My marriage has been on my mind quite a bit this past month. How do I feel about my wife? How does she feel about me? Are we in love? Will we ever be romantic again? Do I want to stay in a marriage that lacks romantic intimacy? Is platonic love or staying together for kids a reason to stay married?
I’ve shied away from writing about it on my blog, because I felt like such questions were private until the answers to them could be revealed or resolved, but reading about the Mormon couple, Josh and Lolly Weed, made me decide to write down my thoughts as writing has always proven cathartic for me, and a much better medium for working through tough issues than simply thinking quietly in a corner.
Josh Weed is a gay man who married a straight woman, and came out five years ago as being gay. They have a few daughters and have been married 15 years, and the other day he and his wife announced that they would be getting divorced on his blog (Link to post HERE.). I think most of it, especially Lolly discussing why they are getting a divorce is worth a read, and that there are some significant parallels between a gay man being married to a straight woman, and in my case a trans woman being married to a straight cisgender woman.
Even this early in my transition I can so relate to this situation. I am a trans woman married to a cisgender heterosexual woman. Now some spouses go bi, lesbian, or pan to stay with their transitioning spouse. Many stick around to try and make it work for children, which early on isn’t necessarily a bad thing if it allows for time to process what is happening, and if as a couple you are able to transition the intimate part of your relationship as well.
But what if you can’t? What if the best you can do is a platonic love between best friends? Should you stay together? This is the issue I wrestle with and I know my wife is wrestling with even though she doesn’t talk much about it. Our interactions center on our children, other safe topics, or hanging out like friends after the kids go to bed. Staying in those places allows her to stay away from the third rail of our marriage…my transition…which is also the transition of our marriage.
She has made some efforts to be supportive, gives me space when I need it, and is letting me evolve. However, she also doesn’t share my successes, or really want to talk about them. Occasionally, she does ask questions, but if I try to go into any detail she often changes the subject or tries to extricate herself from the discussion. There is no romance, no intimacy, or sharing on an intimate level. I have noticed where I used to always kiss her on the lips before bed, that has changed to kissing on the forehead, and it’s because she seems to prefer it to the old. We have hugged and held hands a few times, but from my perspective, and I’m sure hers as well, that things have changed.
After coming out as trans to her, she struggled as I would expect anyone to. She processed, grieved and went to a new place. She is making an effort to keep the family intact. She will also tell you that as a family we are stronger than we have been in a long time, and all of this is true, and yet I find all of this extremely sad. She has admitted to me, that if we did not have kids, my coming out would have sent her running and that she would already be gone. She has said at times that she feels like we are already divorced. She has also been clear that she doesn’t like women that way, and that having a man is important to her. Finally, she said to me and also said to a friend of mine that “we have to stay together for the kids”.
In an attempt to be honest with myself, I will attempt to write down my most significant thoughts of the past month, and process them at the same time. Thankfully she doesn’t read my blog, because this would cause a fight that I never want to have, or it might speed up a timetable that neither us, nor the kids are ready for…So here we go!
To begin with, coming out saved my marriage. However, I’ve come to believe in the six months since then that coming out is really just prolonging a marriage that will eventually come to an end. Whether it’s two, three, or five years from now…it will come to an end. Certainly coming out transgender is the big monkey wrench thrown into the works, but we also have had issues in our marriage that go back to around the time the kids came to live with us. I always thought we would get our groove back, and that we’d figure out how to be both parents and romantic partners. The issues that we were dealing with before my transition certainly play a part in how I feel, but as this blog is about my transition and things related to it, I am going to focus on the state of my marriage from that context. In addition, it is not my intent to throw my wife under the bus, and I’m sure she also could come up with a litany of issues regarding me, and she certainly would be justified in doing so as I think many of my issues from before are related to my being trans and being in denial for so long.
I want to address three spheres of importance in a marriage, and how I see these spheres as the relate to us. These spheres (Emotional Intimacy, Romantic Intimacy, and Family Life) are important to any marriage, and the state of them often reflects the state of a marriage.
We used to have this in spades. We could talk about anything with each other and couldn’t wait to do so. Hopes, dreams, the future…they were all on the table. She was the first person I couldn’t wait to share something with, and I think I was the same to her. This has changed significantly on both our parts. We still vent to each other about our days, and are intimate when it comes to issues involving the kids, but as for the rest? It simply isn’t there. We don’t talk about our hopes, dreams, or the future anymore. In fact, I sense she is afraid to discuss such things, and as a result I am afraid to talk about mine.
