“2018… a year in reflection”

Jan 1

i am a little over 3 years old (from my “coming out”) yet i’m not even a year old (from my rebirth) and in this time span i’ve transitioned, struggled, cried more tears than ever before and felt an incredible sense of joy and happiness… i now know the joy of being the woman i always dreamed and prayed i would be…. i look in the mirror everyday now and see the smile and reflection i always prayed i would see…. yet there are times and days that my tears continue to flow….. so where am i today…. who am i today….

there is not a day that passes that i do not give thanks for the gift of being tess yet there is never a day that passes that i’m reminded of what i am, transgender.. do we all live within this chaotic rhythm of trying to maintain a balance in our new life and the gender assigned to us at birth…

i sit alone in a my chair, a chair that i sat in for countless mornings struggling to understand, learning how not to cry but instead to smile…. and today i sit and reflect over this past year, a year filled with growth and dreams fulfilled…. 

i have a photo on my dresser that i look at everyday and smile at… i took that photo on the morning of my gender reassignment surgery…. it’s my favorite photo i’ve ever taken of myself because i will never forget the joy i held in my heart, at that moment, knowing that in just a few hours a dream i held all my life would be fulfilled… it’s all there in that smile and the look in my eyes…. how many times do i lose myself in thought reliving the excitement i felt as i was being prepped for my surgery….. those nine days that i spent in Greenbaum Surgical Hospital were so beautiful, and often i wish i could return to my hospital bed so that i could relive the joy i felt during my stay there…. After that surgery, for the first time, i really not only felt, but believed my body was that of a woman…. and now that all my surgeries are over my body can finally heal… and in these past three years i’ve put an incredible amount of stress on my body while i transitioned….  emotionally and physically this has been so hard on my body…. i often think, is the hardest part of transitioning over, or does it really never end…. i always felt that transitioning literally sucked the life out of me and now i just want to live the life i’ve always dreamed of living…. finally i am doing that in so many ways and in that sense i believe there is an end to your transition….

if i was to pick a favorite part of each and every day in my new life it would have to be standing in front of my bathroom mirror every morning doing my makeup….  i not only love these moments but i also treasure this simple process, for it’s a process that validates that yes i am a woman… it’s mo longer the act that i did countless times behind a locked door with shame and fear…. i did that for a lifetime in my youth as i sat on that little wooden chair in front of my mother’s vanity or i stood before a bathroom mirror… i smile because today that vanity sits in “my” bedroom and i’m allowed to sit there any time i want without feeling any guilt or frustration…. this ritual of doing my makeup i love… i love the scent of my powder as i apply it to my face, the feel of my makeup brushes on my now feminine complexion…. i treasure every single bit of this… these are the precious moments that i cried just to be able to enjoy and i pray,  i pray i never take this gift for granted because i will never let myself forget all those countless times i silently walked by cosmetic counters in my life time, feeling my heart ache with a pain and frustration that simply ripped me apart… 

sometimes when i’m out running my daily errands i will find myself looking at a certain storefront…. the store is
“Ultra” and i remember when the first store opened in our area…. i would silently, and in a forest of guilt, walk by their display windows crying and wishing i could just open those doors and walk through them without a moments thought… the thousand of stolen glances i would steal hoping and praying no one saw the secret in my eyes…. today i will wear the most beautiful smile and simply walk through those doors because now i can and it’s a part of being a woman that i love….  it’s these simple moments that i hold so dear in my new life and there are simply no words that can express this joy… 

but today i know, and i hope i never forget that all this took time and patience… early in my transition, presenting myself in my desired gender was so hard…. a man of 66 years simply doesn’t, in a blink of an eye, appear feminine… what i felt in my heart i knew others couldn’t see in my reflection…. how many times i prayed that i could just silently bleed into this world as the woman i was trying to be… people will never realize the thousand of eyes that i looked at, that any transgender will look at, hoping and praying they know not our secret…. even today, at times i find myself looking at a girl walking by…. there’s an innocence and a sense of freedom that i still struggle to hold and it’s in these broken minutes that my heart knows that yes i am a woman but unlike you i am trans…. these are the moments that the cis-gendered world is totally unaware of… how these moments still break our hearts or at least mine 

i smile as i think of the endless hours that i stood in front of mirrors practicing a whole new body language… i had to master those movements because if i didn’t, i knew the whole world would know my secret and i didn’t want to see the look in their eyes at that moment or feel the pain in my heart again… today, so much of this is just natural, i don’t even have to think about my hand gestures or maybe how i’m sitting or standing… now it just happens and i love to believe it happens so naturally now because that is what my soul always felt… 

yet i still struggle with facial expressions that are purely feminine… were these expressions learned as those young girls were feeling the joy of being in love for the first time and were slowly learning the subtle ways to show their sexuality…. this past summer i would watch Tori, one of the dancers for Princess’s production shows, for endless hours, as she had the rare ability to express so much emotion with just a certain smile, the tilt of her head or the look in her eyes… i think that these are some of the subdued things about being female that i may never know.. 

     and just in the last 14 months of my transition i laid on an operating table for almost 30 hours… i subjected my body to the trauma and risk of all those hours of surgery for what…..   was the reflection i saw in a mirror that painful that i was willing to endure 4 different facial procedures… a complete gender reassignment and a breast augmentation..

the answer without a doubt is yes….

the proof can simply be seen in how i felt this past summer……  once again i was aboard the Grand Princess working as the ship’s Alaskan Naturalist, and thought out the summer i stood before literally thousands of people giving my talks…. i was engaged in countless one on one conversations with passengers and appeared frequently on the ship’s televised Morning Wake Show…. and for the first time in my transition i felt such an incredible sense of being the woman i always dreamed i wanted to be…. how many times did i stand in front of a mirror and just smile… i felt not only confident in my role of being a woman, but more importantly it just felt very relaxed, natural and comfortable… yes my first summer working as the Alaskan Naturalist after all my surgeries and my gender reassignment proved to me all those surgeries were well worth it…

and my year ended with me standing in a classroom being the teacher i always dreamt of being… for my whole teaching career, of over 30 years, i always wondered what it would be like to have my own classroom as Ms. T….. was it the daily interaction with “my” students or  colleagues, yes that was definitely a huge part that brought me this unbelievable joy, but was it just simply dressing everyday and going to work as the woman i always wanted to be…. and for the four weeks i stood in front of that classroom i really believe, to all my students, i was just another a female teacher… yes, some of them had to know my secret, and i often wondered if i was being “read” and by whom… these are the little things of “being transgender” that i think i will always have to fight but the happiness i felt every single moment during that month was worth those minutes that i fought my demons…

so was 2018 a good year?  to answer that just look at that photo i took the morning of my gender reassignment surgery… that smile will tell you it was a beautiful year filled with incredible happiness and dreams fulfilled

tess julianna   

“my thoughts from a classroom that was never mine”

