My marriage has been on my mind quite a bit this past month. How do I feel about my wife? How does she feel about me? Are we in love? Will we ever be romantic again? Do I want to stay in a marriage that lacks romantic intimacy? Is platonic love or staying together for kids a reason to stay married?
I’ve shied away from writing about it on my blog, because I felt like such questions were private until the answers to them could be revealed or resolved, but reading about the Mormon couple, Josh and Lolly Weed, made me decide to write down my thoughts as writing has always proven cathartic for me, and a much better medium for working through tough issues than simply thinking quietly in a corner.
Josh Weed is a gay man who married a straight woman, and came out five years ago as being gay. They have a few daughters and have been married 15 years, and the other day he and his wife announced that they would be getting divorced on his blog (Link to post HERE.). I think most of it, especially Lolly discussing why they are getting a divorce is worth a read, and that there are some significant parallels between a gay man being married to a straight woman, and in my case a trans woman being married to a straight cisgender woman.
Even this early in my transition I can so relate to this situation. I am a trans woman married to a cisgender heterosexual woman. Now some spouses go bi, lesbian, or pan to stay with their transitioning spouse. Many stick around to try and make it work for children, which early on isn’t necessarily a bad thing if it allows for time to process what is happening, and if as a couple you are able to transition the intimate part of your relationship as well.
But what if you can’t? What if the best you can do is a platonic love between best friends? Should you stay together? This is the issue I wrestle with and I know my wife is wrestling with even though she doesn’t talk much about it. Our interactions center on our children, other safe topics, or hanging out like friends after the kids go to bed. Staying in those places allows her to stay away from the third rail of our marriage…my transition…which is also the transition of our marriage.
She has made some efforts to be supportive, gives me space when I need it, and is letting me evolve. However, she also doesn’t share my successes, or really want to talk about them. Occasionally, she does ask questions, but if I try to go into any detail she often changes the subject or tries to extricate herself from the discussion. There is no romance, no intimacy, or sharing on an intimate level. I have noticed where I used to always kiss her on the lips before bed, that has changed to kissing on the forehead, and it’s because she seems to prefer it to the old. We have hugged and held hands a few times, but from my perspective, and I’m sure hers as well, that things have changed.
After coming out as trans to her, she struggled as I would expect anyone to. She processed, grieved and went to a new place. She is making an effort to keep the family intact. She will also tell you that as a family we are stronger than we have been in a long time, and all of this is true, and yet I find all of this extremely sad. She has admitted to me, that if we did not have kids, my coming out would have sent her running and that she would already be gone. She has said at times that she feels like we are already divorced. She has also been clear that she doesn’t like women that way, and that having a man is important to her. Finally, she said to me and also said to a friend of mine that “we have to stay together for the kids”.
In an attempt to be honest with myself, I will attempt to write down my most significant thoughts of the past month, and process them at the same time. Thankfully she doesn’t read my blog, because this would cause a fight that I never want to have, or it might speed up a timetable that neither us, nor the kids are ready for…So here we go!
To begin with, coming out saved my marriage. However, I’ve come to believe in the six months since then that coming out is really just prolonging a marriage that will eventually come to an end. Whether it’s two, three, or five years from now…it will come to an end. Certainly coming out transgender is the big monkey wrench thrown into the works, but we also have had issues in our marriage that go back to around the time the kids came to live with us. I always thought we would get our groove back, and that we’d figure out how to be both parents and romantic partners. The issues that we were dealing with before my transition certainly play a part in how I feel, but as this blog is about my transition and things related to it, I am going to focus on the state of my marriage from that context. In addition, it is not my intent to throw my wife under the bus, and I’m sure she also could come up with a litany of issues regarding me, and she certainly would be justified in doing so as I think many of my issues from before are related to my being trans and being in denial for so long.
I want to address three spheres of importance in a marriage, and how I see these spheres as the relate to us. These spheres (Emotional Intimacy, Romantic Intimacy, and Family Life) are important to any marriage, and the state of them often reflects the state of a marriage.
We used to have this in spades. We could talk about anything with each other and couldn’t wait to do so. Hopes, dreams, the future…they were all on the table. She was the first person I couldn’t wait to share something with, and I think I was the same to her. This has changed significantly on both our parts. We still vent to each other about our days, and are intimate when it comes to issues involving the kids, but as for the rest? It simply isn’t there. We don’t talk about our hopes, dreams, or the future anymore. In fact, I sense she is afraid to discuss such things, and as a result I am afraid to talk about mine.
See, for me, my hopes and dreams for the future focus on me living my life authentically as the woman I am and these certainly are not her dreams or hopes, except to say I do believe she wants me to be happy. My hopes and dreams might actually be the things that are crushing hers, and that’s a hard things for a person to live with. She finds emotional support and intimacy from being with a man, which regardless of my current appearance is hard for her to do now. It’s also something I don’t want, as it makes my presenting and expressing at home that much harder.
I want to be clear, I still find myself wanting to share things with her. She is my best friend, and I want her to be happy for me, but I don’t think she is capable of it. Being supportive does not necessarily mean being happy for someone. It simply means you love them enough to want them to be happy, regardless of how it makes you feel, or what that might mean for you.
We are still connected, and I know her better than anyone, can read her better than anyone, and I know she isn’t happy, and hasn’t been happy for awhile. Issues with herself, and issues with our marriage are part of it. She would also stay with me in a marriage simply for the kids. She would give up her right to be happy for them, and she is willing to lose herself in the process. She has some expectations that I would do the same thing, but she also knows me well enough to know that there is a good chance I will not do that.
