in order to be able to get a job to support my kids, and to regain the support of my family. I went back to being the person everyone wanted me to be, though admonished by my psychologist that this was not a good idea and that it would resurface. In the end, you just have to be who you are, not what everyone else wants you to be.

She was right. It took the death of a friend to slap me in the face with reality and that my whole life was lived by others rules. I was never happy and lived in and out of perpetual depression. When my friend died, I decided that I could not put my wife through this and that I would devise a plan to take my life without impacting the beautiful place that we now lived and the dreams we had of operating an alpaca farm. I spiraled down and got in darker and darker places. I finally figured that I would find poisonous mushrooms and go deep into the Fall River/Freetown State Forest, far from the farm, ingest the mushrooms and just lay against a tree and wait for the earth to take me. Cindy had other ideas.

Cindy kept pressing and I finally broke down in tears about who I really was and how I felt the best thing was for me to off myself. Naturally, this all came as a shock. Cindy did know that I had issues and has seen a psychologist. When I went to tell her years ago, she stopped me and told me that I was with her now and we would work through anything. I came to learn what an amazing woman she was.

After a few days dealing with the shock, she told me that we were going to do this. I went back into counseling and eventually restarted HRT. Cindy was backing me 100%. She even told me that she liked the new me. I no longer had a cloud over me and seemed much happier. We devised a plan and timetable and went to work. One thing I chose, was to be public about it. Over the many years, I had done my research. I knew that the suicide rate was over 40% for transgender people. I went public because that was who I was. I needed to shine a light and educate. Years ago, my Cherokee friends gifted me the name of Unega Waya (White Wolf). In their tradition, the wolf was seen as a pathfinder and teacher. The saw that I always shared that which I learned with others to bring them better understand and maybe even pave the way.

I just want to repeat, the suicide rate for transgender people is over 40%. I can imagine, given the current administration’s negative view of the LGBT community, that number could go up. As a matter of fact, I recently posted on Facebook about a fifteen year old who just took their life. This number needs to come down. That is why I chose to be public.

I realize that being public could put a target on my back. It is a risk I chose. Yet, I have to admit, that I have had little to no negative reaction. What I did find was that others reached out to me. With almost 28,000 respondents, the U.S. Transgender Survey (USTS) showed that there were a lot of transgender people out there. One thing I have found, is that by being public, people reach out to me. I know of three instances, since announcing publicly, that people have approached me. In some cases, they had a personal relation. In other cases, it was a niece or nephew and the wanted to understand. In the spirit of the wolf, I took these opportunities to teach. Just this past week, as I was being zapped by my electrologist, she asked me if there were any counselors or groups in my area. She had a client who had a niece who was transitioning but needed the support. I gave her the number and address of my counselor. I can only hope it makes a difference.

As some of you may know, I have been a counselor myself, as a Youth Minister for the Diocese of Providence. I learned from that experience that sometimes you can affect a life in a positive way without realizing it. That is my hope here. I hope to be a light. A beacon to other transgender people who are struggling. There is hope! Never give up! One thing I learned from the Buddhist, all life is sacred. So please, please, if you are transgender. If you need to reach out and talk to someone. Please, reach out to me. All life is sacred. It is a sad state to hear that there is a suicide rate of over 40%. If some way, I can help to lower that number, then all I have done to be as public as possible, was worth it. If I can save but one life, then I will feel I have done what I was put here to do. Though, two, three, four, or even 40% of lives would be better.

I don’t claim to have all the answers. I can only hope to steer people to the right resources. Please, if you are transgender, make suicide the last thing in your mind. I once thought that it was the only solution. I am now living full time. I am Emma Morgaine Croft!!! I am alive! Never give up. Know that you are not alone.  This administration may force some to go back into hiding but we already have the increasing numbers. As more and more come out, we will gain those strength in numbers. We will overcome hate and ignorance. In the words of my Cherokee brothers and sisters, Stiyu!! Be strong!!

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

Emma Morgaine Croft

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25 Questions

I came across this list and thought I needed a break from my usual ramblings. The questions are different than the usual, do you like chocolate or vanilla. It actually required you to look into yourself. I was going to just post on Facebook, but thought because of the length it is more apropos to be a blog.

