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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dating, Uncategorized

Amy’s Enchanted Transition: MTF 5 months on HRT and 1st date!

So I have this little journal where I write down distinguishing HRT changes as I notice them.  This month I’ve had the least to write about, yet I’ve experienced the most profound changes.  They can’t be explained without pouring over microscopic evidence, but now more than ever, when I look at most of my body I can really see it.

Changes Diary

Day 126 – Testicles seem about 60% of original size;  My hips have grown so much that I have to pull trousers around my hips to get them on;  Weight is much more difficult to lose, but my waist still seems slimmer;  My breasts are shinier and squishier.

Day 132 – Wearing a bra is no longer optional, especially if I intend to run down stairs, because ouch.

Day 145 – My head hair is growing very quickly, while most body hair (except facial, public and nipple) is growing in slower and more sparesly; the breast pain has expanded past my areola.  My boobs are much more painfully tender now when touched.

Day 148 – The hair on my arms and legs really is less coarse.


The other changes I’ve noticed have been more experential.  For example, this is by far the coldest winter of my life because my skin is thinner, even though in actual terms the temperature has been fairly average.

My face has changed an awful lot.  Interestingly though I don’t feel it in my mind’s eye; without a mirror I figure myself looking as entirely masculine, and sometimes I have to look in the mirror quite a few times to connect with how my face looks now.  That said, what my face looks like changes considerably at different times of the day, the femininity of which depending on my rest, diet, water intake, and lighting.  These things really make a difference now.  It can be in as little as a few minutes that I perceive my face from looking reasonably female-like to perceiving a very obviously male face.

When I take my clothes off, I now at least see the trans woman that I am.  My features are much softer; my torso, though chunky and mannish, displays undoubtedly feminine curves.  My breasts, though still basically invisible, squish together almost convincingly in certain stances.  Not enough to display cleavage without special effort yet, should I ever wish to do that.

What has changed most is my mindset.  Aside the first week after getting the T-blocker injection which causes intense soul bleeding, I’m still feeling better and better.  Dysphoria is still on the wane, being replaced with giddy high-pitched energy and a still growing desire to dance.  Part of it is clearing up the initial hormonal malaise and taking steps to improve my quality of life, part of it is being able to look at myself in the mirror and having more of a reason to smile.

I feel myself growing as a person.  At points I have felt like a new life has been trying to burst forth from me, a cornucopia of new emotions, hopes, possibilities, where the negative effects of testosterone are becoming so foreign to my mind state that the estrogen effects are creating a whole new world for me.  Instead of imagining that it is changing me as a person, I see it instead as watching a grey world turn colour.  It fuels the imagination, it embraces curiosity, it encourages hope and instigates change.

The one big downer in all of this is my voice.  I haven’t practised in a long time, but I’ve been able to maintain the voice I use, and hold it more consistently for longer periods of time.  It is easier to notice when my pitch is dropping, or my vocalization is slipping deeper into my mouth and throat.  I’m struggling to get that buzz in the lips, but no matter what I do it’s still just not there…it wants to edge towards the precipice but doesn’t know how.  A trans girl with a perfect voice assured me recently that my voice ‘isn’t masculine’ and I believe her, it’s just not feminine either.  I ought be thankful, some girls are unable to reach the point that I’m at so how can I complain.  Still, I’m putting increasingly more time and effort into practice again; it’s draining, but it’s very worth it.

As such, I seem to end up presenting in a way that gets me gendered in public very rarely.  People seem to go out of their way to not say ‘Sir’ or ‘Miss,’ ‘he’ or ‘she.’  My clothing options can vary in terms of assumed gender identifiers, and is usually very casual, most often without make up.  I try to wear a trans badge when I go out, just so I don’t have to feel threatened at being described in male terms.

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Even so, I don’t really care what others’ think.  Call it confidence, or casual arrogance. On those days I seem to be provocative enough to warrant stares, I stare back and smile, and when they walk past I laugh, because the whole thing is absurdly funny.  I mean, breaking free of extreme gender constraints seems so menial, yet it is seen as a deviant revolution.  Staring is no biggie anyways, because people will stare at you for all sorts of reasons, for being attractive, for being large, for being impaired, for having a strange hairstyle, for wearing a hat.

Who cares?  I honestly got more abuse in years past for being seen as a man with long hair.  Then, as now, I walk in public with a smile on my face, embracing the worst, sliding past unavoidable scowls.  Everyone looks strange, especially the folks who see themselves as ‘normal.’  Besides, not knowing that I was trans for 28 years can easily lead me to believe that any apparent cis person could be trans and either not know it, or is repressing it.

