Hi and welcome to I am Erin Paula,
My photoalbum/scrapbook series.
As I have documented my transition over the years, I created annual scrapbooks documenting my progress in pictures and copies of my official documents, medical referrals and letters. Please join me in watching me grow into womanhood. I do like to add that personal information and pictures, printed in my scrapbooks at home, have been removed on this website. Some things should remain private. Also note that the medical changes are detailed and could be sensitive to some, but I want to provide complete information for those who are thinking about transitioning.
Picture of my actual 2019 photoalbum/scrapbook.
Fully Accepted at Work.
2019… It has been 5 years that I have been out of the closet now. At home, at family, at social media, at work. Wow time flies. I remember the first days at work back in 2002 when I was hired on with my employer, CSX transportation. I rather quickly found out that mentioning anything LGBTQ related issues, among my co-workers, wouldn’t be the best thing to talk about.
Coming out in 2014 at my co-workers resulted in questions like: are you gay, don’t you like woman, are you going to cut it off, why not crossdressing instead? Well I can understand these question, and while I answered them with honestly, it still got an unwanted and unsafe feeling. Yes I was out of the closet, so I didn’t have to hide anymore, and even more important, I didn’t have to live two lives.
But I had to have my eyes wide open, and have a set of eyes in my back, at least for a little while until everyone is used to the idea. Working in the mechanical field in a railroad yard is a very masculine profession, so you can imagine how I felt at first. But so is a transgender life in the beginning. You make mistakes, you are insecure and it shows.
Now 5 years after coming out almost everyone at work is using the correct gender pronounce, and no more dead naming. Well sometimes by accident they slip, and I don’t mind. We also have a few new employees and they only know me as my female self. And yes it helps to have a more feminine appearance. Of course you can still tell I used to be in a male body, some things you cannot get rid of, not even with surgery. I still will be over 6 feet tall, and I don’t have any FFS. (Facial Feminization Surgery)
But I am accepted by most, and those who might have doubts, they tend to be gender neutral.
In 1988 I first came to America and visited my parents in law, in Buffalo NY. So I have seen the Niagara waterfalls, both the US and Canadian side. And my family in law showed me downtown Buffalo. And later I visited Syracuse and Rochester. We first lived in the Washington DC area and we actually spend like 8 weeks in a hotel on post, at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Eventually our second daughter was born here. The first four year in America we lived in Fairfax County.
So it has always been my wish and thoughts to travel all over the USA and see many locations. Thanks to both of us working and the very limited vacation day’s one have in the USA, it never really came to visiting, but just limited to the local surroundings, Baltimore being one of them, and a trip to Virginia Beach every once in a while.
So after all these years at CSX I have three weeks’ vacation a year, and I decided to spend some time in one week to go somewhere I have never been before. (I now have four weeks a year, and that’s my maximum I will ever have until I retire) Since I never went into the west direction, I decide I wanted to take the interstate (I64) west and see how far I can go in one day. I selected Columbus Ohio for a few reasons. One I will travel through the mountains of West Virginia, and second I have a great friend who lives in Columbus Ohio. Up until than we knew each other only tough social media, Facebook.
So I met up with my friend in Columbus OH and she showed me around, and we got to know each other better as well. We visited downtown Columbus, an art gallery, various restaurants, and a gay bar where there was a great performance of famous drag queens, and of course spend some time at her place. It was one of my best trips ever, and I definitely like to make these trips again. Unfortunately the 2020 covid-19 pandemic was interfering with my plans to re-visit the next year.
The first years were difficult because I couldn’t really use make-up and wigs to hide my masculinity. Although hormones start working quickly in your body, it will take a long time before most of the changes are visible. My endocrinologist told me it will take about two to four years before any real changes are complete, or near completion. Everybody is different and everyone’s body reacts different to the hormones, the same is true with cis gender woman.
So I decided I was going to document every step in my transition, day by day… literally. And you are now reading this page, visiting this website, perhaps going to read my book. I hope so. There are many things I documented, some are of no interest at all, I don’t really know why I actually kept track of some information, but I did anyway. I also kept track of all the financial cost involved, and my legal transitioning, the time it took to get from M to F.
Especially in the beginning I was concerned about my health, so each day I wrote down the times I went to sleep and woke up (I work nightshift and often work anywhere from 8 to 16 hour days), the times I took my medication and at what dosage, my body temperature, my weight, and a few times during the month, my body measurements and blood pressure. I also made notations about my mood, if they were noticeable. And of course my physical changes, accompanied with many pictures.
So at the end of my five years documenting I decided it will be a shame not to do anything with it and toss it out. Why not use the information to perhaps help others? My book I am writing is about my entire life story, way more than just the 5 years of transitioning. I hope you decide you like to read more about me and continue reading. Thank you so much, Erin Paula van Beveren.
My friend D. and me having lunch, at Brio Tuscan Grill, in Columbus Ohio.