hrt, mtf, transgender, Uncategorized

Amy does a Gender: 7 Months HRT

ladscapeamy

After a while it’s barely worth thinking about anymore.  However, the thoughts will still persist.  Once trans hits, that’s it – you can forget at times, but it’s still going to bite, even if you ‘pass 100%’ Better to seek peace.

I barely even know what to say at this point that could be helpful for someone beginning their own adventure.  I don’t think that’s particularly uncommon, after a while it’s just regular living again.  I made a video documenting as best I can of the effects that I’ve noticed:

I keep saying to myself ‘I haven’t changed,’ but then I look at a video of myself from a year ago and wonder who that person is.  More has changed about who I am in the past year than has ever changed in my life.  Part of it is HRT, part of it becoming more comfortable in transition, part of it is the massive acceleration of personal growth.  At this point, I feel ready to leave almost all of my past behind except the lessons I’ve learned and the people I love.

I turned 30 recently, and I can tell you for sure that HRT still does plenty, it’s not too late; it’s never too late.  With this I have discovered a wonderful benefit to being trans ‘later in life.’ I read these articles about how it’s harder to make friends after turning 30, but being a modern day transgender person you’re just a few clicks away from encountering another trans person.  That’s not to say friendship is guaranteed; I’ve been treated badly by plenty of transfolk at this point, but the opportunity is there.

Being trans is neither a good nor a bad thing; it’s just something that happens, leaving the individual with choices about how to deal with that information.  All one can do is try their best, and at one point be able to say, ‘This is good enough [for me].’

A question I’ve been asking of myself a lot recently is ‘What is my gender?’ I light-heartedly labelled myself as polygender months ago and it has stuck.  For what limited experiential knowledge anyone has of internal gender, I feel it swishing about like a spirit level in a washing machine, I can’t pin it down.  I suppose this makes me genderfluid, I suppose this makes me non-binary, and I’m more terrified of that than I ever was of coming out as transgender to begin with.  The more ‘feminine’ I come to look, the more ‘masculine’ I feel to act.

It’s so easy for me.  I feel as though I’m transitioning in a way that will hopefully be the norm in the future; that is, transition, move on, without all the real world damage so many trans people endure.  I have had the wonderful pleasure of making friends with the amazing Naomhan (tirnanogender.wordpress.com), who is non-binary (them/theirs) recently.  That future only comes when non-binary folk can do the same as I’m doing, no matter how difficult that seems.  If you are binary trans or cis, go meet an ‘enby,’ ask them about their lives and pronouns, and come to understand the unique difficulties they face in our binary world.  Then try to feel humble and gracious, expressing gratitude.

That all being said, I know I’m incredibly privileged.  I have a body, a face and a voice now that could carry me through as cis-normative if I were so inclined to put in that effort.  I still haven’t gotten any hassle on the streets, haven’t been held back medically overmuch, and haven’t been denied public services.  I still avoid a lot of places though – clothes shops, cosmetics stores, swimming pools, gyms, public toilets (whenever possible) – and these are issues that become less urgent as I compromise, and focus on more important life matters.

Passing?  Still I refuse to try to pass, although when it does happen I can’t deny I like it.  It happens in the strangest situations.  I can be all done up, looking great, get misgendered and have my day ruined, and then a few days later, still sad and wearing ‘male’ garb, no makeup and pass grandly.  It’s very strange, although as I was warned, as time goes by misgendering hurts more and more, because it can make me feel like I’ve achieved nothing, because I’ve still put in a lot of energy into this.

I understand the contradiction in this and the unrealistic expectations I set for society.  Gender is a scam once you figure it out, but the demands of dysphoria are very real.  It is a serious balancing act to find personal inner freedom whilst trying to stop society from bringing it down.

Images of water appear once more.  Rather than repress what simply is, one can follow a path of less resistance; water flows where it wills, and where it wills is where it wants to, unknowingly.

“Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.

Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”
Bruce Lee

 

What is in a pretty face?  Where will it get you?  It will get you noticed, it will get you objectified.  It will get people telling you ‘oh, but you’re so pretty’, while you gasp in exasperation at the change in attitude, at the little bodily flaws…or the big flaws between the legs.  Thankfully with HRT these flaws are not only physically less, but they feel less.  Sure, dysphoria flares up from time to time, but after a while it becomes exhausting and all that matters is finding ways to get through the days, to make them valuable.

And aren’t I so pretty:

Remember, looking good is not the same as passing.  Just make sure to rock what you do!  And if you’re feeling insecure, I don’t actually look like that:

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Finally I feel like I did about five years ago, when I was single and filled with self-love; my best self living as a seemingly cisgender male.  Actually, I feel better than that….in fact, I feel better than I ever have in my life.  That doesn’t mean I’m happy, it means I can finally see forward.  I see the life I can have without constrictions, and what’s more, I want it.  Transition ends at some point, one dream fulfilled so what about those other dreams?  Don’t lose them.

I get so much inspiration from other transfolk who fulfil their ambitions.  I know scientists, teachers, activists, parents, engineers, videographers, musicians, games developers; people who remind me on a daily basis that being trans does not discount you from living a life of joy, perhaps even in excess of cisfolks.

At the moment, I have little in the way of practical success, but I am hopeful and ready to work.  At some point, this transition business will have to take a backseat, and it’s coming sooner than I imagined.  In the next few weeks I will have my second opinion to be referred for lower surgery.

My timeline has been working on the assumption that I would be waiting at least two years from referral, pending said second opinion, however the information I’ve been getting from Northern Ireland is that it’s closer to 7-8 months.  This depends on how much laser hair removal I might need downstairs but the possibility is that I could be looking at surgery in the first half of 2017.

Scary?  Not yet.  Until I get that confirmation date, until I’m on that table it’s not happening.  I’ve always been scared of any kind of surgery, yet with this I’m Zen.  Of course I’m scared of some things – of being put to sleep, of perhaps never waking up, of talking nonsense as I come round from anaesthetic, of the bleeding, of the back pain, of the defecating in a kidney dish, of getting dilated by a nurse, of dilating myself, of having to always dilate, of granulation, of loss of sensitivity, of lack of depth, of disgust of appearance, of long recovery, of complete failure, of urinary tract infections, and lots more.  However, as a decision?  I was told by myself I should have a vagina when I was 6 years old.  The moment I figured out I was trans I knew surgery would be what I needed.  When that date does come, things will change.

Through all of this, I don’t actually feel like I’ve even begun transitioning in earnest yet.  I’m accepting that I will still assume to feel the same way as I do now emotionally, but in terms of presentation I haven’t bought clothes in months, still with only enough to get by.  I haven’t learned any of the tricks about hair and make-up and whatever else, because to be honest I have other stuff going on.  One day I may get to all that stuff…but it won’t be me transitioning, it will just be me learning as a woman.

I’m still on the same dose I started at, so perhaps some of the issues may change or disappear as I work up to a functioning dosage.  So much as I feel more at peace, this is still a period of flux.  It has been over 8 months since my first and only endocrinologist appointment and it is immensely frustrating having to wait over 6 months to have a secondary blood test taken.  The monthly T-blocker injections I can feel running out over a week before I get topped up (also administration hurts more each time), and I just feel that I’ve gone as far as I can on 2mg, I’m ready for more.

I’m not trying to rush transition, but constant progress is important in getting this over and done with no later than it needs to.  But then, I am patient because I know people who are waiting over 2 years for an initial GIC appointment.  I know people who can’t even get an initial appointment.  I know people who can’t even come out because of the heartbreak it might cause.  So I try to practice being grateful for being able to even come out.

In my recent experience, it’s all a confidence game.  When you open the door to doubt it will quickly slither through.  In learning to be more confident in accepting my voice for example, I am more comfortable in public and I get a more positive response, even though my voice hasn’t actually changed (except maybe as a result of the confidence!).