So why be scared.  I’m starting to enjoy fear again because I understand its’ nefarious agenda.  I hear friends speak of dysphoria as demons and dragons when really it is just worms and shadow-puppets.  Fear in many situations is the force that tries to stop you from doing something you really want to do, or that would benefit you.  Fear is its’ own worst enemy, because it reminds you of those things you really want, it knows you can do all that you dream of, which is why it masquerades as these terrifying monsters, because fear has no power when you simply say ‘no’ to it.

Confidence I think is a massive factor, and the phrase ‘fake it till you make it’ really resonates. Confidence doesn’t mean flamboyance or attracting attention, it means walking down the street with your eyes up; being able to smile and chat with shop assistants. It is doing simple things in simple situations and making them….well, simple for you. Confidence shows that you know what you are doing is right, and you can do it, proudly.


Over the knife

Such is life on HRT.  Five months passing so slowly that now seem in the blink of an eye, finally appreciating the understanding and knowledge shared by other women much further ahead, the envy of my own self a year ago.

My second opinion for GRS by fortune got moved forward by 3 months to May, which heralds the beginnings of proceeding to surgery.  Sure, it may be still years away yet, but once that ball starts rolling, much deadlier realities come into play.

I’ve spent the past few months laying groundwork for the surgeries I need, think I need, and want.  This plan has changed a lot on postulizing about individual GRS surgeons, breast augmentation surgeons, tracheal shave surgeons, FFS surgeons, vocal surgeons.  It changed even more when I open my purse and remembered I don’t have £50,000+ just lying around to be picky.

I’m coming round to the idea that NHS funded GRS can be a viable option.  It is a tough tough tough choice when I think I could get better results elsewhere, yet might settle because it’s either NHS or nothing.  This is a lifelong decision, not just to have the operation, but how to get it.

For now, that is all I am focused on.  Breast surgery doesn’t feel like a good idea until at least a year after GRS (to see if the removal of testicles produces enhanced HRT results), FFS isn’t a major concern worth saving for right now, trachael shave will come with time, and vocal surgery is just a bad idea to begin with and I’m giving myself at least another year of vocal training before I have to admit it may be a necessity.

Aside that, it’s getting difficult to say much more about the experience of being trans.  I was never in the closet, I don’t get grief on the streets, I’m not discriminated against professionally or medically, I don’t have issues with my family and friends, I have less issues with my body and dysphoria.  I’m incredibly lucky and privileged, all I can say is that I still didn’t think I could do it, yet my transition is becoming more and more of a success.

You see those before and after shots of transition and think, how did they manage to do that?  I could never do that!  Yet, that’s most likely what they thought, and they did it.  That’s what I thought and I did it [; I’m finally feeling it.  After 5 months of HRT, I actually feel it, I am so undoubtedly female that there is little left to consciously doubt].  If that’s what you think, you can do it.

The pictures below are separated by 18 months – the last photos I took of myself before I realised I was trans, and photos from a few days ago, drunk, at 6am.:

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Pretty wow, huh?!  There was not a day when the person on the left thought I could be anything like the person on the right.  And yet there it is.  It was down to no special, magical effort on my part, it came down to understanding who I was and doing what I could raking through fields of broken glass until I unearthed my potential.  It’s not as difficult to do as it looks.  Lots of small changes.

Granted I haven’t stepped fully into the public domain with regard to employment and the potential difficulties there.

When it comes down to the world of dating and relationships, I have been at sea for so long it seems like I’ll never even have a peek of genuine interest again, let alone an actual date…

…except for this past week, when I went on a date.


Date Night

Yes, an actual date.  The only date I’ve had outside of a relationship in my entire life, except for maybe that time when I was 14 and was totally oblivious it was a date and the fly on my jeans was down the entire time anyway.

I met an intelligent, charming, attractive girl on a dating website.  After wafting through the perverts and the time wasters I came across someone I just had to find out more about.  We chatted via email, she suggested coffee and that suggestion turned into drinks.

Getting ready for a date as a woman is fun, terrifying and time consuming.  I needed an outfit, eyebrow waxing, hair fixing, make up…ok I didn’t need to do any of these things, but I wanted to look like I was making the effort as much as I actually was making the effort.

A good friend helped me pick out a dress, straightened my hair, even did my make up, all whilst calming me down and reassuring me.  I even wore heels for the second time ever.

