My Feelings on the Super Bowl!

Super Bowl City

It’s the day before the Super Bowl, so I figured I’d write about it. :)

Normally the Super Bowl doesn’t mean very much to me. I don’t really pay attention to sports (other than baseball a few times a year), but I’m a bit more emotionally invested in it this year because it’s here in San Francisco, and I’ve had to deal with it. The Super Bowl City has the heart of downtown closed off, right in front of the Ferry Building, where I go to get to and from work. It’s been kinda a mess for the last two weeks and I suspect that when it’s all said and done, we’ll deem the Super Bowl a very expensive thing that cost the city a lot of money.

All that said! :)

The theme of the last eight or nine years of my life has been “be someone that makes you happy.” I like it when people are happy. Them being happy makes me happy.

I’m not into sports, and that’s okay. Most people aren’t into Second Life like I am, either. And that’s okay, too. Everyone being different is what makes life so much fun! If were all the same, life would be pretty boring.

If you’re into sports and the Super Bowl, then that’s great! I’m happy it makes you happy. You being happy makes me happy, too, so it’s a nice win-win. :)

I like being around happy people. That’s why I never say no to an invitation to go to a Super Bowl party, even if I’m mostly going to play with your pets and eat snacks. Playing with animals and eating snacks makes me happy, so it’s a win all around. (Plus some of the commercials are kinda funny. That’s neat, too!) To me, Super Bowl Sunday is a chance to hang out with people that are doing something that makes them happy, while playing with pets and eating snacks. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday afternoon, if you ask me. :)

I’ll never mock you for being into “sportball” or laugh at you for liking things I don’t like. I’m happy you like them, and that’s all I need to know. <3

Bunny vs The Social Security Administration

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I went to the Social Security Administration office in downtown Oakland, CA today. The reason I went was to get my gender marker corrected from male to female now that I’ve had appropriate treatment and am eligible.

It ended in heartache.

Background Stuff to Know

There’s a few things you should know.

  • I am terrified of downtown Oakland. :( I get harassed almost every time I go there. I’ve gotten the worse harassment I’ve ever received there. I get nervous and scared every time I even think about going there. This is why I’d held off getting this done for so long… I just didn’t wanna go to Oakland.
  • This was not my first visit to the SSA (or even this office!). I was last here in March of 2014 after I legally changed my name. I knew the drill ’cause I’d done it before.
  • I didn’t change my gender marker during the first visit because I hadn’t yet qualified for it. (I didn’t have surgery until March of 2015.)
  • My first and middle names are very feminine. There’s no male version of ’em, and there is little doubt I am a lady when you hear my name.
  • My last name is one of the most common last names in the United States. It’s not Mickley, but that’s what I’m gonna pretend it is for this story.
  • The only purpose of this visit was to get my gender marker switched to female.

That should do it!

The Story

You may not realize it, but while it doesn’t list your gender on your Social Security card, the SSA does keep track of it, and it’s used as a source of truth for some things. When you go through transition from one gender to another, you learn that there’s two places you have to have update your records – the DMV (this is what shows up on your ID), and the SSA.

I’d been putting off getting my gender marker changed with the SSA, because, ick, it’s not a fun thing to do. I had today off of work, however, and I decided to use that time to be productive and finally get it done.

I got there this morning and checked in. I was given a number, A178, and told to go sit in the waiting room for my number to be called. I didn’t have an appointment, but that was okay. I have an iPhone, and Twitter, and lots of other stuff to do while I wait. I was prepared for a long wait, and it was just fine. I ended up waiting about 90 minutes, which is less than I figured it’d take. (I was counting on two hours!)

While I waited they were calling off numbers slowly. I think they were in the A150’s when I got there, so I was pretty excited when they got to the A170s. Things were going pretty well at this point!

Eventually I hear them say on the PA “Mr. Mickley to window four.” I ignore this because “Mr.,” and because the last name was Mickley. My last name is so common that I just figured there was someone else there with it. It was also kinda weird that they said a name, because up till then, they were calling numbers.

They repeat this a few times. People start looking around the room trying to figure out who Mr. Mickley is, in case he’d fallen asleep or something.

Finally I hear “Last call for Mr. Mickley, number A178, to window four.” I instantly turn white as a sheet and my eyes fill up with tears, since A178 is my number.

