Saturday, November 28, 2009

Sad News

Awhile back, a sportreporter for the LA TImes, Mike Penner, transitioned and became Christine Daniels. Then, something happened, never fully explained, and Christine "detransitioned" back to being Mike Penner. He continued to write for the Times.

Today, he was found dead in his apartment, an apparent suicide, at age 52.

I so feel for Mike/Christine. Searched for peace, I hope she has it now.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Transgender Day of Rememberance

Transgender Day of Rememberance

Giving thanks to those who have gone before, as they have made our lives easier through their sacrifice.

Paying the debt forward, that we may improve the lives of those who come after us.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

How To Make Someone's Day Un-Boring

Well, I spent much of October changing my name on records. Drivers license, Social Security, credit cards, utility companies, stockbroker, insurance company, and just all those stores you deal with online. Still haven't done them all yet (like Macy's - I almost never go there, and they want me to go in person...).

Well, this morning I realized there was one other place I forgot to change my name -- voter registration.

So, after one other unrelated errand, I realized that, and swung back by the house to get a copy of the court order, and headed off to the polling station with both my drivers licenses (old and new, yes, they let me keep my old one...) and the court order. Sure enough, I was on the rolls under my old name (we all wondered why DMV hadn't updated the list when I got my new DL, but well...). Anyway, they asked me to come back and talk to the marshall of the station, a nice young man, who got on the phone to his supervisors.

He was very polite, and referred to me as maam, and simply referred to my case as a "name change - first and middle name only" to his supervisor. They found my records, and I filled out a new registration form, so it should all be good next time, and I got to vote.

Hopefully, I helped break their boredom... ;-)

All is good. Just took longer than normal.

Happy voting day everyone. Although we're not expecting to have happy returns here in Virginia, at least in the govenor's race.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Southern Comfort 2009

We went to Southern Comfort Conference last weekend. No, not the drink, the annual transgender conference in Atlanta. Wetlanta. SCC is almost more party than it is conference - several of our friends basically "held court" as they say, in the bar, from Wed - Sat.

Here are some pics...

Status of other transition-related stuff..

I've been back at work for like a month now, and things are going fine. The department wants me to move into management too, take over one of the groups within the department, free up our current group leader to do more business development stuff. For her, I'll do it, although I'm not keen on moving through management. But it's cool that they're considering me for this regardless of transition or not.

Name change: the circuit court website says it takes 3 weeks. I submitted my first set of forms on Aug. 7. The court lost them. I found out on Aug 26, after surgery. Went down and submitted a second set. They found the first set, voided them and mailed them back to me. The law clerk had 10 days to review, she took more than that. The judge apparently signed the court order last Monday, waiting for the papers to go thru final processing and get back to me. Then off to DMV (Dept Motor Vehicles) for a new drivers license, then to Social Insecurity, then everything else should run smoothly after that.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

IFGE Conference, April 2010

Hot news item just in!!

International Foundation for Gender Education

272 Carroll St. NW

Washington, DC 20012

Contact: Andrea von Kaenel


For Public Release

September 6, 2009

IFGE is pleased to announce that it’s 24th annual conference will be held in the Washington DC area for 2010. The IFGE Capital Conference 2010 will run from April 22nd – through April 25th, 2010, at the Hilton Alexandria Mark Center – 5000 Seminary Road, Alexandria, VA. A full schedule of seminars, keynote speakers, events, meals and entertainment is being planned.

A special hotel room rate of $139 per night has been arranged with the Hilton Alexandria Mark Center for the duration of the IFGE Capital Conference 2010. This special rate is well below current room rates for similar hotel properties in the Washington DC area. To receive this special rate, you must call the hotel reservations department directly at 703-845-1010 and request the group rate for “IFGE” – or – use the following special website:

IFGE is a non-profit advocacy organization founded in 1987, devoted to promoting acceptance for Transgender people everywhere through education. For more information about IFGE’s Capital Conference 2010, please email us at the address above, or visit

Friday, September 4, 2009

Here' something interesting I didn't predict...

Okay, so, I went back to work last Monday, as Jude. I've been coordinating with the company since last November, and this went smoothly, just like pretty much everything else has. Got a new picture badge with my new name first thing that morning, and they changed my email and internal web page by Tuesday morning. very cool. all of that went just fine.

