Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Typical of my body to rebel against me....

I'm sick.

I had the flu a few weeks ago - which was absolutely awful, wow, no thank you - and now I have something that eerily (yet negative when tested) resembles strep throat.

It started on Thanksgiving at the soon-to-be-in-laws' residence because they have 3 cats and I doubled up on allergy pills which did next to nothing and was completely expected. I always know if I spend more than a few minutes there I will absolutely feel like crap for at least 8 hours. Only this time, nothing got better. Not after 8, 12, or even 24 hours. I had off of work Friday, and we went shopping because we are insane and it's the BEST people watching day OF THE YEAR, and felt worse as the day went on. I slept on the couch, sitting up, Friday night and woke up on Saturday morning a complete mess. "If I have a fever, I'll go to the clinic"...... BEEPBEEPBEEP..... "Damn." I came home with Vitamin Water, enough tissues for what I thought would last a weekend (I was sorely mistaken), a bottle of nasal spray, prescription cough medicine, and Augmentin (regardless that the strep test was negative). No partridges or pear trees, sadly.

So of course, on a 4 day weekend, my body completely shuts down and I do nothing. Which is GLORIOUS when I'm not hacking up phlegm and using 2 boxes of tissues over the course of a day with aches, pains, and consistent post nasal drip.

My immune system is really just terrible. Allergies, asthma, crappy immune system, vitamin D deficiency - it's no wonder my friends call me Steve.

Just a quick update for now - more when I don't have a headache and can get my thoughts together...

PS - I'm on the new laptop, YAY Black Friday!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Thoughts and updates - trying to stay positive

So. Trump is going to be our next president.

Of course I am afraid. Many of us are. I've been thinking a lot about what I should write here, and how to express what I'm feeling. However there have been so many others who have written, and expressed, and done such a damn good job doing it that I think it might be best if I just pass on this one.

Plus, there are other things that I want to talk about. Positive things. Like wedding planning! Still in early stages so I won't bore anyone, but I just want to say that regardless of what happens over the next few months with laws and marriage and rights, etc. I'm still very excited about marrying my best friend.

Some updates!

Northwell Health's Transgender Clinic is not only up and running, it is THRIVING. We needed to prove that services for trans* individuals was necessary in the community by fulfilling the grant promise of 40 patients within the 1st year. It is now less than 6 months and we are at 47 patients, with more intake appointments already scheduled. Negotiations are now underway to get a new grant, this one for 5 years instead of 1 year. VERY EXCITING!

PFLAG's Transparentsy Group was very intimate today, as it was only myself and 2 members who split to the other room - however I think it was fantastic to have a more intimate meeting and be able to address very specific questions that the members had. Not only did we get to address the fear and anxiousness associated with this past week's election results, we also got to discuss Gender Identity vs Gender Expression which I could talk about for hours - so it was a nice decompression from the crap that's been flooding me emotionally this week.

Gender Conference East 2016 in NJ was such an engaging experience, and it was so energizing to see and meet people who truly believe that this is important and are willing to fight for it on a daily basis, or even just learn something that they didn't know about before they got there. So many people seemed to genuinely interested and willing to learn and help, it gave me a lot of hope about not only the youth and our distant future, but also for the next few months (and years) while Trump is president. Many people understood the fear of those that are trans* or gender non confirming and what their future could look like. I made contacts with lawyers, teachers, health professionals, and analysts that will help us all move forward and fight for what we know is right. Okay, getting off of the soap box now.

Anyway, at the conference I met someone who works in a law office in NYC that has contact with 40 or more lawyers that are ready and willing to do PRO BONO name changes and gender marker changes so if anyone needs (or you know someone who may need) any assistance with that, please please please reach out and I will connect you. I also learned a lot about where the community is, and where we're going, how to help, and new terms to use. Example: the terms "supportive" and "non-supportive" are being replaced with "affirming" and "non-affirming" since people may be acting in a way or saying things that they truly believe to be supporting and are only doing it out of concern and love. This relates to the argument that I make about the difference between tolerance vs acceptance - which I would love to address in a later post.

