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A decade of Autumn

Commentary: Trans Progressive

Autumn Sandeen’s first day at work as a woman

Feb. 6 2003, I went to my place of employment as Autumn for the first time.

As many already know, I served in the U.S. Navy from 1980 through 2000. I’m a retired, disabled, Persian Gulf War veteran; my disabilities are service connected and my Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability rating is 100 percent. In early February 2003, I started working for the VA’s San Diego Healthcare System in La Jolla as a student work study. My low paying job at the Patient Health Library on that February day (and for many more days following that day) was to serve the disabled veterans who needed help with materials. I obtained that job as a student work study for a whopping twenty-five hours a week because I was using VA benefits toward obtaining an Information Systems degree at National University.

That day I had a limited idea of what my life was going to be like from that day forward. Not only has my appearance changed dramatically in these past 10 years, but so too has my life dramatically changed during those years after I decided to publicly live the gender I know I am between my ears. (Having a gender identity that didn’t match my natal sex wasn’t something I chose, but my decision to live as a female certainly was a choice – a great choice.)

There is a grainy photo taken at the Patient Health Library on my first day as Autumn which is included with this column. I’d say now that it’s not a very pretty picture of me, but it is a photo that has a lot of meaning for me. Day one being fully out to the world, in a very visible way, is a pretty significant thing, and having a photo of me from that day is a pretty wonderful thing.

I had an epiphany at 14 – while mowing the backyard at my family’s home, of all things – that I was a transsexual, but I talked myself out of that basic truth almost immediately. I talked myself out of that basic truth because I wasn’t heterosexual in my target sex of female, and I mistakenly thought one had to be heterosexual in one’s target sex to transition.

As a veteran, I had therapy through the VA medical system. On the first day I had access to mental health services and met with a psychiatrist I told him I had gender concerns. At the time my mantra involved telling myself that I wasn’t sure if I was a transsexual, but I was absolutely sure I was more than a crossdresser. I communicated that mantra to the doctor, and he assigned me to one of their staff therapists.

At 44 I had another epiphany right after I had just completed one of many conversations with my therapist, after again stating that same mantra. Walking down the second floor hallway of the VA Medical Center I remember the three sentences of my internal conversation, “Who the hell are you kidding? You know you’re a transsexual. You know you’re female.”

So with my therapist and an endocrinologist, I planned the first months of my transition. I spent three months going to work as Autumn without hormones, and April 10, 2003 I took my first conjugated estrogen tablet. May 4 of that year I began living as Autumn 24/7, and the following July 3 I changed my legal name from Stephen Mark Sandeen to Autumn Violet Sandeen.

As many of you know from reading my recent columns, last year I changed my legal sex in California from male to female. In many senses my transition is over. I’m still a transsexual and I’m still transgender, but the process of my transition is pretty much over.

A decade of transition; a decade of living as Autumn. It’s been my season now for 10 years, and in my mind that’s a good thing.

Short URL: http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=33839

Posted by on Feb 7, 2013. Filed under Bottom Highlights, Trans Progressive. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

11 Comments for “A decade of Autumn”

  1. As I understand California law, it is questionable whether you really changed your “legal” anything. You have not met the actual requirements (in San Francisco the court makes it clear that you must have completed full genital surgery, not simply castration) and it is thus very possible that you have simply committed a legal fraud. I know there were issues with your doctor stating that if someone was claiming that he said a person who had merely been castrated had completed full transition they were misrepresenting what he said. And it is simply a fact that you are not really a female in any sense of the word since you still have that which makes you quite male.

    And since you again make it clear that you have no desire to actually change your sex, it seems dishonest to state you are a transsexual.

    You are, of course, free to call yourself whatever you wish, but clearly the veracity of those statements are subject to question.

  2. You’re not up to date on current requirements to change one’s legal sex/gender in California. Please see the Gender Non-Discrimination Act of 2011 (AB 887) which became law on January 1, 2012.

    • Again, the court that handles such petitions in San Francisco makes it clear that full surgery, including vaginoplasty, is still required. The law allows things to be worded more vaguely, allowing for people to foist fraudulent petitions on courts, but that does not make the fraud legal.

      If you have a penis, you are still going to be seen as a male. You will still be put in with other males if you happen to be in jail. That sort of thing.

      Again, call yourself what you want, but don’t expect people to accept it.

      Oh, and your link goes nowhere…and a Google search turns up a couple of information sheets that, interestingly enough, make NO mention of changing birth certificates. Again, it is clear this law does not do what you claim. It only makes it easier to present a fraudulent petition to the courts.

    • I find it interesting this link takes nowhere Autumn.
      Again you have not answered or sidestepped the issue.

      Tee-Gee is as Tee-Gee does.

  3. Congratulations, Autumn! I think the expression, “you’ve come a long way, baby!” really fits! You have much to be proud, not only for yourself, but more importantly the words and work you have done that have influenced others.
    in a positive way.

    In a community where societal stigma seems to induce an abyss of self hate, negativity and myopia , you’ve stood out in stark contrast for the positive! Autumn, we may not always agree nor have the same perspective on everything, but you have my respect and friendship!

    • You know, having a grasp on reality is not “self hate, negativity, and myopia.” Not everyone buys into the silliness of transgender extremism. For some of us, this was about correcting a medical condition, not “playing with gender.” But then again, I would wish to make it clear that I am not remotely a member of your “community” to begin with.

  4. I had no idea that Rodney Dangerfield did drag! Oh! That is not Rodney?! Could have fooled me. In fact, you did. Well done!

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