So, work was the last place I showed up as Jude. I had been going to the bank, grocery stores, all over everywhere else ever since surgery (Aug 12), maybe a bit before, so, with work settled, I guess that makes me officially full time.

The only hiccup was that the county circuit court lost my first set of name change papers, so I had to resubmit last week, and so the legal part is a bit behind schedule, but that hasn't caused any severe problems yet.

Had my first therapist session since surgery this afternoon. She was very impressed with the surgery results (okay, will get a pic up), and we talked a lot about how odd it can be to realize you're full time and that you've actually transitioned after all this time.

Now, on all the receipts for years now, she's been putting the DSM code for GID - Gender Identity Disorder. She commented near the end of the session that she has to reconsider whether that's still an appropriate diagnosis now that I'm full time. That perhaps I don't meet the criteria for it anymore. I find that hilarious and amazing at the same time.

Monday, August 31, 2009

First Day At Work

Okay, well, so,...

Today is my first day at the office as Jude. And I'm about 19 days post FFS. Things have gone very smoothly so far, pretty quietly actually. Got a new photo ID badge first thing, it now says "Jude" instead of my old guy name, and has a new picture of course. The name/pic will be updated on the internal corporate website soon.

Folks are saying I look great, one guy didn't recognize me (but he's only been here a couple of months so that's excusable). I'm being told that it's likely more folks won't recognize me -- I find that hard to believe, but the evidence seems to point that way. Odd.

Have not had a horde of folks dropping by to visit - more like one or two. I think we're all just busy, which is fine. I couldn't take more days at the house, with needy little doggies (who are very lovable, but... ;-)

Rather interesting, I must say. So, this is what post-transition is like.... ;-)

Later gators

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Post FFS #1


So, I had facial surgery last Wednesday. Or, should I say, we had it, as it does impact the whole extended family. So, here’s the updates, divided into sections:

What the Doctor did

How It Feels, What It Looks Like

Impacts on Loved Ones & Family.

What the Doctor did
Basically, an enhanced face lift. Starting at the top and working down…
Two small incisions along the hairline, either side of center, to do a brow lift.
Upper eyelids – incisions along the length of each upper eyelid to remove excess, leaves a cleaner look
Lower eyelids – pretty much the same. Lowers are still covered in tape that runs across the upper cheeks.
Facelift: incisions in the sideburn area and behind the ears, pulled the skin back along the entire cheek area. I have staples and incisions in the hair.
Nose: Incisions in the nostrils – to reduce the “bulb” look I had at the end of my nose, make it not so prominent.
Upper lip: Incision along the bottom edge of the nose, to pull the center upper lip upwards – women have a smaller space tween nose and upper lip. Incisions along the outer edge of the upper lip – about ½”, ¾” on each side, pull the upper edge of the lip up, balances the center pull.
Neck: lipo and reduction of the second chin and lots of extra stuff under there. Incision is right behind my chin.

The surgery was 8 am Wednesday morning, and lasted for 6 hours. Sweety took me home at some point that afternoon after they released me from recovery. The swelling set in at some point the next day, and got worse through Friday. It seemed to be a bit better Saturday morning, and is reduced more today (Sunday), which is pretty much the schedule the docs projected.

How It Feels, What It Looks Like
The first day or so, it pretty much sucked. Things are tight, sore, parts don’t move that well. I don’t particularly like how the serious painkiller (Percocet) makes me feel, so I’ve been relying more on Motrin, which seems to actually work pretty well. I seem to be alert for a bit, like an hour, then suddenly I conk out for an hour or so. That’s improving day to day, I seem to be much better on stamina today (Sunday).
I’m putting a bunch of pictures down below. If you don’t like looking at pictures like this, skip, I won’t be offended. Really. I’ve had Sweety taking pictures every day.