How would you answer these questions? 

  1. What does your ideal day look like?

Entertaining with family or friends, being sure they have great food and drink. If you come to “Lady” Emma’s, you better bring an appetite.

  1. What did you want to be when you were younger?

My grandfather Croft taught me how to cook and I always envisioned being a chef. I won the Rotarian Awards for Outstanding Food Service in High School. I saw the sad sanitation practices at even five start restaurants and not wanting to be the cause of anyone getting food poisoning, I changed careers.

  1. Who are you most inspired by? Why?

Not really sure. I find inspiration in many places and people. I can’t really say just one person inspired me.

  1. Who would you love to meet? What would you ask?

Not really sure on this one. I place no one above me nor below. I suppose the Dalai Lama. I would ask how he can find peace within when there is so much hate and violence around.

  1. What habit would you most like to break? What habit would you most like to start?

Probably procrastination. I started writing my book a few years ago, but figured who cares? I have been thinking of getting back to it. I think the habit I would like to start is to not go to the dark places every time I encounter adversity. It is almost like I am conditioned to think of the worst outcome.

  1. Think of a person you truly admire. What qualities do you like about that person?

Oh that would have to be Cindy. Oh she has her quirks, but the one thing she has that I most admire is a capacity for love that goes beyond anything I have known. Her heart is open to all and I am trying to find that path.

  1. How do you like to relax?

These days it is sitting and relaxing with a nice glass of red. I used to love my walks in the woods, but with the ticks carrying all kinds of new diseases, I have become almost paranoid. Funny, as a kid, I used to be a fish, but now I am afraid of lakes and such.

  1. When was the last time you did something you were afraid of?

As a transgender person, anything you do incites fear these days. Yet, I have managed to suck it up and face all the adversity. I even managed to get my birth certificate changed over. I went to a plastic surgeon last week to talk about breast augmentation. I have no qualms about telling people I am trans. I have chosen to be public, so I am forced to face that fear every day.

  1. What are you most proud of?

I have had many accomplishments in my life. I can’t specifically pick out one. I was named Best Actor for Newport County CYO two years in a row, tying in the state both times but losing on a coin toss. I won the Outstanding Food Service Award in High School. I graduated High Honors from Community College, but never got my diploma because the COBOL teacher lost my final and I didn’t have any days off to go back and retake it. I was one of the first to get Red Hat Certified Engineer. Of course, there were a few with Masonry. I guess in the end, the thing that I am most proud of, is that despite all the adversity in my life, I have managed to be a good person who is always trying to reach out and help others.

  1. What are you most afraid of?

At this point, it would be losing Cindy. She is an amazing woman who has been a great inspiration to me. She helps me to find my way through the adversity that I have faced.

  1. If life stopped today, what would you regret not doing?

Enjoying it. I have spent most of my life just surviving. I never grasped the concept of living in the moment, though I have had moments. Sometimes when I am out with the alpacas and listening to all the sounds around, I find that moment of peace. Heck, today, I heard a weird noise and the alpacas were alerting. I went out and encountered a young turkey. It must not have sensed danger as it came within five feet of me.

  1. Who would you like to connect (or reconnect) with? Why?

Probably my son. We used to have such a close relationship, but as he got older and I transitioned, we grew distant. I have not seen him since Ash Wednesday of this year. The only time he contacts me if he has issues with his phone or questions on health insurance.

  1. What qualities do you admire in others?

I truly admire people with open hearts who are willing to help others.

  1. What practical skills do you wish you had?

Oh there are so many. While I am good with computers, acting, and cooking, there is so many other things I wish I could do. I would love to be able to pick up just any instrument and make music. I love music. I had even written a few songs in years gone by.

  1. Imagine you’re in your 90s. What memories would you like to have? What stories do you want to tell?

Funny, I was once told I would die at 93. I don’t think there is any memory I would like to have except maybe being able to be wed in a dress. I was deprived of a whole part of life because of how I was born. I never got to experience the things that most girls do. Stories??? Really, oh I could write a book. Hmm, it is half finished already.

  1. What is your favorite book/movie/song? Why?

I can’t say I really have a favorite. There are some that stick with me, like Beach Boys Endless Summer that takes me back to Little Rock AFB. Music is a big trigger for me to remember things.