I really don’t know what I’m going to discuss regarding the trans experience anymore.  It has been so totally normalized for me by sheer good fortune that I don’t feel I have anything to contribute, but I still want to try to help.  There’s still a long way to go though, with no doubt a few big setbacks and victories still to come.

So far, this is a story that has love, friendship, acceptance, inner understanding, revelation, growth, change.  It has also had depression, heartbreak, loss and anxiety I will remind you, but it is a beautiful thing to truly find yourself and show it to the world.

Namaste,

Amy Xx

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gender, mtf, transgender

Not Born, Not Bred, But…

Disclaimer – Talk of bodily sexual functions

Throughout all of human history there has only been one effective way of dealing with fear – Face it.  When one moves past trepidation into the concentrated focus of action, fear has less room to spread its’ gnarled branches.

That’s what I’ve been doing, I wrote down a list of the fears that wish to feast eternally upon my soul and one by one I tear them apart like the paper tigers they are.

It has been a very stressful, hectic few months, trying to get ready for a holiday and moving house in the same week, yet here I am now in my new digs, freshly sunned by the Iberian summer, letting myself bask in new successes.  One thing transitioning doesn’t lack is a plethora of opportunities to discover yourself, to challenge yourself, to be yourself.


Fertility Preservation

The one factor that was holding me back from medical transition is that I want kids someday, so a trip to the fertility clinic for storage was a must. The first step in preparation was what I affectionately called an ‘ejaculation timetable’, a good sample should be between two and five days old, and given some of the difficulties I have around that it was interesting having to force it in anticipation of the appointment. Too much info I know, but transparency demands it.

Anyways, the day came (no pun!) and I went to the hospital in perspiration, declaring myself as Amy the female, here to give a sperm sample.  The staff were professionally diligent as I was led into a room with a single leather chair, a crusty box full of what I assume was adult material and a tiny vial that I was somehow supposed to get my deposit into.  Tip: avoid the chair and crusty box.  I did what needed to be done and imagined as expected that this was conception, or at least the closest I will ever get.  I got my aim right thank goodness; aiming an ejaculating penis into a tiny cup without spillage is like trying to sneeze with your eyes open.  Like most things, it’s a scarier experience in your head and when it’s done it’s not so bad.

It was deflating.  I had to take the cup of semen marked ‘Amy’ through a hall to the nurse, hiding it under my jacket so no-one could see the transsexual with the sperm, handing it over with the reddest face.  A few hours later I had to call back, everything was normal and 15 ‘straws’ have been saved for the next 55 years for when I have the opportunity to have children.

It’s a double edged sword, this is 15 attempts at IVF, the quality is obviously decreased in freezing, however now it doesn’t matter how long I wait, it will be a 29 year olds sperm not subject to the grief I would put my body through until the opportunity to have a child presents itself.  This is as good as it’s going to get, I have to accept it, hope for the best and move on.  I don’t want to think about how a severe power cut could ruin everything.


Make-up lesson

I’d been encouraged to go to a make-up counter for some professional advice, makeup is expensive and it becomes worthless if you have the wrong gear (give it to someone who could use it!), so it makes sense to get it as right as possible.  I went a step further and booked an appointment at a pro makeup store for an hour long lesson.  Scary stuff, walking in seeing all these overdone yet still beautiful women in their faces.  I was put in front of the lights and sweat the bit out.  Thankfully my consultant was very nice and guided me along like the beginner I am, teaching me about skincare, skin tones, brushes, techniques, concealers, contouring, highlighting and so on.  I was even brave enough to let her draw eyeliner on my water-line, which just seems unhealthy.

I came out beaming with confidence, even with the still present beard shadow.  She gave me a sheet of instructions for what she did and recommendations for products. Ever since, my makeup game has really improved – CC cream for eyes bags, appropriately toned concealer, smokey eyes.  I feel I actually understand what makeup is about now, I can make adjustments, compromises, repairs, and more so I can sometimes observe others and get an idea of what they’ve done, even how they’ve got it wrong.  Importantly, I now understand the limitations to the extent flaws can be hidden and learned to accept imperfection.

