hrt, identity, transgender

Wait, I was transitioning? (15+ months HRT)

The Prostap Nightmare

I spent the first 14 months of HRT living a nightmare.  The T-blocker I was on (leuprorelin acetate sold as Prostap SR) crushed and suppressed my already failing mental health.  I have read stories of people who take it for endometriosis and other ailments who have had their lives destroyed on it as I have.  Some people react fine to it, all things considered as a t-blocker it has less side-effects than the others.

Now I am on Spironolactone, a 100mg tablet, twice a day.  All of a sudden the dark clouds have been lifting around me and I begin to reassert a sense of personal identity.  Some people conversely react as badly to Spiro as I did to leuprorelin, so I am saying to you now, if you have a blocker and your mental health is failing for no discernable reason, please look into it.  Furthermore, I already pee quite a lot, and Spiro exacerbates this to the extent that I can barely make a 90 minute car journey without having to stop at least once to pee.  In my case it seems I’m actually allergic to Spiro as evidenced by the rashes and hives I’ve been getting since starting.  Anti-histamines help but I’m asking a lot from my body to process all these drugs.

Changing a male bodied physiology in terms of removing testosterone is asking a lot of the mind.  On top of the depression, my libido was castrate – let me clarify, it wasn’t a low sex drive, it was a complete removal of a sex drive.  If you know unfettered male bodies then you’ll know that quite regularly it will make sexual demands and get frequent erections in anticipation of the natural release. This is much less likely to happen on HRT, as such one’s neurology has to play catch up to the new information it is being fed against the template it was set at birth.

On Spironolactone, my sex drive is coming back, very slowly.  It’s different now, visualization is an insufficient fantasy – there has to be a story, there has to be a connection.  When it comes to sexual activity I can no longer just get ‘up’ and go.  This works fine for me because as a demisexual I am only attracted to people I have a close connection with.  This experience is not universal, some trans women experience a significant increase in sex drive as they are now free to experience sex more honestly.  Pleasantly my infrequent erections have ceased to become as painful as they were a few months ago, though not necessarily from any change in my behaviour that way.

Surgery as a stick where the carrot should be

The grossest impediment to gaining a healthy sexual functioning (aside recovering from personal experiences of abuse and betrayal) is the configuration of my genitals.  Not long ago I had my pre-op consultation with Mr. Thomas from Nuffield Hospital in Brighton.  This process involves filling in a lot of forms, and speaking with a nurse who will be offering first hand care, who provided information sheets about the many things that must be done for GRS to be a success.  She showed us the dilators which aren’t as big as I feared, although try telling me that after the operation.

Next, a meeting with the surgeon himself.  He makes a brief explanation of what will happen in surgery and the likelihood of complications.  He offered an 80% of things being fine, 15% acceptable, and 5% of something going wrong.  For 100% of people, things can and will go wrong randomly, especially if you don’t follow procedure to the letter.  He asked me to lie on a bed, take my trousers and pants down, put a sheet over my genitals and left the room to allow me to do that.  He came back in, removed the sheet and handled my genitals so he could know what he was working with.  We continued our conversation as he was touching me, so be prepared for that.

Then came the hammer blow.  Because I am circumcised there is less material to work with in creating a vagina, therefore I need laser hair removal on my scrotum to give him more material.  Those who are uncircumcised may not need any hair removal at all.  As a consequence these women already have dates for surgery less than 6 months later and I am back in limbo after thinking I was so close to getting this whole process over and done with.

As much as anything it’s my own fault, I should have known, I should have been privately getting hair removal for the past two years and this wouldn’t have been an issue.  See, the GIC won’t sign off on funding for hair removal until the surgeon makes his assessment, and when the surgeon makes his assessment he is ready to operate as soon as his conditions are met.  Since, I have liaised with private laser therapists and electrolysists.  The woman who lasered my face at a private clinic as I was waiting for NHS facial hair removal was happy enough to zap my scrotum, however she needed to know what the surgeon wanted. ‘Three fingers from the base of the scrotum’ Mr Thomas said, although he has pretty thick fingers so I’m saying four.

Now I’m on the NHS pathway and counting down the weeks. 6 weeks until consultation, followed by 6 sessions of laser spaced around 6 weeks apart. 42 weeks. Then, most likely a further 12 weeks with an electrolycist to clear up the remaining hairs. 54 weeks.  Another YEAR of waiting.  If you want to be sure you are smooth down there, electrolysis alone will take two years.  Some time can be saved however.  Mr Thomas said to get in touch with his secretary for setting a date when hair removal was ‘nearing completion’ and I know some people try to set the date so that surgery comes just a couple of weeks after the last hair removal appointment and the area has had time to heal.

I really have always hated my balls, they’re disgusting things, and to feel held hostage by them, to feel my destiny is in limbo because of hair on them is extremely frustrating. More people have seen my genitals in the past few months than lovers do over years, although it’s only uncomfortable if you make it uncomfortable.  Getting my balls lasered was nowhere near as painful as getting my face done, in a sick way it felt a bit nice, and for a change I could have a conversation with the consultant without screaming due to the big laser in my face.

This is the biggest miscalculation I have made in my transition so far, so if you are circumcised and want GRS then you may want to consider starting genital hair removal no sooner than 2 years before surgery is anticipated.  Be wary though, some women have had GRS and been left with patchy hair patterns because they removed too much hair.

As a result of all this I’ve had to be a little more forward with the GIC, because it’s not just the waiting, t-blockers are poison.  I let them know of my anger in putting trans folk though so much unnecessary medical treatment.  The general health of a trans woman is considered to be better post GRS due to not having to take extra daily medication (I actually think that a large part of the elation after GRS is the rejuvenation of health from not having to take blockers).

I told my GIC therapist that ‘a friend’ who attended the clinic had been feeling depressed and was scared to bring it up in case they were denied service.  She reassured me and I was able to then admit that it was me who had the problems.  For any stories I’ve heard of her stopping medication she informed me that this mostly happens when a patient is clearly in a place of extreme distress.  In explaining my situation calmly she had no reason to deny me.  The next appointment I admitted to her that it’s possible I have Borderline Personality Disorder and she has offered to help me with it, because it is separate from my experience of being trans.

The medical stuff is hard.  It’s important to put the fears of ‘transition takes years’ into perspective.  Yes, this all takes a long time, slowly chipping away at the physical characteristics and growing into a new way of being.  Throughout all that is a comfortable window in which to come to terms with your situation and take care of whatever legal issues you have as well as figuring out how you feel you want to socially transition and then doing it, in earnest.

Oh yeah, wasn’t I supposed to be transitioning?

So, what does that social change look like after over two years out and 15 months on HRT?  It’s not what you likely expect, it’s much much less than that, depending on perspective.

You are already you.  First you let go of what you’re not, then do you on a radical scale.  That may or may not look like very much internally or externally, but for an adult trans person there is a body of work that will take years even if it just simmers.  Understood and cherished concepts may go completely out the window as you come to learn about the experiences of life as another gender in a world where men and women are kept separate in the extreme.  For non-binary and some intersex people comes yet another layer of awareness to the complexity of our gendered constraints.

Personally, I still don’t get the whole thing.  I’ve been in too vulnerable a state the past year that I haven’t actively done anything to ‘transition.’  The good news is that regardless of HRT, transition happens automatically as you gain lived experience; every day brings a new experience, lesson or challenge of belief that locks you further into your identity, if you so choose.

When I buy clothes, I’m not transitioning anymore. When I put on make up I’m not transitioning anymore.  Transition may last forever but there is nothing I’m actively doing aside allowing the concrete to set on my identity.  Honestly, I just don’t care that much about presentation, I mostly wear jeans and a t-shirt – I can’t afford lots of female fit clothes and I still have plenty of good male clothes.  Obviously I look more masculine wearing the male clothes but it doesn’t seem to be an issue because people are looking at my face and hearing my voice.