I don’t believe a person can make another person happy. I know television and movies try to put forth the thought this is possible, but I believe that we determine our own happiness by the expectations we have for ourselves. People can magnify our emotions. Married to the right person your happiness can be magnified, and to the wrong person for you, unhappiness will be magnified as well. The reality is we may not be the right people for each other anymore, and that is O.K.
There were issues here before I came out due to medical and health issues, small children, and I think partly due to the fact my internal conflict ramped up for a couple years before coming out. We stopped being cute and playful, and instead became tired and less physically affectionate. I had hopes we’d find ourselves again, but sex seemed of less interest to her, and the same became true of me. I had stopped caring about myself due to my dysphoria and put on weight. Becoming a mom, like it does for many women, changed her priorities of what is important. With both of us working full time, and up very early, there was little time for physical intimacy, and rarely did she seem interested. Being female on the inside I read this and didn’t push for it, but it also had the added impact of making her feel like I didn’t desire her, when in truth I wanted to feel as desired as she did, but there was no way she could know that, and it was something I didn’t feel I could tell her. Stereo-typically, I was always taught it was the man who is supposed to show they want sex, but there were cracks in my mask, and I was tired of playing games I had never wanted to play in the first place.
Sex for me had become mechanical in many ways. I hated having intercourse, hated feeling like a rutting beast. Over the years it had gotten worse. I loved foreplay, and the intimacy associated with it, but as for the rest?…it just intensified my loathing for a body so clearly male. Even with all that said, when we did have sex, physically it was still as good as it ever was, but it was just a much rarer occurrence than the first twelve years of our marriage.
Sex has been sporadic and minimal the past six years. Many couples see a decline in the frequency of sex as they get older, and it isn’t the be all and end all to romantic intimacy, but how can a couple hope to find it again when they are both women and one is heterosexual and says she only wants to be with men?
There is also something that I need to touch on and that is my evolving sexuality. I can admit that I no longer view myself as being attracted only to women, but that in the past month I also realize that I do have the potential to be attracted to certain types of men and non-binary people. I also am coming to realize that I need to be with someone who sees me as the woman I am and also desires me for it, whether they be hetero or queer.
Her constant sexuality and my evolving sexuality may be the real deal killers in our marriage. I am 43, and hope to be full-time by some point in 2020 at the latest. I will turn 46 in 2020, with plenty of good years left. My wife will turn 44 in 2020, and she has just as many good years left. Are we supposed to take vows of chastity and give ourselves to our children and vows taken that no longer hold relevancy as “man and wife?”
Don’t we deserve to find romantic love again if it is something we want? Do I deserve to find someone who will want me the way I’ve always desired, but never had? Does she deserve to have someone look at her the way she wants, and to treat her the way she deserves to be treated in a way I can’t.
Sex isn’t the most important part of a relationship, but depending on who you are, it is important. Right now, there are so many things I want to experience once my mind and body reach concurrence, and I’m not sure physical intimacy is one of those things I’m willing to give up. I also feel she should be able to have that again, if she wants it, and in the manner she wants it.
All marriages are families, some have children and some do not. Most bring extended family from both sides together, and family is often central to married life in many ways. My wife is a wonderful mother. Our children adore her, and she goes all out on their behalf. In short, our kids are her life. Due to certain needs our children have this cannot be helped, and as they gravitate towards her (both being under 10) she has to deal. I say the above to say I don’t resent her for this, but it does make me sad to see she has no interests she pursues outside of the home. I often feel like she is losing herself, and one of our nastiest fights was about this as my guilt before coming out made me bring it up, and when she got defensive I simply got louder and it got ugly. I am sorry for that and it is one of my biggest regrets, but it doesn’t change the fact that I still feel this way.
She is also a homebody and an introvert. Playing boy I was happy to go along with that, but as a woman I am clearly an extrovert who wants friends, and wants to do things with those friends. This is not to say we can’t integrate my friends into our life, but they will be my friends first, and they serve as a reminder to her of new parts of my life that I’ve created which are not dependent upon her or our family. I’ve been good about this so far, and have minimized getting together with friends to once a month, but I’d like to at least double this as I gain needed energy for it by getting away and being myself 100% with friends who only know Allie.
I can only think, while things are harder for me right now in how I go about presenting and expressing at home, meaning that I have been toning it down and keeping it in check, there will be a point where due to HRT I will no longer be able to do so, and more importantly won’t care. There will be a point where my wife and kids will have to see me as a woman, and the man they still think they see will be gone. When that day comes, their reactions and adjustment will be very telling as to what kind of family we will have. Surgeries and other transition landmarks will only further those adjustments to the point where a decision will have to be made, if it isn’t made before that point.
Since coming out, our family has gotten stronger. I am more engaged, and participate far more in events with the kids, and this makes both the kids and my wife happier. You could say our family life is strong. We eat dinner as a family, do things as a family, and due to attachment issues from before they were adopted, having all of us under the same roof means everything to my kids at the moment.
I say “at the moment”, because my kids will get older and more independent. They won’t want to do everything with us, and then I am left wondering what do we have that makes it necessary for us to be under the same roof, and more to the point, is it healthy for us to stay under the same roof?
Many couples who get divorced continue to be kick ass co-parents. They meet for family dinners, holidays, and some even still take vacations together. The point is, one does not need to stay in an unhappy marriage to have a good family life.