I get up and take the walk of shame to the window. Everyone is looking at me at this point, because I’m a chick that got up when they called for “Mr. Mickley,” and I’m really upset and super embarrassed.

I get to the window unable to speak because I was so choked up and was fighting back tears. I give the clerk the letter from my Doctor certifying that I’ve completed my gender transition and the paperwork needed on the SSA’s side to have it changed. (I came prepared – I filled it out ahead of time on my computer and just printed it out and took it with me.)

The clerk asks for my ID, which I hand to him. My ID says that my gender is female, as it should. I still haven’t said a word because I’m so choked up. I finally bring myself to sit down while he’s working, and he calls me “Mr. Mickley” a few times while asking a few basic questions. (This was after I’d handed him my paperwork and my ID, all of which state female, and it was clear that I was there to get their database corrected at this point.) I merely responded by shaking my head.

He asks me “do you have a court order for ‘the change‘?” and I weakly get out “I don’t need one,” because I don’t. (This was the first thing I’d managed to say.) He starts doing something on the computer – looking up the correct procedure I assume – and learns that I’m correct. You don’t need a court order to get your gender changed if you have an affidavit from a licensed Physician.

The clerk keeps working on the computer for a while, and then gets up to talk to someone. I have no idea what he said… getting my name changed was a breeze, so I expected this would be too.

Finally he comes back and makes a photocopy of my doctor’s letter. He returns with the usual stamped letter stating that I’d applied for a new card and that it will be mailed to me in a few weeks. He did manage to call me “Miss Mickley” at this point, but the damage was done. I was a total wreck.

I collect the stamped letter, file it away in my folder, and slip out quietly to the bathroom to cry. :(

Afterword

Now that I’ve had time to calm down and collect myself, I am pretty sure the clerk did not mean to be mean to me. I am guessing he thought he was providing really good service by reading a name rather than some stupid number.

The problem is that, like it or not, the SSA and the DMV are the gateways to our identities in the real world. Assumptions like “Mr.” or “Miss” based on a character in a database may not be good there because that’s where we have to go to get it changed, and we need their help to do it.

My first and middle names are very feminine. If he’d just bothered to read the screen, he’d seen that “Mr. Mickley” was completely the wrong thing to call me, but he never did, I guess.

I do intend to contact the SSA office on Monday and let them know what happened. I’m done with them – I won’t need to go back for a long time to come – but I want to make sure that the person that comes after me doesn’t have to deal with what I dealt with today.

I don’t wanna get anyone in trouble, but I want to point out a gap in their training. I want to remind them that to some of us, these things reallllly matter, and we need their help.

I really wish he’d just called out “A178.” :(

Ten Years Ago…

It was ten years ago today that a huge white fluffy monster named Moose moved into my apartment.

Moose Smiling

Moose was my first rabbit roommate. (I don’t like to call him a pet! We were roommates in just about every way.) He was pretty amazing.

The day he came home (ten years ago today) is a day I won’t forget. He’d been abandoned a few months earlier, and his foster Mom had really grown quite attached to him. (Who could blame her, he was an amazing bun!) She was crying the whole time, I was crying because she was crying, and on the drive home I started to freak out a bit.

I’d just become a parent. I’d never had to care for another life before, and here I was driving home with my new bunny buddy in the back seat, knowing we’d be together for the rest of his life. It hit me like a ton a bricks that I was now, literally, a parent, and my life was gonna change.

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I got him home and opened up the carrier. The very first thing he did was hop around and explore, and then settle down between the two bunny statues I have in my living room. I didn’t plan that, and I didn’t tell him to do it, he just did it. I quickly went to get my camera to capture the moment.

It took us a few days to get to know each other, but eventually we did. I think we bonded completely a few weeks later when I realized that an abscess on his head from an injury he had when he was abandoned was starting to come back. I spent a lot of time with him those first few months cleaning out his wound and helping him to heal up. Trial by fire, I guess!

The good news is that nothing really scared me after that. If I could handle that, I could handle anything, and I did. He had other abscesses throughout his life, and each time they got a little easier to care for. By the time he got the last one it was a total non-issue! We’d moved to Texas by then and the vets there were willing to try all kinds of crazy things that made caring for things like that much easier. (One of the advantages to living so close to one of the best vet schools in the country!)