When I speak I am very much still transitioning.  By all accounts my voice seems to be ‘good enough’ – I’m trying to be objective here…I can deduct that it’s not a male voice even though I kept my masculine parlance; it’s not really a gender neutral voice, because people’s brains assume gender automatically and the brain is seemingly only wired to say ‘male’ or ‘female.’  I work passively with my voice – through simple awareness of speaking – as an option because I spent 8 long months of intensive daily practice working on it and there is still a lot of fine tuning to do.  The fun thing is, as soon as someone has that automatic assumption of your correct gender, it can take quite surprising amount of obvious male gestures to get them to question it.

I am constantly carrying out overt and covert social experiments to understand the boundaries of layman gender understanding.  Maybe it’s a dangerous game but I seem to get away with it.  I am often quite cocky in public (I’m a total poser), even alone, I walk often with a masculine gait, and I think that confidence deters people who are determined to involve themselves in my day.  That and wearing pretty scruffy clothes that leave little room for extreme gendering.

I can do this because I know how lucky I am.  HRT has done wonders to feminize my face, and since it is many people’s first identifier I have an advantage for an easier life until society catches up with the notion that a woman, or a trans woman, shouldn’t be judged for her looks (see Mia Violet’s article Transgender Liberation Means an End to “Passing”).  Also 15 sessions of laser hair removal over the last 2+ years has made a massive difference.  If so inclined I could count problem hairs on my face and they would number less than 100, which is more than enough to make my face smooth.  When I finish laser some hair may eventually start to grow back, then it’s either top-up laser or electrolysis.  I can go a couple of weeks without shaving, even then it’s only because of those few little hairs annoying me.

To illustrate these changes I took a photo of my face every day for my first year of HRT. For your awareness I already had 7 laser treatments when the first photo was taken.  Here are the results:

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Attractiveness isn’t exciting

Around 14 months HRT I had to make the conclusion that in general I look like a woman, and it’s a pretty good feeling, though it is relative.  It doesn’t do anything to improve my life however, in fact I find it quite annoying at times.  My looks have become a focal point of praise for who I am, and I just don’t think my looks are an interesting topic except as a study into human behaviour.

I ‘pass’ most of the time now, in fact I haven’t been misgendered in quite a while, somehow.  The infrequent odd looks I would get from people don’t happen at all really, although people stare at me for acting weird the same way they did whilst living as male.  What I have noticed though, is that the rare times I do go out wearing a dress or a little bit of make up it’s almost exclusively men, not looking, but staring at me…if I was more confident I’d say they were checking me out.  On the one hand I can strongly assume I’m passing at that time but on the other I have all these guy boring their eyes into me.  I can totally see why some women get annoyed at the sense that these men are not just objectifying, but almost trying to impose ownership on women’s bodies.

Aside from a blatant sexual assault over the summer (a story for another time) I have guys coming up to me in bars and other public spaces.  I forget that I’m not being seen as a guy; they aren’t coming up for a chat or a fight, they’re coming for a woman, and if they can get away with it, to impose on my personal space.  It’s jarring to have to live this experience I’ve seen from the outside with apoplectic anger since I was a teenager.  Women aren’t oppressed? Try being one.  I’m still waiting for the first decent man to come and talk to me, aside friends of friends.  I was imposed certain principles of what a man is growing up – it was somewhat misogynistic but with honourable intent, as in respect for all people, especially women, to protect women, and to not touch them without consent.  Even in general, you don’t get into someone’s personal space ever without their permission.  Just another perspective on the puzzle that is people.

Body changes happen also in the mind

On a more pleasant note, I have been noticing the changes on my body more and more.  Now it’s my body I look at in the mornings rather than my face.  My breasts, though still not ‘dropped’ are much bigger than I ever expected they would be and I actually feel a weight behind them.  They look very small but they feel much bigger, and personally I’m satisfied, all I have to do is wear a bra and there’s no dispute that’s they’re probably breasts.  I’m almost pushing a C cup, surprising since both sides of my family have pretty small boobs.

They don’t look great but they work for me, the same as when I do look at the changes in my body I do it with the affirming knowledge that I have a woman’s body, on a male frame.  That’s what being trans IS.  You must, at some point, come to a place of acceptance of your born state.  Even though I envision myself as looking indistinguishable from a (certain kind of, cis-) woman naked, I still allow myself the peace of what I am, what I have strived for, rather than what I can’t change.  My hands will always be suspiciously large, my shoulders will always seem a little broader, my feet may seem larger than is expected of a woman in the cis world.  Again, we’re talking centimetres here, that is the difference between male and female bodies, not whole worlds.  In reality this isn’t something I think about often, I’m just trying to explain what can happen; I’ll give my breasts a little squeeze at the end of the day and glow in the light of my determination.  Regardless of how much you may know you need to go through all this, it takes a special human grit, and we all have it in us regardless of circumstance, remember that!

I am in the market for a slimmer waist, a fairly unreasonable goal.  As much as it hasn’t gotten slimmer at all, my hips continue to grow, further creating the illusion of a narrower waist.  That said, some mornings when I look at my body before eating I become shocked by the extent of apparent changes.  With the presence of my breasts it creates a figure that I would find attractive in a woman, so I concluded as humbly as possible that therefore I can be attractive.  Sometimes I still don’t like my body, especially with, you know, a penis in the mix, but that’s totally normal.  It means I’m at the point where my sense of body image is dependent on my self-confidence, not the sense of my own inevitable masculinity.  I could compress my waist with a year or more of corseting, but corsets are deeply uncomfortable and remind me too jaggedly of the aspects of transition I don’t really need to achieve that badly through struggle.

With so long to wait still until surgery I’m trying to put it out of my mind for now.  Soon will come a time where I must get stronger, healthier, fitter and happier to maximize my chances during recovery; quit smoking, come to terms, prepare etc, but that isn’t now.  All I can really do now is keep working on my voice and keep learning, every day.

Misery doesn’t have to stop transition

Finally, I know I don’t post much, I have a lot of topics aside these general updates that I really want to write about, but to be honest, I’ve been in a very bad emotional state for a long time.  A large part of it was down to the t-blocker I was on.  I thought it was just how HRT worked, that I could tough it out, and I have no idea how I coped with it for so long.  However the root cause is personal experience, a really horrible dragged out ending to a relationship with my first love over two years ago, and foreknowledge about losing the best job I ever had, coalescing to become the catalyst for me to realise I am a transsexual all happening within a few weeks.

Transition ironically became moot to me, it was something I had to do that I have invested the minimum amount that dysphoria directs me to do – by that I mean I have been assertive in organising transition related appointments for as soon as possible and going to every single appointment no matter how inconvenient, whilst letting every other aspect of my life fall apart – but I’ve been dying inside throughout the whole process with a broken heart and broken dreams.  My mental health is improving, but I still don’t have any reason in my life, and while that is the case transition just hasn’t been a priority.  I’ve still done all I could to speed up the process because I just want to clear the path to deal with these more pertinent issues.  Being trans isn’t everything, it’s one thing.

Transition has never been the top priority in my life, and I’ve done it with a constant intense feeling of hopelessness for the fate of my life that severely depressed people go through.  I’m trying to be kinder to myself, and I have a better chance on the new t-blockers, but the life I want to rebuild isn’t as a woman, it’s as a successful person.  What I’m saying is, you can still feel awful through transition, you can be totally broken, and you can still do it as well as you want to.  I haven’t had the motivation or the reason to do anything for over two years now, there’s no joy in it for me, but somehow I just kept allowing my dysphoria to push my journey and it has worked out.

I was lucky enough to have a relationship with a woman this year – it didn’t last because frankly I’m just too messed up (we’re still on good terms), but she showed me that I really can meet someone who treats me right, who respects me, who listens to me.  For all the shock of transitioning, it’s such sweet solace every time something or someone grounds you back to reality in a way you thought was lost, to the point now where I consider myself as secure and unconcerned with my identity as a woman as I was with being a man before I had my realisation.