We met at a bar, had a cocktail and were chatting immediately.  I have a great tool for having conversations with people, it’s called asking questions.  I was my typical weird self but she wasn’t fazed by this, and I was enthralled with how openly she shared her life with me.

After a while we hit a quieter bar, drinking until the wee hours with nary a moment of silence or wasted conversation.  At closing time we got some take out food and went to her house.  We sat up drinking tea until 6am when we decided it was sleepy time and I got a taxi home.

This for me is a great success.  I don’t want to kiss on a first date, and I was honest with her about my sexuality issues.  However, I’m not sure the issue is my sexuality, it’s more, how would I have sex now?

The first thing I have to do is back it way up.  I still struggle with attraction to begin with.  Since our date we have been in regular contact and I feel that excited little buzz in my belly, and I think she is interested in me too.  Holding hands is an intense experience for me, let alone the idea of a kiss.  I figure the answer is, if I’m with someone, we are comfortable, sexually attracted to each other and decide to be sexual, then we appreciate and help each other understand our explicit boundaries and I try to learn what I still like, and what is new that I might be prepared to try and enjoy.

That stuff is all potential for another time and not relevant at the moment.  Right now, I’m most excited to be getting to know this woman more and to share time together.  This coming week we have another date at the museum then we’re going for lunch.  I’ve never understood rushing dating; if something is meant to be then you have all the time in the world to explore it.

I find it very interesting to be dating someone the same gender as me. Gender roles for straight cis folk feel like a parachute drop into a cage of historical safety, where more often than not, the male is ‘the man’, and the female is ‘the woman’, each term coming with its own set of assumed responsibilities and perks. I always hated that. Whereas in this queer scenario, we are both individuals, we bring who we are to the table, rather than what we are – it is more nerve-wracking and initially jarring, but ultimately I hope it can foment greater openness, understanding, and shared responsibility.

My life is no more difficult than it ever was.  My gratitude for this sense of regularity is abundant and growing.  Please let my story show you that you can live truly and freely no matter what your position or age. I’m hardly a trans veteran, but in less than two years I’ve learned so much and forged a vastly more authentic life.  If there is a way you think I can help you, or a topic you’d like me to get into more gory depth about, please get in touch at unexpectedamy@outlook.com

Life is lived best when you live it as your truest self, and love yourself for who you are.

Namaste,

Amy Xx

 

Standard
hrt, transgender

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):

100daysHRT

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.

 

Standard
gender, holidays, transgender

Trans Adventures in Barcelona!

Story time!

This is less of a travel guide and more continuing evidence that one’s own fears often go unrealised.  There are a lot of pictures, so I apologise if I destroy your computers 😛

So what happens when a stressed out, Irish, rainbow-haired, obviously trans woman filled with trepidation goes on the holiday of a lifetime?  She has the holiday of a lifetime!  I was with the two men in my life, amazing friends who have supported me through thick and thin, I knew I could rely on them.

I had spent months getting ready for this trip, eyeballs deep in transition with hardly a clue of how to prepare.  The days leading up to the trip were filled with the stresses of packing whatever I needed into one small rucksack and getting it right.  I finished packing literally at the very last second before I left for the airport.  Trying to fit all the cosmetics I believed to be necessary into one of those little plastic airport security ‘bomb material’ bags was a nightmare.

I wore a new dress out, something that usually creates anxiety over how I look, especially when I’m not known for wearing dresses.  It was going to be at least 30*C so jeans weren’t really an option.


Day 1 – To Barcelona!

The first trial was of course airport security.  I didn’t want to get pulled over, patted down, or put through the body-scanner so I did all I could to ensure I had no metal on my person: earrings out, belts off, shoes off, my denim jacket with metal buttons off.  As I stood in line waiting to pass through the metal detector I thought ‘Crap, bra clasps! Aren’t they metal?’  I had dressed as ‘femme’ as possible to avoid awkward questions or pat downs, and while I didn’t panic, I expected the alarm to whoop, to have all eyes on me.  I passed through the detector…….not a sound.  I grabbed my luggage and moved on.  Phew!  The holiday can begin.

Actually wait, I need to use the bathroom before we get on the plane.  I was still copping out so I joyously used the disabled toilet as an alternative, no fuss, no muss.  Time to go to Barcelona!

