I have fought a long hard battle in the last two years. It’s been quite an experience. Starting in October of 2011, I first became aware of the type of people I was going to be dealing with. These people are of base morals and low standards of intellect. The whole affair has been tarred with a stain of ignorance applied with the broadest brush available. In here, I will detail what happened, and you can make up your own mind on how you feel about it.
I decided to transition on or around September 1st of 2011. It was the culmination of my thoughts and struggles about being transgender. This was no choice, let me get that out of the way. This thing just hits you, and it’s from inside you, so you have to go with it, or else you’re pretty much suicidal. I did not ask or pray to recognize I was transgender when I was turning thirty-one. This was just the volcanic conclusion to the repression story of my life. Yay…
So, I won’t go into the details too much, that’s another story, but I figured out I was transgender about when I turned thirty-one. Also, I was married to a woman, and I had a son who was about 15 months old, and that woman was pregnant with a boy due in late August. This is where the story starts.
I started wearing makeup really early on when I was still 30, but I didn’t know what it meant. I painted my nails with a clear coat to make them look good. For the record, I had been “gay” in my twenties, and I told my friends and wife I was bisexual while being married. This progressed to trying on different and feminine clothes, and well it just kind of came pouring out of me. It grew on me from nothing. I gave up the phony façade of a cisgender male that I had to be to survive. I gave up on being male. And hey, a beautiful woman emerged
Now, the timing was awful. It was the perfect storm for stress and anxiety and conflict. My wife was very pregnant, and we had a one-year-old beautiful boy running around. We were both learning how to be parents, and we were having another baby at the same time. I had just started a new job and career a year earlier. We had moved to a new city, Moorpark, California, a year prior as well. We lived near their parents’ house. Moorpark is an upscale Los Angeles community. The houses run up into the millions of dollars, and there are parks everywhere. It looks and feels like living on a country club. The weather is really quite nice there too.
So, a pregnant wife, a young kid, and a confused father doesn’t sound like a good sitcom for a reason. However, her family’s reaction to the situation turned it up to the veritable eleven times as crazy as it needed to be. It got ridiculous, quick. They worked hard to get me out of their life. It’s like the trap door opened, and I got kicked out of town. I had broken the sacred mores, and they let me go. I think that obviously, it’s the influence of the strong patriarchy in Moorpark that did this. I don’t want to delve into feminist theory, but Moorpark men are supposed to be corporate titans and leaders. Suffice it to say, the city is conservative. It is in LA, so there is a lot of liberal influence, but, it veers conservative.
Essentially when “Abbie” showed up (in that now I was standing up for myself), they had no idea how to talk to me. They would think, who is this person? Why is he standing up for himself? This is not good! The women were sent to basically kick me out of the family with a nice Catholic boot. Bye bye sinner! Around this time they also all unfriended me on Facebook at the same time. My friend count dropped dramatically. Oh the humanity! Well, I was just bemused and stupefied.
I made a poor choice of judgment when I thought that these people could be argued with in a rational and fair manner. I tried to reason with them. I tried to compromise with them. I tried concessions. I tried everything, because I honestly felt bad that this had happened at this time. I wanted to do as much as I could to smooth things over, but everything I did was used against me. I’ll do my best to explain that shortly.
In the midst of the obvious chaos, I rented a hotel room to stay for a few nights, because whenever I was there and I acted like the no bullshit Abbie that you know and stuck up for myself whereas Mark (my old name) would have just taken every lash. I figured I was the cause of all of the tension. So, I said I’d leave the house for a few days. Well, that was the last I lived there. OK, maybe we can have some sort of amicable relationship now. No, that was not to be. I can’t really detail the language, but it was just so illogical and fear based. It was like I was a Jew in Germany, and they just wanted to get rid of me.
To digress for a bit, I have thought a lot about that phrase Jew in Germany. I think it’s an apt metaphor because during the 30’s there were varying levels of anti-Semitism in Germany. And, the number of transgender people that are driven to suicide is enormous. We are definitely a targeted class where there is leniency to prosecute perpetrators of violence and civil harassment. The court looks the other way because we don’t fit into the modern Judeo-Christian idea of how a man or a woman should act.
Back to the story, I had to find somewhere to live outside of the expensive hotel. Now I just have to get it on the table, I had been abusing some medications at that time and doing some pretty awful addictive things, but I wasn’t drinking. I am a recovering alcoholic and I had not had a drink for three years. I’m the kind of person where if I have one drink it will lead to me having twenty drinks, no matter how long it takes. I have an addictive personality, and when I was repressing my female nature, I learned that alcohol and drugs could make it easier. It happens like clockwork. I owned up to all of this to my ex and her family.