Impacts on Loved Ones & Family.
Well, Sweety has had to look at me all day every day. She’s stayed right by my side till Saturday morning, when she went to clinic for a few hours – and she arranged for our friend (and acupuncturist) Beth to come and sit with me for the morning. The kids (my son Tom – 17, and daughter Kate, 21) both came by on Thursday (I think it was Thursday), but didn’t stay long. Kate headed back to college town Saturday and I saw her for a bit before she left, and Tom is back over for a few days. They don’t seem particularly bothered – but I can’t help wondering what it’s like to see one's parent’s face get changed like this. Or one’s partner’s face. I worry about how this will affect family relationships, long term, it’s the kind of thing I wonder about. Worry about too, I guess. On the one hand, they’re all incredible people, and if anyone can handle it, it’s them. On the other hand, I feel like I’m imposing a lot of stuff on them…. They’ve been completely supportive, and I owe them so much. I will care for them the rest of my life, a new life that they’ve helped me achieve.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Help Pass ENDA!

Hi folks,

This is about the Employee Non Discrimination Act - ENDA for short.

Jillian Wiess, Trangender Workplace Diversity is working to get us to pressure legislators to vote in favor

"Please repost this message: S 1584, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, needs 16 more votes. Here's the math and the contact info you need to pass ENDA: "

the link will let you see where your local legislators stand. Please tell your folks to help pass this.



Friday, July 17, 2009

July 16 is Officially "Out Day"! (**edit**)

Okay, here’s the report on the day. (This is the story of me coming out at work - this was the culmination of planning with my management/HR since last November, and also I owe lots to my wonderful wife and a ton of good friends who were with me thru this whole thing)

The morning meeting was at 9, it was our department meeting. We had pretty low attendance this time, maybe only a dozen folks out of 30.

They always start with congrats and kudos that folks have achieved over the last 2 months. And Martha, the department head, starts off and calls my name!! (my guy name, but, since the news isn’t out yet, that’s cool) I get a Special Achievement award (nicely framed, and does come with a small $$) I’ve been doing a lot more stuff around the department the last few months (mothering instinct?) And Sheila, my group lead, gets one too! So, that was a really a great start. (and see the ***edit*** at the bottom of this entry)

So, we have a couple of other folks talking technical stuff, and I sneak out to meet my wife Susan and our friend Denise, who is actually also the consultant the company has hired, since Denise is Executive Director of IFGE ( Along with the division head (Martha’s boss) and Cheryl from HR that I’ve been working with for 7 months.

So, Martha introduces me, and I nervously introduce Susan, our friend Denise (“from an organization to be named later”), and of course the VP and Cheryl. Then I start. “Normally, we keep our personal lives separate from work, however, this is one time when they overlap” and dove right in from there. I’m transsexual, I’m changing in August/September, what the new name will be. A bit more discussion, which I realize I can’t remember at all right now, and we move to Denise, who does a great presentation on the differences between sex, gender and orientation, and the issues involved with trans folk in the workplace.

There were a few questions, like, how did I settle on the name “Judith/Jude”, but very respectful, although a lot of folks were either puzzled or confused. Several folks complemented me on honesty and courage. Many asked whether I wanted to be called Jude immediately – I really hadn’t thought about that part. If they want to, fine, or they can wait till I get back in September.

Right after the meeting, I had an email all set up with my letter. I thought I had it set up to send it to the department folks and friends first, with a second letter set up for the project team I’m supporting (who aren’t in my department). Well, I went up and sent that first letter. Cheryl (HR) was waiting for that, and then did a Reply All and included the letter from the Division Head stating the company’s support and expectations on how I’m to be treated, which was cool.

Several of us then went to lunch – me, Susan, Denise, Cheryl, and about 4 others from the department. It was pretty cool. One fellow had stories of other trans folks he’s known, so all was cool.

We hung out for a bit, then we had the meeting schedule with the project team to tell them. The meeting started, pretty much the younger members of the team, and we covered a lot of technical points and things we as a team have to do, which was cool. I had told them I wanted to talk about some other issues after the technical part. So, time came, I brought the other folks in (Susan, Denise, Cheryl, and another HR person), and broke my news, and they all said “yeah, we know, you sent us the email earlier”. Dar. I had apparently merged the address lists of my 1st and 2nd email lists, so had outed myself a couple of hours early. Nobody cared, they took it in stride, all done.

