“Don’t know if I’ll ever understand 100% but will try. This is kind of tough one for us and right now, what your father is going through, is our first priority.”
Those words were written my mother in a text almost two weeks ago. She wrote them as part of response to a text I had sent my parents letting them know I had mailed two books to them in the hopes that the books might help to bridge the gap between us, and help them understand what I’m going through. She sent the text only to me, making sure it wasn’t a direct response to the group text I had sent both of them. Obviously, the intent fell flat when it came to my mother.
When I came out, I explicitly told my family that I don’t need to hear about how hard this is for them, that I know it is, and that it’s one hundred times harder for me. It’s my life, I live it everyday. There is no diversion for me, no break, and no rest. Somehow, almost every time I’ve communicated with my mother she has managed to work in how “hard” it is for her, and so after the last text, I decided to no longer reach out and communicate. I’ve put the ball in her proverbial court. The door is open, but she will have to not only open it, but also walk through it if she wants a relationship with me. She has made not only my transition, but my father’s cancer about her, and what she’s struggling with. She has told me that my transition is something that she can’t think about while my dad is battling cancer, and in so doing has told me she doesn’t really want to deal with it.
No person in their right mind would expect a wife not to put her husband first when it comes to a cancer diagnosis, and more to the point, while it is her husband, he is also my father. I wanted to scream at her, and to say, “DUHHH!” I wanted to say to her that the two things do not have to be mutually exclusive, and that just because my father has prostate cancer does not mean my transition stops. She can certainly use it as an excuse for not getting on board, but I’m still moving forward, and if she can’t be there for me, then she’ll deal with the effects of that decision.
I don’t yell at her, or go off about how she has hurt me, because if she can’t see past herself to back down then my attempt to explain could very easily become a fight, and one where I won’t pull punches. I don’t want that to happen right now, as any fight between us would fall back on my father, and he’d be forced to deal with the fall out because my mother can’t not make it about her. She will make him deal at a time he shouldn’t have to, and until more is resolved with his situation I don’t want to put him through such an emotional ordeal. He doesn’t deserve it, because as shitty as my mother’s behavior has been towards me, he has gone the opposite direction in an attempt to understand me and what I’m going through.
My father is mostly deaf, and so his main way of communicating with me is via text, and in recent weeks he has stepped up his texting game to reach out and communicate with me. It was because of an hour long texting session between the two of us that I decided to send the books. I asked him if he’d like them before I bought and sent them, and so the text that spurred this was simply a heads up, in which I decided to include my mother.
My father texted me a few days after the books arrived, and wrote:
“So, I’m 200 pages into the Sarah McBride book. I’m understanding better, I just have to let it all take what is now it’s normal course. Of course her mate having cancer hits home. As the book states hearing the words you have cancer changes everything. I guess we are both dealing with life changes. I would say both profound to each of us. And I see a theme in this book and other info I’ve gathered that is selfishness but not in a bad way. If we don’t advocate for ourselves we can’t be sure others will do it for us…”
I got the text on a Sunday night as I left a local grocery store, and read it as I drove home, and I sobbed. These were the kind of words I was looking to hear from my parents. I had been looking for a sign that they had turned the corner, and here my father was showing me that. He was getting that my situation was life or death, just as his was. It was powerful for me, and it made me love him all the more for making the effort, even with his cancer to show he loves and supports me.
In the end, this is all any of us wants. Cis or trans, we all want our parents’ love and support. I dream of a relationship with my parents as their daughter. One in which I am treated that way, and no longer as the son I never really was. His text tells me we just might get there, and it gives me fuel to keep trying on that front.
People I’ve talked to who know my mother say that they believe she will come around, and get on board eventually. I hope they’re right. Part of the difficulty in all of this has been that my mother is far more liberal than my father, and has expressed support of trans issues. My daughter came out a year before me, and while my mother struggled early on, she never showed this to my daughter, and so I thought while hard, she could outwardly give me what I wanted from her, but I was wrong on that front. It is one thing to say you love someone and support them, but you prove this by your actions, or in her case lack of action.
