I bought “Tranny” on Audible about a month ago, but did not rush to listen to it, and only put it on in my car as I made the drive north from south Florida back to the Atlanta area early this week. I knew Laura Jane Grace (LJG) fronted Against Me, and that she had transitioned a few years ago. I’ve never been one to pile on bandwagons, and so as my daughter transitioned…and then as I began to transition myself, I was damned if I was going to be the cliche trans person following a band just because the front woman was transgender. However, as I began to dig into her book, I began to find that much of our thought processes were identical or ran parallel to one another, and that just drew me into wanting to check out her music. So this past weekend that is just what I did, downloading all her albums on Spotify and…my love affair with LJG and Against Me began.
I’ve always been a fan of thrashing rock, punk, classic rock, and I could go on. Nothing gets me going for competition or workouts than hard driving bass, drums, and electric guitars. I was immediately taken with the songwriting abilities of LJG. I’ve always been a sucker for good lyrics. They matter to me, and as I listened to her lyrics I became even more hooked on her music.
Let me step back a second, and say the last two weeks have been eventful ones. Last week was a goodbye of sorts. One thing is certain from every transwoman I’ve ever talked to and that is this…HRT will fundamentally change the way I see and interact with the world. Estrogen will change my brain, and so I spent last week quietly saying goodbye to certain things, happy to do so, but a little sad as well. I admit, there were some tears shed on my part as I realized this version of me will never see my parents or brother again, but it is how it has to be, and I have faith that when the time comes they will accept, love, and support me.
Getting home, my wife and I had a good talk. She shared her fears and concerns regarding intimacy, and while I assured her I still found her attractive, the unasked question is, “what will she think of me as my body and mind start to change. Will she find me attractive? We don’t have those answers, but we agreed to try and move forward. We don’t know how things will turn out, but we love each other, and we will see if, in the end, that is enough.
Much bigger, I’ve realized that I’ve left my self-hatred and anger behind. They no longer rules me, and I shared that in therapy this week. The blowup between the wife and I last week was a major turning point for me and my transition…an important, positive one that has seen me begin to reconnect with my family…who I was so close to losing…and if that had happened I would have lost everything I hold dear.
So where did my self hate and anger come from? I was angry and hated myself because I couldn’t be me. I was angry I had to hide the female me, and hated myself for being a coward. Finally, I realized that through various obsessions I had made myself numb to so much emotion. With the self-hatred and anger gone, my emotions have begun to emerge, and while I’m more prone to tears these days, I am happy that this is the case. Up until today, it had been over 22 years since I had last sobbed about anything.
The trigger? Well, my emotions were already raw, and it had been building, but it was an Against Me song which set me free. I had been listening to “Tranny” earlier today, and there is a part where LJG talks about her friend and former lover CC being killed, and while attending the funeral CC’s mother tells her to make it right. At the time LJG still wasn’t out. The story was sad, but I didn’t think too much about it while listening to the story. It wasn’t until I was deep into my workout listening to Against Me when “Because of the Shame” comes on (lyric version video is my Video of the Day).
I was doing my ab workout, and in the middle of it, I realize that the song was written about CC, but more importantly it was also written about LJG’s shame at the idea of showing vulnerability. It was a shame I knew all too well, a shame that has kept me living a lie for so long, and a shame that I am through with. Still, as I listened to the words, I sat up and began to cry. I couldn’t help myself, but the tears were not my usual weak tears that I could push down and gain control over. This time, they just kept coming, and I simply let go and sobbed. The song hits me on such a visceral level, and even now as I think of it, I’m fighting back the urge to cry. I’ve hated who I am for so long, hated how I held such rigid control over what I allowed the world to see, including those I love. Even now, as I find my happy, because I have let go of that rigid control, there still exists a residual sadness for time and incidents that I can never make up, and that I can never get back. Laura and her song will forever hold a significant place in my transition, and emotional development, and for that I will be eternally grateful.