In addition, there is the lesson we as parents teach our children. Is it better to stay married and be miserable, or is it better to divorce and be happy? Our children are always watching and learning from us, and I want them to feel that it is not necessary to lose their happiness for the sake of others. It is O.K. for relationships to evolve and grow outside of traditional norms. After all, there is nothing traditional about being trans and everything that goes with it, so why does our family have to maintain that stereotype to be happy?
In the end, I believe my children will come through this just fine, and will learn much about what it means to be a family whether under the same roof or not. As for my wife and I? She is my best friend, and I love her dearly. We became adults together, and there is so much I am thankful to her for, but I also know she isn’t happy, and I want her to be happy. She deserves to be happy, and if she can’t be with me as a woman, then I want her to find a man who will make her the center of his world. She deserves nothing less. Even if she finds new love and were to marry again, we will always love each other, respect each other, and value one another. That will never change. We will always be family.
How will that family look? Well, that has yet to be decided, we may yet find our happiness again, but as she and I have discussed, what happens with our marriage is a decision we will make together. Regardless of what happens we will do it in a way that positions us and the kids to be as happy as possible with our decision.
If there is one thing that transition is teaching me, it is that life is short and everyone deserves to be happy with the life they choose to live. Life is also fluid, and sometimes we have to adjust to that fluidity. Change doesn’t have to be bad, and often it can be better than anyone could possibly have ever imagined. My life and family are changing, and I’m certainly hoping in the end it is for the better.
Purgatory…Limbo…whatever you want to call it, it’s that place between worlds, often associated with a person’s transition from the mundane (Earth) to the wonderful (Heaven), and for me it sums up perfectly where I am at in my transition, and where I may spend quite a bit of time before being allowed, by my body, to move on.
If living as a boy was my life on Earth, then this transition to purgatory is a step in the right direction because it means that I no longer fit the mold of a boy. I may look like one most of the time, and I may even pretend to be one some of the time, but it certainly isn’t who I am, and being honest it was never who I was. However, this would mean that my life in heaven would be me living my life 100% of the time as my authentic self, and most of the time being seen by people as I see myself. In my case, as a trans woman, that means being seen as a woman, which I am nowhere near being seen as in public. I believe the day will come, but it is not here yet.
And so the place I reside is purgatory. There are circles, a select group of friends, trans twitter, Facebook, and within queer circles where people accept me as Allie, but that is about it. Heck, most days I look in the mirror and I can’t see myself yet. My body is still too muscular, too big, and too hairy. My face, while thinning and softening, is also clearly more masculine than feminine. Yet, I also can’t fully present in public as a male all of the time, or in all manner of clothing. It is clear that I have breasts and that those breasts are not male, and so I am at the point that I have to wear something for support/compression every day. Which means, presenting male, I have to wear tops that hide my sports bras, bralettes, etc. In all likelihood summer will totally suck this year, as I love to wear tank tops and shorts all summer long, and as of right now, tank tops are probably a no go, unless I want to clearly share with the world that I am also wearing undergarments that I clearly need. I won’t be visiting a pool this summer, that’s for sure, and as for shorts? Weight loss and body changes will also influence what kind I end up wearing in public spaces. Sadly, changes to the body are essential for being gendered correctly in public. Only time and HRT can bring them about, and the jury is still out on just how much change I will actually see.
HRT affects everyone differently, and there are factors that will determine how it affects a person. Experts say age can play a factor, and from my own research I would say this is most definitely true. The younger you are the more likely you are to get good results, but not guaranteed. Genetics are probably most important, but coupled with age this usually determines how quickly people see those changes. Beginning dosages of blockers and hormones all can significantly impact when people will see changes and how those changes will come about. The older you get the greater chance that physical changes may be minimal, but some older women do get fantastic results, and I’m kind of straddling the fence not young, but also not quite over the line to old. I do feel like luck might be on my side, based upon the results I have seen so far, but nothing is a given or promised to someone in transition.
So, I am straddling the worlds between boy and girl, and while my body is slowly moving where it needs to be, my mind has jumped way out into the lead. Clearly more female than male at this point, as if any vestige of male remains (I don’t think it does), my mind struggles at times to do boy. Male actions seem to be more from memory than instinct or desire to to do them. Since doubling my T blocker I find myself succumbing more often to stereotypical female behaviors which makes me both happy and frustrated at the same time. Happy because internally I feel more myself every day, but frustrated because I’m painfully aware that my outside is nowhere near matching how I feel on the inside. In some ways this makes my body dysphoria worse. Luckily my increased body dysphoria is tempered by feeling “right” in my head, and so my overall gender dysphoria is less, but in some ways it causes me more problems.
I find myself wanting to present female so badly, and yet, more than ever, I am aware of my male physical attributes that I despise. The muscle on my shoulders and chest drive me insane! I have female tops that I used to wear, and I no longer wear them because they emphasize that which I hate. Instead, I have moved back to unisex t-shirts and loose tops that de-emphasize my hated body parts. Playing with make-up? Yeah, that’s not happening until the facial hair is gone. I know many girls move forward with heavy concealer and get quite good at hiding it, but until my face shape changes more along with facial hair being completely removed, I have decided to wait.
I recognize that my purgatory is partly self-imposed by the way my dysphoria works and how that directly affects my presentation. Some girls just go full-time, full speed ahead, and I admire them for it. For me, that simply isn’t the path I want to, or am willing to walk. My path is far more calculated and planned out. Aside from dysphoria, things like my family and job also affect how I transition and the timeline I choose to follow.