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We arrived at Barcelona airport around 8:30pm.  I’m a nervous pee-er, so as soon as we got off I had to go again.  I wasn’t sure what to do; I was all dressed up and had never used the women’s bathroom before.  Another disabled toilet, thank crumbs. (FYI: Please keep an eye out for any actual impaired person who may be on their way to use the disabled bathroom; it’s made for their requirements after all.)

Stepping out of the airport we felt the Iberian heat and crushing humidity instantly.

Outside Barcelona airport

Outside Barcelona airport

We hopped in one of the taxis and made it to our apartment without incident, taking in the wondrous sights.  The apartment was beautiful – for me, it was safety.  I wasn’t on edge, but to have that private space helped keep me calm.  We had our own private patio with all modern decor, a home away from home.

Lads :P

Lads 😛

My boy Sean

My boy Sean

My boy Chris

My boy Chris

Blah

Blah

Our living room. Sleek :D

Our living room. Sleek 😀

Our mission for the night was simple, go check out our surroundings, get food, get beer.  The whole time leading up to this trip I figured I would have Catalonian bigots shouting ‘él es transexual‘ and chasing us at every corner, but no.  We found a little cafe just before closing time; they served us beer and free croissants with warm smiles and friendly chatter.  On the way home we met a couple of young American backpackers, invited them back and got wasted late into the night.  What a good sign for things to come.


Day 2 – Exploration and beach

I woke in bountiful spirits, saved from a deserved hangover thanks to the heat.  I had to get up before the boys to get ready for the day of exploration.  I nervously got dressed and applied my make up to the best of my ability since I rarely wear make up.  For all the intensity of the heat I had to be covered head to toe, I didn’t want to show off my man skin because it would make me feel very paranoid, very dysphoric.

Not bad :) Time to explore!

Not bad 🙂 Time to explore!

The plan for the day was simple, embrace Barcelona!  The boys went out briefly bringing back breakfast and beers (what alliteration!) then we made our merry way just after the noon sun had passed.  We walked for hours, stopping regularly at cafes and bars.

I had my eyes open the whole time, aware of any dangers to my obvious transness.  I observed the Barcelona women, mostly wearing conservative tops, denim shorts, and bare legs.  I had to laugh, my problem wasn’t passing for a woman, my problem was passing for a tourist.  It was a style blending fail but I could not care less, rather a badly dressed tourist than an obvious transsexual for all the dangers I invented in my head.

There are so many amazing, intricate monuments in Barcelona.

There are so many amazing, intricate monuments in Barcelona.

Saaaannngrrrriiaaa!!!

Saaaannngrrrriiaaa!!!

Sangria by the Ramblas

Sangria by the Ramblas

We got some tasty local seafood from a restaurant on the Ramblas, and I found a saviour in the gender neutral toilets.  Next we made it to the beach.  As soon as we sat down, getting back up was out of the question, it was just too nice.  Sure, I got a somewhat dysphoric as the women without care lounged in their bathing gear and swam in the waters, I was jealous that I couldn’t just strip off and run into the sea with no attention directed at me.  Nothing half a dozen mojitos couldn’t fix for now.  One day I will be able to wear that bathing suit with confidence, and I’ll have a better time than anyone with that freedom.

There was a line for the toilets, male and female cubicles where the signs didn’t matter and whichever door opened first, the next person went in.  When I got near the front of the queue, bursting from too many watered down drinks, a girl came out of a female cubicle and the man in front of my gestured for me to go ahead of him.  A pass!

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Chris wussed out on the sea too.

Chris wussed out on the sea too.

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When we had our fill we went to a nearby park overlooking Las Ramblas for a smoke.  A couple of French ex-pat guys came over, offering herbs of a sort.  Soon after, a drunken local came over and talked to us, he shook Sean’s hand, shook Chris’ hand, then proceeded to plant two slobbering kisses on each of my cheeks. ‘So, ah, you like boys?’ He asked.

View towards Las Ramblas

View towards Las Ramblas

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The French fellow asked if we were looking for anything else, herbs or spices, if you get me.  One of my boys wanted something special for the festival coming up, so we went adventuring with the stranger.  One piece of advice we were given was to not go into anybody’s house.  Our new acquaintance took us on a dizzying tour of the city to which point we had no idea where we were, but we were on our way to someone’s house.

My friend wanted to go in alone, but the two of us were worried and tagged along, into a dingy set of apartments.  We climbed a flight of stairs and the French guy delivered a certain knock.  A giant of a man answered the door with a threatening look.  He let us in and went to sit on a chair in the middle of the kitchen, looking intently at the door.