So there was this air of drug abuse over the whole proceeding. Basically, they realized that they could use the drug abuse angle to legally get me out of their lives when they were really upset about the transgender issue. They said and will say in public that “it’s not about gender,” but they are just plain lying. The instigating factor was that I wanted to present as female. That was the nuke, and the drug issue was a grenade.
I said at first that I was going to check into a detox or rehab facility. But I was going through so much turmoil with my transition and gender and well it was a mess. I found a place to live in Woodland Hills, which was far enough away yet close enough to see my children. I had only my car and some clothes at that point. I had almost nothing. So, I called or emailed and asked them for certain things of mine. When I arrived to pick them up my belongings were just stacked up on her parents’ driveway with a note that said “take your things and leave.” And the saddest part was that my cat was in her carrier on the driveway. I don’t know how long she had been there. They just dumped the cat next to all of my stuff. It was so inhuman. Of course I was blown away, but I didn’t know how to process this level of hatred and discrimination. I was used to the world of white male privilege. This was the start of my new education.
I took my things; I really didn’t ask for much, but I just wanted some things to get by in the short term. Well, they thought that this was all I wanted and the rest of our hard-earned stuff could go to her. This was not my position, but in the court hearings they tried to argue that I didn’t deserve half of what we had acquired, and we had acquired a lot of “stuff.” We had also acquired a lot of debt. However, there was a lot of value in the things in the house. They came to me valuing things at laughably low levels. Basically this is where the laws of math stopped applying.
Shortly after I picked up my things from her parents’ house, I drove back to our condo, which was not far away. I basically just wanted to talk and see my children at the residence that I was half paying for. All of the sudden a car comes out from around a corner and parks catty-corner to mine. My mother in law jumps out and stands between me and the door and my ex-wife, shaking. I’m confused; I ask “did you follow me from your house to here?” She didn’t have much of an answer, but I informed her that it was my house, and I could enter if I liked unless there was a restraining order. She then said that she would get a restraining order if she needed. Now keep in mind, I’ve been far away from the family trying to not rock the boat, and I came to get my things, and I wanted to see my children, but this was intolerable to them. And they threatened me with legal action. I did not want a criminal case in addition to a civil divorce case, so I left because I had to.
So, that is just the setup of the story. I had two beautiful sons at the time, and I love children so much. Children are my lifeblood. I really just love children. When I was male, people always noticed that I had a way with kids. I don’t know what it is, but I definitely formed a bond with my older child. I raised him to fifteen months, and then he was taken away from me. I have only seen him about five times in the past year, and I haven’t seen him or a picture in the last seventeen months. My younger son is just as beautiful and wonderful, but I don’t know much about him. I don’t know what he looks like, what his temperament is, what color his hair is now, how we walks…
My main goal of the early proceedings of the divorce was to get a visitation schedule set up. I called and talked to them to this effect many times, but it continually ended with their position that I would not have custody in any way shape or form. It would be possible for me to see them with a monitor, but that was as far as they would go. Basically, I was treated like the lowest loser and piece of garbage on the planet who could not possibly manage watching two boys, even though I had been the father to my eldest son.
I know for a fact however that this is what they wanted all along. Even before I started talking about transitioning, back when I was still thirty in February or so, we got into fights, and she said that I “would never get custody. Look at your history!” meaning my attempts to address my mental health issues through therapy and other means. It makes me think that she just wanted someone to father her children and leave. I feel really used by that.
We did finally work out some sort of custody “agreement” after we went through mediation. However, the terms of the custody agreement were so confusing and arbitrary that my conclusion was that they were just set up for me to fail. They wanted me to use a monitor (at $80-$100/hour) to play with my own children in a locked playland or at the park. Also, I had to submit to random, weekly drug tests at about $150 each. Also, I had to take a CPR class. Also, I had to do an eight week parenting course with a counselor. I had to do all of this to see my kids for a couple hours a week.
And I did it. I jumped through the hoops. I kept up with their demands. I showed that I knew what I was doing. This was the new me; this was Abbie. I was empowered now and ready to meet challenges. However, I did slip up. One day I got an email request to do a drug test within three hours at 4pm. Now, that is not really fair in the least to begin with. Also, the drug testing facility closes at 5:30pm. So I missed the test. However, I got in early the next day and took a test, and I passed! So I figured, this should show that I’m not using. (I passed every single drug and alcohol test I took).