Not once has she asked me how I’m doing, or if I’m alright. Not once has she expressed a desire to see me, or my children since I came out. Although, she did mention possibly coming for a visit…I’ll believe it when I see it. See, when it comes to me, the effort hasn’t been there for quite awhile. I was the eldest, and I was independent. I prided myself on figuring things out, and doing things on my own. I’ve rarely asked for help from my folks, and haven’t asked for it in well over a decade, almost two. This is why her “priority” comment stung so bad. Life happens, and it doesn’t stop for anyone. I’m transitioning and regardless of age, we all want our parents when dealing with something so serious. I finally reached the point where I pulled out the “I need attention card,” only to be told that there is none to be given.
My hope was always to borrow money from my parents for transition related surgeries, and now I’m beginning to worry that this won’t happen, and that I will have to scrape together money and go further into debt. I think my father will try and help, but my mother will be a part of those discussions, and when it comes down to this the question will be, “Will she see my needs, or will she only see the money I am borrowing?” I have a fear that she will only see the money, and depending on how that conversation goes, it could alter our relationship forever, meaning we will never be as close as I once believed us to be.
See, I’ve had to think about money and transition, having done so first when my daughter transitioned, and as a parent I would move heaven and earth to make sure she was safe and happy. My hope is that my parents view me in much the same way, but only time will tell if I am right on that front.
In the end, our parents are their own people, and we can’t make them be the way we want them to be. I am now trying to take the long view in the hopes that where my father has turned the corner, my mother will soon join him. In the meantime there are a myriad of things I can focus and work on to move my transition forward. All I can do is hope that when the time comes, I will get what I need from the both of them.
So, I don’t want this to just be a sad, pity party for me. In many ways, I feel positive about where I am heading. My weight continues to come off, very slowly, but it still seems to be moving downwards. My body continues to change…and I will show this ahead of my next HRT update…but the first is my lower torso/abdomen before HRT, and the second was a little over 5 months on HRT.
My hips are now clearly visible as my body shape takes on a more hourglass look. This makes me very happy to see, and I can verify just how different pants fit me.
I went shopping for women’s jeans in an actual store, which is a first for me…partly due to nervousness and because I couldn’t fit into most in store jeans yet. However, while weight loss is minmal, I am into a size 14 jean, and so I spent part of this past Friday at a Lucky Brand store trying on jeans, and buying two pairs, while the wonderful manager assisted me the entire time. It was definitely an affirming experience for me.
I also went ahead and pierced the cartilage of my ears, and am wearing earrings again. I still need to pierce my right ear lobe, but one more piercing and that stuff will be taken care of. I’ve also started electrolysis on my white facial hairs to complement the laser hair removal I’ve already been doing, and if I can scrape money together, I hope to feminize at least one of my tattoos before the end of the year.
Finally, I want to talk about how instrumental my friends have been in building my confidence through the validation and affirmation of who I am with their friendships. It means so much to be treated and seen as the woman I am by other women. The difference between being friends with men and being friends with women is significant in and of itself, but friendships with women as a woman are so much deeper and better than I would have thought. Being in the presence of friends for brunch, to shop, or even just to grab a coffee, gives me an energy I never got in the past from spending time with friends. In many ways, my friendships might be the best gifts transition has given to me. So I just want to give a shout out to my girls who read this. You all matter so much to me! I love you all, and am so thankful for your love and support!
Five months already? As much as I feel like things don’t move fast enough, even I have to admit that time has really flown by. Months three and and four were not easy months for me, as I grappled with numerous emotional issues. While I still continue to grapple with some of those same issues at times, month five was overall a very positive month for me. I saw not only an interesting physical change, but some key emotional and sexual ones as well, so there were a few firsts that have me excited for what month six and beyond will bring.
As usual I will share measurement changes, followed by discussing physical, emotional, and finally sexual changes. As is my habit, I will clearly denote a warning before the section discussing anything sexual.
