Welcome to My Crazy Life

Girl soccerWhat does soccer have to do with my transition?  Nothing, except that I love the sport, and along with it I realized the other week that nothing I loved was exclusively male.  There is nothing I like doing, or of the material world that I cannot also like and enjoy as a woman.  Most men would not say that, but then again, I’ve also come to realize that looks can be deceiving, and my book cover most definitely is.

So, I’m really doing this? I’m really going to start a blog to chronicle my transition journey?  The short of it is, yes.  To get it out of the way, my daughter transitioned last year on her seventh birthday, and no I didn’t push her towards it…I  was still in deep denial…thirty plus years of it.  However, what it did do was blow the door off my closet of skeletons like nothing else could.

I began researching transgender issues, and as I did so I found myself gravitating more and more to transgender women, and specifically what transition entailed.  Now, I made excuses to myself that I wanted to get an idea of what my daughter would face as she got older, but that was complete bullshit.  I was looking into it for myself, without even realizing it at the time.

This went on for a few months, until I started to begin to make other connections within me, but the first big one that stands out was my realization that I suffered from dysphoria, the same as my daughter does.  We went off on a backpacking trip in early April of this year, and she had been suffering badly before we left, but what I didn’t realize was that so was I.  Oh, I felt what I called the “yuckies” because that’s what strong men would call it, but it was more than that.  This realization came as we were dropped off with two young women where we would start our hike.  While it was freezing, one of the girls was wearing running tights, and I found myself staring at her legs and crotch.  Now, this wasn’t the first time I had ever done so, but it was the first time the realization hit home that I was staring because I wanted what she had…and more to the point I accepted that in a normal way…and over the next two days of walking I thought on what it might mean.

Being born in the seventies meant that you knew the binary, and you knew what was allowed and what wasn’t.  I had a penis…so I had to be a boy…case closed.  I followed those rules to the T…except I didn’t, I mean not really, or maybe I did when people were watching, but when they weren’t?

Every girl (and I’m talking trans, so keep up) has her stories.  At five, I would play girl characters in make believe, and like it in ways I shouldn’t have.  Watching Disney movies I found myself wanting to be Ariel or Belle.  I was enamored with my mother’s clothing, the materials, the colors, and the smell of her perfume.

After the hike in April I began remembering my past rapidly, all the things I had pushed in the closet and locked up tight.  I had convinced myself that my love of pretty underwear and lingerie was a sexual fetish or kink…and then I remembered I had started trying on my mother’s things in the 3rd or 4th grade…long before I was sexual.  Puberty only confused me, and made me bury it down.  I stopped dressing up as I grew out of her clothes, and other than pretty underwear, I stopped dressing.  The wearing of pretty underwear would come and go in spurts, depending on if I was dating, etc.  My parents even caught me a couple times, and I’m sure chalked it up to horny teenage boy, and there is no doubt I was horny, but the other element they didn’t catch is that I did it because it made me feel pretty and feminine.  The thoughts, those never really went away, but the behaviors I learned to hide, or block completely.

I also remembered my love affair with Playboy.  My dad had a subscription, and I loved to read them cover to cover (what boy does that?), and while don’t get me wrong, the girls within could arouse me, there was something else that went along with it.  Looking back, I often realized that I wanted to be those girls, to wear the pretty things they wore in the spreads.  I wanted to have bodies like theirs (although, never cared about big boobs)…I would just chalk it up to fantasies, but nonetheless, I don’t think my friends were having similar thoughts.

Freshman year of high school, I was told by a friend that I held my books like a girl, and I swung my arm like a “bitch.”  I fixed that shit immediately, but I still found myself daydreaming of being a cheerleader, or pom girl…I rationalized, “they’re hot!”  No, dipshit, other guys think about fucking them, and while you did that to, they did not also fantasize about being them.  Boys don’t want to be girls.  I also learned in high school that sharing was dangerous, and that boys didn’t share how they felt like girls did.  I still screw this up from time to time…I can’t help it, it’s who I am.

High school didn’t see me date much.  My best friend from kindergarten to around junior high had been a girl, but she moved, and I was stuck with only boys.  It was easy to hide because of my size and strength, but I missed my girl friend.  I did become friends with girls in high school, but always thought there had to be an ulterior motive, that I must be attracted to them.  Again, I was way off, and lost good friends as a result.  I hated having to ask girls out, I wanted to be the one asked out, but that’s not how it was done, and so I didn’t begin really dating until almost the end of 11th grade, and even then it was pretty weak.

College I got to remake myself, and boy did I become the man…kind of.  I still made friends with girls more easily than getting them to want to be with me, and often this would lead me to self-destruct and ruin friendships.  Honestly, looking back the closest friendships I had in college weren’t the guys in my fraternity, but those girls who I was friends with, who I’d hang out in dorm rooms with, and even sleep over in their rooms.  My fraternity brothers would always assume I was getting laid, and sometimes I even corrected them…ok, most of the time, but still I found value in those friendships.

It was also during college that I realized I approached sex more like a female as well.  I turned down several girls because the situation wasn’t right, and guys definitely don’t turn down sex, especially at 19 or 20, but I did.  I would turn down the girl if she was drunk, or if she was offering out of pity, or just because we didn’t know each other well enough yet.  I had to know she wanted me as much as I wanted her…I had to be desired.

Half of college I spent with a girl I would become engaged to, and I even started to share with her my secrets.  She was great about it during the relationship, but when things eventually fell apart, she threw it all in my face.  It was after her that I decided no more sharing, and locked it all up tight.

I didn’t even mention crying…and boy was it easy for me up till around the age of 20.  I’d cry if sad, hurt, or happy.  I’d cry if I got too nervous, but it was the last time, begging my dad’s friend back for a job at 20 that was the last time I would lose control of my emotions.  Nowadays, I have problems letting them completely free, and I hate that I’ve become so twisted.

I was also a gamer, video games, Dungeons and Dragons, and I found myself as I got older playing female avatars and characters more and more…as the woman in me sought ways to express and get out…I always made excuses for it, but at times I would secretly admit or rationalize that it would help me get in touch with my feminine side…right?  I was deluding myself…but I let it go one for years.

Fast forward to this summer.  In July, I began to realize and put name to the dysphoria I suffered from, and I finally came out while being interviewed as being nonbinary, because I was too big a chicken to admit the next step.  However, that would quickly change as I became friends with more and more transwomen online.  I began to realize how much my childhood mirrored theirs, and that in many ways I still felt the same way.  In addition, I was amazed at how easily I was accepted by them, and that also prompted deeper thought on my part.  Girls have an ability to sense fakes and chasers, but that never came up once with me.  I admit, I did use my daughter to get close initially, but why was I sharing about my past?  Why explore it with others?  In short, because I already knew the truth, but was looking for someone to tell me I was wrong, that I was a fraud…but it never happened because I am not, I am transgender.  They knew it, and deep down so did I.

Men don’t start a twitter as a woman to explore their feminine side.  Men don’t pick a female name that they would use if they were to transition…because men don’t think about transitioning…men don’t think about what their “girl” name is.

The funny thing is that once I admitted to others that I was “nonbinary” I began to take my mind further, and that’s when I realized that I had never really been happy, and that I really wanted to go on HRT, that I needed to know how it would make me feel.  I still say that, and use it to qualify that I need to know before I can commit to transition.  In reality, I can admit that I want to transition,that I think I need to, and that HRT will make me feel whole…because if it doesn’t then I don’t know what I will do.

My life has been driven by one thing…FEAR!  Fear of being found out, fear of failing, fear of stepping wrong, fear of not being loved by those I loved, but I can’t let it rule me any longer.  I have to own it and move forward.  I harbor no illusions about how tough this will be for me and those I love, but it is the right thing to do.  I almost feel a biological need to move forward, to be the real me.