On top of everything, I have a fantastic network of incredibly supportive cis and trans friends, and my immediate family are amazing.  I’ve spent my life investing in my personal relationships so much as I am able, and the payoff is loving friends who stick by you, regardless of the adversity you face together as transgender person, and public ally.

I’m a very lucky woman.  And if you’re preparing for this journey, or on your way, you can feel this way too.  Just keep going and it will come, in your own way, for you, to share with the people you love, and who love you.

Amy Xx

P.S. If you would like to see some of the physical body results, or are just a pervert, feel free to visit @wrathoftran on Twitter.  Here I post about body and sex issues, so it has a few nude photos of me that I have posted for education and my own satisfaction.  Be warned this feed has a lot of swearing and potentially undesirable content on it. Or visit my main Twitter @unexpectedamy for trans information, experiences and affirmations almost daily.

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hormones, hrt, transgender

Hormones are Momentum

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Surely you’ve seen it?  In the latter quarter of the first year on HRT, the majority of trans women find they have very little to say.  It isn’t a case that changes have stopped, just that the physical and emotional foundations have been set in concrete and it becomes so subtle that it is almost indescribable to explain the sensations without experiencing them yourself.  When you’re doing it, you’re doing it – it’s wonderful to be on the path to an honest life, but the actual process is not that exciting.  I want to optimistic and positive but I also want to try to share the realities of transition away from more acute presentations that I sometimes see in wider trans media.

We simply cannot claim to know very much about our inner workings in general.  Hormones are momentum, it allows transition to be carried by forces other than disabling dysphoria, as in, those initial changes in emotions and mind-mapping at the onset of HRT are quite profound in their nuance; those things that may in general be noticed most broadly as a reduction in aggressiveness, sex drive and a sense of over-emotionality.  These attributes eventually calm down to a regular functioning background level, but the mind is still changing, growing evolving, and it’s all happening sub-consciously.

It’s too much to expect to have one eyeball peering back into the brain to notice all these changes; nobody has the time or awareness to document it all, so it just happens, and you are the change you want to see.


I am three weeks off one year on HRT, and though I remember clearly the days when its’ acquisition was a dream, I barely remember that person.  In a wonderful dichotomy, I recall it clearly because it is me, but I have grown so much in that space in awareness and knowledge that I couldn’t pretend to think with that same mind.  In that, I barely remember who I was 4 months ago so many of the inner workings have changed.

You want to know what trans dreams are?  Utter regularity.  For as remarkably interesting as the experience of transitioning is, it doesn’t hold sanity quite as well as being able to throw on a random dress to go to the shop to buy some milk without having to worry or care about looking out for people who may be looking at you.  When you get over being trans yourself, you can get over it for how anyone else perceives too.serveimage

So, it has been nearly 4 months since an update.  I’ve had my own issues with anxiety both unlinked to transition yet inexorable from hormone medication. In this time I’ve went from being still wary of my perception, to being gendered female the majority of the time, and what’s more is that I understand how people would view me this way regardless of my presentation.  So let’s look at the physical signs:

Hormones: In April I went from 2mg Progynova to 3mg, after finally seeing my endocrinologist for the second time.  Due to my levels still being too low, 2 months later in June I was upped again to 4mg.

Moving up to 3mg was emotionally difficult in the same way coming onto estrogen was initially but less severe.  I found myself pretty depressed and volatile for nearly two weeks but it settled down after that.  Luckily, moving up to 4mg wasn’t a problem, I imagine because my body is getting used to a consistently higher level of estrogen.

Along with this I was prescribed the 12 week injection of Prostap 3DCS which creates a special kind of hell.  I’ve talked to others and had already done enough research to learn Prostap/leuprorelin is absolutely the worst testosterone blocker to be on.  On the 4 week blocker, the last few days were irritating as testosterone trickled back into my system, however I’m only 8 weeks into the 12 week shot and I feel the T seeping back in already, which is normal and very distressing for many.bluespill

Even without that fact, the past two months have seen me feeling more like a eunuch than a woman.  My sex drive is absolutely severed; it’s not low, it simply doesn’t exist.  The influence of a sex drive is a key component in human wellness (even for plenty of asexuals) even if I don’t like to admit it, but without some sort of a drive it’s hard to feel like any kind of person.  This apparently isn’t such an issue on other T-blockers, and like many of my peers I’m seeking an alternative.  For the lack of experiential data on Prostap, I’ve still found that cis men and women on this drug have the exact same problem, and it is not healthy for many active relationships.

Face:  I might say I’m one of the lucky ones, my features initially lent well to the idea of a feminizing face.  A couple of months ago (8 months 17 days into HRT) I saw it finally, a face that I would gender as female; because that matters…as much as my prime goal is to be seen as female in society, I really wanted to see it and believe it for myself, if anything, to deal with the disassociation of being gendered female whilst seeing myself as looking quite male.  That would confuse me, ‘I look like a guy, how don’t people see that?’ Now, I almost consistently see a face way more attractive than dead to rights I am privileged to.  Even from the side in certain angles I look good, and rarely, from below, I could see my jaw and chin just about pull through holistically.

A lot of these benefits come from laser treatments.  I’ve been having laser for over 18 months now, with at least another 6 to go.  I was told at the start it would take this long, and it’s not as grueling as it has to be, if you can start early.  I’ve had 12 sessions in that time with 5 more to go;  I still won’t have a clear face by then, but right now I’d say I only have a couple hundred hairs really coming through at any one time, which considering I had upwards of 30,000 hairs to start with is a massive improvement.  In the last week leading up to laser, many more hairs start to come through, so I know even 2 years of treatment isn’t going to be enough and the next level pain of electrolysis becomes the only long term option.  It’s not 2 years of still having unmanageable facial hair, it consistently gets better and easier to hide, but I personally do recommend making it a priority in transition, on the same level as obtaining HRT, if this is the path you have to go down.

I get called ‘cute’ ‘adorable’ even at times ‘beautiful.’ I’m not boasting – it is a buoying experience, but it can be perturbing without having a certain level of belief and self-love to allow the joy of these compliments.

For years I watched the transition timelines and got that cold dread, I still do.  When I see beautiful trans women I still wish I could look so good, as passably delicious as them…and then I get told they feel the same way, and about me.

 

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A couple of months ago, I would have struggled to find good photos, but now I have an abundance.  I look good right?!  I posit this as a means to your own inspiration, and serve up the treats low expectations can bring.  Sure, it doesn’t always look so good…

It’s a lot better than this…

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Those are ‘Help Me!’ eyes. Sometimes I still have to check out the mirror just to make sure it’s real.  Not as often as I used to, and in some ways I actually feel my face as looking as it does now rather than how it used to, yet behind my more sparkly eyes it is the same person viewing it, and there can be a strange ‘joining dysphoria’ where the mind is still playing catch-up, but it is close to an almost unquestionable reality.

But you know what?  Whoopy-do.  A pretty face doesn’t pay my bills, it doesn’t guarantee me a good honest relationship, and it doesn’t make me not trans; it just gives me a little more wriggle room in playing with public perception.  It’s important not to get caught up in aesthetics; appreciate them, then get humble.

Also, eyebrows.  Going into an eyebrow bar is much less painful than laser and much less humiliatingly worrisome than a GIC therapist asking about your masturbation habits.  It’s a great first step, and when you see how much a wax and shape changes the outlook of your face, you’ll see why eyebrows are a big deal to some people.

Voice: I had my final voice lesson recently, the first of my transition programs to come to an end.  My voice is far from perfect, and still is probably what will get me clocked on most occasions.  I ploughed about 8 months intense daily practice to get to where I am and stopped, and it’s going to take another few months of focused practice to fine tune my voice to sound reasonably passable; since it’s important to me.  However in the meantime, like I’ve said before, confidence and acceptance make a big difference even in the delivery of your voice, as does presentation.  My voice will still sound like the voice I’ve always had in my head to an extent, because it is my voice; even if it were perfectly passable I would still hear myself because we all have a unique vocal identity.  It is simply, my voice, as female.  Embrace that, you’re trying to be yourself, not someone else!

