Category Archives: Life

Anniversary in retrospect…

Over a year ago on Aug 22nd I had my last and hopefully final surgery at the Karolinska hospital. I did not think of this until a few days ago but checking the calendar revealed that my anniversary day became a just wonderful one. Definately top five this year. First I attended a absolutely wonderful lesbian wedding where I had the privilege of being the official wedding photgrapher and later that day I had a marvelous evening hosted by a wonderful woman I recently have got to know. It was a truly magic evening enjoying the Swedish summer and talking under a starlit sky.

I don’t think I really could imagine how important this breast augmentation surgery turned out to really be for me. I felt it was the natural and final step for me but it wasn’t until many months later that I really started to enjoy the completeness of my new body. The joy of being able to buy really nice underwear slowly made look at myself in the mirror in a new light. I actually felt pretty even with just my underwear on. I started realizing that using the changing room at stores was much more natural and even the locker room as well. I have started wearing more low cut tops and feel really proud of my cleavage. It makes me feel feminine in a very nice way and I can now wear more styles without being afraid. However, soon I also noticed that they brought some new attention to the game sometimes, especially among men.

I sometimes find myself admiring them because to me they are just perfect and in some way they also are a physical affirmation of me being the woman I have always dreamt of being. It is actually good to be able to feel them being a part party of my body when I am walking and moving around. Some kind of reminder of how lucky I am in that respect and it can actually make me smile just because of that sometimes. Being able to feel very much ok in my bikini among both men and women was another great step for me of course. I even managed to not feel that uncomfortable when a really cool, intelligent and cute woman happened to browse through my iPhone and seeing pictures of me in a bikini just after taking an outdoor bath this summer.

This summer I also started jogging again. Tried with my existing sports bra but it turned out to hurt a lot. Thanks to my good friend Linda A we ended up at a specialty shop for women runners and I got myself a sturdy sports bra together with some cute running clothes. Being able to feel pretty while running was quite a thing. A combination of my old life and the new one in a healthy way.

Is Etiquette and Netiquett different? Should it be?

Lately I have started think about how social rules IRL(in real life) and using digital media really works. As everything else in society all these rules vary to some degree between situations and are affected by who you are interacting with. The question is what is considered being good tone and what is considered to be rude nowadays. Humans are really good at sending signals “between the lines” using diplomatic language with hints and insinuations and using body language to signal different emotions which then other humans are differently skilled at interpreting or even caring about at all.

In normal day-to-day conversations around a table it is generally considered rude to ignore what someone is saying or even refrain from answering direct questions. Over the phone or a voice chat it is similar but body language isn’t communicated (unless using video chats) and you can therefore afford to look bored, do faces or whatever while somebody is talking in the other end. As long as we are doing synchronous (real-time) voice communication a lot of the social rules for IRL seem to apply.

When the mobile phone rings you either answer or don’t but most people choose to call back at a later time to see what that person had on their mind. To me that is a good example of a social rule in modern society. Can one expect someone to call back if we have bothered to call them? Or is the social rule that if it important (enough) you expect someone to try again? Is therefore a repeated set of calls in a short matter of time a sign of urgency?

Getting an text message (SMS) notifying me that I have a voice message usually also signfies a sense or urgency or importance which I usually find results in a call back to me. However, I believe here is another area where we see a change in social interactions because the mobile phone is always with us and always on. Many people today bring their phone everywhere which includes meetings,vistit at friend’s and dinners. That means that is has been regarded ok to not answer because you are not able to talk at that specific time. Reasonable that has also meant that people choose not to answer when someone is calling and you don’t feel like talking to them.

Text chats seem nowadays to bridge synchronous and asynchronous communication. In one sense it is real-time because you can interact very rapidly and if both are typing really fast it can become a fast paced discussion. In general I also think that in the early days of Instant Messaging (IM) the siginificance of a text chat was higher than it is today. If you got that pop-up window with a bleep I usually switched my focus on that and bothered to answered directly. Today, we see IM going really mainstream and becoming a part of corporate infrastructures often with the argument of replacing some emails. That means that IM text chats are to some respects a replacement of asynchronous messaging (often email) where you type something up which does not really require an immediate response but something you want your co-worker to be aware of. You know that people are in meetings, talk to people around them and therefore can’t be expected to pay attention to all incoming IM-messages right away. That IM-message has then became an asynchronous message that gets read minutes or even hours later. Socially that must mean that there is an acceptance of IM-messages not being answered to directly and therefore not considered a rude behaviour. However, I do believe that it is a little but rude to ignore replying to an IM at all or at least mentioning that in an email or the next IM-chat.

