1:1 with Camille: Real Talk about being Transgender. By Robin Wallace

 

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Camille, formerly Marc, was born with male reproductive organs.  However, she had a sense as early as age four that her body did not match her gender identity.  Throughout life, she has struggled to define her desire to be female.  In Camille’s mind, the term “transgender” always represented flamboyant drag queens.  She didn’t understand the full spectrum of the transgender community, and quickly dismissed any notion that she might belong.  However, quite recently, she became aware that there were other individuals, apparently much more modest, who also suffered from a conflict between sex and gender identity.  I Am Jazz, a television show about a transgender teenage girl, hit the air, and Camille discovered a whole new definition of the word.  She gained inspiration and courage from those who went before, and decided to undergo a transition of her own.

A year ago this August, Camille began taking testosterone blockers as well as feminizing hormones.  She is in her 40s.  At first, Camille was concerned that, having already gone through puberty, her masculine physical features would be too far solidified, and that the process of transitioning to a more feminine appearance would be too much of an undertaking.  However, she accepted the challenge.  She consulted with a doctor who now
her transition process, and educated herself on changes she could expect to experience.  The chart below outlines some of these changes.

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Thus far, Camille has experienced increased breast growth to a full A cup, and expects to eventually reach a B cup with ongoing hormone treatment.  Some individuals desire more growth and therefore elect to have breast augmentation.  She will likely undergo this surgery.  She has also experienced softening of the skin, some body fat redistribution (to chest and hips), thinning of body hair, and some decrease in male sexual function.  Perhaps surprisingly, testosterone blockers will not reduce facial hair, so she has begun laser hair removal as part of her feminization process.  The blockers and feminizing hormones also do not change the voice quality (unlike testosterone which lowers the voice of those hoping to masculinize).  There are, however, exercises one can do to strengthen the upper range for a more feminine quality to the voice.  The following website is useful and provides a link to an app offering additional information:

EVA: MtF Voice Training App.

While Camille is excited to see changes (albeit slowly), there are substantial risks to taking hormones.  She is at an increased risk for heart attack and stroke, and has personally experienced an increase in migraines.  Camille has also encountered difficulties interpersonally.  She was married to a heterosexual woman before coming out as transgender, and although her wife was aware of her desire to experience womanhood, the decision to undergo a transition brought up many fears and questions.  The biggest question for her wife…could she be attracted to a female?  Camille’s wife admittedly went through a grieving process, and refers to that time as the most difficult part of their marriage.  They even separated for a time.  She ultimately realized, however, that (in her words) “It was the person I married, not the body.”  Camille’s wife underwent a shift of her own, from identifying as heterosexual to pansexual, a term used by individuals for whom sex and gender are insignificant or irrelevant in determining sexual attraction.

Camille realizes there is still some distance to go, but she is encouraged by the overwhelming support she has received from friends, family, colleagues, her employer, and even strangers she encounters on the street.  Even with the purchase of her first skirt, she began to hold her head higher and greet strangers with a smile – a stark difference from the closed off and often angry version of herself she’d known for so long.  Her operations and procedures are largely covered by insurance, as they are now defined as “correctional” rather than “cosmetic,” further reaffirming her decision.

While there has been an increase in awareness and support for individuals undergoing changes in gender identification and sexual reassignment, there are still several kinks in the healthcare system that need to be addressed.  Intake forms are often binary, only offering options to select “male” or “female,” not accounting for individuals who find themselves somewhere in-between.  For this dilemma, Camille suggests healthcare providers offer a third option for “other.”  However, perhaps more concerning than binary medical forms is the availability of medical records which are often lost once a person changes gender, sex, or officially changes his/her name.  No longer does the personal information on previous records match the current ones, and matching social security numbers only send off a red flag for identity theft.

Hopefully, with further education for healthcare providers and openness from transgender individuals like Camille, we can find more ways to provide an emotionally and physically safe environment for these important members of our community.  With knowledge comes understanding, and with understanding comes unity.

 

Written By: Robin Wallace

 

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Judgement Day

Judgement Day:

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Orange skies and a yellow moon

Coat the action of the day

The smell of day leaves burning

And the sound of sour vivid blooming

Red broken hills rise from the ground

Candlelight escapes

Creating a new sun

A new focus

Heavy storms comes when the clouds roll in

Tragedy is surely calling

This land is ruled by the sun

Humanity is slowly falling

Contemplating the unknown

When we are alone

To find salvation in a wooden box

My obsession turned to lunacy

A rose jeweled cross

A weapon with a shadow

Prevent a slaughter of the lambs

My life is judgement day

To hang the cross backwards

And taste the bitterness of death

A masochistic whipping

Of all my alter egos

A dark journey

Is about to begin

-Camille

The Highway

The Highway:

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The sun lays down to rest

Behind the shadowed mountains

You follow the road

Dusty boots and second thoughts

Waiting for someone to accept your world

Take you for a ride

When you’re alone

You have no town, no home

A nomad of the highway

You watch the blonde and brunette cars pass by

Dead trees are like old friends

They know your name

They know your secrets

It’s time to leave them behind

And begin your fortune and fame

-Camille

Stone Walls

Stone Walls:

26418114-Dark Angel Statues Praying

The ceiling is your road

Follow the dotted line

It could be the last thing

You ever see

The alarm went off

It’s time

Don’t cry

Please

You didn’t wish it on me

Nothing will change

All the hearts are the same

Peeking from the clouds

I see you visiting my home

Spinning and dancing

Skipping over stones

Until you hear the news

The wind silences you

Looking at the stone

That bares my names

Dwelling on the sight

Nothing will ever be the same

As grey snow

Falls from the sky

I’m in a peaceful place

Where all things die

Why was I never called back?

I cared too much

Broke the rules

Why was I never called back?

When my emotions took over

I began a new temple path

Go to sleep

I must rest

This new future

Is by far the best

Burying this side of me

My days are done

I go now

In search of a new life

You cried your life away

Put out the fire

Emotions will always burn

Didn’t you know?

You can make death from scratch

Carry your voice

Tonight I want to hear you

I’m waiting

Today is the last day of your life

-Camille