I begin gender therapy next week, and at times feel like a little girl waiting for Christmas.  When the therapist used my female name in her reply email, my heart skipped a beat…it just felt right, and so I’m pretty sure just based off of that I have chosen the right one.  I’m hoping when we sit down to talk that I can leave the male in the lobby, and let Allie do the talking.  It would be a first for me, I do it online all the time, but face to face…that has yet to happen.  While nervous, I look forward to speaking as myself…even if my body, face, and voice are nowhere near where I want them to be yet, it doesn’t mean that my mind and soul are any less female.  After all, who you are is dictated by what is on the inside, and not on the outside.

 

 

 

Welcome to Reality: Three Month HRT Update

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When you start HRT, and it is something you really want, it can put you on a self-induced high.  You become convinced things are happening every time there is a little change.  You have visions of your body transforming and being one of those girls who has to out herself at seven months, because people constantly gender you female.  It is the thing dreams are made of, and so you stand on the mountain top higher than everything around you.

The funny thing is HRT rarely works that way in the best of circumstances, and so such things are merely the dreams of someone who has yet to come back to reality.  Coming back to reality is a shock to the system as you struggle to accept it, but it is a positive if you look at the future with realistic expectations.  I have spoken with enough girls to know most of us go through such a phase, and even girls who go full time out of the gate have said to me, a year or two in that they don’t know how they did it because looking back they were terrible in the beginning.

To expect drugs to physically change my body, a “male” body of 43 years, overnight is ridiculous.  Expectations ranging in several months to a year are also not very realistic for most.  Realistic expectations for full HRT feminization range anywhere from 18 months to 36 months, if being honest.  Reputable surgeons won’t touch you until around 18 months at the soonest, and GCS surgeons want you on hormones at least a year before they will perform surgery.  There are reasons for these things, but one major reason is that evidence shows most trans women hit their peak development around the two year mark, and still there are many who see significant changes between 24 and 36 months.  This knowledge actually helped me break out of a self-induced funk that I sank into shortly before Christmas.  It also helped me to look to the future with a renewed hope that was grounded in realistic expectations, rather than simply naive dreams.

So what was the source of my funk?  I had my two month checkup and blood work in mid-December, and shortly before that I was feeling like my testosterone was fighting the HRT I was taking,  While it doesn’t quite work like that, I felt like my development was hitting a wall.  This was confirmed to a point by my blood work which revealed that while my testosterone was down 100 from 450 to 350,  but it was still well outside the range of female levels.  In addition, due to the high testosterone, my estrogen was only at about 50, which was still significantly lower than natal female levels.  No trans woman wants to hear such news (almost always a trigger), because we all know others who’s bodies snapped to almost right away, and their first bloodwork showed them to be within the natal female range.  However, for most of us it doesn’t work that way.  Things take time to happen.

As a result, my doctor doubled my spironolactone, so I now take daily, 200mg of spironolactone and 6mg of estradiol.  My doctor said that we should definitely see a significant decrease in testosterone and this will allow my estrogen levels to rise up to where we want them.  Again, this gives me hope, but as someone who has waited over 40 years, I want it all right now.

Adding to my funk was the fact that my weight loss had kind of plateaued, and while I looked elsewhere to blame, I also knew that this was my fault.  As a result I began tracking everything I ate to get a handle on where my issues were, and soon came to realize it was mostly evening snacking, and that snacks throughout the day can really add up.  With the start of the new year I enacted a new diet plan, and it seems to be working as I’ve dropped seven pounds so far in 2018, and there is no doubt this also has added to my renewed spirit.

Now, I say all of the above to stress that as a  trans person I can choose to dwell on those things I perceive to be negative about my transition, my body and my mental state, or I can choose to see the good things that are happening, even if those things are only slowly evolving.  So let’s look at those positive things, beginning with measurements on Day 1 of HRT to my measurements on Day 1, Month 4 of HRT:

Day 1, Month 1 measurements:

  • Weight:  244lbs
  • Chest:  42.5 inches (underbust:  41 inches)
  • Waist:  38 inches
  • Pant/male waist:  40 inches
  • Hips:  43 inches
  • Neck:  16 inches
  • Bicep:  15 inches
  • Wrist:  7 inches
  • Ankle:  9.5 inches

Day 1, Month 4 measurements:

  • Weight:  235 lbs
  • Chest:  40.5 inches (underbust:  38 inches)
  • Waist:  35 inches
  • Pant/male waist:  37 inches
  • Hips:  41 inches
  • Neck:  15 inches
  • Bicep:  14 inches
  • Wrist:  6.25 inches
  • Ankle:  8.5 inches

Now, if I were to look at the above numbers only from Month 3 to 4, then I would see almost zero changes…half an inch on a couple measurements, or no changes in several, but from day one these changes are huge, and that’s what I have to remember.  I have only lost nine pounds from Day 1, and yet I have lost 2-3 inches in many places.  Things have been happening.  It’s just often I don’t see them, or they get overshadowed by things like the start of breast development, which as a trans woman is always a moment of joy for all of us.

People also sometimes ask about other things that I’m seeing, and some I’ve talked about and others I haven’t, because it is hard to pinpoint what some changes are.  I have yet to talk about my face, other than to say it has thinned out some and that my skin is softer.  I can say now, without a doubt, that there is something happening around my eyes and my chin.  With my eyes I can’t say for sure what is different, just that there is something that is making me look younger?  It’s the best way I can describe it.  As for my chin, it’s almost like it is emerging from wrapping, as if the tissue around it is reconfiguring.  These things don’t happen overnight, and so I often think maybe I’m seeing things because I want to.  However, looking at older/before pictures I can say there is definitely something going on.  My head is becoming less blocky, or putting it another way my head is going from looking like a circle to more of an oval.  At least that’s the way it seems to me.

I mentioned ankle and wrist measurements because joints are a great way to get an idea for just how “bulky” your bone structure might be, and seeing mine drop into natal female ranges for a woman my height makes me realize that my bone structure might not be near as broad or thick as I thought it was.  My underbust measurement is also further confirmation of this fact.  At 38 inches, it stands to reason that with continued weight loss and time on HRT I should continue to see my measurements head in the direction I want.

My breast development seems to have slowed down the past month, but I know from others that it comes and goes in cycles.  They remain sore, but that soreness has retreated to just behind the nipple where the bud is.  I’m ok with that as well, as the bulkiest muscle on my body is the muscle of my upper torso.  Knowing how it affects appearance, boob growth can slow down to match what I hope will soon be a noticeable decrease in the muscles on my back and chest.

Mentally, I’ve written before about how HRT has given me access to my emotions, and I still tear up at the dumbest things, and I’m ok with that.  It’s all good.  However, I’ve also come to realize that HRT doesn’t change who we are.  I am still the same person I was before I began it.  I’m just happier now, and the dysphoria has lessened.  This might be the biggest lesson of Month 3…and I can’t stress it enough…HRT doesn’t change who you are on the inside.  It might let you show the real you, but that person on the inside is still there.  If you hope that it will change you, then you will be sorely disappointed, except to say it frees you up to be yourself.

Relationship wise, my wife and I are good, and my family life is better than it’s been in a long time.  The nature of my marriage has changed, and I’m not sure if it will ever go back to what it was before.  Here, too, I must also take the long view.  We have children who would be devastated by a separation, and my wife and I both know this.  We know the children are the number one reason we are trying.  We are still best friends, and we still love each other.  As to if we are still in love?  I don’t know.  My attitude about sex and romance has changed.  I’m more apathetic about both at the moment.  You could say I’ve put that part of my life in limbo, along with so much of my life right now (Will discuss this feeling of limbo in my next blog post as it is something I want to talk about).