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 6 measurements:
- Weight: 229 lbs
- Chest: 40 inches (underbust: 37.5 inches)
- Waist: 34 inches
- Pant/male waist: 36 inches
- Hips: 40.5 inches
- Neck: 14.5 inches
- Bicep: 13.25 inches
- Wrist: 6.30 inches
- Ankle: 8.5 inches
As last months update was posted late, and very abbreviated I wanted to share the reminder that changes discussed here are those physical changes that do not necessarily pertain to the measurements above. Those speak for themselves. I will mention one measurement of note. My hips have gone up a half an inch while my waist and pant waist have dropped another inch. I think both are clearly from the impact of HRT, as I only lost three pounds in month five, and yet saw losses, while also gaining fat on my bottom, which has clearly changed. In conjunction with this change, the most amazing physical change of month five is that my pelvis has tilted forward into a cis female position. While my bones are set, the ligaments and tendons holding my hips have loosened, allowing my hips to roll forward. This has also given me greater flexibility when it comes to bending at the waist. As I also practice yoga, I can verify I have greater range of motion than I had before, and this is largely due to greater extension when I bend over.
While I continue hair removal, I also believe that I am starting to see some hair loss/lightening on my extremities. My hands and feet have less dark hair, and my back is almost completely clear except for a few stray hairs that will hopefully go away on their own. As for my head hair, I am seeing some new hair (not a lot) sprouting up in the front center of my hairline, which gives me hope that I will see more come back in the future.
Facial and body changes continue to occur, but are subtle. My face continues to thin, and my jawline is changing. If it goes like I think it will, then in a few months it will just be… different.
On the emotional front I find much of my old “male” defensiveness and ego “needs” to have faded away. I realized this during an online interaction with a friend. I thought I had possibly hurt her feelings with a joke I had shared (I wasn’t sure, and I hadn’t), and my immediate concern was to make sure she was OK. In the past my concern would have been to justify what I had said and if she had been upset then I would have probably have said she was over-reacting or blowing the issue out of proportion. I find that I don’t care about that anymore. I don’t feel the need to justify my actions or to always win on an issue, the feelings of a friend and our friendship are more important to me. The “Whys” of something can be talked about later.
I thought I understood what friendship was before, but the friendships I have now with other women are deeper and more complex than anything I ever had with a male friend. I am often left in awe and humbled by the women who accept me without question and call me friend. To date this might be the most rewarding benefit of transition that I have received.
During Month 5 I have also begun to find that it is becoming harder to play “boy.” Not only do I find it tiring, but I often consciously have to pay attention to not being “me” too much in front of people I work with. Luckily, most people see what they want to, and so this insulates me to a degree. A direct result of this is that I find myself consciously pulling away or withdrawing from interactions with men in my office. I don’t want to “guy” it up, or interact in a male manner, and so this is one way I limit my need to do so.
I also find myself hating men more and more. Let me be clear, I don’t hate every man I come across. On an individual level there are some wonderful men who know about me, accept me, and I have no issue with them. I’m talking more about the culture of men, and in large part, once again, this has much to do with how I am seen by women as a result of my physical build. I resent it, and it has really started to grate on me. As a result when away from work, and without my kids, I often just let my expression go 100%, and the results have been that most women I now encounter identify me as a queer male, and while not the ideal, it is better than straight cis male, as women feel comfortable enough to relax around me, which allows me to have the kind of interactions I prefer without fear of creeping out or making another woman uncomfortable.
Overall, I continue to be happily amazed with my emotional progression on HRT, and in many ways the emotional changes alone make transition worth it. I have heard other trans women make the same statements before, and it is only in my fifth month that I am really coming to understand how right they were in those statements. I’ve always felt my brain was female, but now that feeling has been made more complex, with additional levels of feeling and comfort added to it. I look forward to seeing how this continues to evolve over time.
(Trigger Warning) Sexuality
This probably won’t be that long, but will be meaningful as the changes here are profound for Month 5.