Okay sorry that was a bit long but it's been awhile. I will do my best to update more frequently (I know I say that a lot, but I'm setting a reminder in my phone RIGHT NOW to try and get me to come on here more).

Be safe out there friends.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

I finally did the thing

Hello everyone! I've been working average 10 hour days lately, so I haven't been around much, sorry about that.


I finally popped the question where we had our first date. A tiny hole in the wall, sushi restaurant, the only people who were around were the sushi chef and his son - and they were very happy for us. It was perfect.


1. We have not chosen a date yet - shooting for Fall 2017.
2. We have no idea where we want to have it.
3. It will not be a huge or expensive wedding so pinterest DIY projects are appreciated
4. Yes, I got on one knee.
5. No I didn't ask her father for permission.
6. No, I will not be wearing a tux.
7. Yes, it will somehow involve superheroes.
8. We don't know where/when the engagement party will be yet.

That about covers it.

Next time: The condescending letter and check from my grandfather! (Yes, the one who wrote me an 8 page letter about fiscal responsibility and that I'm ruining my parent's lives by transitioning - it's great, you won't want to miss it)

I will try to post again soon, we are working at the NY Renaissance Faire Saturdays from August - October. So here's hoping I get some time in to write, it's been so long!!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

NYC Pride Parade! A week late, sorry....

I know I'm a week late but it's been crazy this past week and I wanted to have enough time to really write about how Pride went.


We marched with PFLAG Long Island (after some begging Sarah agreed to join me - worth it), and even though we had to wait over 2 hours before we got to march, it was such an amazing experience. The parents were excited, the kids who marched with us were excited, and the crowd was unbelievable. The love that we felt coming from the sidelines of the parade was nothing short of impressive. It was amazing to see all sorts of people turning up to show support, love, and camaraderie.

I wore a new tank-top that I bought from https://whattranslookslike.myshopify.com/ that says "This is What Trans Looks Like" and I got a bunch of compliments on it.

Something strange happened, however, and it's very interesting to me.

People were using female pronouns. At first I was confused, and a bit upset - and then it hit me. They assumed that I was born male. I was passing harder than any day of my life - at the pride parade - because people were trying to be supportive of someone who they knew was trans from the shirt, but assumed was trans female. Once that hit me I couldn't stop smiling about it.

Sarah wore a shirt that I bought for her that says "Hearts not Parts" with a rainbow heart on it. It's the cutest thing ever - Here's a picture

It was a long walk, and it was tiring, but it was worth it.

One of the best parts of the day was when we got back to our local train station, and a man saw us coming down the stairs, and tapped me on the shoulder - said "happy pride, guys" while smiling at us and then he head up the stairs to the train. It was so heartfelt, and genuine. We had been hearing the crowd cheer all day, and waving to us - which was great, but this was different. This was from one human to another, not for a crowd or waving a sign or for anyone else's sake. It was just for the sake of support and love.

Overall, it was a great day. Now Pride month is over and as fun as it was - it will be nice to have lazy weekends for a bit before Faire season.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Orlando... because I just needed to vent.

The Orlando massacre has hit me hard. Maybe it's because over the past year I've become more and more involved in the LGBTQ+ community.

I'm going to rant a bit here, and at NO POINT would I EVER discount the support from my friends that I had while I transitioned. I know that you were all (and still are) there for me, and that won't change.