Talking about my parents, they still need time, and they can have it.  Right now, they’re still fixated on themselves.  They’re dealing with their own issues on my transness, and are incapable of giving me what I want from them right now.  I am still talking to them, and they love and support me, but they’re really not available to me right now, and I can’t say for sure when they will be.  My brother also falls into the same boat.  I know they can’t picture me physically female, and that has to be part of it, heck I can’t picture myself physically female much of the time.  My hope is that physical change will help them accept a little more and to alleviate their worries as to how the world will see and treat me.

Overall, I am happy to put month three behind me, and I have moved into the new year with a renewed hope for what the future has in store. I will focus on those things I can control, my diet and health, and I will let HRT do its thing in its own time.  How we take care of ourselves can effect how we transition, and so from here on out I intend to maximize that in any ways I can.  No matter what I am moving in the direction I want to, so can take heart in that.

Sexual Warning:

I always end my monthly updates with any changes I’ve noticed sexually.  And I can say I’ve noticed a few things since doubling my blocker.  The first is that my sex drive has decreased more, meaning I care about it even less than I did before it was doubled, and it had already dropped before that.  I’ve also noticed an increased sensitivity to the underside of my penis.  The use of a vibrator is pleasurable now, meaning that with time and relaxation, it might be enough to do the job alone, which brings me to the third point, and that is, what turns me on is shifting.  Visual stimulation can still start me off, but often I find greater intensity when I simply close my eyes and let my mind focus on the building feeling/pleasure.  Mental imagery seems to be taking over from the visual one I’ve existed with most of my life.  There have been moments in the last couple weeks where for me to reach orgasm I simply had to relax, close my eyes, and focus on the pleasure, otherwise the building sensation would keep dropping, but I couldn’t get over the hill.  I also want to say that those orgasms were different, as a heat or flush would build up and wash over me near the point of climax.  This was also new.  I look forward to see how this progresses in the next few months, but also can say while it feels good in the moment…I’m finding it necessary to talk myself into it more often as it is nowhere near a priority for me like it was pre-HRT.

 

2017-My Year in Review

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If you follow me on Twitter or are a friend on Facebook then you know that the last week or so haven’t been the best for me mentally.  I can readily admit I started sinking when I found out that my hormone levels really haven’t moved much the past two and a half months.  I did rationalize with myself that my body and mind have seen changes, many of which I’ve discussed on this blog, and if I’ve seen such changes with my levels where they are at now then once they get to cis-female levels I should see some even bigger ones.  That, of course, is my rational mind speaking, and most of the time I let it run things, but every once in awhile when the dysphoria demon creeps in, and my emotions take over, I start to feel “mannish” and things head south for me mentally.

Nobody, I don’t care who you are, can be happy and positive 24/7.  Humans aren’t built that way.  I consider myself a strong and positive woman.  I like to think that most of the time I look forward to the future, excited at what it has to offer.  The past few days this has been difficult as I fixate on the questions of, “what if things don’t get better?  what if I will never get to where I want to, where I need to be?”  I realize that this is dysphoria fucking with me, but I still need to get past it, and so I thought I’d look back at the past year and see just how far I’ve come.

2017 began with me deep in taking care of name change stuff for my daughter.  I had already begun delving deep into information on trans women, but was still more focused on trans children and their needs.  My closet door was starting to buckle, but the skeletons where still locked away.   I can remember throwing  myself into work and the idea of starting to backpack with my daughter.  The prospect of hitting the trail with her had me excited, and the need to buy her gear and to update mine consumed most of my free time.  We even managed to get out for an overnight hike on the Appalachian Trail in January, and she was a trooper considering the terrain we had to hike.  I can remember how happy I was when she finished in tears, but ten minutes later started talking about “when we go the next time”.

The rest of the winter continued much the same.  My daughter’s name change became official at the end of February, and we got her passport about a month after that.  Late March saw my daughter suffering from some pretty bad dysphoria and so we went for another backpacking trip, as being out in nature always seems to help her.  It was on this trip that my closet exploded and I realized that I also suffered from dysphoria, although I wasn’t willing to admit I was transgender yet.  Instead, I still hedged with the idea that, just because I was sometimes jealous of women and wanted what they had, well, that didn’t make me trans.  However, the door had been opened, and my online searches now centered on trans women and not trans kids.  Subconsciously, my brain had shifted, even if my conscious awareness was still battling or misdirecting.

Late May saw my daughter and I go on a 7 day backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail, and we had a wonderful time.  It was great just being alone with her on the trail, and it made for some good bonding.  Looking back I can say that it was the peace before the storm, and in many ways I approached the hike as if I was saying goodbye to something.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but there was a moment near the end of our hike where I was walking along listening to Pearl Jam’s “Just Breathe” and tears just started to stream down my face.  I was thinking of my family and my kids, and how things might change.  I still had yet to make the connection, but the memories of my past had been hitting me harder, and I just had this feeling that things had to change.  I just had no idea how much they were about to.

The summer was my biggest summer of discontent ever.  My father-in-law came to live with us just as my closet completely imploded.  So many memories were coming back to me daily.  I began forming friendships with trans women online, and spending most nights researching anything and everything about transition.  I know now that I was trying to talk myself into the idea that transition was possible, but at the time my self-hate and loathing were at an all time high.  I was going through a nervous breakdown of sorts and taking it out on everyone in my house.  In many ways, I was mentally in the darkest place of my life as I realized that I could not continue as I had, and that something had to change.

Three girls, all of whom I met through Twitter, were instrumental in helping me to figure out that I was trans.  By this time I knew I was also intersex, but was playing around with the idea that I might be nonbinary.  However, after talking with one girl, and giving it greater consideration I realized that nonbinary did not fit me, because it didn’t mesh with who I knew I was on the inside.  I needed more, and nonbinary wouldn’t give me that.

Discussions with the other girls made me realize that I could transition, because it was about what I needed.  I began to realize that if I didn’t I would end up killing myself due to neglect or by my own hand.  Late July saw me telling people I was nonbinary, as I was hedging still and it was a baby step towards me admitting the full truth.  Local friends convinced me that I needed to tell my wife, and at the same time I finally accepted that I was a trans woman and needed to begin gender therapy.  With those admissions my life began to drastically shift for the better.

I came out to my wife in August, and again hedged that I thought I might be nonbinary, but I also admitted that I may want to transition.  I already knew the truth, and as I began therapy, in the very first session I admitted verbally that I wanted to transition fully.  With each admission, the weight that had been crushing me began to lift, but there would also be some low points as I began to set the path I planned to walk.

I learned how close I had been to losing my wife and kids, due to my self hate and loathing during the summer.  Coming out to my wife and beginning therapy kept my family together.  Although the nature of my marriage has changed, as a family we are better than we’ve been in a long time.  Accepting who I am and having some hard conversations with my wife has allowed me to put my anger and self-loathing behind me for the most part.  I won’t say things are perfect, but they are much improved.

I have made some good friends for the first time in a long time, and now count several trans and cis women as friends.  I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to be friends with people who only know me as Allie.  It is truly a gift to feel comfortable enough to simply express as the woman I am.  I am even out to two girlfriends at work who are supportive, and one of them will be my new boss beginning with the new year.

October 9th, 2017 will forever be important to me because it was the day I started HRT.  My mind and life have simply become brighter since starting it.  I have seen changes, which I discuss every month in a post, and while not drastic, those changes are enough to keep me moving forward, along with having lost 40lbs in an effort to work towards a more girlish figure.  I don’t know how I navigated life for so long without estrogen, but I’d rather die than give it up at this point.