Dec 21
i thought today would be different…. a day without tears but it seems i always have my tears and it’s hard, so hard because i’m so tired of crying…
yesterday i received the official word that Pinnacle High School was in the process of hiring somebody to take the position that i was temporarily filling… i sat in the Principal’s Conference room as i was notified and i just couldn’t hide my tears or my disappointment … you would think that by now i would be used to crying…
for 30 plus years i taught students, in some capacity or another, and as jules i always wondered and even fantasied what it would be like to teach as a woman… well for just about a month i found that out and it was beautiful… yes i had to deal with a lot of frustrations, as the teacher i was filling in for had not yet been officially dismissed and he was still providing lesson plans and was doing the grading… his presence was always there with the students and haunting me reminding me i was just filling in until…. and because of that i really wasn’t the teacher in those student’s eyes…. i didn’t have the credibility as their teacher, no i was just “filling in” until..
but that didn’t matter in so many ways …. to me i was getting up early every morning and going to work… i was going to work as their teacher and as the person i always wanted to be…. i loved picking out my outfit everyday, doing my makeup, fixing my hair and hurrying off to work… i was a working woman and i loved it even more than i do in the summer as the Alaskan Naturalist for Princess… i guess i did enjoy it more because now i was interacting with students, something i loved doing all my life and something i learned i was meant to do with this life of mine…. and i just can’t describe how beautiful this was….

in so many ways i really felt i was overcoming some of my demons that i fight with everyday just because i’m transgender… i always wanted to be seen as just another woman… but at times it’s so hard because i carry the secrets of what i really am… i battle everyday with the fact that to me and to many the voice that they hear is that of a man’s…. that alone causes me to be mis-gendered time and time again, and even with people who know that i’m now tess and no longer jules… i don’t think the “straight” world will ever really know or understand how that breaks a transgender’s heart time and time again… but in my heart i know i will always be mis-gendered….

but in many of my past days i would walk the halls of the school and other female teachers would give me a casual compliment on something i was wearing… those few words would always fill my heart with joy… and now and then a girl in my class would compliment me on my earrings or my manicured nails and once again my heart would burst with joy… i can’t even count the prayers i offered up in thanks….. and as jules i was never comfortable interacting with many of the girls i taught… i just didn’t know how to interact , it felt too uncomfortable and i was always on guard trying to hide my secret thoughts and desires… in all my years of teaching, i rarely was able to interact with the other female teachers in our school….. it was too hard as i just wanted to be them so i didn’t know how to interact as just a male colleague… but in these short few weeks that i was Ms. Talarico everything just seemed to fall into place….. and in the end many of these students won my heart…. i loved hearing my name, Ms. Talarico being echoed in that classroom… it’s strange but now as a woman interacting with these students, everything just seemed so much more natural and easier, even with my new female colleagues…. i had my little group of students that were dancers and i loved talking with them before class…. they loved the fact that at my age i was taking ballet lessons…..
everything was perfect…
but now i sit in an empty classroom… it’s no longer my classroom although now that i think about it, this never was officially my classroom…. i look at the teacher’s desk that i wanted so badly to be mine… i would of had all my little things on that desk that told the students who Ms. Talarico was…. no longer will i stand in the front of that room, hell i never really got a chance to do what i was born to do, teach…
so you wonder why my heart aches so much, it’s because i will never have this opportunity again… my teaching certification expires in July and it would be too hard to get all the requirements to renew that certificate, so now i will never have my own classroom as Ms. Talarico and it hurts so bad….
in these past few years my life has been in so much turmoil, first “coming out” and then transitioning…. i’ve done so much just to put my life back together the way it should of been… but it will never be completely the way it should of been… and today i’ll walk out of this empty classroom, a classroom that i wanted so much to be mine, but it wasn’t….
later that night…
i lay in my bed, curled up tight with my broken heart…. my tears just came pouring out and i couldn’t stop crying

thoughts from my first ballet class

my first ballet class is now behind me…
but it all started as once again i sat in my car convincing myself i could do this, that everything would be alright, but i knew not what tonight would bring… i walked into the lobby of Ballet Arizona and was greeted by a lobby-full of little ballerinas, all dressed in their leotards with their hair tied into a little ballerina bun….. i smiled but i cried as usual, why couldn’t this have been me…. all these little ballerinas were probably doing their first of maybe a lifetime of ballet classes and so i said a silent prayer for each of them, a prayer that they will grab this gift and hold on to it for a lifetime, for i never was able to….. i found an empty seat across from the studio i would meet in… it was empty but i didn’t want to be the first to enter so i sat in silence and just thought about what i was about to do, my first ballet class, yes at the age of 69 but who cares for i just want to feel what it’s like to dance, to be graceful, to be beautiful

prior to the class starting i quietly entered the studio not really knowing what to expect but i was very nervous, oh was i nervous… as i looked around the studio several girls were already there and stretching out…. in my eyes they were so beautiful with their hair tied in a bun and dressed in their dancer’s attire as they put their slippers on and began a ritual of stretching that they must of done a hundred times before… i looked down at my new slippers and i felt so embarrassed as i didn’t even know how to tie them… it was awkward, but i hesitantly asked the dancer next to me how to tie my slippers… she smiled with a beautiful smile and asked if this was my first class… i smiled back and said yes….. and now with my slippers on i began to stretch as i did a hundred times before, but now i wasn’t stretching before a run or a hike, no now i was in a ballet studio prior to a ballet class and i knew not what or how to stretch… and as the time for the class to begin approached, the studio slowly filled with more and more dancers and they all found a spot under the barre that extended around the studio…. i watched them all silently wishing i was them….
the dance instructor spotted me and knew instantly that this was my first class, probably from my desire to just fade or melt into the background and disappear but her smile welcomed me….. i quietly told her of my lack of experience and really what i was trying to accomplish… i wanted to improve my posture, feel more graceful and feminine and yes, maybe just for a moment, feel like a beautiful ballerina dancing… she smiled and positioned me between two dancers so i could watch them as i tried to learn the fundamental exercises they would do at the barre..