However, I didn't do this with the help of other trans* persons. I didn't do this with a solid LGBTQ+ community at my back. I went to Pride For Youth once when I was probably 12 or 13 and never went back. At that time in my life, I was made to believe that what I was feeling was wrong, and I was going to hell for it - and I believed that enough to be afraid of what I knew to be true - I was attracted to women. I didn't have anyone that I could call at night when I was 11 years old and ready to end my own life. I had no friend that would walk across town for me to tell me it was going to be okay. I was alone. It was just me and my thoughts - which were never in my favor.
Most of my family was using drugs and alcohol for my entire life, my Mom (although not using drugs or booze) was working nights and told me that being suicidal was a part of growing up. So I dealt with it, because that's what I thought I was supposed to do. That everyone goes through it, and wants to end it, so I just have to toughen up and deal, right? So I did. I dealt. I've been dealing with it since I was 8 years old. I cleaned up beer cans, and bottles, and spilled munchies, and dog vomit because they wouldn't stop blowing pot smoke up his nose and giving him beer. I dealt with it when I was raped at 14, I dealt with it when 6 people from high school and my cousin all passed away when I was 17, and I dealt with it when my brother was found dead of a heroin overdose when I was 21.

I'm still dealing with shit, we all deal with shit, but now I'm part of something bigger than me, and I've gotten so involved in this community that now I know what it's like to feel loved by people I barely know. To catch eyes with someone across the room and feel like I know them, and we're already friends, already family. To hear parents pour their hearts out about how afraid they are for their LGBTQ+ child or children, or even other children. To see people blindly support each other no matter what, and have each other's backs, and hug and cry with strangers. This community is so beyond amazing that now I cannot imagine my life without it, and if anything I just want more of it. I can't get enough. They are some of the strongest, and most loving people I have ever met in my entire life - and they truly inspire everyone to just love each other. It sounds so gushy and sappy and I felt that way too, but it's so true.

We went to a vigil on Monday night for the victims of Orlando that was held at Pride for Youth. A lot of people went up and spoke, and it was amazing to feel all of the love and support in the room, and have some people who had never even come out to their families or friends but felt so strongly that they needed to be at this vigil.... some people even came out on stage as they spoke - it was so powerful. We spoke about how we feel, fear and anger taking up a lot of the conversation. Thankfully, however, the main point was love.

Honestly, I am angry, and scared, but mostly I'm just sad. I'm sad that this is the world that we live in. And that it takes the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. History for people to wake up and see that this is a problem. That people of the LGBTQ+ community worry about safety every single day.

You're worried about bathrooms? We're worried about walking down the street, going out to lunch, shopping in stores, things that other people take for granted EVERY SINGLE DAY. So let's not pretend this is something that it isn't. This is ignorance and hatred. It's fucking disgusting, and absolutely heartbreaking.
But we have to rise above the hatred, and help each other through this with support - and of course, with love.

I'll leave you with a quote:

"The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral,
begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy.
Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.
Through violence you may murder the liar,
but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth.
Through violence you may murder the hater,
but you do not murder hate.
In fact, violence merely increases hate.
So it goes.
Returning violence for violence multiplies violence,
adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness:
only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."

-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Monday, May 30, 2016

First shirtless summer and running a support group!

Sorry I know it's been awhile, but....

Guys I'm so excited. I got to wear a tank top all day yesterday, and it was fantastic. I need more tank tops.

Tank tops are underrated. Granted, I could have probably found a tank top that I could have worn with my binder but it would have been obvious that I was wearing one and that was what I was trying to avoid. I hated my body the way that it was while I was binding, and any excuse to try to hide that I was wearing it helped me feel more comfortable. Some people who bind are comfortable wearing a tank top with it and play it off well. I was not one of those people.

It means a lot to know that I can just pull on a tank top and feel comfortable about my upper body. I still want to lose weight and gain more muscle, but that's always been something I wanted - even before my transition.

But - shirtless...

That I could NOT do before surgery. The idea that I can just wear a vest to the Renaissance Faire, or lay on the beach in nothing but shorts is so exciting. I'm going to need tons and tons of sunblock but it's going to be so worth it.

Can't wait for my first day at the beach!

Work is going great, and as of last week I'm in charge of the PFLAG support group called "Transparency" for parents and loved ones that have transgender family members or friends and need support. I've been at the meetings a bunch of times now and it's been amazing. Now since the person who was running it before now has more on their plate, it seems like I'm going to be in charge of it going forward.