Overall, I’d have to say that 2017 is ending on a high note.  The blip I have experienced the past week was the realization that I have moved out of the mountain top phase and into one of realistic expectations.  I’m still excited about my future, but that excitement is tempered by the reality that physical changes take time and will happen when they happen.

When I think about where I was on January 1, 2017 compared to now, there is no comparison.  My mental state is stronger than it has been in years and I can’t remember ever being so in touch with my emotions.  I don’t want to dwell on the past too much as I believe you learn from your past, live in the moment, and look to your future.  2017 will forever be one of the most important years in my life, but it isn’t the best or the most important.  I believe those years have yet to come.  For the first time, I look forward to the future with hope and excitement.  In the mean time I will take each day as it comes with the knowledge that even if bad, tomorrow is always a new day that takes me one day closer to living full time as the real me.

 

On Being a Girl…

Real Girl“Being a girl is whatever you decide it is.”  I cannot tell you how many times we told our daughter this the first few months of her transition.  She dove in head first, and we watched her discard so much of what she had liked before, because at seven that’s what you think you have to do.  She wore dresses almost all the time, wouldn’t play video games, or watch her old favorite TV shows.  She dove into girly TV shows, and tried to exclusively play with girl toys.  She already had an idea of societal expectations of what it meant to be a girl, and even at seven thought she had to adhere to such things.  As her parents, it was our job to remind her that she was her own person, and that there was no one way she, or any girl had to be.  Slowly, she began to take up some of those things that she had liked before.  She got back into sports (is a kick-ass soccer player), and she started to play video games again.  She also started wearing what makes her comfortable.  She’s active and now eight.  She likes dresses, but doesn’t wear them often, because as she puts it, “I like to play hard, and dresses aren’t for doing that.”  She’s figured out what being a girl means to her, and as a result has become happier with who she is.

This same dilemma faces anyone going through transition.  Yes, I’m female on the inside and always have been, but I also spent over 40 years playing boy, and so figuring out my sense of style, and my projected identity is still something that I needed to do, and to be honest it has happened pretty quickly.  I also buck the trend of many trans women I know, and I couldn’t give two shits about what society or even the trans community thinks I should be.  It’s my life after all, and for me, being a woman is more than just a dress and makeup.  Those are trappings and decoration, and for some they give comfort and solace, but for me they really don’t matter much.  Will I wear a dress or use makeup when I do go full-time?  Yes, of course I will, but those things don’t define my womanhood.  My gender is female, what I wear doesn’t change that, or make it more so.

I get asked all the time, by my therapist, other trans people, family, and friends about my expression.  Playing boy most days at work means that most people I know see me in male clothes on a regular basis.  This isn’t by choice, but out of necessity, and because I can handle doing this for work.  Some feel the need to come out right away and live as their “authentic” selves, which to me feels like a loaded term.

Webster’s defines Authentic as “worthy of acceptance or belief as conforming to or based on fact.”  This would suggest that one must prove themselves worthy of being seen as a woman to be treated as such, but who decides what being seen as a woman is?  Cis women have argued and fought these definitions for centuries, and so it should not be a surprise that trans women also deal with the struggle to define what womanhood is for them.

Is it the clothes I wear?  Use of make-up?  Things I like?  Thing I don’t like?  My ability to pass?  All of these things may impact how others view me, but they don’t speak to how I see myself.  I accepted I was female before I began hormone replacement therapy (HRT).  I knew it without a doubt, and as a result I started to let some of the shackles I had placed on myself fall to the ground.  Still others remain.  It is no easy task to shed decades of masking, but acceptance is the first step, and HRT also has helped immensely.

I’ve shared that it was at the three week mark on HRT that something slid home in my brain, and it was like for the first time my brain started working the right way.  Something else also happened that week which would help to shift my brain, and it was the realization that my breasts had begun to develop.  For me, early on, breast growth fundamentally changed the way I saw myself and how I wanted to interact with the world.  It was a confirmation that transition was absolutely the right choice for me, and while it made me a little nervous at first considering how I might hide them, and concerns around work, etc.  I was also ecstatic about them, as an obvious sign that my body was definitely responding to HRT, and beginning to feminize in a way I had always wanted.

It wouldn’t be until around four weeks on HRT that I’d start to really think about clothing, and a desire to have clothes for “me.”  However, I had to consider what my style was.  I also would and still do spend minutes every day staring at my naked body in the mirror.  It doesn’t cause me crippling dysphoria, but it does cause me to wince or grimace on the inside.  How I present to the world matters to me.  Presenting male or female I want to look my best.  I still have a body (minus the boobs) that most men over 40 would kill for, and I hate it, but it is the body I have to work with.  As a result, dresses and makeup really don’t put it or me in the best light.  Putting womanhood aside, I had to ask myself again, who am I?

I am an athletic, outdoorsy, hippie chick.  I love to play soccer, specifically goalkeeper, and how many women can say they’ve backpacked over 3,000 miles or happily gone six days without a shower?  I love tattoos and want piercings.  Give me Chaco sandals in the summer and Dr. Marten boots in the colder months.  I love the way my muscular legs look in skinny jeans or shorts.  I love tank tops and over-sized sweaters.  I don’t wear makeup yet, and may never wear much except for work, as I also love to sweat and workout.

After a long day at work I want to come home, workout, take a hot shower, and put on comfy clothes that I can relax in.  I know some girls come home and need to immediately put on a dress and makeup, but that isn’t me.  Neither way is wrong, and neither way makes one of us more or less a woman.

I remember reading the book “Tranny” and the chapter where Laura Jane Grace talks about her struggle to get her therapist to write her letter for HRT.  She was already dressing full time as a woman, but a woman who was the lead singer of a punk rock band, which meant she favored black skinny jeans and black tank-tops.  She had been writing trans-centric lyrics for years, and yet she would return week after week trying to get this male therapist to write her letter, until it dawned on her that he had to see what “he” thought it meant to be a trans woman, and so she returned the next session in full make-up and a dress, and got her letter for HRT.  Thanks to the media, cis folk have preconceived notions of what a trans woman is, and even trans people fall into the trap of societal norms and conventions.

I’ve had quite a few girls gush about how exciting it will be for me when I start wearing dresses and make-up.  The fact that I can do those things, isn’t what excites me, not even in the least…ok, I admit there might be some fun there, but what excites me is that the wearing of such things will mean my body has feminized to the point that I feel it looks more female than male.  What I put on it is secondary to me.  What matters most to me is how I see myself.  I am my own worst critic, and that knowledge scares me at times.

Most people who know me as Allie, know me for my positive attitude, and my sense of humor over the whole transition experience.  However, like any girl, there is that side to me that I hide from most, because I think people don’t want to see that side of me.  I have moments every day where I hate myself, and I hate being trans all the time.  That hate never goes away, and I don’t know if it ever will.  I have fears that my body will never pass, and that even with facial feminization surgery (FFS) that I will never be seen as the gender I am.  That fear kept me from accepting myself for the past decade, and while I am happy I finally pushed past it, being me is anything but sunshine and rainbows.

All of the above said, I would never go back, HRT has brought color to my life, and I have hope for the future.  Most of the time I have hope that I will pass, and that I will get to do those things I’ve dreamed of doing out in the open as a woman.  Many of them are simple things, little things that will give me the validation I want, and they may not seem exclusively female, but much of what we like in the world rarely is gender specific.

I look forward to playing soccer on a women’s team, and building camaraderie with female teammates for the first time in my life.  I look forward to returning to the yoga studio as myself.  I look forward to weight training again and rebuilding my body the way I want it.  I look forward to going shopping with girlfriends, or just out for dinner and getting ma’amed instead of sirred.  I look forward to not having to shave every day, and especially a stubble free face.  I look forward to more piercings, painting my fingernails, and yes I do look forward to being able to wear skirts and dresses, along with pretty underthings that look right on my body.