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Moving to the city

I feel so lucky to have escaped my hometown if only for a couple of months.  Gone are the home comforts, but they are replaced by independence, self-worth and the opportunity to grow my life.  I’m living with two other girls and it’s amazing; we blether late into the night in the house, and we go out and enjoy the social life I’ve been missing the past year and a half.  I made sure to bring only newer clothes, to remove the temptation of slipping into boy-mode because it’s ‘easier’.  With such limited outfit choices it surely is an adventure trying to look in any way acceptable for leaving the house, but for some reason I’m not as scared about it as I was…….provided I have something to wear.  Clothes usually necessitate makeup for me, so I’m trying to learn the value of being pre-prepared in case something comes up at short notice, though usually I’m too lackadaisical.

I wear my breast forms as a habit now, regardless of company so there can be no illusions.  Consistency is the key, not only for public perception but for my long term emotional well-being.  I can’t describe why some plastic pink moulds make such a difference for me, but I try not to argue with dysphoria.  It could be called a cop-out, but when dysphoria cannot rationally, logically, or intellectually be refuted it is simpler to allow myself to be happy in assuaging its demands.  I understand the difference; depression may seem like it wants you to hate yourself, anorexia may tell you that you’re fat, but dysphoria just wants you to be yourself without fear of repercussion.


Work

I did a couple of shifts in the local library to earn some extra money for the holiday and to test the waters of employment.  Work is work, no-one commented on the disparity between my name and my clothes, from my face and my voice.  I was there to work and it was more boring than stressful.

Now begins the real job hunt so that I can afford to stay in the city.  Being trans doesn’t phase me, it’s what I might wear to an interview and to work that scares me, my initial image I feel will make a very important impact, and I am just not on top of my image game (time to book a stylist appointment then).  A couple of months HRT wouldn’t hurt either, but unfortunately that’s not within my timeframe.

I have until the end of August to find a way of making enough money to pay the bills.  I can’t move back to my hometown, I just can’t.


Hormones

My endocrinologist appointment is less than a month away.  I still haven’t done adequate research on HRT by my own standard, I will, but it won’t change my mind.  So far as I know I’ll get a bunch more blood sucked out and told to come back in [hopefully] a month to start treatment.  For some reasons they asked me to bring a urine sample with me rather than take one there, which is pretty strange.  Since getting the appointment letter time has slowed to an unbearable pace.  I tried calling up to benefit of a cancellation but it seems the clinic only runs every fortnight, and the session before mine is “already overbooked.”  Any setback now would be more massive a blow than anything so far.

I try to downplay HRT in my mind as much as possible, but there is no point denying the desperation I feel to get started.  I am so firmly entrenched as being in this perceived female ‘role’ that hormones are the one immediate thing that can make a life’s worth of difference.  I try to convince myself that they won’t do anything, trying not to let hopefulness spill over into an unquenchable need that can never be sated.

The more time goes by; with the benefit of laser, a decent skin care routine, and a sweet hairdresser I can look at myself and already start to see it.  Even as my harshest critic I can sometimes look in the mirror and not see a man even without makeup.  I want to count myself lucky, I may not pass for an attractive male or an attractive female, but I will dub myself a ‘hot human.’

I’m going to try to embrace the testosterone while I have it, there is no denying its power, before the muscle sheds away and physical vulnerability becomes a major concern.


Coming out to the rest of the family

I am a very lucky, very grateful, very thankful woman.  My friends have been great, my mum is a superstar, but wow was I scared about telling my grandparents.  They’re rural types, not strictly religious but regular church goers, a retired, sensitive Nan, and a gruff quiet grandfather who spends a lot of time in a big shed fixing machinery for fun.

I had the worries anyone would in this situation, and I was pretty surprised by their support.  I called my gran and though she didn’t ask or say much when I told her, she rang up the next day saying she’d been scouring the internet and asking me questions.  My granda was totally fine with it just saying to make sure I was certain before I started getting any surgeries.  Of course, they haven’ seen me yet, so I’m holding out before I can call it a big win.