Back to my office with Susan, I checked my email, and had gotten about 12 congrats messages, which I appreciated. One good friend from down the hall (my department) did come by and expressed the sentiment that he did feel like he was losing a friend, and wasn’t sure he could handle it in his own head. I hope we can talk and get him around this, cause he’s a neat guy.

We took off, ended up going out to dinner and hunting for a place to get my other (right side) ear pierced. I’ve had only the left one pierced for quite a while now (3 years? we’ve been working on this longer than that). Finally ended up at Claire’s at Tysons mall, and we were home by 9 pm.

I sent out emails then from the home account to other friends, some neighbors, and my private chef clients. There’s one friend, and I was worried about his reaction. We worked together very closely for about 6, 7 years in the mid 90s and have stayed in touch since then. He’s younger than me, and recently lost his wife to lung cancer, leaving him with the 2 young boys.


[Story number two: A very good friend, who's on the same path, is in the middle of this whole mess, and came out to her parents yesterday. She'd been very, very worried about it, and Susan and I had recommended she come out to them. She did, they were very accepting, Mom even gave her some of her clothes that didn't fit Mom anymore. I am so glad they accepted her, otherwise, Susan and I sure would've had egg on our faces... ;-)

I talked to our friend that nite, and she officially declared July 16 as "Out Day". So shall it be. ]

Got some responses this morning, including my friend who lost his wife. All good, willing to roll with things, including the private chef clients, which is cool.

Now, to get on with life. Kitchen needs to be cleaned up, and I need to do some cooking. Talk to you all later.

It’s a Beautiful Day!

*** edit ***

this was actually the cool part. So, at the start of the meeting, I get this certificate of Special Achievement or something, and it's made out to "Mike Bienvenu". Thanks, nice to be appreciated and all that. Then I do my part, we talk about all the trans stuff, and then Martha speaks up and says "and actually, I have this other copy of the award with your real name on it", and she hands me a copy of the award and this time it says "Judith Bienvenu".

How cool is that. Frickin' awesome. ;-)

I want to emphasize how much credit is owed to my lovely supportive wife, who has been with me through all of this, helped me maintain sanity and a steady course, and not rush and ruin things. I wish we all had such a coach. And someone who will stay with us and make life really worthwhile. Thanks my love.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

I got interviewed at Capital Pride!

Hi everybody,

Well, our group, TGEA, was at the Capital Pride festival in June (we were also at the Capital Trans Pride the weekend before).

There was this guy wandering around with a cameraman, and asked if he could interview us -- myself and the secretary of our group, Katherine. He finally got the video posted up to YouTube, so, here you go!

I am not happy about his caption - he says he's familiar with LGBT issues, yet he used male pronouns for me. We're sensitive about that kind of thing. I've complained to him already, let's see if he changes it.

I'll post the other one with Katherine soon.


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Diane Schroer Award Announced!

Diane won her case, and the award was announced yesterday (28 April). Here's a Washington Post article on it. Not really much detail yet.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Intersex player on the WTA pro tour

the has a long article about an intersexed/female player who's been approved to play on the women's circuit. Interesting discussions in the article.

"She's Got Game"

Friday, April 3, 2009

Iowa Supreme Court finds for gay marriages!

The Iowa Supreme Court has decided to strike down a ban on gay marriages in the state, effectively making them legal and with the full rights of hetero marriages! The decision was unanimous!!!

Read more here

Washington Post

NY TImes.

a good day!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Conversation with my company's HR

I had a meeting today with one of the high-ups in my company’s Human Resources (HR). I wanted to talk about insurance stuff and policy stuff. Specifically, I wanted to raise 2 issues with him: I wanted the phrase “gender identity and expression” added to the clauses in the non-discrimination policy, and I wanted to get medical expenses covered. Sweety and I were hoping that we could talk the company into covering the expenses of my facial feminization surgery, currently penciled in on our schedule for mid August.

I started with the easy one – “gender identity and expression”. He told me right off that they’re about to launch a new Diversity webpage within the company, and the draft page, which he pulled up on his computer, shows “gender and gender identity” as one of the items on the list along with all the other standard stuff. And they’ll be adding it to all the other appropriate spots in the policies.

They’re also developing a set of guidelines for transitioning employees, their managers and departments. This won’t be actual policy, and I agree I don’t think it needs to be, but it will be official corporate guidelines, and any harassment is covered under the anti-harassment clauses.