I look forward to FFS and gender confirmation surgery (GCS).  Not all girls get these things or feel that they need them, and you certainly do not need a vagina to be female. However, my physical appearance (what I see when I stand in front of the mirror naked) is vital to my feeling complete, and the confidence that will come with feeling complete will mean so much to how I interact with the world.  For me, the end result cannot come fast enough.

However, even without all of the above, I am still female, a girl, a woman.  Most of the above are simply modes of expression, and so often we all get caught up in blending gender with expression, when the two are not the same.  We need to start asking ourselves why is it so important to us that men and women fit certain societal conventions of how they are supposed to express.  Why does it matter and who does it hurt if someone acts outside of those conventional expectations?  We all have one life to live, mine is already almost half over, and I have yet to really start living as myself.  I have no energy left to really care what people think anymore, and within the next few months I’m going to begin pushing the boundaries of people’s expectations.  I may keep presenting male at work, but get both ears pierced and cover/feminize old tattoos.  After all, these are little things that will make me happy and feel more myself.  In the end, like I still tell my daughter…being a girl is whatever I decide it is, and maybe it’s time I start “being” just a little bit more.

HRT: Month 2 Update

2-monthsTwo months down already, and so I’m back to talk about where I’m at and everything new that happened during my second month of HRT.

This time around I’m going to start with my measurement changes, and from there I will talk about everything else….so without further ado, lets get into it.

Day 1, Month 1 measurements:

  • Weight:  244lbs
  • Chest:  42.5 inches (underbust:  41 inches)
  • Waist:  38 inches
  • Pant/male waist:  40 inches
  • Hips:  43 inches
  • Neck:  16 inches
  • Bicep:  15 inches
  • Wrist:  7 inches
  • Ankle:  9.5 inches

Day 1, Month 3 measurements:

  • Weight:  239.2lbs
  • Chest:  40.5 inches (underbust:  38 inches)
  • Waist:  35 inches
  • Pant/male waist:  37.5 inches
  • Hips:  41.5 inches
  • Neck:  15 inches
  • Bicep:  14 inches
  • Wrist:  6.5 inches
  • Ankle:  9 inches

So, I did gain two pounds from the beginning of the month, but my measurements continued to shrink, regardless of the slight weight gain, and that makes me extremely happy.  I thought I’d break the change discussion into three categories:  physical, mental, and parental warning:  sexual.  In my mind changes this month were just as significant as the first, and in some ways maybe more.  At least, for me they were.

Physical Changes

Breast Development:  I woke up the second day of HRT month two with an ache in my breasts that hasn’t left since it started.  Month one saw the beginning of my breast development and month two saw it continue.  I also saw my chest muscle continue to soften while my bra size went from a 42A to a 40B.  I’m becoming more comfortable talking about it as I probably should wear something everyday, but I don’t.  This is partly due to work, as I will admit if I were full time I’d be going bra shopping instead of wearing shelf camisoles and bralettes.  For now, the latter is good enough due to the significant chest muscle I still have, but as it goes more and more  I have a feeling I”m going to need more support.  At this point, I get the pain of running up and down stairs, or even just running period…like, it really hurts.  Funny enough, the pain makes me smile, as it simply reminds me that I’m finally getting the body I’ve always wanted.

Fat Distribution:  This really started to show during the second month, as I’ve started  to notice a softening to the way my muscles show through the skin.  The first place I noticed this was on my torso, specifically my midsection.  For those that follow me on Facebook and Twitter I did post comparison pictures that highlighted these changes:

 

The first picture above was taken a month before HRT and the second picture was six weeks on HRT.  Along with the redistribution which you can see, my skin is much softer as well.  My legs which have always been chiseled, are still defined but slightly smaller, and they now have a slightly softer look to them, which I only noticed in the past week.

Estrogen redistributes fat into female patterns, but won’t actually move fat, however it will make use of what you have where it needs it, and I’ve seen this start to happen on my hips, my chest, and my butt.  I haven’t seen much start to happen with my face, but it will come when it does.  While weight didn’t come off in the last month, my body fat percentage is right where it should be.  I’m currently sitting at about 24% body fat, and the ideal body fat for a 43 year old woman is 22.5%.  Knowing this, my goal is now to make sure it doesn’t go up while trying to continue to shed weight.  As the muscle starts to shed, the weight should go down…or I have to make sure it does.  I think I have a pretty good handle on this, and am excited to see when this starts to happen.

Muscle Mass:  It seems to be on the decline, but as I’ve learned from other girls it does seem the strength is starting to go faster than the actual muscle.  This started with muscle endurance first, but in the last week I’ve noticed that certain things have gotten just a little heavier, which I’m just fine with.  I’ve noticed my arms are thinning out, as is my chest, and my legs.  My shoulders and my back muscles are still hanging on, and I can’t wait for them to start going as well, but the other changes are enough to tide me over and give me confidence that they will soon start to go as well.  On another note, while I continue to work my legs by doing cardio, just having a snowball fight the other day with the kids has my back and obliques sore like I put them through a workout.  I think I need to start doing some plank exercises as part of a maintenance routine until my body gets to a size where I can introduce strength training again.

Overall, my physical changes have me excited and have had me buying new female clothes, while getting rid of older male clothes.  Nothing fancy or super expensive as my body still has quite a bit of changing to do, but I’ve noticed other than slim or skinny fit, most men’s pants seem to leave a bit too much room in the legs and butt.  Not sure how this happened as they still look big to me, but clothes fit the way they fit, and clearly they’re starting to fit me differently.  All that said, my women’s jeans seem to be fitting me better, and I can’t wait to see what the next few months have in store.

Miscellaneous:  My skin continues to get softer and at the end of month one, confirmed in month two I can say that I no longer smell like a boy.  My sweat doesn’t stink and neither do my armpits.   I can wear the same sports bra for multiple workouts without the stink factor arising immediately.  I’ve also started to get more sensitive to heat and cold, which is a nice change of pace as I’m not always on the verge of sweating like in days past!

 

Mental Changes

This continues to be a place that in many ways gives me the greatest satisfaction, but also causes some turmoil at times.  In the last month I continue to feel more myself, and when with people, especially other women that know “me,” it has become almost impossible for me not to express female.  It is something that I now do unconsciously, and only realize it once I am in conversation.  I have to remind myself when with people I don’t know to pull it back a little.

It becomes harder to put on guy clothes each work day, and go to work.  I still do it, but it does cause me anxiety that is worse at the beginning of the week.  It gets better as the week goes on and I get closer to the weekend.  I know this is totally normal, and I deal as best I can, because it is what I need to do for the time being, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I hope my changes start coming even faster so I can stop playing the “boy” charade.  As the brain changes faster, it is impossible for the body to keep up.  You get to a point where you just want to be you, and I understand why some gals go full-time so quickly.  The temptation is there for me too!  However, while I know I am a woman, when I go full time at work I want people to see that as well.  It is important to me that this happen, and remembering that will keep me on the path that I’ve laid out for me.

This past week, I forgot for the first time, while at the store that I was playing boy.  I had just finished paying and the cashier said, “Thank you, sir.  Have a great day!”  I paused for a second before responding because my brain went, he just called you sir!  You’re not a sir…oh wait, yeah, right…  Afterwards it made me laugh, and while it might cause others dysphoria…I was presenting male, and it also gave me a warm fuzzy to realize my brain, and how I see myself has intrinsically changed for the better.  It’s not something that’s going to make me sad.  However, I will admit that if I had been presenting female and been “sirred” then it certainly would have messed with me in a bad way, so I think it important to set the distinction down.