Body: Look, I follow people at the same stage of their journey as me but from all different age groups.  I started HRT at 29 years old and my monthly effects have been corroborated almost identically with a 19 year old, whereas a 24 year old may have very few results, and a 45 year old can have them happen even quicker.  Age is not the prime issue when it comes to HRT results, genetics are.  Also be aware that many people are experts at manipulating their image both in the real world and the digitized one.  Don’t let me or anyone else fool you from the realities of your personal journey.

Changes in my body shape are only now beginning to become more pronounced.  Here’s the thing, male and female human bodies are, in general, remarkably similar.  Humans tend to look like humans.  Sure, primary and secondary traits of gendered biological sexes can seem very blatant, but little has to change to alter innate perceptions of gender.  When you spend time with non-binary and intersex folk you can get a real idea of this, that if ambiguity is possible, then the lines between male and female are mutually blurred within each other.  An inch here, a breast there.

My breasts have been the most notable change, I’d say obviously.  Though they are small and undeveloped, it’s difficult not to notice the two bags of chocolate and cheese fed fatty flesh bumps protruding from me.  I don’t need bra inserts anymore, a simple push up bra can give the idea of some kind of boob if I so choose, barely.  I don’t care about having boobs, but I can’t deny they are fun, and add to a feminine look.  On my mostly male frame they don’t look too good naked, but you take what you can get.

They still hurt to touch and that’s a good thing because it means they are still growing, there’s a long way to go, but it’s already exceeded my low expectations.  I still hate wearing a bra, but now even a long walk without one can be pretty unpleasant.  Like most of transition, it becomes a normal thing and not a particularly exacting subject to spend energy thinking about.

I suppose it shows the major benefit of HRT is that even the most trying dysphoric notions can come and go and be taken for granted after a time, if you let it.

Other changes are the result of wonderful coincidences.  A loss of muscle mass makes the neck, shoulders, and arms seem a little less harsh without any actual reduction in size.  Whilst my waist hasn’t gotten any smaller, the growth of fat around my hips partially creates the illusion of a smaller waist.

The loss of strength is ever more of an issue.  Carrying shopping can become a real problem sometimes and I seem much more prone to foot and leg pain.  I haven’t been exercising as much as I should but still I recognise the difference in capability levels.  Self-defence would be a real concern now because I am simply less able to weigh leverage on a confrontation.

Appetite and weight is also a concern.  Before HRT, I could happily maintain a goal weight of 10st 7lb (147lbs) – 10st 10lbs (150lbs), yet 8 months in I was stuck at 11st 7 lbs (161 lbs) and now, even with making a few changes I’m up to 11st 10lbs (164 lbs) which is unthinkable for me.  Of course this goes into creating new fat masses at a speed quicker than the heavier muscle can atrophy, and it may not show that much, but it bothers me greatly.

 

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Hair continues to grow slightly less coarse and slightly slower but it still comes in annoyingly fast, and it will continue to do so because humans tend to grow a lot of hair.  It is still prominent in my nose, nipples and pubic area but this further highlights the similarity of sexes, especially if you’ve ever seen a cis woman try to remove nose hair with a set of kitchen tongs.

My skin is noticeably brighter than it was six months ago, but again, it’s not something that can be kept track of and as time goes by it’s easy to forget what it felt like the same way I can’t totally remember what my old bed felt like, and it becomes just as relevant.

Aside that, you’re going to have a body that somewhat reminds you of the body you had pre-HRT.  It’s your body, it will always be your body, and that’s a good thing; look at what it can do, look at how effortlessly a human body can at times accept cross-sex hormone therapy.  It is affirmation at its finest.

Mind: As far as emotions go, the drastic ups and downs are settled for the most part as HRT normalises in my system.  I cry as often as I ever did…maybe less in fact, although I am rarely prone to aggressive anger.  Violence still exists in my mind, although it is much less likely to manifest than ever.

My sex drive as I said is minus zero.  Erections are incredibly rare, though still annoyingly robust, and have actually become quite painful.  Trying to force one upon myself fortnightly has now become a struggle to do even monthly.  The pain is just another deterrent in an otherwise defunct sex life.  This however isn’t an exclusive effect.  Many trans women on HRT have regular or high sex drives, and an ability to temper it at will and have a great time, but circumstances personally leave me bereft.

Sex may become more a part of my life at some stage, but I think it’s important to spell out what sex means as a trans woman on hormones seeking surgery.  We should know by now that even genital surgery is not sexually motivated, however, sex can be desirable regardless of genitalia, and with the changes brought about by something like surgery, it’s more of a learning experience to use what you have now being borne out of lack of choice, rather than an explosive coming together of all the hopes of immediate normality in pre-transition thought.  For me, it’s still more a case of ‘Oh gosh, what am I going to do?’ than ‘Ok, let’s do this!’ Although……… a story for another time.

IMG_5724Otherwise…pff.  The dense arrays of neurons and goo in my mind have changed me enough to not know how much I’ve changed, and in that I can only know myself for who I am now.  I am free from the repression of a false life, free from the hindering yoke of dysphoria, how could I say which changes are hormonally induced and which are a product of self-acceptance and exploration.  Either way, I’m seen as a brighter person, the lows are still low, but the highs are higher; content people tend to break out more often in genuine smiles.  I walk about the streets with the same casual arrogance I did whilst living as male, and I love it.  Revel in your strength, if you can do this, you can do anything.

I’m still having a difficult time in my life but in terms of transition, well, that’s the one thing that’s working out pretty well.  Time and experience makes one adept.  Putting in the time early in my transition has allowed me to get by without very much effort or stress at this point when I have bigger fish to fry than dragging my transition on any longer than it needs to.

I still rarely wear make up, but I’ve done it enough times, picked up enough tips, and been helped by enough people that if I want to put it on I can do it just as well as the millions of Western women who aren’t very good at makeup but still make it work.  At times I even experiment.  I’ve been with enough cis girls who’ve shopped for makeup their entire adult lives to see that they often don’t know what they’re looking for either, and so you learn blagging tricks for getting round a store without feeling like you’re standing out.  And then it too, becomes normal.

Same with shopping for clothes.  I observed for a long time before I was brave enough to get in on the fun.  I still get anxious, especially by myself, but it’s not a big deal.  Flick through the hangers of things that look like clothes and pretend you are looking for your size and then just go ‘naaaah.’

At one time, you’ll hopefully see something, something you just want, and you’ll go find out that it’s in your size.  If you’re super brave you’ll ask your friend to keep watch while you go into the changing room and then come in to see how you look.  It looks great on you; you’re scared, but you gotta buy it; not give it to your friend to buy, but to go up yourself and pay for it.

It’s a great feeling, and before long confidence and knowledge builds, and if something doesn’t work out?  Postal returns.  I don’t know how, but now I can put an outfit together that makes sense for my style.  Honesty from friends and family is essential, because as much as you can hopefully tell what just doesn’t work in the mirror, a good friend will tell you not to wear that mess of misplaced fabric outside, and help you make adjustments.  Match colours, cover unwanted lumps and bumps, accentuate desired lumps and bumps, appropriate accessories.  It’s less scary than it looks.IMG_6317

As a wardrobe grows, opportunities to mix and match become exciting, and unique new looks can be created to express yourself the way you want to rather than the way you feel you should.  Go easy on yourself, it’s taken me nearly two years to show that I can pull off jeans with a dress.

If you’ve been following my story you may see that there is a lot more confidence now in being able to do all the transition-y stuff.  Looking from the inside out at the wall of seemingly impenetrable transition guides and information that greets trans women making the leap…it doesn’t have to be as scary as it sounds.  The real changes honestly come from inside, and it’s from those that it’s easier to deal with the practical issues.

