Journal

What About My Marriage? Early Musings on Where I Think it Might Go.

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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.

Emotional Intimacy

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.

Romantic Intimacy

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.

Family life

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.

 

 

Gender Purgatory…Where I Currently Live

Purgatory

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.

 

 

Welcome to Reality: Three Month HRT Update

reality

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 1, Month 1 measurements:

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

Day 1, Month 4 measurements:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sexual Warning:

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

 

On Being a Girl…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Brain Hurts…

Brain Hurts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Personal Notes to Dad and Brother

Family-Silhouette-3

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

Personal Note to Dad

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love,

 

Personal Note to Brother

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love,

Letter to Mom

Mom

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

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

Dear Mom,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now for my personal note to you:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I love you,