We went into a small living room where a slight, off his rocker looking fella got into an exchange with our French friend.  We didn’t understand their conversation, but it was along the topic of ‘Why did you bring all these people here?  I told you not to bring people here.’  Not a good place to be, especially being trans, but it was a good opportunity to use a bathroom again.

Anyways, we got what we needed and scraped back down the scenic yet intimidating alleyways back to civilization.  We drank a bunch more sangria before parting ways with Mr. French and set about finding our way home….and pizza.  I had my iphone for directions back to the aparetment, searching google maps whilst my friends covered me from potential muggers.

Soon there will be giant pizza slices.

Soon there will be giant pizza slices.

For all the fears of muggers, we rarely felt watched or threatened, though we remained vigilant.  For all the talk of snobbish residents refusing to speak English, most shop patrons were very friendly and prepared to meet us halfway along the language barrier.

On the way home we picked up a bottle of rum and somehow an Argentinean man.  Another night of heavy drinking in the 3am warmth.  At a point I was drunk lying on the couch, being purposely unresponsive.  The Argentinean asked my friends, ‘I don’t mean to be rude, but is this a man or a woman?’  My friends paused, before offering a non-committal response ‘That’s up to you, she’s whatever you think.’  More education is needed here; the best answer would have been simply ‘she’s a woman’ spoken with certainty and indignant authority.  Even with that, he was confused but didn’t care and I offered all the subtle and not so subtle cues when I came back to life, to show him who I am.

Classic Sean >_<

Classic Sean >_<

Dragging Sean to bed was an adventure of its own, too much rum.  Time to rest up for another day!


Day 3 – Theme Park!

The plan for Friday was set in stone, get the train to Salou to visit Portaventura theme park.  I dressed down because I didn’t want to be flying around roller-coasters in a dress all day.

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We lucked out in the best way, even for being the height of summer, the park was almost empty, and the longest queue had a 20 minute wait.  The first ride we came to was Furious Baco.  Chris had never been on a roller-coaster before so we made sure to get front row seats.  We had no idea what to expect, I figured it would be the usual, trundle up high on the tracks before tumbling down, but instead it went from 0 – 80 mph in 3 seconds.  It was terrifying at the start, the intensity of the G-force but afterwards I couldn’t stop laughing, however Chris was traumatised and said he wouldn’t go on anymore rides.

Chris no likey.

Chris no likey.

Furious Baco!

Furious Baco!

We walked about the park, eating and getting drunk again.  The two boys were too chicken to go on many of the rides, so thanks to the minimal queues I gleefully went on rides again and again running around like an excited lost child whilst they patiently waited and enjoyed the scenery.  After a while I managed to get Chris on one more ride, the Dragon Khan, which still haunts him to this day, and Sean came with me on the Giant Shambala.

Shambala!

Shambala!

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At a point, the dread came, I needed to pee.  Unsurprisingly there aren’t many disabled toilets in roller-coaster theme parks.  Fudge it, today has to be the day.  I walked into the woman’s toilet, I walked in as if I had been there a thousands times before, like I was supposed to be there, because I was supposed to be there.  You know what happened in there?  The big shock?  I went in, took a pee, washed my hands, fixed my make up and left.  Other women were in doing their business and they weren’t concerned at all.

We stayed late until the last train, and I was as happy as could be, loving my friends more than ever because they knew how important this all was to me, and the let me have my fun.

My guys ^_^

My guys ^_^

Best friends!

Best friends!

Too many pictures, Amy!

Too many pictures, Amy!

We went back to the cafe from the first night for custom cocktails and things got out of hand again.  Still for all our boisterousness nobody commented on me, no-one called me out, no-one looked.  Drinking in Barcelona is a chilled affair, everyone happily chatting outside, nobody bothering anyone else.  The makeup was as set as it was going to be on my face, and any touch ups were done in a drunken haze.  Too much blusher?  Fudge it.

No idea what was in those cocktails, except a LOT of alcohol.

No idea what was in those cocktails, except a LOT of alcohol.

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Tooo much booze.

Tooo much booze.


Day 4 – Festival!

Saturday is why we came, for the ‘Be Prog! My Friend’ festival at El Poble Espanyol.  The music ran from 5pm to 5am, so we had plenty of time to do more exploring.  We hopped on a tour bus, saw the Nou Camp, Casa Bastilo, Park Guell and La Sagrada Familia.  The intense beauty and design, and sheer size of the city was mind-blowing.  Our feet all ached from so much walking but we powered through.