See, for me, my hopes and dreams for the future focus on me living my life authentically as the woman I am and these certainly are not her dreams or hopes, except to say I do believe she wants me to be happy. My hopes and dreams might actually be the things that are crushing hers, and that’s a hard things for a person to live with. She finds emotional support and intimacy from being with a man, which regardless of my current appearance is hard for her to do now. It’s also something I don’t want, as it makes my presenting and expressing at home that much harder.
I want to be clear, I still find myself wanting to share things with her. She is my best friend, and I want her to be happy for me, but I don’t think she is capable of it. Being supportive does not necessarily mean being happy for someone. It simply means you love them enough to want them to be happy, regardless of how it makes you feel, or what that might mean for you.
We are still connected, and I know her better than anyone, can read her better than anyone, and I know she isn’t happy, and hasn’t been happy for awhile. Issues with herself, and issues with our marriage are part of it. She would also stay with me in a marriage simply for the kids. She would give up her right to be happy for them, and she is willing to lose herself in the process. She has some expectations that I would do the same thing, but she also knows me well enough to know that there is a good chance I will not do that.
I don’t believe a person can make another person happy. I know television and movies try to put forth the thought this is possible, but I believe that we determine our own happiness by the expectations we have for ourselves. People can magnify our emotions. Married to the right person your happiness can be magnified, and to the wrong person for you, unhappiness will be magnified as well. The reality is we may not be the right people for each other anymore, and that is O.K.
There were issues here before I came out due to medical and health issues, small children, and I think partly due to the fact my internal conflict ramped up for a couple years before coming out. We stopped being cute and playful, and instead became tired and less physically affectionate. I had hopes we’d find ourselves again, but sex seemed of less interest to her, and the same became true of me. I had stopped caring about myself due to my dysphoria and put on weight. Becoming a mom, like it does for many women, changed her priorities of what is important. With both of us working full time, and up very early, there was little time for physical intimacy, and rarely did she seem interested. Being female on the inside I read this and didn’t push for it, but it also had the added impact of making her feel like I didn’t desire her, when in truth I wanted to feel as desired as she did, but there was no way she could know that, and it was something I didn’t feel I could tell her. Stereo-typically, I was always taught it was the man who is supposed to show they want sex, but there were cracks in my mask, and I was tired of playing games I had never wanted to play in the first place.
Sex for me had become mechanical in many ways. I hated having intercourse, hated feeling like a rutting beast. Over the years it had gotten worse. I loved foreplay, and the intimacy associated with it, but as for the rest?…it just intensified my loathing for a body so clearly male. Even with all that said, when we did have sex, physically it was still as good as it ever was, but it was just a much rarer occurrence than the first twelve years of our marriage.
Sex has been sporadic and minimal the past six years. Many couples see a decline in the frequency of sex as they get older, and it isn’t the be all and end all to romantic intimacy, but how can a couple hope to find it again when they are both women and one is heterosexual and says she only wants to be with men?
There is also something that I need to touch on and that is my evolving sexuality. I can admit that I no longer view myself as being attracted only to women, but that in the past month I also realize that I do have the potential to be attracted to certain types of men and non-binary people. I also am coming to realize that I need to be with someone who sees me as the woman I am and also desires me for it, whether they be hetero or queer.
Her constant sexuality and my evolving sexuality may be the real deal killers in our marriage. I am 43, and hope to be full-time by some point in 2020 at the latest. I will turn 46 in 2020, with plenty of good years left. My wife will turn 44 in 2020, and she has just as many good years left. Are we supposed to take vows of chastity and give ourselves to our children and vows taken that no longer hold relevancy as “man and wife?”
Don’t we deserve to find romantic love again if it is something we want? Do I deserve to find someone who will want me the way I’ve always desired, but never had? Does she deserve to have someone look at her the way she wants, and to treat her the way she deserves to be treated in a way I can’t.
Sex isn’t the most important part of a relationship, but depending on who you are, it is important. Right now, there are so many things I want to experience once my mind and body reach concurrence, and I’m not sure physical intimacy is one of those things I’m willing to give up. I also feel she should be able to have that again, if she wants it, and in the manner she wants it.