Pardon the shedding, it's 104 degrees outside right now.

We ended up being bonded about as tightly as a rabbit and someone that just thinks they are a rabbit can be. He was always in the same room with me, but usually not by my side. He liked to be close enough where he could see me, but not so close that I might accidentally try to brush him. Any time I’d get up to change rooms it wouldn’t take very long for the big white rabbit to reappear in the new room with me. (I’d like to say he was sneaky, but he wasn’t. A 14 lbs rabbit does nothing quietly or gracefully!)

Moose lived to be eight years old, which is really old for a Flemish Giant. Larger rabbits don’t life nearly as long as younger ones do. The day I brought him home I made him a promise that when his time came, I would not let him suffer just so that I felt better about myself. I kept that promise.

When it was clear it was his time, and he wasn’t gonna get better, I held his paw the whole way over the rainbow bridge. It was one of the hardest, and saddest things I’d ever had to do in my life, but I know I did the right thing. I promised Moose I wasn’t gonna let him suffer, and I didn’t. He came into this world and lived a rough life, but he left it living like a king with his Mom by his side. (I have tears running down my cheeks as I write this… just thinking back to that time is emotional.)

Moose was the first person to see the real me. I put on a show a lot for him as I was super early in transition when I lost him, and I wasn’t out of the closet yet. He didn’t seem to care, he just liked being with me.

 

I miss you, bud. I’m sure you’d be very proud and happy to call me your Mom if you could see me today.

Practice, practice, practice!

Since I’ve been working on this site today for the first time in almost a decade, I decided to go look at an old version of it in the Internet Archive. (Don’t do that, it’s boring as heck.)

There was one page that had something I like on it a lot today:

“Any man who keeps working is not a failure. He may not be a great writer, but if he applies the old-fashioned virtues of hard, constant labor, he’ll eventually make some kind of career for himself as writer.” – Ray Bradbury

One of the old versions of this site had that quote on the top. I said that I hoped to be a great writer someday on the same page. I’m not sure if that ever came true, but I do receive praise for my ability to communicate things via written word at work. (They’re even starting to let me post things where customers can see it, something I never dreamed I’d be doing!)

I guess Mr. Bradbury was right. Keep doing something and eventually you kinda get good at it. :)

Welcome to my new blog!

I made some changes today!

I’ve started pulling some of the posts I’ve made throughout the years over to this site. I’ve had bunnynet.org as my domain since 1997, but mostly only used it for email in the last 15 years. (There was a site here long long ago, but it’s been forgotten to the ages.)

The bulk of what’s here right now comes from LiveJournal. There’s nothing wrong with LiveJournal, but I wanted to start collecting things on my own domain instead. I’m also able to make it a lot more “me” here, which is cool! I think I’ll keep on cross-posting over there for a while, at least.

Looking back at my old post is really interesting. There’s some at in the pre-2012 era where I was still very deep in the closet and are worded as such. I thought for a while about going back and editing them to swap pronouns and such, but decided to just leave them alone. It is a record of how things actually were, and it’s my own history. I don’t want to rewrite it.

For people have have been following me on LiveJournal, I don’t expect a lot will change! I’m just gonna write things here, instead. :)

I still gotta clean things up. I was never good at categories and tags, and I need to fix that. I’ll be tagging posts over time and trying to get my data clean.

Into the modern area of blogging I go!! :)

Reflections on my Austin Trip

I just got back from Mephit Fur Meet! Before I got there I spent a few days in Austin, TX, near where I used to life. It impacted me in a way I wasn’t expecting.

I lived in Austin for four years. I’ve been here in CA for 21 months.

At this point in my life in Austin, I felt much more at home than I do here in CA. I’ve been trying to figure out why this is so.

A few things have come to mind. The main thing is that I live in Alameda. I like the town a whole lot, but leaving via car is difficult. There’s four bridges and one tunnel to get off the island. That’s it. (I take the ferry to work, I don’t drive.) The bridges dump you onto I-880, which is ALWAYS backed up. Even at 3am. And heaven help you if you have to get onto I-80.

The tunnel drops you off into a part of Oakland, where, as a translady, I do not feel safe. I have been harassed and catcalled there more than anywhere else combined. It it just a very toxic place and I don’t like to go there. When I do take the tube I refuse to get out of my car until I get to my destination.