  1. If you could make one change in the world, what would it be?

That people be more accepting of each other. That people get out of the me, me, me and work to make everyone’s lives better.

  1. What do you love to do for, or give to others (not an object – something from you personally)?

Most definitely the gift of food. I love to cook for people. I love to introduce new things at my parties. I love to hear people when they taste something new and different.

  1. What excites you?

These days it is just the ability to be me. Though I suppose it is traveling and meeting new people or catching up with old friend. Seeing new things.

  1. What do you wish you did more of?

Sleep. It seems with all the stress I have been under, I don’t get enough. I was up at 4a this morning and yet here I am writing this at 10:30p.

  1. Pretend money is no object. What would you do?

I would get all the surgeries I need to finally feel comfortable in my own skin. I thought I was getting there but my ex filed for alimony and the settlement will deprive me of the funds I need. So rather than fix me for good, I live in constant depressionl

  1. What area of your life, right now, makes you feel the best? Which area makes you feel the worst? Why?

Finally getting to be me makes me feel great. It is even better with all the acceptance I have this time around. For worse, I have to go back to being denied the funds I need to complete my journey.

  1. Let’s jump forward a year. What would you like to have achieved in the past year?

I would like to have had at least top surgery. If insurance doesn’t cover, it may not be possible, but that is my goal. I had planned to start I November, working towards bottom surgery, but given that my ex is demanding alimony, that won’t happen.

  1. What piece of advice would you give to five year old you? Sixteen year old you? Twenty-one year old you? Right now?

Five year old? Hmm, this is who you are, you are not a freak. You just have to hide who you are because of ignorance
Sixteen year old? Suicide is not the answer and besides, you will not succeed no matter how many times you try. You will get through this.
Twenty-one? Stop worrying about not being, and just live life.
Now? Stop dwelling on what is being taken from you or deprived. You have come so far and still have the love and respect of many. Despite all you have gone through, you still have a huge heart and are willing to try to reach out and help others.

  1. How do you want to be remembered in life?

I want to be remembered for having an open heart, generosity, and one hell of a cook.

So how would you answer these questions?
My heart to your heart, one heart, one spirit.

“Lady” Emma Croft

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Sgt, USAF, 314 Combat Support Group

314CSG

Yes, I served. I gave four years to the USAF, spending my whole hitch with 314 Combat Support Group at Little Rock AFB. I enlisted as a cook, even though I qualified for ever job except accountant. I had started life wanting to be a chef, but not having the funds, I couldn’t go to Johnson and Wales or the Culinary Institute at Hyde Park as my instructor in high school had done.

I was a bypass specialist. This means I took a test in Basic Training to show my proficiency in my job allowing me to bypass tech school. I went straight to my duty assignment. In short order, I found myself as an Airman First Class in charge of a team at night running the dining hall. After getting a perfect score on the range two years in a row, I found myself also assigned to the mobility team. Our job was to fly in before everyone else and clear the area for tent city. My team and I would do most every deployment for war games. I was well-respected by all and soon found myself moved up on the list to be flight roster number one. That meant that every deployment, I would be the first on the plane. While I was fortunate to have served in what might be the only peacetime  we have known, that small period at the end of Viet Nam but before Iran or Granada. Though, I was on a plane heading to Iran when the scrubbed us and said Delta Force was going in.

I studied and worked hard. I made Senior Airman below the zone. In other words, I was awarded Senior Airman rank, six months earlier than I was due. This also meant that I made Sergeant before I got out. There were some that thought I should have stayed in and I would have made Staff Sergeant shortly after reenlisting. Unfortunately, my Irish got involved there as I found that my CO had squashed my orders to England. I didn’t want to stay in Arkansas for another four so I got out.

Why am I telling you this? Today, our President, the supposed great leader of our country said that people like me, transgender, could no longer serve. This is not just a disservice to transgender people, but to the service itself.

Transgender people are known to excel at what they do. They feel they have to overcompensate. We have to be better than the best. Just think of Caitlyn Jenner. She was a gold medal decathlete as Bruce. Kristen Bell was just in the Navy, she was part of the heroic Seal Team Six. As my friend Jenny Robinson put it, “There is an inordinate proportion of trans who enlist in the armed forces to the general population. We enlist to prove our self worth, to overcome the self-loathing instilled since childhood by families, friends, schools, and churches.”