All marriages are families, some have children and some do not. Most bring extended family from both sides together, and family is often central to married life in many ways. My wife is a wonderful mother. Our children adore her, and she goes all out on their behalf. In short, our kids are her life. Due to certain needs our children have this cannot be helped, and as they gravitate towards her (both being under 10) she has to deal. I say the above to say I don’t resent her for this, but it does make me sad to see she has no interests she pursues outside of the home. I often feel like she is losing herself, and one of our nastiest fights was about this as my guilt before coming out made me bring it up, and when she got defensive I simply got louder and it got ugly. I am sorry for that and it is one of my biggest regrets, but it doesn’t change the fact that I still feel this way.
She is also a homebody and an introvert. Playing boy I was happy to go along with that, but as a woman I am clearly an extrovert who wants friends, and wants to do things with those friends. This is not to say we can’t integrate my friends into our life, but they will be my friends first, and they serve as a reminder to her of new parts of my life that I’ve created which are not dependent upon her or our family. I’ve been good about this so far, and have minimized getting together with friends to once a month, but I’d like to at least double this as I gain needed energy for it by getting away and being myself 100% with friends who only know Allie.
I can only think, while things are harder for me right now in how I go about presenting and expressing at home, meaning that I have been toning it down and keeping it in check, there will be a point where due to HRT I will no longer be able to do so, and more importantly won’t care. There will be a point where my wife and kids will have to see me as a woman, and the man they still think they see will be gone. When that day comes, their reactions and adjustment will be very telling as to what kind of family we will have. Surgeries and other transition landmarks will only further those adjustments to the point where a decision will have to be made, if it isn’t made before that point.
Since coming out, our family has gotten stronger. I am more engaged, and participate far more in events with the kids, and this makes both the kids and my wife happier. You could say our family life is strong. We eat dinner as a family, do things as a family, and due to attachment issues from before they were adopted, having all of us under the same roof means everything to my kids at the moment.
I say “at the moment”, because my kids will get older and more independent. They won’t want to do everything with us, and then I am left wondering what do we have that makes it necessary for us to be under the same roof, and more to the point, is it healthy for us to stay under the same roof?
Many couples who get divorced continue to be kick ass co-parents. They meet for family dinners, holidays, and some even still take vacations together. The point is, one does not need to stay in an unhappy marriage to have a good family life.
In addition, there is the lesson we as parents teach our children. Is it better to stay married and be miserable, or is it better to divorce and be happy? Our children are always watching and learning from us, and I want them to feel that it is not necessary to lose their happiness for the sake of others. It is O.K. for relationships to evolve and grow outside of traditional norms. After all, there is nothing traditional about being trans and everything that goes with it, so why does our family have to maintain that stereotype to be happy?
In the end, I believe my children will come through this just fine, and will learn much about what it means to be a family whether under the same roof or not. As for my wife and I? She is my best friend, and I love her dearly. We became adults together, and there is so much I am thankful to her for, but I also know she isn’t happy, and I want her to be happy. She deserves to be happy, and if she can’t be with me as a woman, then I want her to find a man who will make her the center of his world. She deserves nothing less. Even if she finds new love and were to marry again, we will always love each other, respect each other, and value one another. That will never change. We will always be family.
How will that family look? Well, that has yet to be decided, we may yet find our happiness again, but as she and I have discussed, what happens with our marriage is a decision we will make together. Regardless of what happens we will do it in a way that positions us and the kids to be as happy as possible with our decision.
If there is one thing that transition is teaching me, it is that life is short and everyone deserves to be happy with the life they choose to live. Life is also fluid, and sometimes we have to adjust to that fluidity. Change doesn’t have to be bad, and often it can be better than anyone could possibly have ever imagined. My life and family are changing, and I’m certainly hoping in the end it is for the better.
Purgatory…Limbo…whatever you want to call it, it’s that place between worlds, often associated with a person’s transition from the mundane (Earth) to the wonderful (Heaven), and for me it sums up perfectly where I am at in my transition, and where I may spend quite a bit of time before being allowed, by my body, to move on.