I tend to leave the island via car two or three times a month, at the most. I will go weeks at a time where the only time I leave is via ferry to get to work.

When I do decide to try to leave the island, I have to make sure that I REALLY want it. It’s a big commitment. The level of effort needed to leave the island is huge. I can’t predict how long the trip will be.

When I was in Austin last week I took myself on a tour of some of the old places where I used to go hang out, and it was just kinda refreshing to me that I could just drive places and it was no big deal.

I went into a grocery store, and parking was free and abundant. (Neither of those happen here. Even if parking is free, it’s usually hard to get.) When I got inside it was “just a grocery store.” It wasn’t a place where the products are 100% organic, GMO-free, and they sing songs to the kale twice a day so that it doesn’t feel bad. It was… just a grocery store.

When I went out to lunch with my old team, at the end of the lunch we went to Starbucks in the mall across the street from the office. It was no big deal… we were able to find parking, get out, get our stuff, and get back in a hurry. I’ve tried going to a mall three times since I’ve been here, and only one trip was successful. The other two times I couldn’t find parking, and one of those times people kept honking at me and cutting me off, and I got so stressed out that I broke down and started crying in the parking garage. :(

(I haven’t even though about going to a mall here since then.)

Two years into my stay in Austin I had way more friends than I have here. It’s not because I don’t know people here – I do – but a lot of them are in the South Bay, and it might as well be China. Getting from the East Bay to the South Bay can, literally, take hours, all because of traffic.

For goodness sakes, I pay $2000/mon in rent, and I’m back to using a laundromat like I did in college. I don’t even have a dishwasher. Sigh.

Then there’s the issue of the constant fear that I may come home some day to a notice on my door that my rent is going up up 30%. That’s happened to a bunch of people in my building… there’s 31 units in this building, and five turned over just last month for this very reason. The uncertainty about where I’ll be living at the end of the year totally sucks. (My lease runs out 12/31.)

So I have been asking myself if the quality of life I have here is better than I had in Austin, and that’s not an easy question to answer.

I love my job. It is the best job I’ve ever had. (Really, that’s what keeps me here! If I didn’t have that, I’d have left a long time ago.) It really makes a lot of it worth it, but is it worth the burden of living here? I don’t know.

But here’s the thing… my job would let me move, if I really wanted to. We have offices in other parts of the country, and some folks work remotely 100% of the time.

Making it even more complex is that I feel somewhat like a failure. I’d wanted to live in the Bay Area for a long time. Now I’m here, and I’m learning that it’s not as cracked up as it seems. I like this part of the country because this is where my industry is located – I work in the Internet industry and most of it happens right here. Sometimes I’ll look at the address of a company when I’m looking at their website, and realize that their office is just a few blocks away from mine… and I think that’s pretty cool.

I made it! I’m where I wanted to be. But now that I’m here… well, it’s hard. :\

I’m not going to do anything quickly. My lease is up at the end of the year, and if it doesn’t go up by much, I might just stay for at least another year. I don’t know.

I doubt I’d go back to Austin, since Texas’s protections for transgender people is nearly non-existent. But there are other parts of the country that I haven’t seen (and even other parts of the Bay Area), and a lot of those are very welcoming to transgender folks. We’ll see, I guess.

Siiiiiigh. :\

Luck

I am one of the luckiest girls in the world, I think.

I said something last night that I am so lucky to be able to say, and it just now occurred to me what I said.

The summer summit at work is coming up in a few months, and I’ve been invited to go. It’s in Boston this year, so that means I have to fly out to Boston for a week. While we’re there there will be a swimming party, which is kinda a tradition for the Boston office.

Except, I’ve never been in a bathing suit post-transition. I don’t own one. I’ll have to get one. That in and of itself is kinda scary, but I can deal.

What I said to the lady that does electro on my face is this: “Oh, I’m not worried. It’ll be in the safest environment I could be in, really. It’s just my coworkers. They all know who I am, my story, support me, and really love me. I couldn’t ask for a safer and better place to go out in a bathing suit for the first time, really.”

Wow.

Yeah, so, that’s just normal to me, but wow am I lucky. Most transwomen fight just to stay employed as they transition, but I’m in a place where not only do I not have to do that, but they love me and are 100% behind me and supportive.

Yay. <3