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Finally it was time for the gig.  I wore the same red dress as our first day of exploring with all the embellishments I could muster whilst remaining still covered head to toe.

Ready for heavy metal \m/

Ready for heavy metal \m/

Disclaimer and trigger warning – recreational drug use.

We got a taxi to the venue, passing on the way the ‘Magic Fountain.’  Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of it, but it was a series of mind-blowingly giant waterfalls, leading up a massive array of steps to the huge ornate museum in the distance.  It was both spectacular and surreal.

After a little language trouble getting into the venue, we made it just in time for the Devin Townsend Project, followed by Camel.

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During Camel, at around midnight, the boys decided to consume the spices we got in the scary apartment a few days ago.  You’ve read this far, it was MDMA.  I was a little worried because I wasn’t really up for taking it myself, but after a few more drinks and seeing them really start to enjoy themselves, I decided to take my dose.

I’d never taken this drug before, and it took about 45 minutes for it to start affecting me.  We went and sat beside the crowd with a bunch of other people, surprisingly not being crumpled.  The come up was intense, I remember closing my eyes and breathing a lot, just trying to cope with the sheer energy of the drug.  By 1am, we were all completely banjaxed.

And they didn't run off with the camera!

And they didn’t run off with the camera!

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My confidence soared.  Any experience I’ve had with drugs since my realisation has reaffirmed my identity as female, yet this is rarely the case with other transwomen I’ve discussed the subject with.  They mostly say it makes them much more dysphoric, but I have found the opposite, it cements my identity and all but removes the aspect of feeling male.  I don’t recommend testing this out for yourself, drugs are stupid.

I got my guys to come to the bathroom entrance the first time to keep an eye out but there was no need.  I went into the woman’s bathroom, did my business, and spent a long time looking in the mirror trying to fix my make up and for a change embracing how I look.  I felt quite safe as women came in and out, cheerily standing beside me as we made our touch ups, it was wonderful.

Then the crescendo came, Meshuggah!  The concert was to run from 1:30am to 3am.  The air was hot, the lights were bright, and it was just the most amazing circumstance to party to a band we’d all been waiting years to see.  We made our way to the front and just let loose.  For all three of us, the memories of the set were fragmented, but it still all pieces together into a whole.  It was almost too much to take and was without doubt the most fun I’ve ever had at a gig.

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Can't believe I had to foresight to ask Chris to take this photo.

Can’t believe I had to foresight to ask Chris to take this photo.

After it finished there was an after party and I danced my wee buns off to The Algorithm at 4am with anyone else who still had the energy, while my guys again waited on me to have my fun.  As we all got kicked out and the music died down, we became the loud drunken Irish folk we are, grabbing people to dance and sing along with on the way home.  They spoke no English, we spoke no Catalan, but we communicated through music, turning a lot of heads as most others were walking more quietly out.

Somehow we acquired a German friend and we all walked back to our apartment, thanks to the direction of Chris, otherwise we would have been doomed in our drugged up states.  Back at the house we drank heavily again into the tiny hours.  At a point, Sean went out alone for an adventure, and Chris went into the living room for a lie down, leaving just myself and the German guy outside.

Hmm!

So, earlier inside we were talking about what German we know, all I remembered from two years of classes was ‘Ich habe eine lange schlanger’ which means ‘I have a large “snake”‘, to which our German friend said, ‘I hope not!’

Hmm!  I was passing.  I was passing all night because of my confidence.  I wasn’t the gnarly obvious transsexual that night, I was the crazy rainbow-haired girl in the red dress dancing and shouting around everyone, having too much fun.  My voice was shot from all the screaming, frivolity and drugs, yet I was still passing because my presentation was so female that there was no reason for it to be doubted.  And, we were all drunk, as well as partially deafened from the music.

Hmm!

So, there we are, I’m off my face, and I’m thinking, let’s try something out.  I looked at him and tilted my head and gave him what I infer to myself as a sexy look.

‘Do you think I’m pretty?’ I asked

‘Yes, you are very beautiful.’

I giggled and maintained eye-contact, whilst still acting coy.  I shuffled about in my seat looking at him and pointed to my lips.

We kissed.  I’d never kissed a boy before.  It was different.  Whereas with any woman I’ve been with we danced our tongues, this guy was like a pit viper chasing a mouse down a hole.  Whatever, it was fine.