Also my aunt and her fiancée know and made the switch to female pronouns instantly.  We’re a pretty small family, so apart from distant relatives I barely know that’s that.  Good for me, I wish we all could have it as good but we don’t, and I ought use this energy and support to help those who do not have it.


Operation ‘Find the Transgenders’

Part of the reason I moved to the city is to interact with other transfolk.  I’m still not really able to avail of support groups due the isolation of my age (29), but I’ve been able to get in contact with a couple of new people through Facebook and have arranged to go for coffee with the organiser of a new 25+ AFAB group to get some insight on how I might start up a group for 25+ AMAB people.  I must find the transgenders, otherwise how will I be queen?

It doesn’t matter how you find you support, but what does matter is that you reach out to seek it.  I think I’d be screwed without the internet to help guide me, but I really need to meet some real life trans people.  I went with a bunch of girls on a crazy night out to the gay bar last week and I didn’t see any other obviously possibly trans people.  Either they are all awesomely blended in or they weren’t there.  Of course, how are you supposed to know what a trans person looks like, how we seem to gender each other is often based on an automatic assumption.

People look at me, some see trans, some see man, some see woman, this is evidenced in my interactions.  Restaurants seem to be good places to get passes, I assume at the courtesy of waiting staff.  Other trans girls have intimated similarly, so maybe that’s a good place for new transfolks to get a boost.

On the night of the gay bar I was introduced to an awesome girl who took me shopping the next day and managed to get me the whole way round a clothes shop without running away, which is very impressive.  She gives me butterflies, a feeling I’ve rarely experienced.  It inspired a dream where I finally stopped treading the same path the blue haired girl showed me, allowing me now to find a new way.  To feel in myself that I could have romantic inclinations again is a real boon, and as much as I feel getting involved with someone right now isn’t the best idea no matter how much I’d love a cuddle, I’m very happy to have hopefully made a new friend!  Hopefully I can contain my emotions and not do anything stupid, a date with me is like finding a dead jellyfish on the beach, it may seem dead but it can still sting you and mess up your day.


Holiday to Barcelona

So, I drove myself mad getting ready for this holiday, I had to get it right.  All I had was cabin baggage so I needed to fit everything into one backpack for 5 nights, and fit all my cosmetic stuff into one of those airport security bomb material bags.  It had been so long since I’ve been on any kind of holiday, let alone to actual summer sun, let alone going as a female!

I don’t know how I did it, but I aced it and brought everything I needed.  Against all odds, the entire holiday went off without a hitch.  It was amazing.

I’m going to write about it in a separate post since this one is getting a bit bedraggled, and once I can upload the photos I’ll do a nice holiday story time post.


Voice

Eugh.  I sound bad.  I’ve plateaued with what I’ve learned, the glimpses are rare.  I took a week off practice for going on holiday and it’s put me back a lot.  My voice therapist says it will be around Christmas before I have anything I would consider worthwhile.  Through watching lessons online I’ve developed an American inflection rather than that of my natural dialect.

A possible upside I think I’m noticing is that the rate of a passing voice is partially proportional to aesthetic appearance.  That is, the more obviously femme I am in passing situations, the more I can get away with vocally.  I can’t say that for sure, but it’s certainly conceivable .


Future

I’ve gone from living at 100mph to sauntering now at a casual run.  The unending lists have somehow been mostly completed in a frantic, determined daze.  The word is:  Persevere.  People, I never believed I could get this far, I’m not particularly motivated, industrious, feminine, confident and so on, but I’ve still been able to make these big steps, and it hasn’t even been a year since the reality of my identity clicked.  I’ve had no choice, except to live in an eternal gender purgatory.  To think I could get this far without much understanding or self-belief shows me how far I can go to get where I need to be.  It motivates me to believe that anyone reading this in a similar situation can get where they need to be.

Let’s keep moving forward together, keep each others backs, leave no-one behind.

Amy Xx

P.S. I forgot to mention I made an email for this blog unexpectedamy@outlook.com, so if anyone has any questions or something they want me to talk about or help with please totally feel free to get in touch, I’d be happy to try to help!

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