I wrote a six part series, Not A Life Choice. I explained all about transgender people. In one segment, I wrote about the science behind it. I came out very publicly, so that I could educate people. I wanted to put a face, a known face to my community. The suicide rate in our community is over 40%. I wanted to do my part to educate and hopefully reduce that number.

I, like many transgender people, went the extra mile. In High School, I graduated High Honors. I won the Rotarian Award for Outstanding Food Service Student. I also won Best Actor for Newport County CYO two years running. I strove to excel at all I did as I felt I had to be better than the best. It did help having a somewhat high IQ of 145. As times changed I adapted to the changing times. In time, I had to reinvent myself once again. I ended up in a job retraining program called JPTA that was later killed by Reagan. I learned how to program computers. I was always top in my class for programming and at one point when an instructor took another job, he told the school that I should teach the class. At one point, I took the challenge to network some computers together. I managed to get a Digital VAX and a Data General to talk together using a fairly new protocol TCP/IP. Soon I had the whole office running on it and everyone had email on their desktop. My boss and I got called to Atlanta to the CIOs office where we were told to slow down that we were where the company wanted to be in five years. He told us that we were a PT Boat compared to their battleship. He did admire all that we had accomplished. In that move, I went from programming to ops and networking.

Times change and I continued to learn and adapt. In time I was traded to a vendor and I continued to learn. I became a Unix Guru working with SCO. I heard about a new operating system called Linux and my boss sent me down to get certified. I was supposed to be a SCO ACE but ended up getting my RHCE and once again, at the top of my class. I continued to evolve my skill set. I managed disk arrays and networking equipment. I continued to learn and improve my knowledge of Linux. I became versed in a number of different flavors. Once again, adapting and overcoming. With Data Centers being consolidated and my own two being closed, I quickly learned cloud computing. Adapt, overcome.

I also took up writing. I have dabbled at it over the years and even took a course in college. My blog caught the attention of some people and I was invite to write a weekly column and then a news segment. I even won a Golden Note for online writing. I continued to write a blog and a weekly column and a news segment for a while. I eventually got frustrated at the direction the world was going and just felt my writing had zero impact. I took some time off, but came back to it. I am not back with the online magazine, but my publisher has invited me to come back, as Emma.

I had also became a Mason. I had tried to come out back in the 90s and was beaten back. I felt I wasn’t going to be allowed to be a woman, so I would be the best man I could. As is my custom, I threw myself into it. I won the Rookie Award in my first year. I started a fund raiser that is still running today. I may not be able to be a Mason anymore but they asked me to come back and do this. I wasn’t just a Mason but got involved with York Rite. I progressed quickly. Soon I was named the District Ambassador, Ambassador of my lodge, I made High Priest in Chapter, Deputy Master in Council, and Captain General in Commandery (Knights Templar). I had been asked to be Eminent Commander in Commandery but declined because I knew I would soon have to demit. I was also lead instructor for the district, teaching new Masons all about the Craft. I think that was the hardest thing I had to do was to walk away from all of that. Unfortunately, a woman cannot be a Mason. Though, Eastern Star was calling when they learned I had to step away.

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I have been with my company for fifteen years. Last year, I went to them and told them I was transgender and wanted to transition. Did my boss act like Trump and throw me out of the company? No, quite the opposite. He asked how he could help. My company has shown me nothing but respect. I have the respect of the team I work with as well as many of my peers in the company. This is beyond empowering. I no longer have that burden of having to live an untrue life. I am me and I can focus more of my attention on problem solving and making things work better. That is what happens when you accept a transgender employee and allow them just to be.

Today’s announcement by Trump that transgender people will no longer be allowed to serve is beyond an affront. He is removing valuable people from the ranks. Why? Just to promote ignorance and hatred? Wait, right, this is Trump’s America, it is built on ignorance and hatred.

My prayers go out to all the transgender service people. I thank you for your service. I pray that you will adapt and overcome this ignorant moron that was elected President.