With so many potential dreams, hopes and obstacles in a ‘male to female’ transition, try not to see it as so many unattainable goals; learn to pick smaller battles, celebrate in little victories, start building a picture of experience, compromise, discover yourself, and over time it will come together.  A long time.  All the small cogs in transition eventually start adding up and connecting with each other to build a better idea of the picture you are trying to create.  Don’t let the word ‘years’ scare you, this is time to grow more quickly than at maybe any other point in your life; there are so many little and momentous successes to be had that they can outshine many of the difficulties you may have to endure, for a long time.


In a lot of ways, HRT sucks.  Sometimes a big shot of testosterone feels like exactly what I need when emotions become strongly overbearing, but I’m at a place now where this is just how it is.  For all my appreciation on surviving thus far, larger battles await.

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Ready to battle dysphoria demons!

I’ve had my second opinion for lower surgery and now I’m waiting for a pre-op assessment.  If things go well I could be lying on that operating table within six months.  There is no doubt in my mind that this is what I’m going to do, but it’s still terrifying.  As reality creeps in and I picture myself getting ready to go under, and then dealing with the extensive and probably very painful recovery recovery period, a little bit of panic sets, because all things going well this will happen.  The worries are the same any trans women going towards this procedure experiences; there is only hope that it will be satisfactory, whilst preparing myself for the notion that it will go badly.  Again I temper my expectations – it doesn’t have to look right, it doesn’t have to work right, it doesn’t have to feel right, it just has to be there in place of what I currently have.  Being able to have this operation at all is the bonus, any positive effect is a privilege.

Then comes to the big question of what next?  To what extent does being transgender effect you for the rest of your life?  The transition period comes and goes regardless of how long it takes.  For my experience, this is a very quick transition and therefore may feel quite disorientating for a while once it’s done.  My optimum is not to normalise being trans, it’s to negate it.  My gender(s) shouldn’t have to be normalized, only hopefully accepted and embraced as an everyday occurrence.  There are still a few things I have to do to be totally free; to not be scared of swimming pools, gyms, and still to an extent clothes and makeup stores.  Maybe wearing a bathing suit…..maybe.  I don’t like them but it could be an affirming experience one day.  Then back to shorts.

Toilets aren’t a problem – With good observational skills you can make trips to the toilet less stressful.  I don’t do it so much now, but if it were possible I would keep a glance of the toilet when I needed to go and went when it seemed there would be less people there.  I would take advantage of single stalls, disabled and gender neutral toilets whenever possible.  However, for the most part I’ll still easily go to the bathroom in a busy bus station because I gotta pee and it is always going to much less troublesome for everyone and for me to use the women’s toilets.  And if I’m drunk, outdoors and really need to pee, I’ll still do what I need to do in a hidden space, giving that I can with the equipment I’ve got.  That’s the big drawback to not having a penis for me, not being able to pee at will.  Ahem.  Not endorsing.

As I have tried my best to manifest this experience I’ve been feeling better than ever in some ways. A couple of years ago I escaped from an abusive relationship, found out I was losing my job, and realised that I was transgender within a month and it broke me.  I still suffer quite a lot from the effects of these little traumas but I have also turned them into positives, necessary blows that got me to this point.  If that relationship hadn’t ended, if I hadn’t lost that job, if I hadn’t realised I was trans..I couldn’t believe my life would be anywhere near as good and full of possibility as it is now.  Sometimes the sacrifices you make are of things that hold your life back.


To this point I’ve have been transitioning for almost two years and on HRT for almost one year.  This whole thing came out of nowhere, and now I’m doing what I thought two years ago was only for other people, or a certain type of person.  But it’s happening, and it’s still pretty surreal, which is why I try to encourage at least myself to think about it as little as possible because it can very easily swallow up your whole life.

The goal for me is the same as always, to alleiviate dysphoria as much as possible and then get on with my life.  Yet on the way I’ve learned so much about the human condition.  I’ve met, spoke with and made more friends in these past couple of years than I ever have, people from all walks of life.  I don’t think of myself as being particularly ‘queer’ because I feel just like a regular person, and I realised my ignorance in going to queer events – folks who may be all kinds of genders with all kinds of styles, hairstyles, mannerisms, impairments etc who are just like me, who are just like you, who are just like anyone.

Queer is a reclaimed term, not because we are different from ‘normal’ society, but because we aren’t; we are simply unique within it.  Getting more ingrained into queer scenes and circles, to see at times real solidarity is a very special and heart-yearning experience.

Being transgender inevitably opens one’s eyes to new ways of understanding the world, and with that information many want to speak out, to educate, to help, because there isn’t always a lot of information or support for transgender people.

Sometimes, I feel I would like to go stealth, but more often I think we all have a role as our individual experiences are entirely unique and whatever we add is part of a beautiful collage, not part of some grey book about how you should or shouldn’t transition, how you should act, who you should be.

I want to encourage you to keep finding your ways to express yourself, it doesn’t have to be limited, it doesn’t have to be forced, it doesn’t have to be anything other than what you want.  What other way could it be?

I’m here because realising I am trans hit me in a momentary flash when I was 28, and once it was out of my jail of oppression there was no stopping it.  It was terrifying, rightly so, but it’s not the worst thing that can happen in your life.  In fact, for all the bad life changing things that can happen in life, being trans is probably one of the best, because for all you may lose in health, wealth and support, you gain back in truth, love, hope, potential, opportunity, and greater support than you can imagine.

Just because it’s far away doesn’t mean you can’t get there, it will just be a more epic journey!  That’s not platitudes, it’s spoken from experience.

Until next time,

Amy Xx

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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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When dysphoria calms

Finally the hormonal malaise seems to be settling down.  I’ve gone a few weeks without major ups or downs, I feel ok, I feel….normal.

I feel now for the first time as regular as I did two years ago before my life situation and mental health rapidly deteriorated, before I even realised I was transgender.  Dysphoria is again a background noise rather than a thudding hammer in the fore of my consciousness; because I’m aware of it and accept it, because I have taken the medical steps I believe necessary, it cannot do the same damage.

Of course, it will change, and this game is far from over – dosages will increase and planning for surgery will become a reality rather than an abstract ideal.

It is around this time that some transwomen may consider that HRT is no longer necessary. After all, the symptoms feel as though they are dealt with so much as they can be.  However, often enough these women may stop treatment and dysphoria will make an unwelcome return as the wound up springs of hormonal change unravel and testosterone attempts to renew its’ mighty hold.

In feeling ‘normal’ again it is somewhat juddering to my gender identity.  Since I feel as I did when I thought I was a man, does it mean I am male?  Does it mean that the consciousness I experienced my entire life has been female?  Or, what I believe more likely is that I feel more balanced as an individual and gender doesn’t come into play quite so much, which was my initial hope from this process.

I can’t deny the possibility that someone assigned male at birth could experience gender dysphoria, remain male, but be on HRT anyway, simply as a way of dealing with mental incongruity.  After all, there are plenty of men in the world flooded with an over-abundance of estrogen.

As such, my goals are being realised, gender is much less of a concern than it has been for the past 18 months. Truly now I reclaim my old clothing even though my jeans barely fit over the growing mound of fat on my hips.  I have a sense of calm identity that is privately my own, and anywhere I can take the sting out of residual dysphoria I will do to my own standards.

I figure I must be polygender.  My experience of gender is like letting a three year old play with a dimmer switch.  I can totally understand why some might think my gender experience is based on a conscious whim, but in fact it is controlled by unconscious whim.  I cannot describe how my gender changes because gender cannot be described as a concrete form of being.

The testudinal pace of physical changes has slowed even further to the point where I feel my features are remasculinizing.  With an ever more finely toothed comb, masculine aspects seem more especially prevalent – my facial hair seems to be growing in stronger, I feel my face looks less feminine, my breasts hurt less.  I feel now is the time to up the dose, yet it has been nearly six months since my one and only endocrinologist appointment and still without the results of initial blood work, or a date set for my next appointment.