Check out the PFLAG website for more information - and join the mailing list for updates on meetings as well as a piece I'll be writing called "Transgender Ear Bender" which is an extension of what I talk about on here. I believe it's going to be a monthly piece - so you should join the list to check it out!

As always - feel free to email me at akircheim@gmail.com if there's anything specific you'd like me to talk about or touch on here, and it would be great to know what people want to hear about for the monthly PFLAG piece.

Until next time!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

What about everyone else?

Going through transition can be a very internal experience. To say the least, it is something that not everyone will understand. It tends to make people who transition very self-aware. I personally have learned over the past few years that I'm stronger than I believed I was, and I'm more than just another person walking down the street. I've learned who I really am, and it's comforting to know that I'm still learning. However, it makes me think about other people a lot, too. I often wonder what other people are doing. People I know well, people I knew a lifetime ago, as well as people I've never met and never will. Where are they right now? This very second? Where is that person in the car next to me going? How many years have that older couple been taking walks together?

I think about the world a lot.

Sometimes, the world really sucks.

Today is one of those days.

Any good vibes you can spare, send them my way - I know of a friend who needs them.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Expression at it's finest

Interestingly enough, there is something that I have heard more than once as of late - about people's first impressions of me (post-transition) and I find it extremely interesting.

It turns out that people who meet me without seeing (or my mentioning) Sarah, assume that I'm a gay man. On a certain level, it makes complete sense. There is something about me (my presentation and my expression) that people cannot put their finger on. Women feel strangely comfortable around me, and men... just don't get me. From a sociological standpoint, it's fascinating. I always knew that it was happening, but I couldn't truly explain it. I still can't say it exactly right, but a term that someone suggested is pretty damn close... they stated that it's most likely because I am "emotionally available". Men aren't the best at handling that type of feeling directed towards them, and women wonder if I'm gay because they sense that I'm not going to try and hit on them, and in no way am I a potential threat. Something women are constantly having to deal with - some men who are sexually driven assholes. I don't fit that mold, and it throws people off.

I love to see people struggle internally trying to figure out what category to put me in, and it's satisfying to know that some guys actually hate me for it. Without really knowing why they hate me (which is honestly the best part). I've had men ask me why I'm so comfortable around women, and I had to fight not to laugh. I answered "because I see them as no different than men, and I'm not thinking about what they look like naked when I talk to them".  Which is what a lot of men do. Not all, I'm not generalizing here - but I'm probably one of the only guys in the bar not trying to hit on someone, and I think women sense that. Many times I have saved a woman from unwanted contact on a dance floor, while all of the other men in the room have no idea why that woman will stick with me the rest of the night - or even realize that she was uncomfortable on the dance floor in the first place.

Some men are so dumb.

Not to say I'm completely straight, because I'm not. I don't think I could form a sexual relationship with another man, but emotional connections can be just as strong (if not stronger) and it's not untrue to say that I could fall in love with another man. It just doesn't necessarily mean I want to get down and dirty with him. I have loved men before, and there are men that I love now. A fact which has no bearing on my loving and committed relationship with Sarah (and she knows that).

Maybe one of these days I'll let someone think that I'm gay for as long as I can, just so I can study their face when I finally break it to them that I've been in a relationship with a woman for almost eight years. Cruel? Probably. BUT IT'S FOR SCIENCE!!

                                                                *          *          *

Since it's been so long since I last posted, here's a simple recipe as a bonus:

Brown Sugar Cookies

2 Cups AP Flour
1 tsp baking soda
1.5 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp cinnamon (I also add a bit of nutmeg)
1/4 tsp Salt
3/4 cup butter
1.25 Cup DARK brown sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 325 F
Melt butter in saucepan (don't let it boil)
Add brown sugar to saucepan with butter and mix (whisking is better) until combined
Whisk in egg with brown sugar/butter mixture, then vanilla
Mix all dry in large bowl, whisking to get rid of flour lumps
Pour wet into dry and mix with wooden spoon until combined
Spoon onto parchment paper covered cookie sheets (they don't spread much during baking when using dark brown sugar, but using light brown sugar means they'll spread more on the pans)