the session began and slowly and very awkwardly i tried to imitate each and every position that was called out… my heart would soar at what i was actually doing, i was positioned on a barre and, well in my mind, learning ballet… but at other times i was so frustrated as i wanted to know more of the basic mechanics behind each movement… i was clumsy and i wanted to be graceful, graceful as the dancers on either side of me…. at times i just wanted to cry, cry because just maybe this wasn’t a good idea but then i would steal a glance at my reflection in a mirror and i would feel a beautiful smile forming…. yes that’s me in my leotards with my hair tied up and i’m learning ballet… i kept thinking of the smiles that i knew all my dancers would have on their beautiful faces knowing that i was here pursuing my dream of dancing… their smiles were the encouragement that kept me dancing…. and as the dancers moved through the various feet positions, their arms flowed so gracefully, their hands and fingers so feminine… i couldn’t even begin to imitate these movements and the instructor just told me to keep one hand on the barre and the other on my hip so i could keep my balance… so much i want to learn and i kept thinking can this woman with her little “teenage heart” ever dance….

and soon the first half of the class was over and now they began their floor exercises…. at once i knew this was where i would just stand, watch and yes dream…. the piano sounded and i just watch wave after wave of dancers float across the floor… they were so beautiful, so very beautiful…. at times i wanted to cry with frustration but i kept looking at my reflection in that mirror and then i couldn’t help but smile, smile because yes i was here… eventually the class ended and the room slowly emptied… i sat on the dance floor with my slippers in my hand and tears in my eyes for i did what i dreamed of doing, i took my first ballet class… as i sat in my quiet solitude a beautiful dancer sat next to me and asked me how my first class went…. i smiled and she said you did great and please come back…. i thanked the instructor and asked if there was a ballet manual that would help me as i will return….
i walked to my car with a beautiful smile and a heart that was dancing
tess julianna 11/12/18

my last journal entry in “Songs of the Sirens”

Nov 6
today marks my 3 year anniversary of my “Coming Out” and with that i will write the final entry into my journal… it’s around 3:30 in the morning and so many of my journal entries were written in these early hours of the day, sitting in this chair alone with only my thoughts and mostly my tears…… and as i woke this morning i knew that this last journal entry  must also be written in these early hours….… all things must have an ending and so must my journal… after three years i’ve completed all my surgeries, i worked now for two summers in Alaska as tess, i’m active in my church and i’m working as a substitute teacher as much as i choose too and all this i’m doing as the woman i always wanted to be…. my transition has to end at some point so that i can really move forward in my life and for me it might as well be now….
this journal has been so important to me as it has recorded all my tears and joys during this journey… i can easily say this journal is one of my proudest accomplishments…
and i sit here now reflecting back on my transition, remembering so many beautiful moments… Mary handing me my “simple piece of paper” allowing me to begin my Hormone Replacement Therapy… that day  was so important to me, as with beginning HRT i would really begin my journey….. it was on that day that i brought my Brighton bracelet with the words “Embrace the Journey” and i wear that bracelet everyday to remind me the gift of this journey….. i’ll never forget that evening sitting at the dinner table and taking my first dose of estrogen… i hope i never forget all the joy and frustration during that first year… i can remember when Joanne bought me my very first handbag, how excited i was to finally have one of my own and to be able to carrying it in public… i celebrated that day by getting my very first manicure… i can remember how nervous i was and how long it took me to get up my courage to get out of my car and walk through that door… i loved that manicure but i could only keep in on for a few days as i had church that following Sunday and nobody knew of my situation… after my manicure i went and saw Susan to have her do my hair before Group that evening…. all those beautiful moments are recorded in my journal… my legal name change, getting my drivers license, so many steps i had to go through… at times i still wish i could relive some of the excitement of those moments but i know also there were so many tears too… probably my favorite photo taken during that time was the photo i took the morning of my reassignment surgery… my smile was so beautiful and that was such an exciting day for tess for her lifelong wish was finally being granted…. so many beautiful moments i would love to have back again and again but life must move ahead…
my transition has been so hard on me, yes it’s the hardest thing i ever had to do and still there are times i wish i didn’t have to take this journey… i’m still adjusting to “being transgender”… it’s something i don’t think i will ever really get over…. and i guess as long as i cling to the beautiful memory of jules i will always be tossed between two different worlds… that’s alright… i accept that….
and the gift i never thought i would receive from taking this journey is all the beautiful people i now call friends… jules really didn’t have many friends, no jules had his circle of people he associated with but they really weren’t friends…. no, for there were never any tears, secrets or moments of joy shared with these people… today i am embraced and really loved by so many people… these friendships have changed my life as much as i have effected their life…

and so these chapters must end as with the pages in these chapters…. i will continue writing journal entries, my essays and poetry but now they will go into a new journal simply called ”after Songs of the Sirens”… so my beautiful friend we must part now but know i love you and will always cherish the moments i spent with you… i thank you for helping me wipe my tears and finding the courage to take this journey…. i will miss these pages so very much

all my love
tess julianna

“thoughts on my 50th High School Reunion”