Even with all of the above said, there are mental changes that are already happening and they can’t be stopped. My brain is changing as i switch my fuel from testosterone to estrogen. Things I have noticed just since doubling my blocker over a month ago, many in the last two weeks, are:
- Lowered singular focus…My brain jumps from random thought to random thought in a quicker pattern. I find this happening as I’m talking to friends. My wife does this and it used to drive me crazy…now I do it and can follow others when they do it.
- Nervous energy…I never had this before, but my god, where did it come from? When bad I can’t sit still, and I’ve even found myself cleaning stuff. Often it will start with noticing something is expired in the fridge, and so I throw it out, and then I look for other stuff, and before I know it I am cleaning out the entire refrigerator. This never used to be me. I didn’t worry about such things, and was content to ignore them. Now it’s like I can’t help myself, and the reasons I do it run in a similar vein to reasons my wife has given before when she has done similar things. I always found the reasons funny…but they make total sense to me now.
- Anxiety…Where did this come from? I stayed home from work yesterday due to a migraine brought on by anxiety over having to go to work in full boy mode. The anxiety didn’t build, it just hit me out of nowhere Monday night and stayed with me all night long. Things didn’t finally start to get better till around noon on Tuesday, after girlfriends did their thing to either take my mind off of it or help me work past it. In the past I was always able to push anxiety down and lock it away, or compartmentalize it. Pushing it down is not so easy anymore, and when anxiety joins forces with dysphoria they both gain greater strength to knock me down. I used to listen to women talk about anxiety and how it would affect them, and shrug my shoulders as I had no issue ignoring it. Now I am forced to deal with it because my brain won’t ignore it, and instead fixates on it until I deal with it.
- Attraction…I finally felt attraction to another person since I started to transition, and it wasn’t based upon the notion of whether or not I found this person worthy of sleeping with. Sure physical attractiveness still matters to me, but it is personality and connection that matters to me more. The thought of sex doesn’t even enter into the picture because I have no interest in it at all right now. I also now know that my sexuality has shifted from having played the cis-het male to being a bi/pansexual trans woman. I know it could shift again, but I now see the fluidity of my sexuality, and how I view others with it. I also want to add that any crush I have is simply of a school girl nature, as I am married and the thought of cheating is not something that I even entertain as an option…nor am I interested in the physical with my body in its current state.
- Friendship…Huge for me. My girlfriends, and I have a select few that I know locally (many more online) mean so much to me. Friendship has taken on a new level of importance that was never there before. There is something about it that definitely affects my mental well-being. Lunch with a couple of friends can be like positive fuel for me. Online and texting is nice, but nothing beats getting together in-person and I need to try and make this happen more often.
- Public presentation…I have been playing with androgynous female clothing choice since November, but up until Sunday I was regularly identified as a cis-het male. I know this because of how women that I don’t know have reacted to me over that period of time. Women, with good reason, are often more guarded in their interactions with men. Often out of fear of being hit on or having to deal with creepy stalker-types where being nice might be misconstrued as a signal to flirt. On Sunday, when out with a couple girlfriends, and even when alone, I started getting queer ID’d. In any store or restaurant I went into on Sunday the women I interacted with were simply sweeter and more relaxed around me. I’ve been the big scary guy getting on an elevator with a lone woman, and having always been female I’ve always been painfully aware of the reaction I elicit. On Sunday, the reaction was openess that included compliments on clothing or accessories, like a woman would give to another woman or a femme man. This change has taken me off guard a little, but also makes me smile as it means that while I’m not being seen as a woman yet, I am being seen as queer and this puts me closer to my end goal. I will admit clothing, carrying a bag, and the company I keep can all be signals to people I interact with, but I also find myself talking a little different…more free with my enunciation and word choice…and it isn’t conscious. If relaxed I just do it, and while my speech pattern isn’t necessarily female yet, it also isn’t quite the typical male. All of this is a big positive and also highlights that not everything in purgatory is bad or negative.
I hate ending on negative thoughts, and so I waited until the end to show that purgatory doesn’t all have to be bad. There are good things that happen as I make my way through it. There truly is a mix of the frustrating and the wonderful within it. As to how long I will be there? I can’t know for sure yet. As of right now I don’t see myself going 100% full time until I’ve been on HRT a minimum of 18 months, but it could be longer depending upon my genetics. I will have to go full-time at home sooner because I want to and because there are things I need to work on, such as voice, make up, etc. Transitioning at home will give me an opportunity to work on and perfect things that will affect my overall presentation. In small ways I’ve already begun to work on some of them such as laser hair removal, voice, weight loss, beginning to grow out my hair, and shaping my eye brows.
There are always things I can work on that put me closer to full transition, and reminding myself to live in the now and to take it a day at a time are good things to keep in mind. The rest will come when it does, and worrying about things I can’t control is a waste of my energy. Sometimes I can’t help it, but I hope I’m getting better at stopping myself from obsessing. I think I am, and instead using that energy for the positive things that I need.
When you start HRT, and it is something you really want, it can put you on a self-induced high. You become convinced things are happening every time there is a little change. You have visions of your body transforming and being one of those girls who has to out herself at seven months, because people constantly gender you female. It is the thing dreams are made of, and so you stand on the mountain top higher than everything around you.