Well, my lawyer got word from her lawyer that they were going to use this against me. Basically, because I didn’t pass within the few hours that they had asked, they treated it as a fail, even though I passed the next day. I would have passed either day; thirteen hours or so doesn’t exactly flush the system out clean, from what I’ve heard. The whole drug and alcohol testing thing in the first place was just a concession to get the ball moving in court, when they wouldn’t even consider my request for every other weekend and the occasional weeknight with split holidays.
So, they threw the book at me because I passed a drug test too late. This was the first stab in the heart that I felt. Well, it was “welcome to being a minority in America!! You’re suspicious because you’re different!” I got my first taste of that there, and it was just as awful as it tastes to this day. Undue privilege and discrimination are foul and disgusting things.
Now we move onto another fun story! I think this might be a prequel to the last bit, but it doesn’t matter. Before all of the legal nonsense about monitors and such was concocted, I had been visiting with the kids semi-weekly at malls and playlands and such. There was a night in March I believe of 2012 when I was scheduled to see my children, my two beautiful boys, at a “play land” type of place in Agoura Hills, CA. I had worked out between my lawyer and her lawyer, that I would see the kids in this facility with the children’s grandmother as a “monitor” of my behavior.
Earlier that day, I had invited my mother to come down to see the children. She, being the grandmother, was thrilled to be able to see the boys. She hadn’t seen them I believe since the birth of my younger son and some weeks after. I had informed my ex-wife’s lawyer that I wanted my mother to attend, and this had caused somewhat of a “situation.” I won’t go too far into the details at this point, but basically my ex-wife didn’t want my mom to be present at the visitation for some reason. She attempted to cancel saying that this violated the terms of the visitation agreement.
I countered by saying that my mom did not have to come to the visitation. Of course this angered me, and my mom had already arrived in LA to see her grandchildren. So at this point, I’m using my phone in my mom’s car in the parking lot of this playland place. I got them to come back an hour later than originally scheduled. So, my mom and I basically said we’d meet after the visitation for dinner or something, and I walked to the playland entrance.
I sat down. Now mind you, I’m about 6 months into my transition from male to female. I’m 6’ 2”, and the hormones had not taken full effect to say the least. My hair was still growing out. I had lost a good bit of weight, and I did feel pretty confident, but hell, I was still a transgender girl in LA. I waited.
So, at about 8:30 or so PM, I see that my ex-wife and her mother have arrived with our two children. My eldest was almost two at this point so, he could walk on his own, and my youngest was carried in the car seat. The glass door opens, and my eldest child can see me, and I smile back at him, and then something happened.
My ex-wife comes running up to her mother and our children and starts to say something about how my mother is in the parking lot. OK, so the kids are being pulled back from the playland, like there had been some sort of “Abort! Abort!” command from on high. I was completely confused at this point, but I seemed to ascertain that my ex-wife had seen that my mom’s car was parked far down the parking lot isle. My mom drives a red Nissan Z, so she’s pretty easy to spot.
OK, let me step back from the action for a second here. My mom was just waiting to see that the kids were being dropped off. She had her lights off. She was literally a hundred and fifty feet away at this point. She was just waiting to see what would happen. No big deal.
So, my ex-wife says that my mom is here, so this is a violation of the visitation agreement, and she’s taking the kids and leaving. I’m a bit flabbergasted to put it mildly. Shocked. Confused. I call my mom in her car 150 feet away, and tell her that she should probably just leave, and so she does. Of course she’s not pleased to have driven two hours to see her grandchildren only to have to turn around and drive home.
So now my mom is gone. I’m trying to talk to my ex-wife, but she really would not speak to me directly at this point. Basically, she argues that my mom being in the parking lot violated the visitation agreement somehow, so she’s taking the boys and leaving. And she does. Now, I was all alone in front of a play land at 8:30 pm on a Tuesday night, sad and confused. I tried to make sense with my lawyer on the phone about what had just happened.
Over the next few months things degraded in court, and the visitations became more sparse. They terrorized me and beat me down, and I ended up signing my rights to them away. Now, I felt so beat up and lost from what the courts were doing to me, I think I just threw in the towel at that point. I came back, but I did sign that paper.
I started my blog Threads of Gender in May of 2012 because I love to write. I also saw it as outlet for a lot of the emotions I was feeling at the time. Keep in mind that with all of this divorce tomfoolery, I was concurrently trying to become female after living as a man for thirty years! Let me just say, it was complicated.