I have heard that this is all a diversion to take attention away from the investigation into this corrupt administration. Trump has stated that investigating his families finances is a line not to cross. I have a question? How is this man who evaded the draft, first with college deferments and when that ran out, medical. He is a bully and coward. When will Americans catch on?

Transgender people are not the enemy. Get to know them. It may benefit you. For all you corporations, open your arms to the transgender people that Trump has rejected, you want to talk about loyalty. I am at fifteen years with my company and have no desire to move on because of that acceptance. In return, I give my all to the company. A tip I might give to any vet being kicked out for being themselves, get ahold of a copy of HRC’s Corporate Equality Index and look at the companies that scored 100. Those are the companies with acceptance policies. My heart goes out to you. This administration is destroying the country. We will lose more quality people. Heck, France invited our engineers and scientists to come and live and work there since America doesn’t believe in science and education anymore.

I don’t know what the future holds. If things continue as they are, I could become an outlaw for just being me. I will continue to try to educate and make people aware. I was given the gift of the word, and I will use that. I pray that it reaches someone.

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

“Lady” Emma Morgaine Croft

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What a Difference a Year Makes

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I remember taking this picture at our old house in Lakeville. I was having issues then as the real me was once again trying to assert herself. I had done everything I could over the years to cement myself as a male in this world. I had even joined the Masons and buried myself so deeply that I was in line to be an officer in my blue lodge, made District Ambassador, joined York Rite where I would become High Priest in Chapter, Deputy Master in Council and Captain General in Commandery. Yes, I was a Knight Templar. As a rookie I won the rookie award, I started a fundraiser for the lodge called Make a Fool of Yourself Night. I would put on a full on pasta dinner arriving at the lodge at noon to start making the sauce from scratch. My son would help me set up for the karaoke show that followed. This was so successful that we continued it for five years. After that, I demitted from all bodies, yet the lodge asked that I come back and do it again. We had a sixth year and did fairly well. I didn’t have to do the food this time, but focused on the show. The funds raised went into the Masonic Charity Fund which helps many in need. That was the one thing that I loved most about the Masons was the devotion to charitable causes.

I remember the night at lodge when we were waiting for the Master, Bill Zablowsky to come. He was making dinner that night. As dinner time drew near and Bill did not arrive, the lodge became frantic. As it turned out, we had every right. That night, on his way to get the food. Bill had a heart attack at the wheel and crashed. Even now, I have a hard time relating this as tears keep welling up. I want to take a moment to state that I loved that man. He was an inspiration to us all. His dedication and love for everyone was overwhelming. Under his leadership a lot got done.

That would become a night that would change my life. After my disastrous coming out in the 90’s, I thought I had buried Emma for good. I went to Bill’s funeral and listened to so many people talk about how authentic he was, how real he was. I, on the other hand, lived a constant lie in order to garner love and acceptance from everyone. In truth, I was Emma, not Ed. It started to eat at me more and more and I sunk deeper and deeper into depression. Cindy and I had moved into this beautiful home in Rock Village. We had plans on starting an alpaca farm. Yet, here I was planning how I would dispatch myself without leaving a darkness on this beautiful place. I had decided that I would get some toxic mushrooms and go deep into the Fall River/Freetown State Forest and lean against a tree and ingest the mushrooms. I had written a story, Emma – An Unlived Life, which was to serve as my suicide note. I also left an In Case of Death (ICOD) note in my desk drawer. It was all planned out except for one minor detail, the love and caring of my wife Cindy. She pressed me on why I had gone to such darkness. I finally caved and tearfully told her everything. I had started to tell her when we were first to be married but she held me off and told me that had her now and all would be good. It was not just good, but great for all those years, but it all caught up to me.

It took Cindy a few days to digest what I shared. She then turned to me and told me that it is time to move forward and that this time, there was no turning back. Soon, I was in counseling and in November of 2015, I started Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). Cindy came with me to one of my sessions, so that she could have questions she had, answered by my counselor. I had given her the permission to talk to Cindy at any time. We pressed on.