To begin with, my sex drive has plummeted to depths I did not think it could go. Many days I don’t think about sex at all, and if I do it is more to realize I don’t think about it. More and more I have no desire for an intimate relationship until such time as my parts have been made right. Until that time I will do what I need to in order to prevent atrophy and to understand how my body is changing.
A big takeaway this month is that I believe my testicles have finally begun to shrink. Not much yet, but they do seem a little smaller. In addition, the way I experience pleasure and arousal have shifted as well. I no longer am greatly aroused by visual stimuli. Instead mental stimuli does far more for me, and I really have to let myself go and focus on the pleasure to get myself where I need to go.
I mentioned my testicles, but the nerves in the underside of my penis (which is usually used to create the clitoris of a neo-vagina) have begun to remap, changing the way I can receive pleasure. At this point I would say I have one foot on each side of the male/female fence. I can bring myself to climax by using only a vibrator against the underside. I can also still do it the old way, but usually don’t wish to, and there are reasons for this. Doing it the old way has changed, in that there is a slower build up before climax, but the build up is much faster making the orgasm quicker. That said the feelings are more intense than before, and the orgasm actually begins before anything comes out. Now, with a vibrator all of the above is true, but the buildup takes much longer, and so the pleasure lasts longer as the buildup occurs. By the time I reach climax the intensity is like nothing I ever felt before, and this is supposed to continue to improve and get better. I will also say that overall less is coming out, and here there is a difference in that doing things with a vibrator results in very little of anything coming out, while at the same time the feelings like I said are very intense.
Referring back to sex drive, before HRT I would take care of myself every day. Once I started HRT this continued for a little while, and then went to every other day. Now I often go 3-5 days between, and usually when I do, I have to talk myself into doing it, because there are other things I’d rather do, like watch TV, or eat Doritos…I’m just being honest, because it takes time now, and sometimes I don’t want to, or don’t have the 20-30 minutes to take care of business, and so I don’t.
Overall, Month 5 was a month of positive change, and one that made me excited and even impatient for the future. I look forward to hitting six months as it was a milestone in my head, and am thinking I need to do something special for that update. Everyone says that Months 6-12 are huge months, and so I’m looking forward to them with anticipation. As for the first 5 months? I have been very happy with what I have seen, and I have a renewed hope that I will get to where I want to go in due time.
So, I haven’t written much lately. This is partly due to it being the busy season at work, and because I have just chosen to do other things with my time, mainly socialize on social media and via text with friends. Sometimes you need a break from thinking about heavy things, and lately when I’ve had the urge to write, I simply haven’t had the time and then the mood passes.
I titled this post “Apathy” and I don’t want anyone to confuse this as an overall feeling I have for life, because I’m actually more hopeful than anything. Rather, it is something I realized about my marriage, romantic life, and so much else I just don’t have the energy or desire to focus on.
My wife and I had “the talk” a couple of weeks ago, and it was totally unplanned, as those things often are. I had enjoyed a good therapy session a couple days prior. It was one of those sessions where you gain further clarity into who you are, and those are rare. I decided to open up to my wife a little about why it’s so hard for me to just be 100% female at home. I started to speak about roles I have always filled, and how hard it is to not slip into them. She asked me what I meant, and I said, “You know, father, husband…” She stopped me and said, “I don’t see you that way anymore. You stopped being that awhile ago.” The statement should have hurt me. I should have wanted to fight for her love and affection, but instead, I just accepted what she had said. She was right, and I was OK with it.
I know it still hurts her on some level and it hurts me as well. We have been together 20 years, but I think she’s also growing to accept the man she married doesn’t exist, and maybe never did. She stopped wearing her wedding rings a month before, and didn’t wear them for a week. She admitted the night we talked that it didn’t feel right,, and she only started wearing them again so the kids don’t ask questions.