I didn’t think my blog was that big of a deal at first, but I found that I really enjoyed it. I have never in my life written as much as I have in the past two years (voluntarily). I started pouring my heart and soul into it and began to meet new online friends that I have to this day. If I didn’t have my blog and all of the rest of my social media endeavors, I doubt I would have made it through.
Well, my ex and her family found my blog to be a threat. So they started reading and downloading it. They saved it away on their computer. I know this because I pay for a service called statcounter.com that allows you to see the details of each external visitor to your site. Needless to say Moorpark ranks very high on the all-time list of cities that have accessed my blog. I can put a little tracking name on their IP, so if they show up, I see them. Also, I can see the source of their link. For example, one time, the source link was an html file saved in the C:\SOMETHING\MARK\evidence.html or something to that effect. Basically, they were watching what I said online, and they watch to this day, and they will read this! How about that.
When we were doing our final arguments for our divorce, they tried to use my blog against me. They presented it as evidence that I was completely nuts and out of my head. In one sadly hilarious example, they showed the judge a post titled “Monday Bloody Monday.” Now, the title of this is a play on “Sunday Bloody Sunday” by U2. I was just joking around, and in the British vernacular, “bloody” does not mean actual blood; it is an adjective with a meaning close to the word “very.” My ex was on the stand, and she said something to the effect of “who does this?!” as if I was some sort of psychopath. All I could do was shake my head and roll my eyes.
So I get to write with Big Brother looking over my shoulder. Of course most of the stuff I write has nothing to do with my personal family life and situation. I am very good at not involving my children online. However, when my courtesy is being used against me, I have to take action and write something like this.
So everything has a tipping point right? Well the figurative straw that broke the camel’s back is detailed here. I was looking for a new place to live, I thought about San Francisco, Portland, Hawaii, anything to get me away from the terror that I had been through. And since I work from home, I can take my job with me. But I thought that I just couldn’t move away from my kids. They were too dear to me. So I was looking to move to Silverlake or Downtown LA to try and have sanity and still be within reasonable reach of my children.
Anyways, life goes on, and I went shopping for my two boys at the Target in Woodland Hills as Abbie, for Christmas presents. So I bought a ton of awesome presents for the boys, and when I was close to the check out line, I looked to my left and I saw a gift card with a card. I’m a nice person, and this is going towards my children’s Christmas, so I’ll give my ex $20 in a gift card. You know, batteries, or stuff like that…
So some weeks later, when I’m out looking at places to move to, I pull into a diner, a cliché hipster spot to get something to eat. I eat some diner food whatever. But I get a phone call from a Sheriff. He starts telling me that there has been a complaint against the restraining order for a few reasons. OK, I’m listening. He says that I have to stop referring to myself as “mom” online as per the agreement that was forced upon me in court, that said I would be Abbie (yeah, there’s a whole back story to that too). OK, whatever. I don’t care about what name shows up on Facebook. It doesn’t effect my sleep. Moving on. Then he says “did you give [my ex] a gift card with the presents?” I tell him that yes I did, and then he tells me that she is filing a complaint against the restraining order alleging that the $20 gift card was “communication,” and therefore a violation of the order.
So it’s December, and I don’t have my kids, and my ex is trying to give me a misdemeanor for giving her a $20 Target Gift Card that said Merry Christmas. This is when I decided that I had to get out of LA. And I moved to Portland to get the hell away from behavior like that.
It’s the end of the year, I’ve decided I need to move to Portland. Great! It’s going to be a new start. Perfect. Well, a few months earlier, our final judgment had been settled, and me who couldn’t afford an attorney at that point got hit with a dubious claim of arrears. Now. I can handle that. I will pay child support or spousal support no problem. However, I sent emails to her lawyer asking for a simple and reasonable payment plan. Well, this fell on deaf ears, and they just decided to garnish $1,000 per month to get the arrears. Never mind the fact that this put me into poverty, and I had to take out loans just to cover my basic bills. I was suffocating financially at this point. So,
I’m working as a computer engineer and making good money, but I’m living like a pauper and renting a room and sending 60% of my check back to my ex. This lasted for nine months! I was driven into bankruptcy. Only now am I starting to recover from this.
So here it is. I’m tired. I’ve had to walk this ridiculous walk. It’s been so hard. I haven’t seen a picture of my children in 17 months. I’m broken by what has been done to me. I just want it to end.