Finally, the way in which I interact with others continues to change, and the way other’s who know me, especially women, confirms this.  I now care more, think of others more, and continue to relate to other women better than before.  This is not to say women have the market cornered on caring or being empathetic, but it’s the way I go about it, and I know I’m doing a poor job of describing it, but it’s just something I know has changed about myself.  I see it in my interactions with my wife and kids as well.  Much of this could also have to do with just being happy with who I am now.  There is no discounting that not all mental changes are due to HRT directly…some are simply down to feeling good about my future.

(Warning…) Sexual Changes

Changes here are minor this month, and so there isn’t much to say.  For one, I didn’t have much of a desire to experiment or test things, and so I simply didn’t.  I typically don’t think about sex unless I’m going to fantasize, and while I will admit the nature of my fantasies has changed, both when I’m awake or when dreaming (I’m never a man or  have male anatomy anymore).  As for physical, I might be seeing slight shrinkage of my testicles, but not entirely sure at this point.  I’m also continuing to see a decreased volume of what comes out, and the consistency is becoming more watery in nature.

Wrap-Up

Overall, I am happy with the changes I’m seeing as I continue moving forward.  I see my doctor on the 20th, and I hope to increase both my spiro and my estrodiol.  Still waiting to see a couple big ticket things start to change, but it give me something to look forward to, and so I will continue to eye my future with positivity.

My Brain Hurts…

Brain Hurts

Last Friday I heard from my family regarding the letters I sent them.  They all sent texts to me, because texts are safe.  You don’t have to show emotion or get emotion in a text.  They said all the right things, that they love and support me unconditionally, and it did mean a lot to me, but it wasn’t all that I needed, and I don’t know when I will get all that I need from them.

Coming out to people is mentally exhausting.  I’ve already decided that now that I am out to my immediate family I will only come out to people, if and when I need to, because of how exhausting it actually is.  The act of telling someone I am intersex and transgender isn’t the hard part of the coming out.  Instead, the hard part of coming  is the time spent explaining to the other person that I will be OK, and the time spent making sure that they are OK with me being…me.

I talked to my mother three days after she got the letter I sent her, and I walked away from the phone call feeling off about it all.  I spent the next day and a half in a darkening mood as I tried to figure out why the call bothered me so much.  It wasn’t a bad call, but it wasn’t a good call either.  Instead it was a safe call, as if my mom was afraid to show any emotion, and so the topics stuck to transition related stuff, which in turn also included the issue of passing.  As a result, I spent the call basically justifying who I was and making sure she was OK with this.  It will also be the last time I do this…I hope.

It isn’t my job to make sure you are OK with who I am, that’s your issue to deal with.  I have a shit shack full of my own issues with out adding yours to the mix.  Are you sad, scared, worried, or concerned with what others will think?  If so, then you need to work that out and keep it to yourself, because guess what…I’ve thought about it ten times, no, one hundred times more than you will ever think about it.

I’ve thought about the effects on my marriage, my kids, my job, my body, my health, and I could go on with the list.  I’ve thought about passing, living full-time, safety, how people will see me, and how people will treat me in such minute detail, and I will continue to do so, long after you stop.  This is “my” life, so of course I think about these things…I live these things, or will as I move forward.  Transition, and everything about it dominates my thoughts and life.

If you are trans and reading this, then I am guessing you are nodding along, as I know you have dealt with this, and like me will probably continue to deal with this.  In some ways it is the shittiest part of being transgender, and I fear that if I never “pass” that it is something I will always deal with…and probably on some level I will anyways, because dysphoria never goes away entirely.

It is such an easy thing for people to take their worries back from a trans person they care about.  How?  Don’t dump your concerns and fears on the person coming out to you.  Instead, you could hug them, tell them you love them, you support them, and that no matter what you’ll be there to help and see them go where they want to.

In the case of my mom, I just wanted her to be my mom.  I wanted to hear her say she loves me, and that she will be there no matter what.  And this is where I get selfish…because I know she has already expressed this to me, but I wanted to…needed to…hear it.  I wanted to feel the emotion of her love, and I didn’t get that with the first phone call.  I’m sure I will get it in the future, and I don’t want to paint her as being wrong, or that I’m mad at her.  I’m not mad at her, after all she has talked to me.  I also found out from my sister-in-law (through my wife) that my mom is hurting bad right now.  My biggest fear in coming out was that she would hurt when she realized how long I had been hiding and that she never knew.  As a parent you would do anything to keep your child from pain, and when you find you didn’t or couldn’t do it…it breaks your heart a little.  Knowing this, I’m giving her the benefit of time to let her process.  It isn’t my problem that she feels this way.  She’s a mom, and so it can’t be avoided, but I can give her time to deal.  I’ve thought about sending her a text to tell her that it isn’t her fault and that I don’t blame her or my dad for anything, but there will still be a part of her that feels like she should have known.  I tear up thinking about it, because this could easily have been my daughter and I thirty-some years from now.  Being trans and having a trans child puts me in a unique position to get both perspectives on this.  I want what I want, and yet I also can empathize with what she is feeling.

Let me be clear…I am not in a bad mood as I write this, and actually feel like I’m in a pretty good place.  My mood always gets better as the week goes on, and this is another source of mental exhaustion.  These days my weekends are almost always good.  I get to be me all weekend, even if most people see boy…I’m good with it, because I get to wear what I want and express as I will.  I don’t have to be him or think like him, and I love every minute of it.  As the week goes on and I get closer to the weekend, my mood improves because I know I won’t have to play the part for a couple days.  Conversely, as the weekend comes to a close I become anxious and depressed because I have to put the man suit back on for another work week.  Luckily, I work from home on Mondays and so it’s only four days, but my brain is already at the point where it doesn’t give a krap…it simply wants to be, and I wish I could let it.

This means exhaustion also comes from my need to hold off presenting full-time.  I know many gals jump right in, and this is why they do so.  It’s too hard for them not do so, and perhaps they don’t have the constraints that I have in my life.  There can be a myriad of reasons for why we go full-time when we do.  For me, it isn’t time yet.  It’s not because I don’t want to, but rather because I want to go full-time when I feel the time is right.  However, knowing the time isn’t right doesn’t give me comfort, after all logic and emotion are often at odds with one another.  Logically, I should wait and plan it out, so that I can maximize the greatest benefit for me and my family.  Emotionally, I want to say “Fuck It!”  This is who I am, deal with it.  These two sides being at odds with one another in my head can be draining, and I don’t see it ending anytime soon, but I know it will end.  I just have to keep my eye on the glimmer at the end of the tunnel and hold to the idea that one foot in front of the other gets me where I want to go.

Now all of the above, plus add in hormones, mood swings, and all the normal day to day stuff everyone deals with.  You can start to see why one might have mental exhaustion issues.  Usually sleep rejuvenates me, but this week with the added stress of coming out I haven’t been getting that emotional rejuvenation, and so I just feel tired every day.  If I didn’t have my emotional support network…if I was alone…then I don’t know where I’d be, but it wouldn’t be a good place.

I have my wife and my friends to thank for helping me get through this week, and for bringing me out of my funk.  My wife was there over the weekend giving me support while I started to stress about talking/not talking to my mom.  My friends were there to get me out of my funk after I talked to my mom.  Some friends just listened and offered words of understanding and comfort.  One friend, in particular, who is becoming a really good friend, just made me laugh and smile, because she seems to get me on a level that I never had a male friend ever get me on.  She, in large part, was responsible for getting me out of my dark place this week, and I’m thankful to have her in my life.