thoughts on my 50th High School Reunion

i really wasn’t sure why i was taking this journey, a journey back to a time and a place where i really didn’t have any good memories… my high school years were just that… empty and painful to remember… did i come back to salvage at least one happy memory of a high school event… that is what i thought, and that is originally why i decided to make this journey, but in the process i realized i was returning to find more about that quiet kid, jules… who was he? how did my classmates perceive him then and how would they embrace tess today…
i’ll admit that i was nervous and scared… what was i really going to accomplish or would this just be another brutal lesson that i shouldn’t try to relive a time that i can never have back…. being transgender i learned that rather quickly… i remember when i received my invitation to my reunion how i just tossed it aside, laughing and thinking why would i even consider doing this…
i’m just a few weeks from my 3rd anniversary of coming out, coming out after living with a secret for 66 years…. my transition has been a long hard process for me, one filled with more tears and depression then i ever had in the past but it was also filled with a happiness and a sense of peace that i never felt before… but deep in my heart i will always cry out, “why did i have to be transgender, why couldn’t i have been just like you”
when i “came out” to my classmates on the Reunion Facebook site i really didn’t know what to expect… but what i did find was a lot of love and acceptance… as the months passed by, i began to keep in touch with many of my old classmates…. they followed my Facebook posts and some even my blog, tessjulianna.blog….. and in the process i knew i had a group of people who would have my back throughout this journey…. to Kathi and Nancy i can never thank you enough….
as the wheels of my plane touched down in Philadelphia i was filled with a sense of excitement… tess had come a long way in the pass year… over 30 hours i laid in an operating room, i had my gender reassignment surgery, a surgery i waited a lifetime to have plus several other surgeries to feminize my appearance… i had just completed a beautiful summer with Princess Cruises in Alaska as tess, and all i received was love and acceptance… so i thought why should this be any different….

but i was running scared… i asked Nancy and Kathi if i could meet them for a breakfast on Friday morning… i didn’t want to walk into this whole weekend not physically knowing anybody…. well it was a beautiful time and as i sat there, in that restaurant booth, i kept seeing faces that i loved in the past but also faces of friends i had today and that was the important part…. we parted and i was excited for our evening get-together at the high school’s Homecoming football game…
before going to the game i drove silently around Stratford, “his” old neighborhood, places that had good memories and places where my dysphoria brought just empty and frustrating times…. i began to think that this all was going to be a big mistake….. i parked near the house i lived in, 16 Sleepy Hollow Rd….. i saw where my bedroom was, where every night, for a lifetime, i prayed that i would wake up no longer as “him” only to wake up with my tears…. why couldn’t i just been like you…. how many times did i scream those words… and as i drove up to the my old high school and parked my car i panicked…. i fought back tears as i looked at my old high school… so many memories were crashing down on me… the pain, the frustration….. what the hell was i doing here… it took me a lifetime to get the courage to open my car door and join my classmates that were arriving, but i did… it began with the typical awkward introductions but many recognized me from my Facebook post… there were hugs and beautiful words spoken, admiration for my courage… i began to feel everything would be alright…. but eventually i found myself alone, alone and looking out over the school’s athletic fields and thats when my tears began….
later that night i wrote these words about that moment:

From my journal…
laying in bed thinking about the past day… i came back for my 50th HS Reunion… i was standing alone with tears staining my face as i looked over the HS’s athletic fields…. the fields of my failed dreams…. yes i came back and i did find acceptance and love but what i realized i really came back to find was why “he” had to cry… everything that should of been, everything that never happened…. i would of given anything to be you….. i would love to have your thoughts… hell i would give you mine in a second… but i don’t see anybody standing in line wanting to be me… wanting to be trans
“fields of dreams”

tears stain my face
hell they rained down this face forever…
is it “she” or “him” standing there
standing there looking over this “field of dreams”
i wish i knew…..
i walked on those fields so long ago
to make dreams
but my dreams were not to be had
had on those field of green…
no he just locked the door a hundred times
always afraid that handle would turn,
turn and the door opens
and his field of dreams
dreams he could never share
would shatter your fields of dreams…..

she found her fields of dreams
dreams within the tears that had to be shed
shed because of what i am…
and i laid on that table
more than once i did,
and it was her gifted hands
gifted hands that gave me
gave me my field of dreams
and no i’m not like you
God i wish i could of been
wearing that smile
the look in your eyes….
but no i’m not like you
God i wish i could of been
wearing that smile
instead of what i am
instead of what i am
tess julianna 10/20/18

but from that night i will always treasure this photo… Joe, tess and Pat… three amigos

Joe Shoop tess Pat Minyon.png

Saturday Oct. 20th
today was the big day… a chaotic parade of thoughts kept me company throughout the day….. i was excited, i was scared, would i be able to mingle, laugh and socialize or would i find myself alone, alone and just watching… i brought three different outfits to wear that night and i couldn’t decide which would be the perfect look… i wanted all my classmates to see a beautiful woman, proud of who she was… proud of the journey she took to become that woman… and as i dressed i choose to wear the name tag that had my beautiful name, a name i choose to live the rest of my life with but i chose to use the name tag that had jules’s graduation photo on it, after all that was who all these people had memories of…

the evening was so funny in a way… here we were, 50 years later and all of us had aged… very few people i could easily recognize…. with most people we played the game of looking at the graduation photo on the name tag and their name… i will admit though, i was more anxious to see all those girls, girls that i never had the courage to talk to because i was a prisoner of my dysphoria… i wanted to finally talk to them, laugh with them and most importantly i wanted to hear about what they thought of that quiet kid named jules….. i heard a lot of “why didn’t you talk to me… you were so quiet”…. to many i confessed i wanted to talk to them, i wanted to ask them out, i even joked to some “why didn’t you ask me out”… it was all so beautiful… and all their words of that quiet kid just brought tears to my eyes… people did notice me… many spoke of my smile and even my humor…. so many things that i had forgotten… so many thing i never knew… so many things i will never forget

and as the evening was ending i found myself as i knew i would, sitting alone and just watching my classmates, wishing things would of been different, wishing that i didn’t have to be jules just to be tess… so many whys… and as i was leaving i talked briefly with two beautiful girls, Susan and Roberta (you know who you are)… i wanted to say so much more to you both… i didn’t want to have to walk away, no i wanted those minutes to last forever… your words to me, your words of jules were so beautiful, i wanted to hug you both forever but i was crashing rapidly and i was trying to fight back my depression and so i walked to my car with tears staining my face… that night i slept with tears once again
Monday Oct. 22
i was packing up…. so many feelings and thoughts i had to process… i needed time with my journal to write what i had to write… a phone call… Joe Shoop called to say goodbye to both tess and jules…. his words were so beautiful, i had tears running down my face as i listened and it was in those moments i realized that i got everything i wanted from this trip… i knew it was a beautiful journey i had taken, a journey i took both for tess and for jules… thank you joe and thank you so much my two new girlfriends, Kathi and Nancy
tess julianna 10/22/18