I am old enough to know, LJG will never read this, never know just how much that song, her words, mean to this 42 year old woman just beginning her transition, but I think it connects because I know, without a doubt, that the shame she felt mirrors my own regarding what we both pushed down and denied for so long, before moving past it to find our real selves.
Looking at this week so far, it has been a week of turning corners. Monday I found out that I will get my HRT letter at my next therapy session, and I also confirmed yesterday that in all liklihood I will be able to start HRT that same week…meaning in less than two weeks I will finally be on the physical road to aligning my body with my mind.
My wife is talking more about my transition in, if not a positive light, then definitely not a negative one. She has noticed I am engaged more, and more involved in the household…I am simply more there. And, finally, after my workout today, I shaved off my beard for the first time in eight years, and for what I know will be the last time.
I am finally getting excited for my future, and feeling more at peace than I think I have ever been before in my life. I have left behind my self-hate, anger, and my shame. In their place I have found freedom, contentment, and a peace that I hope to keep a hold of as I move forward with my life. I no longer have to be ashamed, because there is nothing shameful about living my real truth.
The past week has seen many up and downs for me, and as I’ve said to many people, things have gotten very real.
As I came out, got to know other girls via social media, and received massive support from those I shared with, I was buoyed up and not forced to face many realities that stand before me. In many ways this is as it should be. If I had to look at all that stands before me I might run to the corner, hide, and never come out. It is best to plan ahead, but you should also take each day at a time, and adjust as necessary to what is thrown your way.Last Friday was a mix of good and while I won’t say bad, I will say starkly real.
I decided on Friday to come out to a group of “Parents of Transgender Kids” that I am a part of. I used to be very active in the group, and regularly wrote a blog as the “father” of a transgender daughter. I was confident that it would be an affirming group to come out to, but I had no idea just how positive my news would be received, and to say I was overwhelmed by the positivity and support shown me would be an understatement. I am even happy to admit that there were some happy tears shed as I read messages left for me. When I wrote my announcement, I vowed to respond in some way to everyone who reached out to me, and it took me over two hours to do so, and I was happy to do it. To those of you who posted and read this…thank you from the bottom of my heart. Things like your messages give me armor for when times get tough, or when I get low. You all have a special place in my heart, and I will always remember and be thankful for your support.
To the women who readily accept my female self and have reached out on social media, and to the local women who have extended hands of friendship, let me say thank you! Your acceptance, and friendship means so much, and I can’t wait to begin to get to know all of you, and let you get to know me.
However, love isn’t always sunshine and roses, sometimes it is about being real with the ones you love, and so I want to talk about what else happened on Friday. I’ve talked before about how my anger was a big reason I sought therapy and knew I had to come out as transgender. I had known my wife was not happy with me, but wrongly assumed it had to do with emotions she was feeling from me telling her I was transgender. I was right about her anger, but very wrong as to the reason. At around the time I decided to seek therapy I had begun to lash out at everyone in my house, my wife, my kids, no one was safe from my short fuse. I had gotten so bad that my wife was a hair’s breadth away from taking the kids and leaving me. Fighting back tears, she shared this with me Friday night, after I started to get angry for something else she had told me. As I listened, I found the anger falling away, only to be replaced by a profound sadness, and then she broke down about my trans status.
My heart broke as she began to break down in wracking sobs. I dropped to the floor, back against the wall, as her words hit me, and I just listened. She had turned the corner to accepting that this was happening, but this is not a joyous thing for her. She is losing her husband, and it breaks my heart that as I move forward, she will suffer in many ways for it. This is not uncommon for those of us that want to keep our families intact, and it highlights one of the many difficulties of transitioning later in life. The silver lining in it all is that her sharing has allowed us to move forward and now actually have real conversations about my transition. I no longer feel like I can’t share, or that she doesn’t want to hear it, but I also accept that none of this will be easy for her.