The takeaway from this post and the one I want cis people to walk away with is that your mental exhaustion and mine are not the same thing.  You don’t have to pretend to be someone else half your week, every week. You don’t have to regularly justify your existence or make others feel better about the fact that you exist as yourself.  If you have a trans person in your life, please remember this.  Remember, they don’t need to hear most of what you think.  What they need to hear is your positivity and support.  What they need from you is to simply be a loved one and/or a friend.  If they bring up worries or concerns then by all means talk about them.  If you have questions ask them, but do it in a way that comes from a desire to learn, and not from a place of worry or fear.  We do enough of that on our own, even if you don’t see it.  Yes, I try to be positive and outgoing to the world, but that doesn’t mean I don’t fear and worry.  It just means I don’t want to constantly shoulder others with my problems, and yes, most of the time, I’m in a good mood.  I would venture to say this is the case for many trans people out there.

Tomorrow is a new day, and next week, a new week…and before that a weekend with blessed sleep!  I look forward to the future, because every day there is something that moves me forward.  Even though I get exhausted sometimes…I like where my life is heading…I just wish I could get there a little faster.

Also finally changed my video…I thought “Just Breathe” by Pearl Jam was appropriate for this week.

 

Personal Notes to Dad and Brother

Family-Silhouette-3

So, I posted the main body of my family coming out letter yesterday and I said I would post the personal notes to my father and brother.  Parts of these are identical to my mother’s but I didn’t want to cut it out…so without further stalling…here they are:

Personal Note to Dad

Dad, growing up you set the image of what I thought I was supposed to be as a man.  I always wanted your love, respect, and admiration.  I know you have always loved me to death, and would do anything for me.  I know one of your biggest concerns in life is that I am safe.  I hope this is your biggest concern as I share this with you.  As a child, one of the safest places I’ve ever been in life, at least in my mind, along with some of my warmest memories I have, are when you’d wrap me up in a hug, and the feeling of absolute security that would envelope me.  I always felt like you’d always keep me safe.  Part of me still believes that, even while my adult self says that’s my job.  Your love and support just might do what part of me still believes it can…make everything OK, and keep me safe.  I know this will be weird at first, but my hope is that my slow transition will make it easier.  I can’t know for sure, but I want to believe like that little kid so many years ago…that you love me, and would never do anything to ever hurt me.

I think you know how hard this is for me to tell you, and I hope you can still love me, and that you will still want to be a part of my life, but I also must accept as I write this that there is the chance that I could be completely wrong, and so I partly write and send a letter to protect myself.  Next to Wife, there are three people in the world that have the power to lift me up and the power to destroy me.  You, Mom, and Brother are those three people.  As for the rest, I couldn’t give two shits what they think.  I’m past worrying about pleasing others, or trying to be what I think they want me to be.

When you decide to text me, or email me I want you to remember the following things as they are important to me.  Please do not call me in disbelief, anger, or the notion that you can get me to change my mind, or that this is a joke, or that it’s a phase, or that I’ve lost my mind.  Those things are non-starters for me.  Also, please don’t tell me that I’m going to fast…I’m 43 now, and have known I was different since 5…there is no such thing as too fast from where I stand.

So what can we talk about?  You can ask me questions, about the past, about me currently, or about the future.  You can ask me how I’m doing.  You can give me your love and support.  You can simply talk to me like you always have.  I’m still the same person on the inside, except I no longer feel burdened by having to hide things in my private life.

If I don’t hear from you, then I will know you can’t accept it yet, or you have anger and other issues to work through, and that is ok.  I will have to accept that, learn to deal with it, and live my life, because I can’t go backwards.

I know you and Mom will be worried and scared for me, and as my parents I would expect nothing else.  I am scared and worried for myself at times, but I also know that I don’t have a choice in this…for the first time I understand why someone might want to kill themselves over this, because I know the circumstances where I would do so, and it is a sobering realization.

Finally, I want you to know that I will be ok, and that I know what I am doing, as much as anyone can.  I’m actually looking forward to what the future brings…for the first time in my life.  I hope that you will be part of that future, and I hope to hear from you soon.

Love,

 

Personal Note to Brother

I want you to know that I love you, and that if you are the brother and man that I think you are that this may take time to wrap your mind around, but that ultimately you can accept me for who I am, and get to know me that way.  No matter what, in my eyes, you will always be my little brother and I will always be there for you if you need me.

I hope you can still love me, and that you will still want to be a part of my life, but I also must accept as I write this that there is the chance that I could be completely wrong, and so I partly write and send a letter to protect myself.  Next to Wife, there are three people in the world that have the power to lift me up and the power to destroy me.  You, mom, and dad are those three people.  As for the rest, I couldn’t give two shits what they think.  I’m past worrying about pleasing others, or trying to be what I think they want me to be.

When you decide to pick up the phone and call me I want you to remember the following things as they will be important in having a real conversation.  Please do not call me in disbelief, anger, or the notion that you can get me to change my mind, or that this is a joke, or that it’s a phase, or that I’ve lost my mind.  Those things are non-starters for me.  Also, don’t tell me that I’m going to fast…I’m 43 now, and have known I was different since 5…there is no such thing as too fast from where I stand.

So what can we talk about?  You can ask me questions, about the past, about me currently, or about the future.  You can ask me how I’m doing.  You can give me your love and support.  You can simply talk to me like you always have.  I’m still the same person on the inside, except I no longer feel burdened by having to hide shit in my private life.

If I don’t hear from you, then I will know you can’t accept it yet, or you have anger and other issues to work through, and that is ok.  I will have to accept that, learn to deal with it, and live my life, because I can’t go backwards.

Please talk to mom and dad.  My letters to them will be more detailed about my past, and incidents that might help them connect the dots.  Also, please be there for them.  I can’t be there right now, and they may need you, so I am sorry to put this on you.  There’s no way to know for sure how they will take it.  I think mom will accept it faster than dad, but I could be wrong about that.  I know they will worry, be scared, and a multitude of other things.

I want you all to know that I will be ok, and that I know what I am doing, as much as anyone can.  I’m actually looking forward to what the future brings…for the first time in my life.  I hope that you will be part of that future, and I hope to hear from you soon.

Love,

Letter to Mom

Mom

My parents and brother should be getting their letters today and so I wanted to begin to post those letters here.  As I’ve said before, I am using this blog to chronicle my transition, and this is a huge part of how it will go.  In addition, if this letter can help someone else craft their own message to loved ones then I am happy to share it here.  Names have been removed for privacy, and the journal entry I reference is the very first post on my home page, modified for greater brevity.  I will post the personal sides to my Dad and brother tomorrow…the body for all three is almost identical and you can see it here.  Hopefully they all respond as I expect them to and I will have something positive to write about next week, but either way I will write about honestly and from the heart.

Here is the letter as it was sent to my Mom:

Dear Mom,

I’ve thought long and hard about how I wanted to share the news I am about to share with you.  I opted to write a letter because I have always been better with expressing what I wanted to say on paper, and because I want to give you the opportunity to process and think about what I am about to share with you.  What I am about to tell you may not be easy for you to accept but it is real and it is happening.  Dad and Brother have or will be getting similar letters that I have written just for them.  I am sure you will probably talk to them before you talk to me, and that’s OK.  I know you will have concerns, worries, and questions and I am here to answer those questions when you are ready to talk.  This will be an emotional situation for all involved, and I am seriously exposing myself here like I will do for only my family.

By now you may be thinking I’m dying or some equally bad shit is happening, and I don’t want to draw out the tension any further, and so I will simply cut to the chase.  Over the past year I’ve been examining so much of who I am.  Part of it had to do with Daughter’s coming out and a big part of it had to do with something medically that was discovered about me.  Let me say right now…I am not dying, but mentally I was heading towards self-harm if I didn’t face certain truths about myself.