If living as a boy was my life on Earth, then this transition to purgatory is a step in the right direction because it means that I no longer fit the mold of a boy. I may look like one most of the time, and I may even pretend to be one some of the time, but it certainly isn’t who I am, and being honest it was never who I was. However, this would mean that my life in heaven would be me living my life 100% of the time as my authentic self, and most of the time being seen by people as I see myself. In my case, as a trans woman, that means being seen as a woman, which I am nowhere near being seen as in public. I believe the day will come, but it is not here yet.
And so the place I reside is purgatory. There are circles, a select group of friends, trans twitter, Facebook, and within queer circles where people accept me as Allie, but that is about it. Heck, most days I look in the mirror and I can’t see myself yet. My body is still too muscular, too big, and too hairy. My face, while thinning and softening, is also clearly more masculine than feminine. Yet, I also can’t fully present in public as a male all of the time, or in all manner of clothing. It is clear that I have breasts and that those breasts are not male, and so I am at the point that I have to wear something for support/compression every day. Which means, presenting male, I have to wear tops that hide my sports bras, bralettes, etc. In all likelihood summer will totally suck this year, as I love to wear tank tops and shorts all summer long, and as of right now, tank tops are probably a no go, unless I want to clearly share with the world that I am also wearing undergarments that I clearly need. I won’t be visiting a pool this summer, that’s for sure, and as for shorts? Weight loss and body changes will also influence what kind I end up wearing in public spaces. Sadly, changes to the body are essential for being gendered correctly in public. Only time and HRT can bring them about, and the jury is still out on just how much change I will actually see.
HRT affects everyone differently, and there are factors that will determine how it affects a person. Experts say age can play a factor, and from my own research I would say this is most definitely true. The younger you are the more likely you are to get good results, but not guaranteed. Genetics are probably most important, but coupled with age this usually determines how quickly people see those changes. Beginning dosages of blockers and hormones all can significantly impact when people will see changes and how those changes will come about. The older you get the greater chance that physical changes may be minimal, but some older women do get fantastic results, and I’m kind of straddling the fence not young, but also not quite over the line to old. I do feel like luck might be on my side, based upon the results I have seen so far, but nothing is a given or promised to someone in transition.
So, I am straddling the worlds between boy and girl, and while my body is slowly moving where it needs to be, my mind has jumped way out into the lead. Clearly more female than male at this point, as if any vestige of male remains (I don’t think it does), my mind struggles at times to do boy. Male actions seem to be more from memory than instinct or desire to to do them. Since doubling my T blocker I find myself succumbing more often to stereotypical female behaviors which makes me both happy and frustrated at the same time. Happy because internally I feel more myself every day, but frustrated because I’m painfully aware that my outside is nowhere near matching how I feel on the inside. In some ways this makes my body dysphoria worse. Luckily my increased body dysphoria is tempered by feeling “right” in my head, and so my overall gender dysphoria is less, but in some ways it causes me more problems.
I find myself wanting to present female so badly, and yet, more than ever, I am aware of my male physical attributes that I despise. The muscle on my shoulders and chest drive me insane! I have female tops that I used to wear, and I no longer wear them because they emphasize that which I hate. Instead, I have moved back to unisex t-shirts and loose tops that de-emphasize my hated body parts. Playing with make-up? Yeah, that’s not happening until the facial hair is gone. I know many girls move forward with heavy concealer and get quite good at hiding it, but until my face shape changes more along with facial hair being completely removed, I have decided to wait.
I recognize that my purgatory is partly self-imposed by the way my dysphoria works and how that directly affects my presentation. Some girls just go full-time, full speed ahead, and I admire them for it. For me, that simply isn’t the path I want to, or am willing to walk. My path is far more calculated and planned out. Aside from dysphoria, things like my family and job also affect how I transition and the timeline I choose to follow.
Even with all of the above said, there are mental changes that are already happening and they can’t be stopped. My brain is changing as i switch my fuel from testosterone to estrogen. Things I have noticed just since doubling my blocker over a month ago, many in the last two weeks, are:
- Lowered singular focus…My brain jumps from random thought to random thought in a quicker pattern. I find this happening as I’m talking to friends. My wife does this and it used to drive me crazy…now I do it and can follow others when they do it.
- Nervous energy…I never had this before, but my god, where did it come from? When bad I can’t sit still, and I’ve even found myself cleaning stuff. Often it will start with noticing something is expired in the fridge, and so I throw it out, and then I look for other stuff, and before I know it I am cleaning out the entire refrigerator. This never used to be me. I didn’t worry about such things, and was content to ignore them. Now it’s like I can’t help myself, and the reasons I do it run in a similar vein to reasons my wife has given before when she has done similar things. I always found the reasons funny…but they make total sense to me now.