“who am i”

“who am i or what am i”

who am i, or what am i… questions that i simply asked all my life and yet i’m still not really sure of the answer….yes i know what my medical condition is according to the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM-V; Gender Dysphoria… Gender Dysphoria, is simply “a feeling or a state of being at unease as a result when a person’s sexual anatomy doesn’t match up with his or her inner sense of gender”…. okay what does this all really mean?
maybe you can just say i’m transgender…

most of my life, and i know this would date back definitely to my preteens, i simply wanted to be a girl….. this was the feeling i carried all through my life…. i really don’t think i ever verbalized my feelings that i was a girl simply in the body of a boy…. and it pains me today to understand or figure out why i didn’t rationalized my feelings like this, all i simply felt was i was unhappy being a boy and i wanted to be a girl….. i wonder, if i had known that i was transgender, how would of that affected my life and especially the pain i suffered…

i was born in 1949 and grew up in the 50’s so i guess i knew that these feelings weren’t natural so i never verbally expressed them, but i felt them constantly…. i wish i knew how old i was when my dysphoria became apparent to me… i rack my brain trying to remember a childhood that occurred so long ago… today i don’t even have my mother to talk to, to ask if i ever had behavior that didn’t fit the typical male role…. i was their first born son, a son they dearly wanted, because of that would they just ignore any atypical behavior… the scientific literature or Doctor Spock, the manual that every mother referred to, never talked about sexual or especially gender identity back in the 50’s…. if i had been born maybe 10 or 15 years later would the language even have been out there…. but does any of this really matter because i simply spent my whole life wanting something that i knew i never could have… i guess i learned early the disappointments that life can throw your way… yet every day, and especially after i reached puberty, i learned that every time i saw the reflection of a girl or anything that related to a girl my heart would cry, “i wish i was born a girl”………i really wonder if any “normal” person can really relate to the magnitude of this statement… that when it came down to my physical self, “every waking moment, every conscious breath came down to a denial of who i truly was”….

how does a child build a positive sense of self-esteem under these conditions… i never had any self esteem… i always felt inferior in just about every thing that i did… many times i had to prove myself and many times that ended with just more disappointment… i was never very athletic as a child and never excelled in any sport or academics… i will always remember how i was the oldest kid in our local minor league of little league and lived with my father’s video of me striking out and walking to the dugout with my head hung low in disappointment… and this drama was played all throughout my life….

i wore a lot of costumes throughout my life…. each one was an attempt to find the “me” that i could feel good about… i was always more worried over what someone would think of the reflection that i painted than how i felt in that reflection….. always comparing myself to somebody else’s standards, to what i thought would bring acceptance or was it love… no, i really don’t think love was the issue then, it was simply feeling good about myself…. all my life i would secretly look at other males, painfully seeing how i was inferior to their reflection…. my arms were never big enough, i had peach fuzz instead of a manly beard, and the list goes on and on…

i spent my whole life trying to ease my dysphoria, make the pain just a little less so that life would be tolerable…. i could never be a girl… little boys can’t be little girls… who wrote that stupid law, it just didn’t make any sense to me…. but what would it feel like to be a girl… i had to rely on my imagination all my life and fantasize that life i wanted… did it help or just cause my heart to be broken more, i’ll never know…. i really don’t know how old i was when i secretly, and behind a locked door put on a piece of my mother’s clothing…. it felt right, it felt so good, and at that moment i guess i began a lifetime of secretly cross-dressing… that was a strategy i used for over 55 years and also during 44 years of my marriage…. a strategy just to ease my pain and to live in my dream world of being a girl… during my adult years i wonder did this ease my dysphoria or just cause me more pain… but always it was behind locked doors and fearing someone would enter that room…… i would sit in my mother’s little chair at her vanity all throughout my life, even as an adult when i would visit her…. and looking into the mirror that she saw her beautiful reflection all i saw every time i looked in that mirror was the truth, “you can never and will never be or look like a beautiful girl”… disappointment, pain, tears, yea even suicidal thoughts was all i ever saw in that mirror… and all throughout my life, looking at his image in all of the mirrors always brought a sense of confusion, of regret, of pain…. how many times did i stand in the shower and hide my genitals so that i would see the image of a girl rather than a man… how many times did i grabbed that mistake and wish i could just cut it off….

but it’s today and today i am almost 3 years from that day that i “came out”….. for 33 months now i have been on HRT and i swear i will go to my grave still being on my HRT…. and only about 6 months ago i had a surgery i waited a lifetime for… every night, during my life, i prayed for that day and yes it did finally come…. i will always believe the morning of my sexual reassignment surgery (SRS) will be the happiest minutes of my life…. i love the photo that i took of myself that morning, my smile said it all….. i knew that in just hours, that yes i would really be a girl…. wheeling me into surgery that morning i i could of died and i would have had no regrets because my greatest wish was really happening….. no this would not be just another one of my broken dreams it was really happening…

so “who am i” and “where am i today”
here are the facts:
i am now legally considered a female
my birth certificate and every other document concerning me states that i am female
my 23rd chromosome still reads XY
i am not nor ever will be a cis-gender female
my body had testosterone as its main hormone for 66 years, that’s 66 years of developing as a male and surgery can only do so much to soften that fact
i still have “his” voice
i will probably ALWAYS be mis-gendered in one way or another
I HATE THE FACT THAT I AM TRANSGENDER.. being transgender has raped me of my childhood and the memories i would of had and never allowed jules to live his life without tears
all summer long i stood in front of thousands, on a cruise ship in Alaska, weaving tales of Alaska’s beauty… and even though i presented myself so beautifully as a woman as soon as i opened my mouth and started talking, questions were being thought… “was she once a male”, or “that’s really a man”

but those thoughts never were really a major concern to those people, for from that first day they began falling in love with their naturalist, tess julianna….. tess was knitting her way into their hearts and nothing else really mattered… how many times did i hear my beautiful name, always with praise and love, and in those moments it really didn’t matter “what i was” but i knew all summer long that my secret really wasn’t a secret….. and to help maybe some of these people to understand i did something i thought i never would once i began my journey…. after reading my poetry, in my last Alaskan Naturalist presentation, i publicly “came out” to everyone sitting in that audience… i said the words i never thought i would say in public, for everyone to hear “I AM TRANSGENDER”…..finally i told them that at 2PM that afternoon i would give a private talk “on being transgender”… to help them understand i would read from my journal and poetry and answer any questions they would have…. and in return i got the most beautiful hugs and words of love and praise just for being who and what i was….