The funny thing is HRT rarely works that way in the best of circumstances, and so such things are merely the dreams of someone who has yet to come back to reality. Coming back to reality is a shock to the system as you struggle to accept it, but it is a positive if you look at the future with realistic expectations. I have spoken with enough girls to know most of us go through such a phase, and even girls who go full time out of the gate have said to me, a year or two in that they don’t know how they did it because looking back they were terrible in the beginning.
To expect drugs to physically change my body, a “male” body of 43 years, overnight is ridiculous. Expectations ranging in several months to a year are also not very realistic for most. Realistic expectations for full HRT feminization range anywhere from 18 months to 36 months, if being honest. Reputable surgeons won’t touch you until around 18 months at the soonest, and GCS surgeons want you on hormones at least a year before they will perform surgery. There are reasons for these things, but one major reason is that evidence shows most trans women hit their peak development around the two year mark, and still there are many who see significant changes between 24 and 36 months. This knowledge actually helped me break out of a self-induced funk that I sank into shortly before Christmas. It also helped me to look to the future with a renewed hope that was grounded in realistic expectations, rather than simply naive dreams.
So what was the source of my funk? I had my two month checkup and blood work in mid-December, and shortly before that I was feeling like my testosterone was fighting the HRT I was taking, While it doesn’t quite work like that, I felt like my development was hitting a wall. This was confirmed to a point by my blood work which revealed that while my testosterone was down 100 from 450 to 350, but it was still well outside the range of female levels. In addition, due to the high testosterone, my estrogen was only at about 50, which was still significantly lower than natal female levels. No trans woman wants to hear such news (almost always a trigger), because we all know others who’s bodies snapped to almost right away, and their first bloodwork showed them to be within the natal female range. However, for most of us it doesn’t work that way. Things take time to happen.
As a result, my doctor doubled my spironolactone, so I now take daily, 200mg of spironolactone and 6mg of estradiol. My doctor said that we should definitely see a significant decrease in testosterone and this will allow my estrogen levels to rise up to where we want them. Again, this gives me hope, but as someone who has waited over 40 years, I want it all right now.
Adding to my funk was the fact that my weight loss had kind of plateaued, and while I looked elsewhere to blame, I also knew that this was my fault. As a result I began tracking everything I ate to get a handle on where my issues were, and soon came to realize it was mostly evening snacking, and that snacks throughout the day can really add up. With the start of the new year I enacted a new diet plan, and it seems to be working as I’ve dropped seven pounds so far in 2018, and there is no doubt this also has added to my renewed spirit.
Now, I say all of the above to stress that as a trans person I can choose to dwell on those things I perceive to be negative about my transition, my body and my mental state, or I can choose to see the good things that are happening, even if those things are only slowly evolving. So let’s look at those positive things, beginning with measurements on Day 1 of HRT to my measurements on Day 1, Month 4 of HRT:
Day 1, Month 1 measurements:
- Weight: 244lbs
- Chest: 42.5 inches (underbust: 41 inches)
- Waist: 38 inches
- Pant/male waist: 40 inches
- Hips: 43 inches
- Neck: 16 inches
- Bicep: 15 inches
- Wrist: 7 inches
- Ankle: 9.5 inches
Day 1, Month 4 measurements:
- Weight: 235 lbs
- Chest: 40.5 inches (underbust: 38 inches)
- Waist: 35 inches
- Pant/male waist: 37 inches
- Hips: 41 inches
- Neck: 15 inches
- Bicep: 14 inches
- Wrist: 6.25 inches
- Ankle: 8.5 inches
Now, if I were to look at the above numbers only from Month 3 to 4, then I would see almost zero changes…half an inch on a couple measurements, or no changes in several, but from day one these changes are huge, and that’s what I have to remember. I have only lost nine pounds from Day 1, and yet I have lost 2-3 inches in many places. Things have been happening. It’s just often I don’t see them, or they get overshadowed by things like the start of breast development, which as a trans woman is always a moment of joy for all of us.
People also sometimes ask about other things that I’m seeing, and some I’ve talked about and others I haven’t, because it is hard to pinpoint what some changes are. I have yet to talk about my face, other than to say it has thinned out some and that my skin is softer. I can say now, without a doubt, that there is something happening around my eyes and my chin. With my eyes I can’t say for sure what is different, just that there is something that is making me look younger? It’s the best way I can describe it. As for my chin, it’s almost like it is emerging from wrapping, as if the tissue around it is reconfiguring. These things don’t happen overnight, and so I often think maybe I’m seeing things because I want to. However, looking at older/before pictures I can say there is definitely something going on. My head is becoming less blocky, or putting it another way my head is going from looking like a circle to more of an oval. At least that’s the way it seems to me.
I mentioned ankle and wrist measurements because joints are a great way to get an idea for just how “bulky” your bone structure might be, and seeing mine drop into natal female ranges for a woman my height makes me realize that my bone structure might not be near as broad or thick as I thought it was. My underbust measurement is also further confirmation of this fact. At 38 inches, it stands to reason that with continued weight loss and time on HRT I should continue to see my measurements head in the direction I want.
My breast development seems to have slowed down the past month, but I know from others that it comes and goes in cycles. They remain sore, but that soreness has retreated to just behind the nipple where the bud is. I’m ok with that as well, as the bulkiest muscle on my body is the muscle of my upper torso. Knowing how it affects appearance, boob growth can slow down to match what I hope will soon be a noticeable decrease in the muscles on my back and chest.