- Anxiety…Where did this come from? I stayed home from work yesterday due to a migraine brought on by anxiety over having to go to work in full boy mode. The anxiety didn’t build, it just hit me out of nowhere Monday night and stayed with me all night long. Things didn’t finally start to get better till around noon on Tuesday, after girlfriends did their thing to either take my mind off of it or help me work past it. In the past I was always able to push anxiety down and lock it away, or compartmentalize it. Pushing it down is not so easy anymore, and when anxiety joins forces with dysphoria they both gain greater strength to knock me down. I used to listen to women talk about anxiety and how it would affect them, and shrug my shoulders as I had no issue ignoring it. Now I am forced to deal with it because my brain won’t ignore it, and instead fixates on it until I deal with it.
- Attraction…I finally felt attraction to another person since I started to transition, and it wasn’t based upon the notion of whether or not I found this person worthy of sleeping with. Sure physical attractiveness still matters to me, but it is personality and connection that matters to me more. The thought of sex doesn’t even enter into the picture because I have no interest in it at all right now. I also now know that my sexuality has shifted from having played the cis-het male to being a bi/pansexual trans woman. I know it could shift again, but I now see the fluidity of my sexuality, and how I view others with it. I also want to add that any crush I have is simply of a school girl nature, as I am married and the thought of cheating is not something that I even entertain as an option…nor am I interested in the physical with my body in its current state.
- Friendship…Huge for me. My girlfriends, and I have a select few that I know locally (many more online) mean so much to me. Friendship has taken on a new level of importance that was never there before. There is something about it that definitely affects my mental well-being. Lunch with a couple of friends can be like positive fuel for me. Online and texting is nice, but nothing beats getting together in-person and I need to try and make this happen more often.
- Public presentation…I have been playing with androgynous female clothing choice since November, but up until Sunday I was regularly identified as a cis-het male. I know this because of how women that I don’t know have reacted to me over that period of time. Women, with good reason, are often more guarded in their interactions with men. Often out of fear of being hit on or having to deal with creepy stalker-types where being nice might be misconstrued as a signal to flirt. On Sunday, when out with a couple girlfriends, and even when alone, I started getting queer ID’d. In any store or restaurant I went into on Sunday the women I interacted with were simply sweeter and more relaxed around me. I’ve been the big scary guy getting on an elevator with a lone woman, and having always been female I’ve always been painfully aware of the reaction I elicit. On Sunday, the reaction was openess that included compliments on clothing or accessories, like a woman would give to another woman or a femme man. This change has taken me off guard a little, but also makes me smile as it means that while I’m not being seen as a woman yet, I am being seen as queer and this puts me closer to my end goal. I will admit clothing, carrying a bag, and the company I keep can all be signals to people I interact with, but I also find myself talking a little different…more free with my enunciation and word choice…and it isn’t conscious. If relaxed I just do it, and while my speech pattern isn’t necessarily female yet, it also isn’t quite the typical male. All of this is a big positive and also highlights that not everything in purgatory is bad or negative.
I hate ending on negative thoughts, and so I waited until the end to show that purgatory doesn’t all have to be bad. There are good things that happen as I make my way through it. There truly is a mix of the frustrating and the wonderful within it. As to how long I will be there? I can’t know for sure yet. As of right now I don’t see myself going 100% full time until I’ve been on HRT a minimum of 18 months, but it could be longer depending upon my genetics. I will have to go full-time at home sooner because I want to and because there are things I need to work on, such as voice, make up, etc. Transitioning at home will give me an opportunity to work on and perfect things that will affect my overall presentation. In small ways I’ve already begun to work on some of them such as laser hair removal, voice, weight loss, beginning to grow out my hair, and shaping my eye brows.
There are always things I can work on that put me closer to full transition, and reminding myself to live in the now and to take it a day at a time are good things to keep in mind. The rest will come when it does, and worrying about things I can’t control is a waste of my energy. Sometimes I can’t help it, but I hope I’m getting better at stopping myself from obsessing. I think I am, and instead using that energy for the positive things that I need.
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.
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.
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.