and all summer long, every evening at 6PM, i went to Princess’s LGBT meeting…. i went for two reasons, one to socialize with “my new family” the family i now belonged within….. but i think the main reason i attended was to learn about “their journeys”…. were their journeys the same as mine, did we share the same feelings in life, how much difference is there between having a mis-orientation with your sexual identity than with your gender identity… and also are my feelings and emotions today the same as any other lesbian….

and after all was said and done, and i walked off the Grand Princess for the final time this summer i believe i now really understand and know who and what i am…. yes i am transgender….. and as much as i would love to go through my life in stealth, i know it just won’t happen, especially publicly interacting with the number of people that i do…. so maybe my role or purpose in life now is simply to be a “trans-girl” living the life she always wanted in the eyes of the public…. yes there will be people i meet everyday that will always look at me with disgust but they are in the minority…. my summer on the Grand Princess is proof of that…. no, maybe to all the other people that tess julianna walks into their life, be it for a moment or longer, they may or will know her secret and they will never understand the “why’s” but at that moment they will have been converted and yet another disciples will go spread the word “hey transgenders are beautiful people too, remember tess and how we loved her”

and probably the most important fact is that everyday for the rest of my life i will wake up as the woman i always dreamed of being
tess julianna 9/29/2018

“ebbing of my summer winds”

this summer i read to many a suite of poems that dealt with me dealing with my mortality… i called this piece of writing “dreams”… “ebbing of my summer winds” belongs in this suite… enjoy!

“ebbing of my summer winds”

my days are slipping by
and with that so does time,
time that i can never have back
instead i just have my pocketfuls of memories….
and in this moment my thoughts are a chaotic collection
a collection of regrets, smiles, tears of joy,
of celebration
and memories
memories that i want to relive
memories that i cannot let go of
for i never want to be without them

where are my dancers
will we ever share those moments again
will i ever see your smiles as you dance…
why can’t these moments stand frozen in time
then i can have your smiles forever
forever instead of this summer of goodbyes
goodbyes that my shoulders had to carry
and i regret the miles i didn’t walk this summer
once again Deer Mountain was too much for my fragile feet
feet that once took me on endless hikes
always my boots awaited those trails
trails that seem never to end until now…..

but i’m so glad i took that hike with you though,
photos of a time i will hold on to
hold on to,
and searching for mushrooms
a dinner we shared with friends i hold dear
but now distance
a distance that won’t let me see your beautiful smiles

and of my Ketchikan days
that last beer tasted so good
we sat there
always i will remember the music from that day
we sat in conversation
enjoying the moment
enjoying each other’s presence
but now all those moments are gone

and where is my circle of friends
we sat in that circle every afternoon
you all helped me smile and laugh
you held my hand
for this journey is so new
but now i can’t see your smiles
for between us lies far too many miles

and i cry
i cry is this all i have from my alaskan summer
fragments of thoughts
of memories
i curse this passage of time
time that i will never have again
but it’s early in the morning
and i’m on a southbound run
a run that i know will take me home
to a time in which i can forge new memories
but still
i hate this passage of time
tess julianna 9/21/18

the beginning of a dream… from the Log of Tranquility

May 31, 2004
it’s dark outside and i’m safely tucked down in the cabin of Tranquility, a dream come true… the past few days has been an adventure in boat ownership and maintenance… Jeffrey (my brother) where are you when i need you.. slowly, and with a hundred questions i’m learning…. and with an endless list of should do, must do, would be nice to do and someday i’ll do jobs i have more than enough to do and keep me busy…
but for now i sit in quiet and listen to the sounds of the night… there’s the smell of salt in the air and the dampness that comes from being on the water…. i look around at my beautiful new world…. one of the first things i had to do was to put my books, the books that would be Tranquility’s library on their shelf… and with my mug of tea i sit in this beautiful dream…
i started the engine for the first time today and journeyed nowhere… it was my first step and a big step for me… always i think of my brother and of my grandfather, what would they do, what would they say…. i have their presence always with me as i putter around… i’m learning my way around Tranquility and i made the promise i will always treat her as a lady for many a dreams she will take me to… David Crosby wrote a song, “The Lee Shore” about a love affair with his schooner called “Mayan”… i haven’t written my song yet but i am falling in love with Tranquility…
always i will look southward towards Pt. Loma and the ocean… i must be patience, my time will come and when i unfurl my sails and feel the wind upon my face and i’ll let Tranquility carry my heart away
to you Joanne i owe this dream, not only of Tranquility but of this life i have shared with you… “and i love you… till forever comes and gone… till the day i die… till the sun’s gone”

June 2, 2004
for the first time i left the safety of the dock with two friends and ventured towards San Diego Bay… standing behind the wheel she gently carried me away… my heart and spirit were soaring… i didn’t need to go far this first time, the important thing was i went… this small journey was more important than any destination… my destinations will all come later but today i will cherish this beginning

June 6, 2004
today i let the wind fill the sails for the first time and we sailed away… i only took a few tacks around the bay but this felt so good… at times i never thought i would of ever been doing this but yes, dreams do come true… this was the first time i sailed a boat this size, basically by myself, so Tranquility felt like a lot of boat to handle but she was very forgiving… she too must have patience with these hands that will now care for her… i felt the wind in my face and with the heeling of the hull, the straining in the rigging, my hands on her wheel, yes i was in heaven… and this was only my first of an endless lifetime of sails