Mentally, I’ve written before about how HRT has given me access to my emotions, and I still tear up at the dumbest things, and I’m ok with that. It’s all good. However, I’ve also come to realize that HRT doesn’t change who we are. I am still the same person I was before I began it. I’m just happier now, and the dysphoria has lessened. This might be the biggest lesson of Month 3…and I can’t stress it enough…HRT doesn’t change who you are on the inside. It might let you show the real you, but that person on the inside is still there. If you hope that it will change you, then you will be sorely disappointed, except to say it frees you up to be yourself.
Relationship wise, my wife and I are good, and my family life is better than it’s been in a long time. The nature of my marriage has changed, and I’m not sure if it will ever go back to what it was before. Here, too, I must also take the long view. We have children who would be devastated by a separation, and my wife and I both know this. We know the children are the number one reason we are trying. We are still best friends, and we still love each other. As to if we are still in love? I don’t know. My attitude about sex and romance has changed. I’m more apathetic about both at the moment. You could say I’ve put that part of my life in limbo, along with so much of my life right now (Will discuss this feeling of limbo in my next blog post as it is something I want to talk about).
Talking about my parents, they still need time, and they can have it. Right now, they’re still fixated on themselves. They’re dealing with their own issues on my transness, and are incapable of giving me what I want from them right now. I am still talking to them, and they love and support me, but they’re really not available to me right now, and I can’t say for sure when they will be. My brother also falls into the same boat. I know they can’t picture me physically female, and that has to be part of it, heck I can’t picture myself physically female much of the time. My hope is that physical change will help them accept a little more and to alleviate their worries as to how the world will see and treat me.
Overall, I am happy to put month three behind me, and I have moved into the new year with a renewed hope for what the future has in store. I will focus on those things I can control, my diet and health, and I will let HRT do its thing in its own time. How we take care of ourselves can effect how we transition, and so from here on out I intend to maximize that in any ways I can. No matter what I am moving in the direction I want to, so can take heart in that.
I always end my monthly updates with any changes I’ve noticed sexually. And I can say I’ve noticed a few things since doubling my blocker. The first is that my sex drive has decreased more, meaning I care about it even less than I did before it was doubled, and it had already dropped before that. I’ve also noticed an increased sensitivity to the underside of my penis. The use of a vibrator is pleasurable now, meaning that with time and relaxation, it might be enough to do the job alone, which brings me to the third point, and that is, what turns me on is shifting. Visual stimulation can still start me off, but often I find greater intensity when I simply close my eyes and let my mind focus on the building feeling/pleasure. Mental imagery seems to be taking over from the visual one I’ve existed with most of my life. There have been moments in the last couple weeks where for me to reach orgasm I simply had to relax, close my eyes, and focus on the pleasure, otherwise the building sensation would keep dropping, but I couldn’t get over the hill. I also want to say that those orgasms were different, as a heat or flush would build up and wash over me near the point of climax. This was also new. I look forward to see how this progresses in the next few months, but also can say while it feels good in the moment…I’m finding it necessary to talk myself into it more often as it is nowhere near a priority for me like it was pre-HRT.
If you follow me on Twitter or are a friend on Facebook then you know that the last week or so haven’t been the best for me mentally. I can readily admit I started sinking when I found out that my hormone levels really haven’t moved much the past two and a half months. I did rationalize with myself that my body and mind have seen changes, many of which I’ve discussed on this blog, and if I’ve seen such changes with my levels where they are at now then once they get to cis-female levels I should see some even bigger ones. That, of course, is my rational mind speaking, and most of the time I let it run things, but every once in awhile when the dysphoria demon creeps in, and my emotions take over, I start to feel “mannish” and things head south for me mentally.
Nobody, I don’t care who you are, can be happy and positive 24/7. Humans aren’t built that way. I consider myself a strong and positive woman. I like to think that most of the time I look forward to the future, excited at what it has to offer. The past few days this has been difficult as I fixate on the questions of, “what if things don’t get better? what if I will never get to where I want to, where I need to be?” I realize that this is dysphoria fucking with me, but I still need to get past it, and so I thought I’d look back at the past year and see just how far I’ve come.
2017 began with me deep in taking care of name change stuff for my daughter. I had already begun delving deep into information on trans women, but was still more focused on trans children and their needs. My closet door was starting to buckle, but the skeletons where still locked away. I can remember throwing myself into work and the idea of starting to backpack with my daughter. The prospect of hitting the trail with her had me excited, and the need to buy her gear and to update mine consumed most of my free time. We even managed to get out for an overnight hike on the Appalachian Trail in January, and she was a trooper considering the terrain we had to hike. I can remember how happy I was when she finished in tears, but ten minutes later started talking about “when we go the next time”.
The rest of the winter continued much the same. My daughter’s name change became official at the end of February, and we got her passport about a month after that. Late March saw my daughter suffering from some pretty bad dysphoria and so we went for another backpacking trip, as being out in nature always seems to help her. It was on this trip that my closet exploded and I realized that I also suffered from dysphoria, although I wasn’t willing to admit I was transgender yet. Instead, I still hedged with the idea that, just because I was sometimes jealous of women and wanted what they had, well, that didn’t make me trans. However, the door had been opened, and my online searches now centered on trans women and not trans kids. Subconsciously, my brain had shifted, even if my conscious awareness was still battling or misdirecting.