So, all that’s pretty good. I’m happy with that resolution.

Next up, insurance coverage, where the big $$$ are.

I made my pitch, that more companies are covering trans medical costs (see HRC’s Corporate Equality Index). Many big companies now cover the whole shebang – Microsoft and IBM and some of the aerospace companies. (My company is in an odd category – we’re called an FFRDC – Federally Funded Research and Development Corporation. We’re a not-for-profit, we’re not government, but we’re not really a private company either. Anyway, we’re not considered an actual part of the Federal government. There are only a handful of FFRDCs around the country. ). I told him that the AMA has come out recommending that all insurance companies should be covering trans-related expenses. Unfortunately, neither the Federal government nor any state government to my knowledge covers trans-related medical stuff yet.

However, this AMA statement is key. This puts the trans stuff in a different category than other “elective” procedures. Insurance routinely doesn’t cover cosmetic surgery, because it’s “elective”. That’s why folks can’t get insurance to pay for new noses or boob jobs. It’s “elective” – you didn’t really need that, you just wanted it. But now (actually, last year), the AMA has come out and clearly moved transgender procedures out of the “elective” category, which is part of recommending that the insurance companies start paying for them. The AMA statement was clearly focused on transgender procedures, so, cosmetic surgery with no trans aspects will still be considered “elective” and excluded from most insurance coverage.

So, he was receptive, and liked the arguments. I asked, we’ll probably be covering these expenses 20 years from now, right? And he agreed. So, I said, we’re just talking about when, aren’t we?

I also made the point that, after August, I’d be willing to serve as a transgender liaison with HR for other folks who are trans in the company. And regardless, I’ll be asking for these benefits every year. He seemed quite okay with that.

Bill has been in HR for a long time, and was apparently behind the proposal to get same-sex couples here covered under company insurance. That apparently went into effect a year or two ago, but it took them 2 or 3 years to get it all the way through corporate levels. Yes, there are conservatives up there, and I guess this stuff bothers them. Eventually, they’ll die off, that’s my theory. The question is whether you can change some of their minds sooner. Maybe yes, maybe no. (Firesign Theater, album: “How Can You Be In Two Places At Once When You’re Not Anywhere At All”, story: “The Further Adventures of Nick Danger” – quiz: what character said that line?)

Anyway, I was pretty nervous going in, but I had all my material, printouts I left with Bill, and we got to know one another a bit. Bill is African-American, and understands that there are similarities here in terms of equal rights for a minority. And trans folk are definitely the minority in a minority.

So, it looks like the company won’t be covering my expenses later this year. However, I’m the first person to have brought up the topic of transgender health insurance coverage with the company, and now they’re thinking about it, so, that’s something. Yay me. I’m sure they’ll eventually be covering trans medical expenses, the question is when. And I did get some real progress – they’re adding “gender identity” to the official policy, and pretty soon too.

No, correction: they’ve already added “gender identity” to the official definition of Diversity, and it’s being added into policies very soon. So, we have one more company that recognizes "gender identity" as important.

Enough for one day. I need a glass of wine.

Cheers, everyone

Sunday, March 15, 2009

We're Back from the Keystone Conference

Hey folks,

We drove back from Pennsylvania today, we were at the Keystone Conference.

Some trivia:

This is a new conference on the block, the TransCentralPA folks decided they'd put on on, and this was their first go-round, and a job well done.

"Keystone" has nothing to do with the cops from the old b & w movies. For my Australian readers (I know there are at least 2 of you) - most, if not all, American states have some sort of nickname, and Pennsylvania calls themselves the "Keystone State", cause they feel they were crucial in founding America.

We got up there Friday afternoon, and everybody went out to dinner on restaurant row - they'd made reservations for like 16 folks each at 5 different restaurants. Yummy food, and they had a cool little jazz duo playing there, and we were all out on the dance floor and we had the place hopping. Then our friend said we should all go over to this ultra cool little tapas restaurant and bar, so we did, and it was barely 1 room big, we overwhelmed it, so we stood around and got thru one drink then Sweety and I caught the shuttle back to the hotel and crashed.