Her big fear, as is the case for many spouses, is that I am moving too fast…however, what many do not understand is that I’ve fought this for decades. There is no such thing as moving too fast at my age, but for her, and because I was so good at lying to the world, it seems like an overnight happening. I assured her that this would not happen overnight, and that I was looking at what I thought would be a minimum of two years before a final end result. I don’t know if it made her feel better, but it did put her more at ease. We both cannot say if we will be together when this is all over. Perhaps we will, and perhaps we will not, but even she is certain that no matter what we will always be close friends and remain in each others’ lives. Things will happen as they will, and we will adjust as the changes in our relationship dictate. It saddens me to think she may not always be my spouse. I have been married to this wonderful woman for over 18 years. People are always telling me how brave and courageous I am, but in my eyes, she is the brave and courageous one. She is choosing to support and stand by me as I slowly kill her husband, and replace him with Allie. To be able to stand by and watch that…well, I’m on the verge of tears just writing this.
As for being on the verge of tears? I am currently down in Florida visiting my parents, and completely in stealth mode. They have been unbelievably affirming of my daughter, and I believe they will support me, but it has been a trying time for me as they keep bringing up trans issues, and every time they do, I want to say “I have something I need to tell you.” I don’t tell them, and won’t yet, but it’s hard keeping such a big secret from them. However, it’s the right thing to do, but it is also something I will talk about in therapy again next week, as I think about the “how to” of eventually telling them.
I find myself, as of late, walking through life as if I am a person who has just been given a death sentence, or told she has only months to live. Every time I experience something, I can’t help think, this might be the last time I do this as a “man”, or this will be the last time I do this before hormones change how I see the world. So many girls tell me how HRT will change the way I see and experience the world, so while I will continue to present male at work, and for some time out of the house, my brain will change much more quickly, as testosterone gets blocked, and estrogen takes over. Once that happens, regardless of how my body looks, I will cease to be the person I am right now. Even excited and looking forward to HRT this is a heavy thing for me to face. These thoughts, make the past few days bittersweet for me. I look forward to the future, but have a sorrow for the would-be man I am putting to rest with the knowledge that it will hurt many who love that person. I can only hope that they will see the heart of that man is the woman I really am, and that it was my love and fear of hurting others that made me wait so long to share my deepest secret with them.
Love can be joyous, and love can be sadness, but through it all, love is wondrous.
I do not doubt this, and it gives me hope that others will accept and in turn show me compassion and love in return. I hold onto this as I move forward, and will do my best to constantly remind myself of it in the darkest of moments during transition. As long as there are people who think positively of me and there are those who love me, I will never be alone and will find a way to keep moving forward.
Ok, be gentle with me…Seriously, I want honesty. I’m early in training my voice, and I know it can get much better, but this is the first recording where I’ve gotten out of chest and into throat which I’ve been practicing for a few days now. This isn’t the best I’ve done, and the recording is kinda grainy, but the question is does it sound female or like a dude doing a female voice. My natural male voice is down around 116 hertz…this voice is more around 200 hertz (when throat feels good I’ve averaged 216, but also I’ve dropped to 180, all in female range), although it does go up and down. I don’t need a high voice, I’m tall, and I”m guessing will always appear to be a larger female athlete, so I’m good with that. I want the voice to fit my body, and sound natural for me.
I know I have to work on prosody, inflection, etc. Those things only come with practice and use. My voice is one of my biggest dysphoria triggers, and so my first instinct is to go and get voice surgery so I don’t need to worry about it, but I need to try this first, and even with surgery I would need to train my voice, so this would have to happen anyways. My point is, it is impossible for me to be objective about how my voice sounds because I naturally cringe anyways.
If you are coming here from Twitter feel free to DM me, post in the comments for the link. You can also always post in the comments for this post. If you are finding your way here from elsewhere, I’m also open to your thoughts. I don’t get offended by honesty, it helps me to improve. For right now, my concern is: Is the pitch high enough to pass female on the phone, or will people think it’s a dude pretending.
Thanks for your thoughts, and I will probably do this at least once a month to try and track progress.
