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.
Well, I just realized I’m about six days shy of going a month without a post. It hasn’t been that I didn’t want to right, just that I’ve been so busy with work and life that I could find the time or motivation to do so. February has been a month of growth and change, not good or bad just needed, and that has taken most of my energy to move through the month and process it along the way. All that said, I need to do the Month 4 HRT Update so here it is. It may be somewhat abbreviated but that is only because I’m coming up on Month 5 and I don’t want to apply anything from Month 5 to Month 4.
For this update I am going to start with measurements and then talk a little about mental and physical changes. As for emotional stuff, I may do that in a separate post that will follow the day after this one…because some very important and serious things have happened in recent days that I can’t go back with what I was feeling as I’m very much centered on the now.
I should note with Month 5, Day 1 I started doing my weight differently. I had been weighing in after a serious cardio workout that saw me losing at least 3lbs of water, and so for the sake of comparing past weigh-ins to weigh-ins beginning with this month you would need to add three pounds. I am now taking my weight upon waking up in the morning before any workout, so for sake of the future Day 1, Month one would actually be 247lbs.
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 5 measurements:
- Weight: 232 lbs
- Chest: 40 inches (underbust: 37.5 inches)
- Waist: 34.5 inches
- Pant/male waist: 36.5 inches
- Hips: 40 inches
- Neck: 14.75 inches
- Bicep: 13.5 inches
- Wrist: 6.25 inches
- Ankle: 8.5 inches
Month four saw some measurements drop a half inch from month three, with the biggest measurement change being a loss of one inch on my hips, but that has more to with changes to my butt and hips which were beginning to happen but which I only truly recognized in the past week. My weight dropped three real pounds and at this point my monthly goal is 3-4 pounds (I’ve averaged close to four pounds a month since starting HRT). Anything over that I will be thrilled. At my age, drastic weight loss may result in loose skin, and I’d prefer to keep it as tight as possible. In addition, I am changing up my workout routine to less drastic cardio, in favor of rotating cardio and yoga daily. The calorie burn won’t be as intense, but I think the overall benefits to my changing body will be worth it.
Overall my body has continued to feminize and I am also seeing changes in my face. With my new found sense of reality, and my approach to taking things a day at a time, I am happy with the changes I am seeing physically. Again, there has been nothing crazy this month, but not every month brings crazy changes, and I’m realizing that the “crazy” changes are really just recognizing the culmination of a change that has subtly been in the works for quite a while.
As for any emotional changes, well, I continue to express more feminine when the mask is off, and I also find my mannerisms more feminine by nature rather than conscious action. This has gotten to the point where when feeling good I have been getting identified as queer, especially by women. While not 100% happy with being identified as a gay man, I am happy that I’m being identified more feminine and so I will take that as progress. It is also clear to me that the doubling of my blockers in December has definitely seemed to take effect during Month four. I find myself more anxious and with nervous energy I’ve never had in the past.
As for sexual changes….not much to report.
As I said I screwed this up by waiting so long, because things have happened in Month five and I don’t want to attribute them to Month four by mistake. So, in other words this is going to be the shortest post I’ve ever done as I wanted to make sure I got it in, and had my measurements down for comparison’s sake. I will definitely get my Month 5 update done within a couple days of March 9th, as there are a few significant things I want to discuss and make note of in that update.
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.
“Being a girl is whatever you decide it is.” I cannot tell you how many times we told our daughter this the first few months of her transition. She dove in head first, and we watched her discard so much of what she had liked before, because at seven that’s what you think you have to do. She wore dresses almost all the time, wouldn’t play video games, or watch her old favorite TV shows. She dove into girly TV shows, and tried to exclusively play with girl toys. She already had an idea of societal expectations of what it meant to be a girl, and even at seven thought she had to adhere to such things. As her parents, it was our job to remind her that she was her own person, and that there was no one way she, or any girl had to be. Slowly, she began to take up some of those things that she had liked before. She got back into sports (is a kick-ass soccer player), and she started to play video games again. She also started wearing what makes her comfortable. She’s active and now eight. She likes dresses, but doesn’t wear them often, because as she puts it, “I like to play hard, and dresses aren’t for doing that.” She’s figured out what being a girl means to her, and as a result has become happier with who she is.
This same dilemma faces anyone going through transition. Yes, I’m female on the inside and always have been, but I also spent over 40 years playing boy, and so figuring out my sense of style, and my projected identity is still something that I needed to do, and to be honest it has happened pretty quickly. I also buck the trend of many trans women I know, and I couldn’t give two shits about what society or even the trans community thinks I should be. It’s my life after all, and for me, being a woman is more than just a dress and makeup. Those are trappings and decoration, and for some they give comfort and solace, but for me they really don’t matter much. Will I wear a dress or use makeup when I do go full-time? Yes, of course I will, but those things don’t define my womanhood. My gender is female, what I wear doesn’t change that, or make it more so.
I get asked all the time, by my therapist, other trans people, family, and friends about my expression. Playing boy most days at work means that most people I know see me in male clothes on a regular basis. This isn’t by choice, but out of necessity, and because I can handle doing this for work. Some feel the need to come out right away and live as their “authentic” selves, which to me feels like a loaded term.
Webster’s defines Authentic as “worthy of acceptance or belief as conforming to or based on fact.” This would suggest that one must prove themselves worthy of being seen as a woman to be treated as such, but who decides what being seen as a woman is? Cis women have argued and fought these definitions for centuries, and so it should not be a surprise that trans women also deal with the struggle to define what womanhood is for them.