The temptation to up my dose is the same as the temptation to start HRT without medical consent, and the results would be the same because I would still be cut back to square one.  The system sucks, it doesn’t feel safe, but I’m still accepting it is as my best bet for a successful medical transition.


 

Sexuality

My sexuality is becoming more of an annoyance to describe.  I know I am still in a pupal stage, and I claim myself to be on the asexual spectrum without being fully asexual.  I call it ‘Notsosexual’.  For my entire life I have very very rarely been sexually attracted to anyone, nor have I had an explicit need for sex.

Yet at the same time, I have physical needs which can be totally crippling when not met.  I believe strongly in touch as a necessary connection between humans, and I find it strange that affectionate/intimate non-sexual touch contemporarily can only come within the territory of a sexual relationship.  Most common relationships are seen as the only status where affective non-sexual touch is ‘allowed’, yet touch is a hunger like food, water and sleep that must be sated, and I believe it is this lack of touch that makes so many monsters and failures out of people, it is a damaging conflation.

We live in a society where one night stands and friends with benefits are not seen as particularly morally offensive, yet having a cuddle-buddy may seem taboo.  I feel asexual because I find it hard to make that connection where intimate touch between two people leads to the mashing together of genitals.  I get it, we are a rutting species under the yoke of survival mechanisms, but I don’t accept that sexual urges must be acted upon simply because they are felt and the senses compel.  Sometimes sex isn’t what is necessary, it just feels that way.

This personally helps me; I spent a lot of time as a male feeling ashamed about the behaviour of other men, and of my own natural physical sexual desires.  All I ever wanted for was a woman to see me and to not think I’m some slobbering beast trying to get into her pants when I’d much rather touch hands.  I still suffer a little of that shame, however with my sexuality as it is, I can safely deign that any sexual inference whether by words or actions in my liaisons with other human beings is totally on them, not me.  This notion gives me so much safety and relief, because I know I’ve never been the threat, in fact, it has been the amorous nature of others that has hurt me.

A working solution has been physical therapy, massages etc, chances to share and revitalize energies and auras in a professional setting with experts.  No fear of lust, no complications of romance.  In fact, it was a massage two weeks ago, the first in a long time, that has spurned this more positive attitude.


 

Self-Love

I have to leave 2015 behind.  It was too intense and I lost my way.  I leave my failures and hurts behind like the old life that it is.  I’m not ignorant or delusional as to the effects they still have, but I leave the past where it belongs.  A heart can be raw and vulnerable yet still whole, and that’s where I am.

Most mornings now I wake up and feel my body, because it is soft and comforting.  A few days ago as I was contemplating how female-like my lower back feels, a term popped into my head: ‘Self-appreciation’ and I think that is beautiful.  Though I still look entirely masculine, I’m aware that I am not, and that is because of my skin.  If you feel my skin, you are feeling female skin; if you kiss me, you are kissing female lips; you may not be able to see my breasts, but if you were to feel them, you would be feeling female breasts; if you were to feel my genitals, you would know that it is a female penis regardless of how much that sounds like an oxymoron.

Although transition still takes up more points on my list than anything else, I feel finally that I can be more relaxed and playful with it, without yet fully embracing it.  Over a year full time I still don’t know what a bobby pin is, and I don’t really care.


 

Gender Theory

As my gender becomes calmer I become more perplexed about the cisgender overestimation of what gender is.  I believe from a lay point of view that the only difference between cismale and cisfemale is hormones.  I used to say the history of social constructs are also to blame, but I reduce these to be the result of hormones as well.  Aside those, the differences between males and females cannot be reduced to the extremeness of gender constructs we experience.  For non-binary individuals, while I accept I don’t have the understanding, I make the reasonable assumption that their gender(s) are no less different than those experienced by any individual that they should lead to an outcast feeling of ‘otherness.’  What I mean is, male and female are about as opposite as Coke and Pepsi, it’s the same stuff, and non-binary folks are made of the same stuff too.

Gender isn’t this big thing that cisfolks might believe we view it as because we spend a lot of time trying to figure its’ properties out, or how we see gender as a spectrum, or how we change our presentation.  It might seem extreme, but it is not, and I’ll apply what I said earlier in a different way – any sense of sexual perversion about transpeople comes purely from cis individuals, not us.

As much as general cis views on gender are overestimated, the general view on transition is underestimated.  It may seem a contradiction, because if gender is so similar, then why does transition seem so complex?  Usually it is because of the binary world of assumptions made about sex and gender that force us into little boxes that don’t always fit, it leads to repression, and with freedom comes seemingly foundational change. For example, clothing does not have a gender; it is a tool, not an objective, yet this is not seen as simple awareness.

In a world where gender isn’t a concern, not everyone would be transgender.  Men would still be men and women would still be women, and if you called yourself all, neither or in-between it wouldn’t matter.  Trans folks would still transition, and society would not fall apart.  Nor would it be confusing if we can open ourselves to understanding that people are who they are, not who they are told they must be. Our mental processes are not the result of our sexual biology.

So, here is a radical notion.  Instead of gender being a characteristic of our natal sex, how about having gender as a characteristic of our individuality?

Just remember, there is only one way to do gender. Your way.

Thanks for reading,

Amy Xx

P.S. Thank you to all the beautiful bloggers out there who share in my story and let me be part of theirs.  You know who you are, I’m so grateful and emboldened with love for your existence.

 

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3.5 months of the same life but with HRT update

Over 3 months on hormones.  The promised land.

What now?

Dysphoria is no longer a constant edginess, instead it is a process of random stabs by strangers and mirrors.  Strangers and mirrors are what remind me I am trans, otherwise it wouldn’t be a common topic.

On the cusp of nearly passing some of the time.  Not enough to convince an employer or a partner, not enough to convince myself.  However, plenty of opportunities to express with a lot less fear.

The last few months have been a series of downs and downs, I have literally lost myself, and it’s ok.  All the new connections in my brain will take time, like it or not, who I am as a person is changing.  This is a reactive change to the new internal information coming to me rather than a change in the self, more of an adaptation than a transformation.  Embrace this time of teenage chaos.

Face changes, breasts grow, hips grow, skin softens, some hair grows slower and more sparsely.  All a little bit.  Remembering the limitations, merely these few physical factors continuing for a little while longer before they settle.

Laser appointments, voice appointments, therapy appointments, counselling appointments, nurses appointments.  Other appointments.  All of which are painful either physically or mentally and cannot be missed once.  Each one bringing me closer to ever more invasive and dangerous procedures.

Then some operations.  Then what?

Transitioning and being transgender only topped my list of concerns from the brief period last year when I had my realisation until recently when HRT started taking effect.  There are other problems, just as big; life goals, relationship goals, career goals.  The transition process ends, more rapidly and more silently than the excitement of initial anticipation quixotically dreams, after that, you are left with whatever your transition didn’t distract or frustrate you from.

Dysphoria doesn’t put food on the table, neither does changing gender, but transition in a way that is right for an individual can provide an almost means to an almost end to allow a life as far away from gender as one wants to be.  It will always be there though; if trans, always trans.

It is a strange double world when some people treat you as male and others as female, the dynamic has changed more for others than it has for me.  Many people see transfolk as weirdoes, but when you see the world from this multi-faceted view you can learn a lot about how individuals and groups work, how they perceive.  Think of it as an added bonus filter that could get you killed.

Leaving the house can be difficult when hair starts to resprout from the face, when the drugged listlessness strikes, when I look so stupid or unpassable that it’s not worth it.  Yet still, those times when I can go out are liberating – cafes, bars, clubs, gigs, restaurants, etc etc, just even walking down the street provides comfort, awareness, glee, fear and so many complex emotions.  Always looking around, gauging presentation based on stares or lack thereof, constantly aware.  And then at times, letting go, smiling gently, dancing, conversing, feeling as close to the earth as anyone else, yet rising closer to the sky.