Bake ~10 minutes until JUST golden brown

Friday, February 12, 2016

Human Relations Day - Achievement Unlocked

Yesterday was Human Relations Day at Lynbrook High School, and I presented during six different class periods containing three to four classes per session. I'm sure I spoke to at least 100 students as well as their teachers and a few other staff members. It was such an amazing experience to go back to the high school that I graduated from and see how different the school environment has become. I'm not talking about the new TV screens in the Auditorium (but seriously those are pretty sweet), I'm talking about the kids. I'm talking about the presence of mature students that are willing to learn about those who are different than themselves.

I have many positive memories growing up in Lynbrook, but that doesn't mean it was always a very accepting and nurturing place for anyone outside the norm of 'plays sports and is religious in some way'. I am so proud that the community came together for our panel two weeks ago (Link: covered by, and on the front page of, our local newspaper), and that I was invited into the school to teach about the LGBTQ+ community as well as share my personal story. I was not only intrigued by the questions that followed my presentation, but happily surprised at how many kids said "thank you" either after the presentation itself or when they saw me in the hallways.

Later in the day, I encountered two students talking to a teacher about something from my presentation about transgender people and sex assigned at birth, and it was amazing to hear students talking about it. Many of them seemed genuinely interested, and to know that I got through to so many of them is such an incredible feeling.

A very heartfelt and special thank you goes out to Mary Kirby, Robyn Raleigh, and Laurie Mitchell at LHS for reaching out to me and allowing me to be involved with this marvelous program. Can't wait for next year!

Friday, January 29, 2016

Panel Success!

Wednesday night was amazing! Not only did a good amount of people show up, but it felt like people really wanted to be there - and for Lynbrook that's a huge step in the right direction. The questions seemed to flow nicely, everyone on the panel was respectful and although we went on for a bit longer than we had anticipated, it all worked out really well.

I'm so proud to be involved with this, and I really hope it catches on and maybe we can end up doing more of these. The kids were so excited to be able to sit up there and look out to parents and community members and teach them something. I'm sure many people got lost pretty quickly as we went through the LGBTQQIAA+ acronym and vocabulary, but there really wasn't a point where I felt like we completely lost the audience as a whole. Having the Rabbi and Deacon there I think was a fantastic benefit and really added something to the night. It was interesting and reassuring to hear them not only talk about religion in a positive light when it comes to the LGBTQ+ community, but to hear some personal stories and experiences from them I think truly got through to the attendees (Lynbrook is a pretty religious town as a whole).

I'm so thankful to have been apart of this whole process, and really want to thank the kids, Laurie, and Robyn for all of the work that they did to make this happen. It was such an inspiring experience.

I also got to meet and talk to someone at Pride for Youth and I'm hoping to get involved with them in some way. We'll see what happens.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

January 27th cannot come fast enough...

An event that has been 10 years in the making is finally happening, and I get to be a part of it. To say that I am excited does not do my feelings justice.

I am so proud of how far my hometown has come in the last 10 years. Not only do they have a fully functional and thriving GSA club (which we did NOT), they will now be hosting an event for the community based on LGBTQA+ issues and information. Myself, along with other individuals from the community (including parents, a Rabbi, a priest, and members of the GSA) will be conducting a panel not only to inform the community of LGBTQA+ matters but also to answer anonymous questions about these matters.

I am thrilled to be a part of this, and cannot wait to see where it goes and how it ripples out to not only Lynbrook but other towns as well. These kids are so inspiring and honestly much stronger and prouder than I was in high school. I admire their courage, and tenacity. They are so ready for the world to know who they are and to deal with it - ready or not.

It took a long time for me to feel the same way, and now I get to be that person that I needed when I was their age. I hope this is the first panel of many to come, and it will lead to bigger and better things.

"If you don't like how things are, change it! You're not a tree." -Jim Rohn