I developed a plan, and moved forward. With Cindy fully on board, it was full steam ahead. On Mother’s Day of 2016, Cindy told her family. Everyone was in tears and hugs all around. Her family has been absolutely awesome. We used to have a party in June as that was my daughter, Lindsey, Cindy’s, and Cindy’s Mom’s birthdays. So we decided to have one more Family Day and invited both families. As people were starting to leave, Cindy called them all together. She told them of the changes to come. My aunt let out a war hoop and said “About Time!”. She later would tell me that when I tried to come out in the 90’s and said I would be Emma, it intrigued her. When I came out this time, and still said I was Emma, she told me that it had been my Great Grandmother’s name.

While Cindy’s family was very supportive, my own appeared underwhelmed. They had been through this with me before. I was not accepted and beaten back. I reverted and soon everyone liked me again. Now I was to be Emma again. Cindy wanted it to come from her so that they would see she supported me. One by one, people came up to hug me. My brother told me, “Whatever you believe bro, we believe.” Um, okay.

Everyone cleared out and I was preparing for the backlash. I have to admit, it didn’t really come. I won’t say that I had support of my family, basically I did have the support of my sister Judy, my Mom, my nephew Cam, and my daughter Lindsey.  My son Sean, basically said I had supported him so he will support me but he didn’t agree with it. That hurts a bit, but he is a deep Catholic like his Mom.

So, with that all past, the transformation moved into hyperdrive. I was scheduled to go to Austin in July of 2016, so I put in the paperwork for my legal name change. I wanted to have that in hand when I went down there as I planned to meet with my HR rep and my boss. Unfortunately, I also had to post to the local paper an ad advising of the name change. (This would out me to two people who actually read the legal notices.) Anyway, I had to go to Austin for a week. I scheduled a meet with my boss and HR. I advised them of what was happening. (Mind you, in the back of my mind was the remembrance of coming out in the 90’s and losing my job over it.) I have to say that I was overwhelmed by the positive response. HR rep told me that she had a friend who was transgender. She told me that she couldn’t do anything until I updated Social Security. Of course, that requires the court ordered name change. I sat with my boss and he simply asked, “How can I help?”. He asked me if I wanted to tell the team or did he want me to do it. I told him I would. Unfortunately, things didn’t go smoothly with the data center move so I never got to have that meeting. I would tell the team later after I returned home during our daily standups. It was received well and one team member sent me a copy of a wonderful letter that was presented by someone who had transitioned from one of our business units. I modified it to fit me and answer questions that people had.

A few days after arriving home, the letter I was praying for arrived. I was now officially Emma Morgaine Croft. I took a day off so I could go to Social Security and get my name changed. Gender marker couldn’t be changed as I needed a doctor’s letter, birth certificate or passport. Getting my name changed at least allowed me to hit DMV next and get my license changed. As it turned out, I didn’t get my gender marker changed then either because there was another form nobody told me about. Ugh, letter from counselor and the form and back to get gender marker changed. I was finally officially Emma Morgaine Croft, Female!

A week later I got my new Social Security card and took a pic of that and my new license and sent to HR. They updated my records quickly. I was now Emma Morgaine Croft throughout the company. There is a side story to this that I may relate at another time.

I set up a checklist of everything that needed to be changed over. I still need to get some things done, but most of the important stuff is done. Probably the key was finally getting my birth certificate updated. I had submitted the request with the form to be filled out by my endocrinologist. She referred it to her legal who sat on it. I had to get the GLAD lawyers to apply pressure. Despite having submitted the request last year, I didn’t get the signed form until earlier this year. As soon as I had it in hand, I had sent out the request to the State to amend. Shortly after, I had the amended birth certificate. Emma Morgaine Croft was born to Alfred and Dorothy, female!

I got all my credit cards and bank accounts switched over. I have a few things left to get done. I do have to get my military records updated, but I have been distracted by some legal issues. These pertain to an ex and not my transition. That is the only negative in my life at the moment.

I have to admit, my job has shown me nothing but respect. I have been with the company almost fifteen years. Actually it will be fifteen next month. So there is the occasional misname or misgender, but for the most part, at work, I am Emma.

I do want to take a moment to thank all who have helped me on my journey. It feels good to be able to just be. I have come a long way from the picture of the person at the top of this page. I have more to go through. HRT was only the beginning as I will need Breast Augmentation and Gender Confirming Surgery or whatever they call it these days. I keep moving forward.

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My heart to your heart, one heart, one spirit!

“Lady” Emma Croft

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