Is it the clothes I wear? Use of make-up? Things I like? Thing I don’t like? My ability to pass? All of these things may impact how others view me, but they don’t speak to how I see myself. I accepted I was female before I began hormone replacement therapy (HRT). I knew it without a doubt, and as a result I started to let some of the shackles I had placed on myself fall to the ground. Still others remain. It is no easy task to shed decades of masking, but acceptance is the first step, and HRT also has helped immensely.
I’ve shared that it was at the three week mark on HRT that something slid home in my brain, and it was like for the first time my brain started working the right way. Something else also happened that week which would help to shift my brain, and it was the realization that my breasts had begun to develop. For me, early on, breast growth fundamentally changed the way I saw myself and how I wanted to interact with the world. It was a confirmation that transition was absolutely the right choice for me, and while it made me a little nervous at first considering how I might hide them, and concerns around work, etc. I was also ecstatic about them, as an obvious sign that my body was definitely responding to HRT, and beginning to feminize in a way I had always wanted.
It wouldn’t be until around four weeks on HRT that I’d start to really think about clothing, and a desire to have clothes for “me.” However, I had to consider what my style was. I also would and still do spend minutes every day staring at my naked body in the mirror. It doesn’t cause me crippling dysphoria, but it does cause me to wince or grimace on the inside. How I present to the world matters to me. Presenting male or female I want to look my best. I still have a body (minus the boobs) that most men over 40 would kill for, and I hate it, but it is the body I have to work with. As a result, dresses and makeup really don’t put it or me in the best light. Putting womanhood aside, I had to ask myself again, who am I?
I am an athletic, outdoorsy, hippie chick. I love to play soccer, specifically goalkeeper, and how many women can say they’ve backpacked over 3,000 miles or happily gone six days without a shower? I love tattoos and want piercings. Give me Chaco sandals in the summer and Dr. Marten boots in the colder months. I love the way my muscular legs look in skinny jeans or shorts. I love tank tops and over-sized sweaters. I don’t wear makeup yet, and may never wear much except for work, as I also love to sweat and workout.
After a long day at work I want to come home, workout, take a hot shower, and put on comfy clothes that I can relax in. I know some girls come home and need to immediately put on a dress and makeup, but that isn’t me. Neither way is wrong, and neither way makes one of us more or less a woman.
I remember reading the book “Tranny” and the chapter where Laura Jane Grace talks about her struggle to get her therapist to write her letter for HRT. She was already dressing full time as a woman, but a woman who was the lead singer of a punk rock band, which meant she favored black skinny jeans and black tank-tops. She had been writing trans-centric lyrics for years, and yet she would return week after week trying to get this male therapist to write her letter, until it dawned on her that he had to see what “he” thought it meant to be a trans woman, and so she returned the next session in full make-up and a dress, and got her letter for HRT. Thanks to the media, cis folk have preconceived notions of what a trans woman is, and even trans people fall into the trap of societal norms and conventions.
I’ve had quite a few girls gush about how exciting it will be for me when I start wearing dresses and make-up. The fact that I can do those things, isn’t what excites me, not even in the least…ok, I admit there might be some fun there, but what excites me is that the wearing of such things will mean my body has feminized to the point that I feel it looks more female than male. What I put on it is secondary to me. What matters most to me is how I see myself. I am my own worst critic, and that knowledge scares me at times.
Most people who know me as Allie, know me for my positive attitude, and my sense of humor over the whole transition experience. However, like any girl, there is that side to me that I hide from most, because I think people don’t want to see that side of me. I have moments every day where I hate myself, and I hate being trans all the time. That hate never goes away, and I don’t know if it ever will. I have fears that my body will never pass, and that even with facial feminization surgery (FFS) that I will never be seen as the gender I am. That fear kept me from accepting myself for the past decade, and while I am happy I finally pushed past it, being me is anything but sunshine and rainbows.
All of the above said, I would never go back, HRT has brought color to my life, and I have hope for the future. Most of the time I have hope that I will pass, and that I will get to do those things I’ve dreamed of doing out in the open as a woman. Many of them are simple things, little things that will give me the validation I want, and they may not seem exclusively female, but much of what we like in the world rarely is gender specific.
I look forward to playing soccer on a women’s team, and building camaraderie with female teammates for the first time in my life. I look forward to returning to the yoga studio as myself. I look forward to weight training again and rebuilding my body the way I want it. I look forward to going shopping with girlfriends, or just out for dinner and getting ma’amed instead of sirred. I look forward to not having to shave every day, and especially a stubble free face. I look forward to more piercings, painting my fingernails, and yes I do look forward to being able to wear skirts and dresses, along with pretty underthings that look right on my body.
I look forward to FFS and gender confirmation surgery (GCS). Not all girls get these things or feel that they need them, and you certainly do not need a vagina to be female. However, my physical appearance (what I see when I stand in front of the mirror naked) is vital to my feeling complete, and the confidence that will come with feeling complete will mean so much to how I interact with the world. For me, the end result cannot come fast enough.
However, even without all of the above, I am still female, a girl, a woman. Most of the above are simply modes of expression, and so often we all get caught up in blending gender with expression, when the two are not the same. We need to start asking ourselves why is it so important to us that men and women fit certain societal conventions of how they are supposed to express. Why does it matter and who does it hurt if someone acts outside of those conventional expectations? We all have one life to live, mine is already almost half over, and I have yet to really start living as myself. I have no energy left to really care what people think anymore, and within the next few months I’m going to begin pushing the boundaries of people’s expectations. I may keep presenting male at work, but get both ears pierced and cover/feminize old tattoos. After all, these are little things that will make me happy and feel more myself. In the end, like I still tell my daughter…being a girl is whatever I decide it is, and maybe it’s time I start “being” just a little bit more.