Late May saw my daughter and I go on a 7 day backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail, and we had a wonderful time. It was great just being alone with her on the trail, and it made for some good bonding. Looking back I can say that it was the peace before the storm, and in many ways I approached the hike as if I was saying goodbye to something. I didn’t realize it at the time, but there was a moment near the end of our hike where I was walking along listening to Pearl Jam’s “Just Breathe” and tears just started to stream down my face. I was thinking of my family and my kids, and how things might change. I still had yet to make the connection, but the memories of my past had been hitting me harder, and I just had this feeling that things had to change. I just had no idea how much they were about to.
The summer was my biggest summer of discontent ever. My father-in-law came to live with us just as my closet completely imploded. So many memories were coming back to me daily. I began forming friendships with trans women online, and spending most nights researching anything and everything about transition. I know now that I was trying to talk myself into the idea that transition was possible, but at the time my self-hate and loathing were at an all time high. I was going through a nervous breakdown of sorts and taking it out on everyone in my house. In many ways, I was mentally in the darkest place of my life as I realized that I could not continue as I had, and that something had to change.
Three girls, all of whom I met through Twitter, were instrumental in helping me to figure out that I was trans. By this time I knew I was also intersex, but was playing around with the idea that I might be nonbinary. However, after talking with one girl, and giving it greater consideration I realized that nonbinary did not fit me, because it didn’t mesh with who I knew I was on the inside. I needed more, and nonbinary wouldn’t give me that.
Discussions with the other girls made me realize that I could transition, because it was about what I needed. I began to realize that if I didn’t I would end up killing myself due to neglect or by my own hand. Late July saw me telling people I was nonbinary, as I was hedging still and it was a baby step towards me admitting the full truth. Local friends convinced me that I needed to tell my wife, and at the same time I finally accepted that I was a trans woman and needed to begin gender therapy. With those admissions my life began to drastically shift for the better.
I came out to my wife in August, and again hedged that I thought I might be nonbinary, but I also admitted that I may want to transition. I already knew the truth, and as I began therapy, in the very first session I admitted verbally that I wanted to transition fully. With each admission, the weight that had been crushing me began to lift, but there would also be some low points as I began to set the path I planned to walk.
I learned how close I had been to losing my wife and kids, due to my self hate and loathing during the summer. Coming out to my wife and beginning therapy kept my family together. Although the nature of my marriage has changed, as a family we are better than we’ve been in a long time. Accepting who I am and having some hard conversations with my wife has allowed me to put my anger and self-loathing behind me for the most part. I won’t say things are perfect, but they are much improved.
I have made some good friends for the first time in a long time, and now count several trans and cis women as friends. I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to be friends with people who only know me as Allie. It is truly a gift to feel comfortable enough to simply express as the woman I am. I am even out to two girlfriends at work who are supportive, and one of them will be my new boss beginning with the new year.
October 9th, 2017 will forever be important to me because it was the day I started HRT. My mind and life have simply become brighter since starting it. I have seen changes, which I discuss every month in a post, and while not drastic, those changes are enough to keep me moving forward, along with having lost 40lbs in an effort to work towards a more girlish figure. I don’t know how I navigated life for so long without estrogen, but I’d rather die than give it up at this point.
Overall, I’d have to say that 2017 is ending on a high note. The blip I have experienced the past week was the realization that I have moved out of the mountain top phase and into one of realistic expectations. I’m still excited about my future, but that excitement is tempered by the reality that physical changes take time and will happen when they happen.
When I think about where I was on January 1, 2017 compared to now, there is no comparison. My mental state is stronger than it has been in years and I can’t remember ever being so in touch with my emotions. I don’t want to dwell on the past too much as I believe you learn from your past, live in the moment, and look to your future. 2017 will forever be one of the most important years in my life, but it isn’t the best or the most important. I believe those years have yet to come. For the first time, I look forward to the future with hope and excitement. In the mean time I will take each day as it comes with the knowledge that even if bad, tomorrow is always a new day that takes me one day closer to living full time as the real me.
“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.
Two months down already, and so I’m back to talk about where I’m at and everything new that happened during my second month of HRT.
This time around I’m going to start with my measurement changes, and from there I will talk about everything else….so without further ado, lets get into it.
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 3 measurements:
- Weight: 239.2lbs
- Chest: 40.5 inches (underbust: 38 inches)
- Waist: 35 inches
- Pant/male waist: 37.5 inches
- Hips: 41.5 inches
- Neck: 15 inches
- Bicep: 14 inches
- Wrist: 6.5 inches
- Ankle: 9 inches
So, I did gain two pounds from the beginning of the month, but my measurements continued to shrink, regardless of the slight weight gain, and that makes me extremely happy. I thought I’d break the change discussion into three categories: physical, mental, and parental warning: sexual. In my mind changes this month were just as significant as the first, and in some ways maybe more. At least, for me they were.
Breast Development: I woke up the second day of HRT month two with an ache in my breasts that hasn’t left since it started. Month one saw the beginning of my breast development and month two saw it continue. I also saw my chest muscle continue to soften while my bra size went from a 42A to a 40B. I’m becoming more comfortable talking about it as I probably should wear something everyday, but I don’t. This is partly due to work, as I will admit if I were full time I’d be going bra shopping instead of wearing shelf camisoles and bralettes. For now, the latter is good enough due to the significant chest muscle I still have, but as it goes more and more I have a feeling I”m going to need more support. At this point, I get the pain of running up and down stairs, or even just running period…like, it really hurts. Funny enough, the pain makes me smile, as it simply reminds me that I’m finally getting the body I’ve always wanted.