I personally think it is really cool to be online at all times but the question is if that also means a committment(personal domain) or responsibility (corporate domain) to also answer and interact as soon as you can? In my personal domain I think the way IM is used has changed a bit over the years. In the early days of iChat we were intensely chatting often but nowadays it has almost shifted that an IM is done only when you have something important to say and therefore almost “worthy” of a phone call but just almost. The way IM works is that it usually doesn’t require your full attention the way a phone call does. Nowadays you do IM while doing something else.

I wonder if this means that all means of communcation changes in the way we see them as requiring our attention or how important they are to us. We I got my first Internet connection back in 1995 I think I considered an email being somewhat the same as an old-fashion letter. It was carefully drafted and sent with some sense of importance and thus requiring an answer. Over time email also became a way to share information “for-your-information” rather than something requiring a direct reponse. Email became a way to share information more casually. Compared to writing a letter it is so much easier to copy a text or just send a link to a web page. More of anything can often mean that the sense exclusiveness goes away somewhat, unless you are in love of course when I guess many love messages only make things better in most cases.

Social media (such as FaceBook) brings the sharing aspect of information to a whole new level. Nowadays you can share your current situation where you express what you are doing, how feel and what you are about to do. Thing that differes social media networks from web pages with information is that it usually assumes you have some sort of relationship to people who you are sharing your information with. The information is personalised and therefore to a higher degree targeted by you. Just as you expect a reaction to something you say over dinner about what is happening in your life I guess many people who post their “status” on FaceBook hope or desire some kind of reaction to it. Congratulations to good things that happen and expressions of compassion when bad things happen in their life. So as we are getting more and more information about people around us the questions how we do handle the social rules about all this social information. Is it rude to not read or try to keep up-to-date about someone you know? Do you expect comments from these people around events in your life? Is a FaceBook message something that require an answer just as we might think of an email or an IM-chat?

No matter if how reactions or response will arrive the increase of information streams (should we call personal ones life streams?) coming from sources you have chosen will most likely affect people who consume them to some degree. In an era of mass information and need for affirmation it can be confusing when different people apply different social rules to all these communication possibilities. Some people apply the social rules of IRL strictly and get offended when people don’t follow them. Others are very relaxed about the whole thing and don’t feel obliged to do anything at all. The thing that confuses me is when the level of obligation is determined out of someones particular view of a specific tool rather than their relation to the person they have a relationship with.

I did the right thing and felt a bit proud of it

Yesterday, I was tossed off my pink cloud again. Went to a friend’s birthday party and think I felt I was in the “safe zone” so to speak. You know these places where you let most of you guard down and can relax and be yourself. Then after 20 minutes or so the blow came from nowhere. A person from work just suddenly said something which was really offensive to me and transsexuals in general. Probably without really thinking at all but he should really know better. It is just as releasing a racist joke in the face of a colored person.

First it is offensive to the group but it becomes even worse when it is someone you know. What happened later is possibly even worse. Despite that I very clearly stated that it was offensive to me all of them quickly pretended as if nothing happened. Sure, Swedes are in general afraid of conflicts but it is a very obvious example of how saying “I don’t discriminate anyone” is not enough. Instead people need to really understand their own behaviour and what they need to change which in turn usually requires knowledge to “see” where sometimes unconcious values comes into play.

I decided to tell them I could not stand this and left the party. That felt much better than staying and feeling real sad but try to hide it since nobody wanted to discuss what happened. Something I did not do last summer when the same person said a similar offensive thing to me in my face. Then I stayed but of course I could not avoid thinking about it all the remaining time at the party. This time the worst feelings gradually drifted away as I drove home.

Lessons learned is again that it is vital to have strategies for what to do when people do stupid things to me. The hard part is that some of the people around me probably have to develop their own in order to know how to stand up for me. For those who have done that it has so far worked like a charm.

Today, I got an apology over SMS. I need to figure out what to say back.

Why history seem to be less appealing lately

When I was at work the other day I found myself saying that I am not overly interested in history and historical things. First I just thought it was just an expression of my forward-looking creative mind. However, today I realised that it might be much more into the whole thing.

When I was in school I actually was fairly interested in history and had really good grades in it. I think most of my interest was focused at the Second World War era and of course aviation in particular. I still have all these books in my bookshelf but I seem less and less inclined to read them. It is not because I have lost interest in miitary warfare, in fact in my job I think I need to consider historical lessons learned quite a lot.