So here it is:
As I move forward with my transition, I begin to realize I am changing in ways that are, at the same time, both scary and positive. These days my emotions seem to constantly bubble right beneath the surface, and I find that while I still can present a very male mask, much of what is beneath the surface is the real me, the female, pulling the strings.
I find the fact that the real me is beginning to emerge an exciting time, but with every step forward there is no going back, to go back would mean oblivion, and yet no matter how confident I seem, there is always a fear of the unknown, because you can never know for sure how people will eventually react to you. Other women have told me that they are amazed at how I can pace myself and take my time when all they want to do is run. I’ve thought about what they’ve said, and want to clue them in to the fact that a huge part of me wants to run as well. I just know that isn’t the path meant for me and my transition.
I want to wear the fun stuff, dresses, shoes, fun tights, nail polish on my fingers, and make-up on my face. However, I am also in my early forties, and have a family, a good job, etc., and so there is a way in which I must go about my transition in order to maintain as much of what I have and want as possible. I accept I may lose things, but I won’t give them up without a fight, and I will try and move forward with as much positivity as possible. Good people gravitate towards positive, and unconsciously want to share in it. If I want people to accept Allie, then I have to show them that Allie is a person they want around them, that Allie is someone they want working for them, and that Allie is a friend and family member who makes life better.
I keep sticking to my “Two years on HRT plan.” What that means, is I want to be on HRT for two years before I decide what’s next, but I may hedge at the year mark and schedule gender confirmation surgery (GCS) if I feel the changes happening are good enough that I can wait on any other surgeries I might want. I won’t know what other surgeries I’d want until the 2 year mark anyways. The only surgery I know I want for sure is GCS. OK, and a nose job, and some liposculpting…I have this fat on my inner thighs that I had even as an athlete, and it just won’t go away…but I digress…The point is I don’t have hang-ups about my face, and hope I never do…for me it is body and voice…those are my biggest triggers. As for genitals…I don’t hate my penis, but I don’t love it either. I do hate my testicles…they’re just…in the way…all the time…and I will be happy to see them shrink, and eventually removed.
Another benefit of my two year plan is that it gives those I love and care about a chance to begin to see changes, to share why those changes are occurring, and to let them get used to those changes before the biggest change of all…stepping out of the man suit and leaving it behind for good. If HRT brings about a second puberty then all those things cis gals learn during puberty, I will have two years to learn. I talked about it in therapy yesterday, and I do mean that. I’m not a woman yet…because girls go through puberty to become women, and I have yet to go through mine. Not all will agree with me, but that’s how I see my transition, and mine doesn’t have to be like anyone else’s.
Being a woman isn’t putting on make-up and a pretty dress. I am female, but I need to learn how to present and navigate the world as a woman. I need to get used to my body as it changes, and also get used to how people will begin to see and perceive me. I need to learn how do do my hair, my make-up, and what clothes look best on my body. More importantly, I need to find my female voice, adjust my mannerisms, the way I move, the way I talk, the way I hold myself. I need to find my confidence in those things. Taking my time gives me the opportunity to work on those things while my body does its own changing.
I’m the type of girl that can be happy with seeing positive change…as long as I feel I am moving towards my end goal then I am happy. Right now it is weight loss, down 27lbs as of this morning, and I continue to average 2-3 lbs a week, which I am more than happy with. My eating habits have changed, and I’m not starving myself. I no longer eat like a man, but we also established yesterday that I used to eat that way to also cover for my depression, which I have moved beyond by accepting I am female.
So where am I an emotional mess? I’m getting to that, this is my blog and I am free to go where I will. Some know that I am quite active on Twitter, and as such I talk to many girls, all at different stages and with different experiences. I have been lucky to find a couple who have really taken me under their wing, and their positivity truly can boost my spirits and stop dysphoria in its tracks. Friday was such a day, where a conversation with another gal threatened to take me to a dark place, but when I reached out to my fairy godmother, as I call her, she came back with just the right things I needed to hear, and the day ended on a positive note. I can’t stress enough to girls starting out how important community is to us. This is rough enough as is, but to do it alone…as confident as I can seem, I’d be a complete mess, and so I am thankful I have found friends and support at home and on the internet.