June 8, 2004
this was my very first time leaving the dock alone… a thousands questions with only myself to answer them… i felt my brother’s spirit encouraging me as i left the dock… i could imagine his smile and how proud he would be… as i left the dock my first task was simply backing out of the slip…. i went over the routine a thousand times in my head…. and before i knew it i was heading out of the marina towards the bay… it was early in the morning and all was still on the water as i motored over to the marina on Shelter Island to have electrical work done… i kept worrying how i would dock…. would i have to parallel park with a boat, a thousand questions, but Tranquility held my hand and made me proud… slowly i’m learning and patiently she encourages me… it’s these small fragments of minutes that are starting to form memories… thank you Jeffrey for your encouraging spirit…
some day we will sail away, my brothers, the 3 of us with our laughter echoing in the wind
to Tranquility

and i hear your silent whispers
calling to my soul…
your lingering scent stirs these restless blues
m’lady, sail me away

hold my hand and journey we will
take me away to hear the mermaids sing
the blowing of the whales
the crying of the gulls..
just hold this drifting soul
m’lady, sail me away

take to the horizons
where the sun always sets
far, far away
where the scent of this troubled land is no more
let me see your sun rise
a new day dawning with prayers for fair winds
and the soaring of an albatross
m’lady, sail me away

take me away
let me feel your gentle rhythms
lose my soul where time doesn’t matter
and where the flooding of the tides can’t be felt
i scream to the gods
i scream let your winds fill these sails
and with these worn and soiled charts
a compass to guide
m’lady sail me away
m’lady, sail me away
jtalarico 6/9/2004

how do you say goodbye to a dream

life is full of many journeys… some you really never want to end, but like all journeys they have an ending… my journey with Tranquility will always be cherished… these words are taken from her Ship’s Log… after i sold Tranquility i kept her Log and her Ensign, and today i still hold these so dear…..

November 11, 2014
Call it what you want… a new chapter… a beginning.. the end of a beautiful relationship… moving on… it really doesn’t matter what i call this but i must walk this troubled path… and i will walk it alone, with much thought… turmoil… and definitely regret and pain…
i finally made the decision to put Tranquility, a dream come true, up for sale….. was it time… i really think it is, but i would be lying if i said i didn’t have second thoughts… i can read through the pages that make up this journal, the ship’s log, a log and journal that i kept from the first day i boarded her… God how i wish i had that day back again… the excitement…. and i am blessed, for by reading these pages i can relive a dream i thought i would never have possessed… this has been a beautiful journey and i thank God everyday for it…
slowly over the course of 2 days i started to filled boxes with what made Tranquility special to me, what made Tranquility “Tranquility”… it was the little things that brought the tears, for with each item i remembered the occasion when i found the item… the port of call i was in, and the decision that this would be the perfect gift for my lady, Tranquility…. hurrying back to Tranquility to give her, her gifts… gifts that were to be found throughout my Tranquility… my “Captain” name plate that was mounted over my berth…. the oil lantern that gave me a warm glow during all those lonely evenings in which we shared that treasured solitude… boxes were filled with memories that can never and will never be taken from me… i still took the time to carefully wash her down, i always wanted my lady to look beautiful… oh how i’ll miss all the hours of tinkering, of caring, of caressing and always admiring with pride…
as the boxes were filled her spirit was slowly ebbing away… what made her mine was slipping away in boxes… i know the hardest part was yet to come… my final journey and then just walking away…
i was frustrated with the constant pain in my elbow… i could hardly raise the main sail to check the sail’s condition after the long summer of not being used… that was the first summer that passed without beautiful summer days spent sailing or just being with “my lady”… my body is now plagued with pain and frustration with everything i try to do… pulling out her batteries and checking them was almost too much for me…

i left Tranquilty that weekend knowing that different hands would be looking after her in the future… would they ever be able to see or even feel the love and joy she gave back to me…

some roads are hard to walk… i know this road will be one… ah my little lady, my Tranquility…. oh God how i love you so

December 17, 2014
a phone call….words were spoken…and with those words my dream will come to an end….. yes… Tranquility was sold. Should i be happy… no instead i shed a silent tear as i felt my heart breaking as my dream really started coming to its end….. dreams are beautiful things in life… they can keep your spirit alive… they are a form of hope for the future…. yet dreams have to end

its hard to imagine my life without Tranquility… she was a life’s dream….. part of my daily thoughts…. something to always look forward to… those quiet moments we shared…. i hate to think that i will not hear the wind fill her sails… feel her hull heeled over with the ocean racing by…. the salt air in my face….. beautiful moments…. that became memories that i will always cherish

i still have yet one more trip to take….
more boxes will be filled as i remove what made Tranquility so special to me….. and then i must take my final sail….. i’ll fly her ensign as always but i must accept that other hands will replace the movements that were always mine…. i will have to step away from the helm… so many hours my hands held onto it…. always guiding her along….the compass…how many times did i check my course…. my eyes never grew tired from her reflection…
i will shed a light on her personality….. how she liked her sails to be trimmed….. reveal her soul and spirit….. i must let her go… but i will with a prayer of thanks

its night now… the marina is quiet….the air outside is cool and soon i will have to turn on my little space heater…. like so many other evenings i sit in my spot… music fills the cabin…. yet as i look around i see only empty shadows of what once was my dream…. all that made Tranquility mine….. my books ….. my memories….. they all have been taken off…. i sit alone without even Joshua to keep my tears company…. he should be here with me…. his blue pillow that spent many a days on my berth has been packed away…. his reflection is gone…… there will be no more long walks along the bay with him by my side… those lazy mornings with the two of us in the cockpit…reading… just enjoying the moment….. as i look through my tears i see so many beautiful memories that were made….. this boat was a treasure chest filled with memories that are only mine…its sad but n0body knows of my time with Tranquility…. all those memories will be lost with me…..

tomorrow i’ll do the “sea trial”…. meet those who’s hands will caress my lady….. i can only pray that she is treated as i did….

i feel so empty tonight….i want to just curl up in my berth and cry to sleep…. but my time is so limited….. in a way i want the night to last forever…. she is still mine…. she is still mine….. and i can’t think of leaving her

December 27, 2014 Day of Tranquility’s Sea Trial

this will most likely be my last sail on Tranquility…. a thought that i have a hard time really grasping….. my feelings are numb… my emotions are drained…. my tears are dry…. i can’t even think about what my emotions, my thoughts will be when her sails are raised….. no longer raised by my hands with my eyes reaching upward… watching that beautiful white sail reach for the heavens…. and then when the wind fills her sails and the engine goes silent….. i know there will be many a secret tears being shed

but for now i sit alone…. alone with a million memories in a spot i sat so many times before…… and this morning i sit here and have what will probably be my last mug of tea aboard Tranquility….. as i sat there i only wish i could grab ahold and relive each and every one of those golden and salty memories… and Joshua…. i miss my faithful mate…. always wanting and hoping to jump up on my lap and share the minutes resting in my legs while i would give him his loving pets…..