I want to begin with a quick biology lesson.  Everyone pretty much accepts that males are born with 46XY chromosomes and females are born with 46XX chromosomes.  This is pretty basic, but I found out I am not basic.  Doctors are pretty certain I was born with 46XY and 46XX chromosomes which makes me what is known as chimera intersex.  They know this because I have both XY and XX blood cells in my body, and that is typically the only way this can happen.  Unfortunately, this can only be confirmed in the womb or on an autopsy table, because it literally would mean my body is a patchwork of XY and XX on the inside.  I could have a kidney that is XX and a kidney that is XY.  The lining of my stomach could be XX, and the rest of my stomach could be XY.  I could have muscles that are XX and muscles that are XY (doctors think my right side might be heavily influenced by XX chromosomes).  Finally, parts of my brain and endocrine system could be XX as well.

How does this happen?  Well, most likely scenario is that there were two eggs fertilized, one male and one female.  As they descended right after conception the two zygotes fused together to become one.  If it had happened a little after it did then conjoined twins result, but instead I got lucky and hit the sweet spot…so essentially I absorbed my female twin and we became one person.

I’m intersex, now what?  Well, obviously there is more to it than that, and you may already have an idea of where I am going with this.  If I was born today, then doctors could have run the test that would have told them this, and they could have shared with you that based upon the Surgeon General’s recommendations that I should be allowed to grow up and determine my gender at puberty, as there is no way of knowing how I will feel as I get older, and how my brain will identify.  Unfortunately, I was born in 1974, before the test could be run, and when gender was simply decided by what could be seen with the eyes.

Without writing an autobiography connecting dots throughout my life (I’ve included a journal entry I wrote that discusses this to a point and am happy to talk about this if you need me to help you see those dots), suffice it to say I have known since the age of 5 that I was different.  I never felt like I fit in anywhere, but I also knew that talking about some of the feelings I had wouldn’t fly, and so I pushed them down and tried to be more like dad, be more like my friends, and simply keep so much to myself.  I wasn’t happy with myself as a child.  I know you can remember issues I had and much of those were tied to how I felt.  These feelings never went away, I just learned how to hide them better, and when you thought they might be for one reason, well, I just let you assume rather than tell you the truth.

As I got older I was both attracted to girls and jealous of what they had that I did not…on so many levels.  I sucked it up, and pushed on.  I would often find myself saying things like “If I was a girl…” always rationalizing that I could never be, and that I just had to make the best of what I had.  This would continue, the pattern of longing and denial until last year.  Daughter’s coming out made me face my past as I accepted that I could no longer run.  Coupled with finding out I was intersex these two things basically caused me to have a nervous breakdown this past summer.

Awareness of who I was, and internalized shame and self-hate had me verbally lashing out at Wife and the kids all summer, to the point that she was within weeks of taking the kids and leaving me, and I had no clue.  Finally, I accepted that I am intersex and also choose to identify as transgender.  Once I accepted this I talked with Wife and explained that I needed to get therapy.  I started therapy in August, and in October I also started hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to begin a transition to change my body from male to female.  Wife knows and accepts that I have to do this, and we have also told the kids.  At this time, things have calmed down and things are better than they have been in a long time within the family.  As for Wife and I, only time will tell, but she has been nothing short of amazing in her support, and knows that if I didn’t do this I would end up dead before 50.  I can also tell you that for the first time in my life, my brain feels calm and relaxed.  It feels “right.”

I am sure by now you’re looking at this saying “What the fuck?” and probably stunned or questioning how this is possible, or if I’ve lost my mind, or any number of scenarios.  All I can say is that this is 100% real, and it isn’t going away.  However, much thought has gone into the process of my transition to do it in the most responsible way possible.  The next time you see me I will not be in makeup and a dress.  HRT takes time to make changes and some have started, but if you were to see me right now, I don’t look any different.  For all involved, including myself, I am making a slow transition, meaning that I don’t anticipate major changes to how I live for at least 1.5 to 2 years, but physical changes could speed up or slow that timetable down.  My plan is to have a first round of surgeries before I’d go full time, and typically good surgeons want you to be on HRT for 1-2 years before they would even do surgery.

As for name and pronouns…I am good with the current ones for now.  I don’t expect people to call me she if I’m still out as a man in most ways.  I’m sure there will come a time when I want that to change, but for now I am ok.  When that time comes I will let you know, and we can deal with it then.

Now for my personal note to you:

I’ve been calling you less than I usually do, because it has been so hard not to tell you, and when I don’t I feel like I’m lying to you.  I have this huge thing going on and I’m not sharing it with the biggest cheerleader I’ve ever had.  Growing up I always felt like I was closer to you than dad.  That isn’t to say I loved you more, but that I identified with you more than him, regardless of how hard I tried to identify and be like him.  I had similar interests to you, was able to talk to you more easily, and I wanted desperately to be more like you, but I also knew I wasn’t, and most of my childhood believed that I could never be, so what was the point in wishing for something I could never have.

I did try on your clothes/cross dress up until a certain age.  I started to do this in 3rd grade.  I can still remember the first time I did it.  I’m sorry for that invasion of your privacy, and I can’t tell you why I did it the first time, but once I started I couldn’t stop until I got too big, and then I stopped because of a couple incidents where I did get caught by both you and dad.

I don’t want to rehash the past, or play the “what if?” game.  We talked in September about what would you have done if you and dad had to deal with this in the early 80s, and how you wouldn’t have known what to do.  Nobody would have.  It’s not like I ever said anything, and I don’t think there is any way you could have known.  I also don’t want you and dad to beat yourselves up over the fact that it took me until my forties to come out.  This isn’t on either of you, or anything you did or didn’t do.  It just is, and I wasn’t able to put words to it until recently.

I think you know how hard this is for me to tell you, and I hope you can still love me, and that you will still want to be a part of my life, but I also must accept as I write this that there is the chance that I could be completely wrong, and so I partly write and send a letter to protect myself.  Next to Wife, there are three people in the world that have the power to lift me up and the power to destroy me.  You, Dad, and Brother are those three people.  As for the rest, I couldn’t give two shits what they think.  I’m past worrying about pleasing others, or trying to be what I think they want me to be.

When you decide to pick up the phone and call me I want you to remember the following things as they are important to me.  Please do not call me in disbelief, anger, or the notion that you can get me to change my mind, or that this is a joke, or that it’s a phase, or that I’ve lost my mind.  Those things are non-starters for me.  Also, please don’t tell me that I’m going to fast…I’m 43 now, and have known I was different since 5…there is no such thing as too fast from where I stand. 

So what can we talk about?  You can ask me questions, about the past, about me currently, or about the future.  You can ask me how I’m doing.  You can give me your love and support.  You can simply talk to me like you always have.  I’m still the same person on the inside, except I no longer feel burdened by having to hide things in my private life.

If I don’t hear from you, then I will know you can’t accept it yet, or you have anger and other issues to work through, and that is ok.  I will have to accept that, learn to deal with it, and live my life, because I can’t go backwards.

Please help Dad and Brother to understand if they need it.  You are my mom, and I think of everyone you may accept it faster than they do.  I can’t imagine a world where you would give up on me, or Dad for that matter, even if this is one of the hardest things you’ve ever had to deal with as parents.  Dad can’t talk to me and ask questions, but he can email me or text me if he needs to, and I will tell him that.  I know you guys will be worried and scared for me, and as my parents I would expect nothing else.  I am scared and worried for myself at times, but I also know that I don’t have a choice in this…for the first time I understand why someone might want to kill themselves over this, because I know the circumstances where I would do so, and it is a sobering realization. 

Finally, I want you to know that I will be ok, and that I know what I am doing, as much as anyone can.  I’m actually looking forward to what the future brings…for the first time in my life.  I hope that you will be part of that future, and I hope to hear from you soon.

I love you,