We sat there for a minute, smiling at each other, and he said ‘Again?’  Why not.

It was far from the best kiss ever but I felt ok about it.  There was no attraction, it was just a bit of fun.

Soon after, the guys came to and I started to crash out.  I made my excuses and flopped down on my bed still fully clothed and made up, just in case German guy came in later and I ruined his night.  He went away, while Chris and Sean stayed up all night chatting and getting more wasted.  What a day!


Day 5 – Home

We were all in a sorry state in the morning.  Our bodies were in tatters and our feet blistered, it was time to go home.  We cleaned, and gathered all our stuff.  The boys went out again to get us breakfast.  I was too scared to go out alone to the shops the entire trip even though it would have been fine, and I’m so thankful they went out of their way to look after me.

I donned my travel dress and we made our way home to not-so-sunny Northern Ireland.  The fears for airport security were heightened this time, I was dealing with folks who didn’t even speak English, this was the final hurdle.  I followed the same routine as before and got through without any problems.

Grumpy sleep boys...

Grumpy sleepy boys…

...and a fresh faced Amy ;)

…and a fresh faced Amy 😉

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Goodbye Barcelona!

Upon arrival we realised that the annual 12 of July festival was being held on the 13th this year because the 12th fell on a Sunday.  It was raining and it was cold as we walked a couple of miles back to my house through drunken hooligans.  They were bloodied, violent, obnoxious, destructive and I was more scared to be back home than I ever had been on holiday.  Thank goodness my outfit was red, white and blue, otherwise it could have gone badly, because if they smelled a transsexual, they would be on me like the hyenas they are.

We got back to my house and it has been raining ever since.


I hope you enjoyed the story of our holiday.  You may wonder, what was the point in just detailing everything that happened?  I want to show that it was just a normal holiday.  Take out the word ‘trans’ from anything mentioned and it has the same quality of excitement and relaxation as any holiday a cis-person could have.  Heck, this was basically a perfect holiday that few could match.

I can’t thank Chris and Sean enough.  They didn’t say it loud, but I know they made a special effort to look out for me, they knew how big a deal this trip was, how scared I was.  They are absolute legends and have been protecting me ever since I came out.  For the loss of any relationships in transitions, the ones that remain become so much stronger.  Love you guys. ♥

It just goes to show that whilst being trans there are some unique challenges, but with well considered preparation we can go away and live as our best selves; that whilst we need to remain aware and vigilant, we can have these amazing times, and not let dysphoria, or the attitudes of anyone else stop us.

Instead of worrying about the potential fears, this has been the most amazing opportunity to learn about myself, to show that I can do all the things I thought I’d never be brave enough to do.  It shows that you can do it to!

I haven’t been in a male bathroom since, and with any luck I’ll never have to use one again.  My confidence when interacting with people has accelerated whether I pass with them or not.  I understand how the pieces of the transition puzzle fit so that instead of searching for unattainable perfection we can find what is good enough, and let the rest of the chips fall where they may.

So long as dysphoria is not the most active factor, we can push it away with the other worries and stresses of life and just bask in the shining glow of our true identities.

Go out and discover the world as you always wanted to, have no shame, embrace your pride, and show everyone what a badass you are!

This girl IS fire.

This girl IS fire.

Peace, love and happiness,

Amy Xx


P.S. Here’s a video from the Meshuggah concert.  The guy filming was just to the right of us.  This video really helps piece together the memories, makes the hair stand on the back of my neck, and gives me goosebumps every time.


P.P.S Don’t think I’ve forgotten about you Chris, you can’t complain about what you don’t read 😛

Mwahahahaha!!!

Mwahahahaha!!!

FIN

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gender, identity, transgender

Absolving the Void

Peel back the layers like the painful scabs they are.  All those layers of dead skin built up as defences throughout life that bring us farther from ourselves.  Creating a solid foundation whilst aware of what is already built.  The mixer drips and overflows whether it is preferred or not; one can build upon concrete, or one can build upon frittering dreams made from ashes tinier than sand.

I am the only person who can give me what my life wants.  I’m the only person who can find out, the only one who can do it, and the only one who cares enough [to make it happen].  Just words, conjecture, yet we are individuals, same as everyone in every position, rich or poor, totally equal and deserving in every single right.  It is wonderful to find the value and strength of the human spirit, but what about a human spirit?  To whatever degree one transcends gender, it is looking inwards that counts, not outwards.  Society is this, people are that, opinions fly with an invisible sludgy density.