We were part of a panel discussion at the first session on Saturday morning, 9 am, so I wore one of my new pants suits (navy pinstripe), and we had a good time. Hit another session, and had a great lunch with a wonderful talk by Mara Keisling (she's head of NCTE ). She is a very good leader in trans equal rights, and is very funny, one of the best dry senses of humor I've heard. Very good talk.

Sweety and I actually skipped the early afternoon session and hit the exercise room, then cleaned up for the late afternoon session. Then, back to the room for the fancy clothes, and we had a great reception, dinner, speech by Donna Rose (yes, the TransCentralPA folks got a couple of big hitters for their first time out of the gate, well done girls), and more party. I brought this red dress that a friend gave me (when she had her top enhanced, she couldn't fit in it anymore, and did I ever benefit). Here's a pic of Sweety and me at the Saturday nite party.

Sweety and me.  Yeah, my dress is a hand-me-down.  I like the way I look!

Oh, and yes, I did get a haircut Friday morning before we left town. I do like it, it was kinda long and ratty at the ends, however, I'm not sure I can get it to stay in a ponytail for work tomorrow... heh heh. Ooops.

Okay, now here's the amazing part:

Background: Our local group helped host the IFGE conference here in town at the beginning of Feb. (Oh, I just realized, I never posted a good summary of what happened at our local IFGE conference. Okay, will fix that later). So, Sweety is helping with the conference on Sat, while I'm running the registration table. So, she's walking past the meeting rooms, hallway full of folks, and she looks up and sees someone, a guy she recognizes from work, dressed to the nines as a good looking woman, just as this person sees Sweety and recognizes her. Well, other person goes into full panic, cause they're not out and here they've run into someone from work - absolute death, right? And Sweety instantaneously thinks of exactly the right thing to say "It's okay - my husband's trans", and everything is okay. so, that's the IFGE part.

Now, Sat. AM at the Keystone, we're standing there, and this girl walks up, says, "well, it's about time I said hi" and I don't recognize her from any past group, and she holds out her name badge and the first name says "S-----". Okay, so what? Then I see the last name in small print, and go "Oh. My. God." It's a co-worker from about 13 years ago. We were at the same company, just a few doors apart, from like '93 to '98 or so. I went to teach at university for awhile, "he" left with a bunch of others guys and started his own company. Now, "she" saw me Friday nite, I didn't recognize her at all, so she came and really said hello on Saturday morning. In my defense, a) I never knew she was trans, b) he was like 50 lbs heavier (wonderful slimming), and c) he always wore glasses. She's only recently been really dealing with trans-ness, and this was her first big trip out. So, we spend most of the rest of the conference hanging out and trading stories and such. There were only about 60, 65 folks in this office of our company, so, if 2 of us were/are really trans, does that mean the actual percentage in the population is like over 2 % ? or is it higher? More on our new friend later as this new phase of the friendship grows. Oh, and another aspect: we actually played Fantasy Football together for like a decade, well after we both left the company. Really outrageous and amazing.

And,S, if you're reading this, Hi Hon. It was a pleasure and a real honor to make your acquaintance. For real. ;-)

So, IFGE was Sweety's turn to be surprised, and Keystone was apparently my turn. What can happen next?

So, we're back home. It's kinda odd how we're meeting and becoming friends with all these folks who are apparently pretty high up in the trans-activist organizations. One friend, who as far as I knew 3 months ago was just another trans woman, has since been elected to the chair of the IFGE board and is also on the NCTE board. And we know Mara Keisling, and more importantly, she knows us. And we know the leaders of at least 2 local/regional groups, and .. and .. and... the current pres of our local board is stepping down as Pres this June, and there's no one willing to take up her spot. I've been asked. I'm hesitant, cause I'm going full time in Aug/September, with facial feminization surgery in August (and recuperating the rest of Aug), but... we were looking over the rest of the members, and I just don't know who else can do it. And Sweety has talked about taking on the Outreach position - responsible for making sure that someone appropriate shows up to talk to groups who want to learn more about transgender/transsexual stuff. Just don't know right now.

Ah, sigh. I'll welcome comments and suggestions - should I throw my hat in the ring for the job? Whacha'all think?

hugs all around