We have become roommates and co-parents, both free to make plans with friends that don’t include the both of us. We still share a bed and bathroom, but that’s also to keep up appearances for the kids. As a family, we are more solid than we have been in a long time, and the kids are happier than they’ve been in a long time. We will stay together for the next few years, and then we will see. I don’t want to stay in a relationship that lacks intimacy, and I don’t think that’s fair to her either. I also don’t think she can or wants to be intimate with me, especially female me, and that’s OK.
I mention intimacy, and that’s another thing I don’t currently care about. My sex drive has gone into deep hibernation, and I can detachedly wonder if it will ever come back. Even if she were to come onto me, I wouldn’t be interested. My reasons come in two parts. The first is, as I have said, my sex drive is almost zero at the moment. I have to seriously talk myself into masturbation, and it takes forever. I now go several days before remembering I need to do the deed, because I’d rather do that then start getting morning erections…those bother me on a dysphoric level, and so I masturbate now to prevent those, rather than because I feel some urge to “get off.”
My second reason has to do with how much I hate my male body sexually, and that hate has only increased on HRT, as parts of my body feminize putting them at odds with those that are slow to do so. I am a trans lesbian, and so the women I am attracted to, if I cared to seek a relationship would not be interested in me because my body still appears far more male than female.. Straight women would expect me to want sex like a man, and I just can’t do that anymore, plus when naked, I clearly have breasts. Anything that I have to do that is “male” takes twice the energy it once did, and so I instead shun those “male” things whenever I can. Fucking like a man…humping, rutting, pounding away…all those euphemisms for how males go about it turn my stomach. I’m simply not capable now. For one who was once so sexually capable as a “man” I have permanently retired from that type of sexual intimacy. If ever sexually intimate again, it will not be until those defining male parts have been removed/turned into the genitals that fit my mind.
Why did I wait over two weeks to write the above? I waited so long because so much of the above thoughts are also interlaced with the wonderful. My female friendships continue to strengthen, while new ones are created. The acceptance of my femaleness, by women, in many ways is more validating than anything else I’ve experienced so far in transition. It’s something I’ve wanted for as long as I can remember, and while still imperfect, in that only women who know me as a trans woman can accept me that way…it is still a gift given that I cherish. To be confided in, and to be able to confide in others, as only women do with one another, gives me so much peace. I finally get the bonds of female friendship not only on an intellectual level, but on an emotional level I thought I’d never enjoy. Friendships now give me peace and fuel to persevere, and I, in turn can give that to my friends as well.
I was sharing with a girlfriend the other day that if I think I might have hurt a friend’s feelings I no longer worry about first justifying what I did or said. Instead, my concern goes to her feelings first, and my desire to make sure she is ok, and to apologize if need be. Talking about the “why” of what I did can come later. As a “man” I always felt the need to downplay another’s emotional reaction, or to justify why I was right. This has been a huge mental shift in how I interact with others, and one that I am thrilled to experience. I’d rather us laugh about my having over-worried that I hurt a friend’s feelings, than ignore it for the sake of an ego that has no place in my friendships.
My body also continues to change in positive ways, and that makes me happy as well. I don’t want to talk about it too much, as I have an HRT update that will post early next week, but some really good things happened during Month 5, and I will save those for that post.
Getting back to apathy, it gives me the patience to play the long game. I still have my moments where I want to hurry, but more of me doesn’t care if I hurry. I can continue to exist in the world of cis-male privilege a little longer if need be, and I lose nothing. My body and mind will still continue to develop on HRT, regardless of how I am dressed, and it also gives me the time to get hair removal done, as well as any other little things that need attending to before going full-time.
Apathy isn’t always a bad thing if it helps to temper desires that cannot yet become reality. Of course, there is the danger that it can come to permeate everything, but that isn’t a worry I currently have. To be honest, as of late, I’m feeling pretty positive. Friday I begin my Month 6 on HRT, and I can’t believe how fast the past five months have gone. Months 6-12 seem to be where so many see big changes and so how can I not be excited to see what happens moving forward. I feel like like the past few months were setting the foundation of the house, and now the framing and work above ground really can get underway. I’m psyched to begin seeing what kind of house actually emerges.