Personally, I still feel at ground zero, not as trans as the other trans transing at the same time as me.  My voice is ghastly, and my spirit is low for other reasons.  This transition in terms of truly embracing it has not even begun; the affects as well as the effects progress and accelerate at a rate faster than my understanding but slower than my comprehension.

This will all start working out once I build a life to have a place in, a purpose, a reason, someone to share it with.  My body screams for affection not received which I feel I need, wasted opportunities to share and understand my changing body. I am advised by my gender therapist to give that love to myself, to feel the changes on my body. For instance, in the shower, I would tend to wash myself as quickly as possible and get out, but to spend an extra couple of minutes just considering my body for what it is now can bring me much closer to myself.

I still try to label my gender at times, but thinking about it just causes confusion.  My sexuality is coming back slowly but it is very different in terms of expression; orientation, still no idea, and I’m not particularly interested.

My sexuality is no longer located in my groin. The energy that was located in that one place has now spread through the entirety of my skin, it is lustless electricity that cannot be immediately joined with yet must be given attention. It is new and confusing, but it takes time to get to grips with, there’s no rush. Learning to let go of old habits and procedures is nothing to be afraid of, becoming vulnerable is not a weakness, it is an expression of truth.

Regardless, all that matters is how you feel.  I feel like I’m evening out a little recently, although friends say it takes usually around 6 months before things settle in a way.  Take advantage of every opportunity.  I’m back in therapy again and I will keep going back until I deal with issues that have plagued me since before I knew I was trans.  This is no time to be ashamed, but to relinquish control and find new ways of dealing with this most unique morphing of sensory inputs.

My past is almost gone, aside from dealing with these two problems, my old life has unexpectedly almost shed its’ skin entirely.  I don’t remember whether I can recall what it was like before, but it doesn’t make sense who I was, a phantom, simply my same self under a different set of hormonal attributes, pushing against the new boundaries attempted to be set upon me because of my identified gender.


Onto Amy’s lovely journal of changes, which are mostly boob centric:

Day 64 – Waist certainly seems slimmer, apparently lost an inch in two months and added over an inch to my hips, amplifying the effect.

Day 65 – Lumps in left nipple formed a hard, circular but unnoticeable mound.

Day 66 – Have my breasts grown more than I was aware?  The flesh around there seems fattier, though imperceptibly so to anyone else.

Day 67 – Did some star jumps with my top off.  I saw in the mirror that my nipples are no longer firmly attached to my chest.  They bounced, moved and jiggled.  It didn’t look good, but it was funny.

Day 74 – Feeling ‘breast’ more often now, most noticeably when lying on my side or bending over.  They aren’t man boobs, but they aren’t female either.  They point out, are very painful to touch and are shaped around my male pectoral muscle.

Day 77 – My nipples popped back out to normal, the whole area is now undeniably protruding from my chest.

Day 81 – My breasts have already grown more than I ever expected they could.  As the most observably changing part of me right now I find myself growing somewhat obsessed.

Day 82 – I was told I ‘definitely’ have a woman’s bottom.

Day 85

– I feel as though my eye colour has changed, from an almost black brown to a lighter brown.  My eyelash hair is also darker and thicker.  Objectively I think they look softer, more naturally beautiful.

– My body shape is no longer a complete rectangle; I nip in just a little at the waist and out a little more at the hips.  Did I mention back fat?  My bum has grown and changed pretty quickly, I just haven’t noticed it happening.  The fat displacement certainly is more ‘feminine.’

Day 92

– I look reasonably feminine in the face even with my hair up.  Somehow spending even more time looking in the mirror but now I look with awe sometimes, and I can say to myself, ‘I’m a woman, I’m actually a woman.’ Silly, but hopeful.

– The buds are becoming closer to a female type breast shape.

Day 94 – Been having sex dreams, slowly my sexuality is beginning to awaken again but in an entirely new way.  My sexual energy is located all over my body than just in my groin, and my desires are no longer lustfully hungry.  However, the desire for physical affection is very strong.  I had my first ‘female’ orgasm, which is detailed in a video below.

Day 100 – Here is what 100 days of 2mg estrogen has done to my face (be aware of the face shaping effects of laser and better kept eyebrows):

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Day 104 – Some friends noticed they can see the outline of my breasts through my clothes, and that my bum is very womanly bending over, hahaha.

I have also recorded a very badly put together video of my general experiences over the last month and a half:

I am honestly still in a bit of a daze, like my head is in the clouds and I cannot explain what is happening as well as I would like to, although it is so difficult to attach qualifiable data in any state.  There are still many seeming contradictions.  Also, I’m trying to keep being trans in the background as much as possible as I sort out other areas of my life.

Still, it is important to remember that even in the background, being trans and transitioning is centre stage in my life right now.  That means acknowledging my body, indulging in little treats to boost my morale like cheap accessories, baths, coffee dates.  I try to take the opportunity of as many experiences as possible, to keep learning about who I am in differing situations.

Gender isn’t all that is changing, my flower grows, ever sturdier, ever more colourful, ever more reaching for the sun.

I realise as often as I can how lucky I am, some doors have closed in my life, but many more are opening.  I have the pleasure and honour of having met some amazing and beautiful transfolks on my journey, as well as revelling in the momentous support that is freely offered from family and friends.

We will find our place wherever we go, if not, we will make one.

Thanks for reading, and thank you all so much for the continued support that keeps me going.  I’m sending out big waves of love to you all!

Amy Xx


Here is a fun video about some interesting orgasms I’ve been having.  Don’t worry, it’s not dirty, although I have to apologise for the quality.

 

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MTF HRT 2 month+ update

TRIGGER WARNING AND DISCLAIMER– Depression, Suicide, Sexual Function.

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My transition has been unremarkable thus far.  Hormones work in a similarly unremarkable way.  However, over time one realises that things have changed, and it’s not a case of missing the alterations, it’s just that they are each so miniscule and consistent that it takes up too much energy to record or even stay aware of each little thing.

It’s not a bad thing, focusing on thinking too much about gender can create a tangled mess of dysphoria.  Rather, feel it:  Breathe in – feel the turmoil inside, all the words, possibilities, permutations.  Breathe out – Let as much of it as you can go.  Focus on the important things, not all the little things, they’ll take care of themselves as products of appreciation borne from a simple, guided, determined intention.

I cannot dismiss HRT as an interminably important force in transition, but as expected, I’ve found it is more difficult to wait for them with shining desperate eyes than to deal with the reality of the tectonic pace of change.  Unless one is prepared to stare into the mirror all day every day with a magnifying glass scouting for changes, hormonal transition actually makes up for very little of the day.

Mentally however, the flux of completely replacing one set of sex hormones for another can be a massive tumult.  My experiences seem indicative of puberty: my moods are very fragile and subject to change; I’m incredibly insecure sometimes; I like sitting in my room listening to loud music in the dark writing about how I hate everything; lamenting how no-one understands me; being obviously upset but when asked how I am, replying ‘I’m fine.’  However settled I may feel at times, there’s no telling when the next uncontrollable emotional episode is on its way.  Sometimes I can wake up and know that it’s going to be a hormonal day, but even then the malaise can be sneaky, trying to turn physical symptoms into mental wars.

According to my therapist, many transfolk on the Testosterone blocking injection of Leuprorelin (Prostap SR) suffer from listlessness and therefore an increased incidence in depression.  I understand this well, having fallen into a deeply anxious self-imposed hate cycle without any reason to feel that way, isolating myself at home, my transition fading, my hopes dwindling.

It all came to a head on Hallowe’en.  It was to be my one year celebration since my first proper public outing as trans, and it was a disaster.

I had regained enough resource in my spirit to attempt presenting truly again, making my plans and readying them for action.  On the day of Hallowe’en I was to meet my Mum and Nan in town, giving my Nan a first chance to see how little I think I’ve changed.  Instead of getting up early to get appropriately dressed and put on my make up, I opted for a sleep in, put on the dude jeans and t-shirt basics and left the house.