I believe it has more to do with progress in terms of human rights, democracy and respect for minorities. My own journey into the woman I am today and my work with LGBT-rights has actually influenced me a lot. So much that is has became a centerpiece of all my values. I have learned so much about all the aspects of human rights from laws and regulations down to the importance of awarness building in schools and society in general.

Each time I see some historic exhibition it often is fairly obvious that the situation for women, ethnic minorites, gay and lesbians, transgendered, disabled people was a lot worse than it is today here in Sweden. I have a hard time disregarding the fact that it would have been a real tough for me to live in that era and that gives me a feeling of sadness. I think that is why I find it very hard to be fascinated by historical reenactments, historical cities and exhibitions. I have no interest in either taking part in nor watching people reenacting an era where women in general and lesbian ones in particular had such a hard time.

This also seems to overflow to my feelings when I see news segments from other parts of the world where it usually feels like travelling back in time in terms of respect for human rights. However, my feelings in these case are different because I feel an urge to do something to change the current situation. Still, it also seem to give me reminders of “old times” which makes me even less interested in history.

Of course we also have the aspect of my own history which I find myself struggling with now and then. I have chosen to be completely open with my background since I desperately don’t want to get back in the closet again. On the other hand it is hard to relate to my own history which represent a time where so many central things were wrong. It is sometimes even hard to relate to the fact that it was me doing this stupid things back then. I also find myself more uncomfortable to be reminded about what it was like then, my old name and things like that. It nearly makes me shiver sometimes.

Finally I think I have a tendency to be charmed by new novel ways of solving problems and that I think is the final nail in my history coffin. Playing with a ten year old computer isn’t actually that much fun and I fail to be charmed by the thoughts of that time. One of the few exceptions is that I actually enjoy going to the National Air & Space Museum where there obviously is a lot of old aircraft. Still, I often skip the oldest parts of the exhibition and move to the newer aircraft and of course enjoy future-oriented exhibtions the most.

So, history seem to make me feel there wouldn’t be any place for someone like me in that setting and the sad part is that it is probably true.

The Land of Affirmations

I spent last week in Las Vegas, Nevada and as usual I enjoyed being in the United States again. On my way back home again last Friday/Saturday I started thinking what it is that makes me like it there. Sure I think I am more pro-US than most Swedes are and it always nice to go on a long trip – it is almost like an adventure. But there must be something more to it…

First of all I think the gender roles are a bit more accentuated in the US especially among the business (or military) people that I normally meet. It is something about how people dress I think. Women are in general a little bit more formal (during daytime) than what is common in Sweden and also in general a little bit more makeup. Match that to a style which favours sneakers (during leisure time) together with pink colors and it fits me like a glove 🙂 So I actually think I blend in better in terms of my looks in the US. All of this are generalisations of course but still. I actually feel a little less stared at in the US which of course is a big relief for me.

However, what really affects me is the constant affirmations I get everyday when I am being adressed as “Miss” or “M’am”. Lately I seem to have became more of a “M’am” than “Miss” actually I think I feel rather good about that. The first times years back I noticed this of course and became very happy but I guess I became used to it over the years while forgetting the effect it had on me. It is very good for my mind to get these affirmations when being addressed on the aircraft, at the hotel reception and at lunch. It secures me on my “pink cloud” where I feel secure and proud of myself.

Actually there are very few wrong pronouns when I am in the US also. I can hardly remember when anybody over there used the wrong one for me the last time. Here in Sweden it happened just a few weeks ago at the Headquarters in the middle of a meeting.

So I guess America is good for my self-esteem. Fortunately I am flying back there on Monday morning and will stay in the Virginia area for two weeks.

Note to non-Swedes: In Sweden the equivalents of Mr/Miss/Mrs are hardly used any more. Maybe if you get a very formal invitation from the King, otherwise it is usually done with some kind of humorous remark. It is very informal conversational climate.