Saturday night my wife got upset with me when she found I had been shaving certain parts of my body, and I hadn’t told her. I didn’t think it was a big deal, but I had agreed to share everything with her. It left me feeling horrible, but a friend chatted with me for almost two hours late into the night, and the next day I awoke to apologize to my wife. I did not apologize for shaving, but for the not sharing. If we are going to find a new place in our marriage, then she has to feel a part of my transition, and that I am a better person for it.
Sunday, my wife and I were driving home from an event, and feeling emotional I told her that I constantly fear that the next step I take, the next thing I do might be the thing that weirds her out, or drives her away. She said she understood, but not much else. She knew I was starting to express in little ways, my feminine side, and that I wanted to switch out my underwear as a next step, but I needed to tell her it was happening. She had seemed ok with it, but I had to tell her it would be this week, and so I dove in and told her. I even hedged around saying I’d keep my guy underwear for the kids sake, and sleep in that. She just looked at me, shook her head, and said, “That’s stupid, just put on a pair of shorts when you come to bed.” Her matter-of-factness sent a message that maybe she’s accepting this faster than I thought. My wife isn’t a talker when it comes to her feelings, that’s my department, but I know she has them, and I know she loves me. It’s amazing how such a simple acceptance of my expression can give me greater confidence for the next thing I’ll want to do.
Monday’s therapy session brought more emotion out, as my therapist when talking about coming out to my parents asked a question that got me to begin to lose it regarding my father, and I’m not going there, don’t want to start blubbering again. Yes, I started to lose it…and if I had let myself it would have been bad, but I was able to reign it in so I could keep talking. I’ve also touched upon this thought in another blog post, but what I haven’t touched upon is how much of girl I’ve always been in my desire to please, especially my parents. I haven’t always shown it, but I know in some ways my transition is going to hurt them, and it is the last thing I want to do, to hurt my parents, but I also can no longer hurt myself for the sake of others. This is the truth of all of us who are transgender, and the emotions that go with it are no joke.
Therapy did end on a high note for me, as my therapist did agree that she didn’t see why I couldn’t be on HRT by my birthday less than two months away. That, made my day. I also almost forgot, but I have lined up a hormone doctor and a new primary care doctor, both who specialize in trans patients. I already have my appointment to get my levels checked for HRT, so that when I go to my hormone doctor I could get my prescriptions on day one, which has me so excited!
The affirmation of others around me only serves to give confidence that I am female, as for so long I worried I was a fraud or a fake. I know I am not, but emotions can be fucked up, and dysphoria meddling with them can make them even worse. As I was writing this, I got a tweet that might be the sweetest thing anyone has said to me, and definitely the sweetest since I started my transition. Talking about my timetable I had told my friend how bad I wanted to just jump in with both feet, and she came back with this:
“Oh Allie I do know how much you want it, never questioned that. Just wow: your kindness towards others and “skill” at helping them forward.”
Chrissy, if you read this…I love you right back! And, yes, her words made me cry, but just a little, and I’ll never turn down happy tears. To think that others might see me this way as I’m just starting out…I don’t know if I have the words to express what it means, other than my heart just feels full right now. It’s a feeling I want to hold onto, and this is a post I can definitely come back to when times get tough, because I know they will.
As I close on this, I’m left wondering if my emotions are really on the edge, or if they simply are finally beginning to emerge as they’re supposed to be. My biggest hope, early on, is gaining the ability to emote freely, once more. The past few days have given me some ups and downs, but I’ve come through it feeling even more positive about the future.
I wanted to share some words from my “fairy godmother” that make me smile with happy tears as I’m about to write them. It got me through the other day, and I’m sharing them because I think they can apply to others.