I’d never felt so bad, this wasn’t me.  I couldn’t cope with being seen simply as some cis-male.  My mood plummeted to new depths and the afternoon was deeply troubling.

Later, I was to go out clubbing with a whole bunch of friends.  Instead of embracing this opportunity, I sat in my room, in the dark, bawling, and my friends were freaked out.  At one point I left the house to stand by the road wondering how fast a bus or a van would have to be going for me to step in front of it.  Later I was found by a friend sitting in an alley sobbing.

I assured everyone I was fine and they went out to party.  Then I made this video:

TRIGGER WARNING – Depression, Suicide

Soon after this, I was made aware that there would be a house party in a few hours and that I was invited.  Something clicked; I told myself that there was still a chance to make tonight work.  So, I pulled out of my slump, I ate, I washed and I got ready the way I should expect myself to get ready.  I didn’t want to be a stereotype, I didn’t want to be a statistic – I know my experience is very average but I wanted to inspire and be inspired so I decided I would make this happen.

I made this video soon after the first, to show that there is always a way back from the brink, there is always a silver lining.  Sometimes, the best yielded seeds are sewn in the aftermath of a disaster:

It wasn’t the best party ever, it didn’t need to be, it was an opportunity and I took it.  I decided afterwards that I could embrace my identity again and I’ve been feeling stronger everyday since.  We can all make this happen, what opportunity will you grasp that you thought you would let slide by?


As far as physical changes…it is so hard to describe sensing that maybe something might maybe maybe possibly almost maybe be changing, trying to decide if it’s real or a trick of the eye.  However, I know things are changing.

I know how interested I was about the effects of HRT before I even thought they were a possibility, so I share my personal log of changes.  There is no real pattern of regularity as to the frequency and qualitative properties of noticed differences, but each one raises a special smile only for me.  Or mostly manic laughter, it’s so strange!:

Day 42 – Leg hair seems to be growing in more slowly and sparsely.

Day 44 – I felt a little lump under my left nipple.

Day 45 – The lump feels hard under my areola.

Day 49 – Lump now visible at top of areola. Still no feeling on the right side.

Day 55 – Veins seem less prominent on my hands at rest.  I haven’t had a release in a while, nor a single erection I haven’t coaxed as a weekly necessity.  Ejaculation doesn’t necessarily equate to orgasm, and I’m pretty sure I have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to that department anymore.

Day 56 – Left nipple much harder, the lump has moved past my areola.  It has been nearly two weeks and no feeling in the right.  It feels odd, but in the grand scheme this is no time at all.

Day 61 – I look decidedly less male.  The crying thing isn’t an issue so much anymore but the depression is harsh.  Right nipple where the left was about three weeks ago.  I seem to be getting more back fat than hip fat.

I actually noticed a few days ago that my handwriting has changed a little.  There are more diagrams, more colours, whilst even some of my lettering has changed, the sharp stabbing lines of a ‘w’ now more often a curved ‘uu.’  This isn’t contrived, I just sometimes feel like maybe brightening up the drab walls of black text.  Which I know I should work on with this blog too.


I haven’t been out in the world too much this month, it has been very difficult.  I am cheating a bit because I’m closer to 3 months but just including notes up to the two month mark.

The hormones really did a number on me, that was a tough tough month, but I’ve been feeling better.  Can’t let those bad times define you.  The night out on Hallowe’en helped.  Writing to myself afterwards, I decided to write as if I was having a conversation with my own sense of hope, if it still existed (it always does because hope never dies).  When you listen to your heart through a depression it can be a powerful moment.  It takes a long time to push back through, trying to have a sense of holding on long enough until the next chance to beat it comes along.

Next blog we’ll have lots of positive fun, ok?!

Thank you for reading 🙂

Amy Xx

 

 

 

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Estrogen makes you calm and crazy

I am sitting on an emotional swing.  Each day it gets more intense.  Genetic females have had a lot longer than me to come to terms with the rollercoaster of moods but everyone who experiences it has to start somewhere.  I can’t ‘man it out’ anymore, 40 days and 40 nights of HRT and I’m already losing subjective cognition of my testronic existence; slowly the maleness falls from grasp.

I’ve had to ask friends to remind me sometimes that I’m just going through the side effects.  Again, I don’t know if it is because I started hormones, or their actual effects, but doors are unlocking in my mind.  I’ve really learned about friendships I’ve needlessly strived for that are beyond their sell by date – I visited one of the old friends I’m having to let go of and noticed for the first time in a long friendship the light behind her eyes that process any way to avoid talking about either of our real issues.  A year after the fact I finally recognized the emotional abuse that is still a large cause of suffering from my last relationship – I told those close to me and they say they knew for a long time, they tried to tell me.

There are other revelations now that force me into a new life.  A cornucopia of general life issues coupled with constant hormonality combine into painful birth squeezes of a new life; the water broke, the contractions are more frequent, powerful – there’s no stopping it, it is coming.

My aesthetic transition is really suffering now, not just because of facial hair but because of the emotional pressure.  I spoke to a woman who apparently had GRS but lives satisfactorily as a male without heavy dysphoria, content in the knowledge she is female.  Hearing this struck a chord and she said there were only a few in many years she had met who are like this.  Again, when I was a young child I wasn’t thinking about sneaking into my mother’s room for clothes and make up, I was trying to get rid of my penis, not as a Skoptic, but because I was female.

I don’t really care often enough who knows I am female so long as I do, and the people I care about do.  It still hurts to be called by masculine terms, but I feel I’m constantly facing off between constant counterbalancing weights of dysphoria.  It’s less urgent, but I’m still thinking about and I wonder if I can ever come to peace.

After some diligent sleuthing by Mia, we found that this woman had in fact de-transitioned because she had passing issues and other issues that are her business.  I myself am not trying to cop out of transition, although it really is taking time finding my way.  There is much more to the story with this woman for another time.

The point I want to make here is that it is important to be gentle with yourself.  On top of everything going on in life, there are also the unquenchable effects of cross sex hormone therapy and trying to figure out how to transition and do it in a world that isn’t always happy to let you live your life.  Even without external grief, the internal experience is such a battle that I can understand putting oneself at risk.

I feel the level of personal risk is the same, but different in nature.  I’m just as on edge, I’m crying like crazy, freaking out, hating the world.  I was so wrong about the crying; cries feel different, more frequent, because as before I cried when I was desperate, now I cry because I need to cry.  It needs to come out just as I need to talk more about stuff – if I don’t vent, I break down.  I’m notoriously bad for talking about my issues with people, now I have to.  Afterwards, I don’t feel as bad as I would before, sometimes I just switch and I feel good again for a while.

I have less violent urges, lower sex drive, lower sexual functioning.  After a week without an erection or a real desire for release I decided to try and force it.  After a long time of distraction and confusion about what I was doing with what I was touching I got there and it was as arbitrary as expected from something so forced.  Straight afterwards I grabbed a toffee crisp from the fridge and bit into it.  The chocolate made my senses explode!  I loved chocolate and was iffy about sex anyway but the gulf widened considerably and that’s just what happens sometimes. Now I don’t have ‘morning wood’ so much as I have ‘morning tofu.’

I was naive in not listening to other women way ahead on HRT, I thought I was special, aware enough, emotionally centred enough to beat back the waves of hormonal change.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s only like that sometimes, often enough I feel as good as I ever have.

I was really worried about how much my emotions would intensify and whether it would put me in more danger, and it is hard, it is very hard.

My mind is working overtime absorbing all this new emotional information.  Sometimes I panic, other times I am just a sponge for information and beautifully contemplative thoughts that will take a long time to unravel.

Tough as it is, I rejoice in the new challenge, the new lease of life.  This is a perfect time for realisations that lead to effecting positive personal change that will fuel hopefully the release of a lifetime of untapped potential for the rest of my lifetime’s emotional strength.

This is only the beginning, it has to hurt to get better, this is how we heal.  We show ourselves now in survival so we can prosper when we come to truly thrive.

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