its a beautiful day today… blue skies with the promise of wind… i sit with tears as my company and a million thoughts… waiting for my heart to be broken

December 27, 2014 Tranquility’s Sea Trial

i left the dock for the last time…… i was glad i was alone with my tears…. i would meet the hands that would care for Tranquility over in Shelter Island…. so this last journey i took slowly as my tears would not let the minutes rush by…. how many times i traveled these waters only to wait for the wind… a day on the water… what could possibly be better… but today was so different……

i wait on a foreign dock….. numb…. i can’t even relax and enjoy these last moments on Tranquility…. i hate these minutes

finally…. and for my very last time i guide Tranquilty from its berth… and then i hand her helm to those hands… God i pray they will cherish this dream that i’m letting go…. we sail the bay… words are being said but am i really listening… i’m lost in sadness… so many times i want my hands to take the helm…… i curse my decision to let her go…… must this beautiful dream end….. finally knowing my last minutes are racing by i take the helm….. i feel her ways… is she also shedding tears as we part our ways…. slowly i take her to the dock

many words are said and broken promises are made… her name will no longer grace her sides…. in a way i’m happy because Tranquility was me…. we were one for all those years… soulmates…..

and now i’m alone…. i pack my bags and load the dock cart…. the minutes race by slowly… i hesitate a million times…. i look time and time again with my hungry eyes wanting to capture every image and thought for eternity….. i leave her cabin only to return again…… my tears are my only companion along with my broken heart….. i lock her companionway… and then i walk away… i looked back countless times as my dream came crashing to a close….. a final photo… my final steps as i walk out of a beautiful dream


January 9, 2015
papers were signed… there was no excitement like the last time… no anxious dreams of the days ahead…. i moved reluctantly through the motions knowing it was all but gone… are these my betrayal papers… and my bag of silver…. they are just coins…. coins that anyone can gather….. and with these papers her named will be gone….. erased…. no longer spoken …. no longer will i hear your name….. i’m so sorry, my lady…. the tears i shed are real…. they represent our love…. all those magical days we shared…. God what have i done…… i walk away now…. but before i leave know that i loved you so very much… and always… always i know i have our memories that i will cherish….. Tranquility…. you always will be a beautiful dream that i loved so very much
thank you…. and to you, Joanne… my eternal thanks for giving me a dream

January 14, 2015
I hold a check in my hand….. but in my heart i hold memories of a dream that lasted for 11 years…. to me they are worth more than this bag of tarnished silver

…and i cry
i cry for those tranquility days are gone
dam-it, why did i let them slip away in the night…
do we ever know our blessings until they are stolen from our grasp…
you tell me there are others to be had
the hell with you
for i will never be able to replace perfection
she was mine
and she’s gone
god i love….no i hate these memories…
does the pain of loss feel good
does it bronze those lost memories forever

Essay on transitioning “fighting my demons (part II)

Essay on transitioning “fighting my demons/Part II”


i walk the ship amongst the echoes of praise that the passengers sing…. i love the sound of my name and oh how glad i am that i chose that simply but beautiful sound to be the music of my name….. how can i help but to feel beautifully accepted… the hugs and smiles are endless… never have i ever known or felt happiness like this before… i feel i am so blessed and i deeply appreciate this blessing i have been given and never will i stop saying my prayers of thanks….. and often i catch the reflection i cast in a mirror, i’ll stop, but for a moment and smile, at times i could almost cry i am so happy…. the blessing that Dr. Ley bestowed upon me with her gifted hands i could never thank her enough…. it’s funny but now in this life i am always seeking out a mirror to witness this reflection that i love so dearly….. yes dreams do happen… so how can i not be happy….

in a “visual sense” i have transitioned into the woman of my dreams and i wish this happiness and inner peace that i feel for every girl like me… on my handbag i always carry a small pennant with the gender symbol that i carried within me all my life, and next to that is a small disc that simply states, “i was born like this”… and today i carry no shame for what i am… for i have to believe i was created like this for a reason…. i will not question His divine plan but just maybe my purpose in this life is simply to help others to understand, we too are beautiful, and really no different than you….

and even if i look into the eyes of these passengers, for i have learned the eyes can reveal what the heart feels, and looking in their eyes today i just feel happiness because at that moment they just see my image as one of many in a crowd… i stop and chat often with many, just a typical conversation, a conversation that they might have with anyone they were fond of…..
but then i scream at my demons…. please leave me alone, i cried enough for a lifetime because of your haunting cries…. and in that moment i am not that beautiful woman but just a fragile soul trying not to be “read”…. i hate it, will this ever end….. and in my heart i cry because i know this is my fate…. but i ask, “does this have to be my curse in life?”
and if i think about this, what is really tearing me into pieces…. it’s the simple question, “have they “read” that i am transgender?…. and to them at that moment in time, being transgender really doesn’t matter for they have been captured in the essence of my soul…. and for me, i will probably never see these people again after this cruise… have i given them a positive outlook “on being transgender’ ….. that yes i am transgender but in reality am i not really any different than you……

and now i think…. all of my friends i have, really good friends, they all know my secret…. they know my secret and still love and accept me… with these friends i don’t have to worry about being “read”, they all know….. but with the friends i am making now this summer on the ship, we get along and enjoy each other’s company, it’s that simple,… that in itself should be the bottom line, we are friends… and now i cry, “why do i need to know if they have “read” me”….. at that moment in our relationship it really doesn’t affect our friendship, yet i have this burning need to know, to know, have they “read” me…. is my desire to be cis-gender that strong that it’s still tearing my heart apart…. and i think, strip me down naked and am i not just like you… yes i am but in my heart i know i am not… XY can never be XX, that is my genetic curse to always carry,
and i cry… why are my demons stealing my happiness, why am i letting this happen… is it the self esteem that i battled with all my life, my insecurity of who i am… i know not why am i more comfortable once a person knows my secret…..
and in this moment in time i feel simply very fragile
tess julianna 5/24/18