She wrote to me:
“We make what we make of this experience. Work hard, give grace, forgive…you know all that…I feel that positivity in you.”
“And the other thing is to temper the pace of the transition and build the patience necessary. We all know what haste does.”
“All the *small* victories are actually massive. Celebrate all of them. ALL OF THEM”
“When the big milestones happen you will have enough rocket fuel to last a year!”
The rest of what she wrote is more personal and for me…but I am so thankful for her, and she knows it. She is the one who first said what I needed to hear that allowed me to believe I could transition…and she didn’t even know it at the time.
Anyways, I think I’m gonna end here, because I’ve got a lump in my throat, and my eyes have started to slightly leak, but I’m owning that feeling because it also has a smile on my face which I intend to savor.
Oh, and I changed my music video…an old 80’s song that always makes me happy…because that’s where I’m at right now. Much love to you all!
Ok, being a little cheeky with the title this time around. I’m actually feeling pretty good as I write this, but was feeling pretty shitty this morning…Dysphoria…it’s a BITCH!!!
Since my last post some good things have happened. First, my wife and I had a nice date on Saturday, and we had a good conversation. She was good with me beginning to express a little more…just baby steps…but I don’t want to hide things like painting my toes or wearing pretty undies…that said I did say I’d be discreet as my kids don’t know I’m trans yet, but do my kids really need to know what underwear I’m wearing?
I also coached my daughter’s soccer team to a 10-1 victory on Saturday. She is probably the best player on her team (one boy is close) which always makes a parent glow. She scored 4 goals and had 4 killer saves in goal. Don’t know where her aggression and competitive spirit came from, but it is definitely there this year.
The rest of the weekend was just about relaxing and not doing much of anything, which is never a bad thing. Yesterday, my daughter wanted to paint my toes (Yes, please!) and so now I’m rocking a bright pink, and it just felt right. That coupled with some body hair removal and new underwear left me feeling pretty content as the holiday weekend came to a close.
Today, did not start out so well, because my dysphoria demon decided to pay me a visit when I looked in the mirror this morning. It piled on more when I stepped on the scale by saying I’ll never get my weight down to where I want it to be, so why even bother, and so I spent the morning doing battle with myself, but the afternoon sent the demon packing.
I made contact with a gender specialist I intend to see for HRT, once I have my therapist letter. Dr. Lowell will be the first doctor in Atlanta to open a practice specializing in serving transgender patients and their needs. While she is not an endocrinologist, she has already worked with Emory University to establish a gender clinic, and her practice will also service transgender people throughout the southeast. Her dedication to the transgender population and herself being a member of the LGBT community goes a long way with me. Her practice won’t be up and running fully until October (not taking insurance yet), but she took the time to email back and forth with me today, and we’ve come up with a plan that could see me start HRT by my birthday, and that has me very happy right now. She seemed very down to earth, and I just got warm vibes from our email conversation. I’m looking forward to meeting her, but that also means I need to step up my weight loss…I’m about halfway to where I minimally want to be when I start HRT, and it is realistic to think I can get there with a little dedication.
All of this makes me wonder where I will be at this time next year. I mean, I can’t even begin to picture what will happen. Will the changes be big, minimal, somewhere in between? How will the kids take it? How will the wife react to said changes? I mean I could go on and on with the questions. I know there will be ups and downs throughout that year, but I’m trying to approach the future with hope and optimism. I’m excited to see where 2018 takes me. It’s a very real possibility that I could be living full time as Allie before I turn 45, and that thought almost takes my breath away…to finally be myself all the time? I don’t know if I have the words yet to describe the enormity of that in my mind. I’m sure as time goes by I will be able to do so a little bit at time, and I think that is also a good reason to keep this journal going.
Anyways, right now I’m going to ride the high I’m feeling, because I know tomorrow could take me down again, but for now I’m not going to think about it. Instead, I will choose to live in the now and enjoy the feelings I’m currently experiencing. Right now, at this very moment, it feels pretty good to be me.