Meeting a completely new person

Sleeping Juwel
Today I finally had the opportunity to meet a dear friend of mine and her little newborn baby. I think I was a little nervous before meeting her maybe because there would be this other little person there also. I think I also felt some expectations on me as a woman and some image of how women “should” react to babies. I know this is a bit stupid but somehow these thoughs tend to find their way into my head anyway. She looked really happy and just beautiful with her little jewel in her arms when se opened the door. The first weeks were very tiresome for her so it was nice to see that she had got some strength back. The little boy was so sweet and cute and it turned out to be a little bit hard to not just sit there staring at him. There is something so natural and spontane how babies move and make faces. It is a little bit strange to see a person you know well in this new role as a mother I guess because of some sense of absolute responsibility for the child but also some degree of maturity, being a grown-up. I also felt a little bit proud to see her with her child, making it through the pregnancy and seeing how much she loves him. I had bought a tiny baby dress in green and brown which was for the baby and the grown-ups got chocolate! The parents seemed very pleased but the little one naturally had more important stuff to focus on: sleeping and eating 🙂 We had a rather long walk along the waterside and I had the chance to catch up and hear what these first weeks had been like. I wished I had been able to be more supportive then but I had this strange cold/infection that lasted almost two weeks unfortunately. Anyway it will be interesting to see him grow up (they say it goes real fast!) and will take the chances it get to do that. The chances of any children of my own seem a bit distant now so maybe this is as close as it gets.

Presents from Dad

Presents from Dad
Today my Dad came to visit me at work. We have not always had the best relationship because of my transition process which he had really hard to accept previously. However, it feels much better now and I think we are both are trying to make the best of our relationship. No matter how you put it family is family but on the other hand it is so important for me to be respected and accepted for who I am know. So I was a little bit nervous about his visit after all – not much but a little. Maybe because I feel so comfortable at work now that I don’t want them to see someone being less comfortable let alone my father. However it went just fine and I showed him around in our rather cool (and large) facilities at the experimentation lab. He had brought some presents for me from their last visit to France and it was a lot of nice herbs, soaps and the cutest node pad saying “Un petit mot d’Alexandra”. But there was a gift-wrapped thing as well and I was really touched by it. It was a beautiful necklace made of a piece of lava with silver details. It was exactly my style and taste and I could not have chosen anything better myself. No matter how I put it was a great affirmation that I really needed. Thank you, Dad!

Reflections from my hair dresser…

Today I went downtown to pickup my new hairpiece (same hairdo and color as before) at my hair dresser’s and I was met by Gunilla who I think was the first I met there 7 or 8 years ago. Back then I had just moved to Stockholm and felt I needed a new palce where I would be comfortable to buy my wigs at. I had positive experiences from Carl M Lundh in Malmö so I went to one of their Stockholm stores. Today she was about to close the store and asked me how life was and how it felt to be a woman now. It is a hard question to answer other than that it feels great. It is such a lenghty process that I guess it is hard to notice all the differences and it is difficult to know why if I experience something particular. We talked for a while about how life is for transgendered people in general and how many that is probably out there but too scared to do anything about it. Then she looked at me and told me how much she thought I had changed over the years since she first met me. She thought I had become much more soft and feminine and grown into the woman I am today. It is interesting to hear these things from people who don’t really know you but see glimpses of you a couple of times a year. I talked to one of my closest friends in the evening and he also agreed that I have changed a lot since back then.

Reconnecting with an old friend

Today I met an old friend who has known me from my first years as an officer in the Armed Forces. She learned quite early about my life situation and was nice and supportive back then. However, it was before I had been able to make the decision to start the formal transition process (which I did in 2004). We lost contact after that I and was a little bit worried that I had lost her and it was maybe natural to think it had to do with the transition process since I have lost a few other friends (from the Armed Forces) who were close to me back then. Mainly I guess it was my own insecurity. However, this New Year I suddenly got a New Year’s wish on my phone and it was her. We decided to meet for coffeé (what else nowadays:) and I was really looking forward to seeing her but I guess a tiny bit nervous as well. The feeling when I saw her and the warm hug removed all of this and I was so happy to see her. We spent the evening talking about life, love and work and it felt like it was only a few months since we met. I remembered how wise she is and how I value talking about her about the experience of being a woman in the society but also in the Armed Forces of course.

Transitioning while in the Armed Forces went more or less just fine for me but there is always the past to relate to. I have found that people from Air Force that I have been working with during my early days in uniform are the ones that seem most insecure or even uncomfortable around me. It is of course a little bit strange for me because the natural instinct when you see somebody that you recognize you smile and says hello. Sometimes it seems like they don’t recognize me (which I guess is good) or they seem to be a little unsure how to react. So I usually have to wait until I have met them a few times before things starts to return somewhat to normal. This still makes me a bit nervous when I go bigger meetings where these people might show up.

Therefore it means so much to me to have at least a few people in Armed Forces who know me from before but still respect and value me as a woman. And being a good friend as well just adds icing to the cake.

Night photography

I have just got myself a new camera (Canon 970IS) and I decided that even though it is a small compact that I wanted to try it out at night. So I took my video tripod and walked around my little island and snapped a few pictures. It is amazing what different lighting can do to the mood of a city.