Fat Distribution: This really started to show during the second month, as I’ve started to notice a softening to the way my muscles show through the skin. The first place I noticed this was on my torso, specifically my midsection. For those that follow me on Facebook and Twitter I did post comparison pictures that highlighted these changes:
The first picture above was taken a month before HRT and the second picture was six weeks on HRT. Along with the redistribution which you can see, my skin is much softer as well. My legs which have always been chiseled, are still defined but slightly smaller, and they now have a slightly softer look to them, which I only noticed in the past week.
Estrogen redistributes fat into female patterns, but won’t actually move fat, however it will make use of what you have where it needs it, and I’ve seen this start to happen on my hips, my chest, and my butt. I haven’t seen much start to happen with my face, but it will come when it does. While weight didn’t come off in the last month, my body fat percentage is right where it should be. I’m currently sitting at about 24% body fat, and the ideal body fat for a 43 year old woman is 22.5%. Knowing this, my goal is now to make sure it doesn’t go up while trying to continue to shed weight. As the muscle starts to shed, the weight should go down…or I have to make sure it does. I think I have a pretty good handle on this, and am excited to see when this starts to happen.
Muscle Mass: It seems to be on the decline, but as I’ve learned from other girls it does seem the strength is starting to go faster than the actual muscle. This started with muscle endurance first, but in the last week I’ve noticed that certain things have gotten just a little heavier, which I’m just fine with. I’ve noticed my arms are thinning out, as is my chest, and my legs. My shoulders and my back muscles are still hanging on, and I can’t wait for them to start going as well, but the other changes are enough to tide me over and give me confidence that they will soon start to go as well. On another note, while I continue to work my legs by doing cardio, just having a snowball fight the other day with the kids has my back and obliques sore like I put them through a workout. I think I need to start doing some plank exercises as part of a maintenance routine until my body gets to a size where I can introduce strength training again.
Overall, my physical changes have me excited and have had me buying new female clothes, while getting rid of older male clothes. Nothing fancy or super expensive as my body still has quite a bit of changing to do, but I’ve noticed other than slim or skinny fit, most men’s pants seem to leave a bit too much room in the legs and butt. Not sure how this happened as they still look big to me, but clothes fit the way they fit, and clearly they’re starting to fit me differently. All that said, my women’s jeans seem to be fitting me better, and I can’t wait to see what the next few months have in store.
Miscellaneous: My skin continues to get softer and at the end of month one, confirmed in month two I can say that I no longer smell like a boy. My sweat doesn’t stink and neither do my armpits. I can wear the same sports bra for multiple workouts without the stink factor arising immediately. I’ve also started to get more sensitive to heat and cold, which is a nice change of pace as I’m not always on the verge of sweating like in days past!
This continues to be a place that in many ways gives me the greatest satisfaction, but also causes some turmoil at times. In the last month I continue to feel more myself, and when with people, especially other women that know “me,” it has become almost impossible for me not to express female. It is something that I now do unconsciously, and only realize it once I am in conversation. I have to remind myself when with people I don’t know to pull it back a little.
It becomes harder to put on guy clothes each work day, and go to work. I still do it, but it does cause me anxiety that is worse at the beginning of the week. It gets better as the week goes on and I get closer to the weekend. I know this is totally normal, and I deal as best I can, because it is what I need to do for the time being, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I hope my changes start coming even faster so I can stop playing the “boy” charade. As the brain changes faster, it is impossible for the body to keep up. You get to a point where you just want to be you, and I understand why some gals go full-time so quickly. The temptation is there for me too! However, while I know I am a woman, when I go full time at work I want people to see that as well. It is important to me that this happen, and remembering that will keep me on the path that I’ve laid out for me.
This past week, I forgot for the first time, while at the store that I was playing boy. I had just finished paying and the cashier said, “Thank you, sir. Have a great day!” I paused for a second before responding because my brain went, he just called you sir! You’re not a sir…oh wait, yeah, right… Afterwards it made me laugh, and while it might cause others dysphoria…I was presenting male, and it also gave me a warm fuzzy to realize my brain, and how I see myself has intrinsically changed for the better. It’s not something that’s going to make me sad. However, I will admit that if I had been presenting female and been “sirred” then it certainly would have messed with me in a bad way, so I think it important to set the distinction down.
Finally, the way in which I interact with others continues to change, and the way other’s who know me, especially women, confirms this. I now care more, think of others more, and continue to relate to other women better than before. This is not to say women have the market cornered on caring or being empathetic, but it’s the way I go about it, and I know I’m doing a poor job of describing it, but it’s just something I know has changed about myself. I see it in my interactions with my wife and kids as well. Much of this could also have to do with just being happy with who I am now. There is no discounting that not all mental changes are due to HRT directly…some are simply down to feeling good about my future.
(Warning…) Sexual Changes
Changes here are minor this month, and so there isn’t much to say. For one, I didn’t have much of a desire to experiment or test things, and so I simply didn’t. I typically don’t think about sex unless I’m going to fantasize, and while I will admit the nature of my fantasies has changed, both when I’m awake or when dreaming (I’m never a man or have male anatomy anymore). As for physical, I might be seeing slight shrinkage of my testicles, but not entirely sure at this point. I’m also continuing to see a decreased volume of what comes out, and the consistency is becoming more watery in nature.
Overall, I am happy with the changes I’m seeing as I continue moving forward. I see my doctor on the 20th, and I hope to increase both my spiro and my estrodiol. Still waiting to see a couple big ticket things start to change, but it give me something to look forward to, and so I will continue to eye my future with positivity.
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.