For myself, since coming out, I’ve come closer to myself in some ways, yet grown further in others.  With such jarring self-realisation it can be difficult to hold onto the connectedness which binds our own values.  There must be balance, without a sense of selfness there is no scale upon which to weigh burden.  See not yourself through the eyes of others, for their worth is not determined by how they imagine you see theirs.  Only a heart will let another heart inside’ its realm.

I had the wonderful opportunity recently to spend a few days in my grandparents’ country house whilst they went on holiday, the sort place where a wi-fi signal makes 56k seem tolerable.  Good.  The overwhelmingness in general of technology and seemingly insightful ‘5 Reasons Why…’ articles resonates too loudly with the online trans experience, it’s just too much information, and how much of it is really helpful when reading about self-help overtakes actually helping oneself?

Such was my greeting view –

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A little stream rolls under this picture. So tiny, yet still unstoppable in it’s flow.

In my reflections I had some a couple of important moments of clarity.

The first was to finally let go of my last relationship and first love for real.  I read an article on closure where it just clicked, or more accurately on how sometimes there is no closure, and the light brightened in my heart.  I’ve had to accept that sometimes, with some people, there are no avenues to receipt of empathy, understanding, compassion, conciliation etc, no matter how I could try or yearn.  I still got left being called a liar and a void, and must accept there is nothing I can do to alleviate this.  I think if anything, I was simply naive, just as I was naive about her. I am aware that some trans-folk have or hold onto their revelation whilst in a committed relationship and hold it in for whatever reasons for however long, but that wasn’t me.  It was the ending of the relationship that spurred me to look at my life and to finally see that which has perennially invaded my unconscious.  I was never given the chance to rebuild trust enough to try to explain how I came out so soon after the breakup, I’ve just received a continuation of the insults and abuse I’ve tried to carry for the past year.  I think this would have happened whether I was trans or not, I have spoke my love, prayers and devotions, retaining the positive memories and experiences, but now I can never look back.  We could have helped each other, and we should have been good friends at least. It is a sad ending. It is a new beginning.

Indeed, I was naive for over 28 years that so called gender issues were such a pivotal issue in my life.  Without the emotional upheaval and final unclasping I can only wonder how long it may have been before I started asking myself such serious questions.  And to be true, after those first few weeks of screaming and crying, I started telling people straight away, because I had no choice it hurt so much to have it all hit me at once.  Mais c’etait et c’est la vie.  The pain from all that is gone now so I know it is over, and in forcing myself to write this it allows my acceptance to breathe, to let go of the hurt, and mostly to let go of the hope it can be resolved.  It hurts me a lot to be thought of as a source of pain for others, I truly hope she can come to understand one day, to let go of her hurt, to forgive the grievances she feels.

‘Forgive people in your life, even those who are not sorry for their actions.  Holding onto anger only hurts you, not them.‘ – Source unknown

I’m sorry.  I forgive you.


The other release was of course related to trans issues, you know, that whole thing where breath is castigated by binders and corsets, for fun…  I’ve seen the struggle in myself and many others who in finding ourselves wish to put a name to that which takes us [from a past] to a future.  I understand how important personally, socially and politically it can be to use the names and terms, but I think I am moving past gendered terms, past binary, past non-binary, for now.  I’m sure I’ll proselytize yet through a few more terms of thinking.

I’m not trying to raise myself above, or come up with a new term; I just feel sometimes that all the questioning is like leaving the tap on, all that precious energy cascading into a black hole where answers are echoes.  I’m concerned with my individuality, not my gender, and though they are concordant, even thinking about thinking about a name for whom or what I am seems counter productive.  This is not a rejection of trans identity, it is more a showing of my growing comfort and acceptance in a self-actualized role.  One’s role is to be oneself.

Please forgive the impertinence, I’m just a babe when it comes to actually dealing with this stuff, but for me it is liberating.  No longer do I have to read trans-critical information, nor trans-affirming information and try to apply it to my own situation.  I hope that I have a more highly prioritised sense of self than sense of gender.  As trans, with continued self-awareness I would like to believe one can release the unfettered nature of oneself without bond – yet when dysphoria calls, does thon us ask to lie our identity on a line, or between the tracks?

When trying to explain all this stuff, I’ve found it essentially comes to sound contradictory in many ways, but to other trans folk, these seeming contradictions evoke understanding and empathy, and no doubt it confuses the fudge out of most people.  This shared connection however helps us understand the realities of our incongruities.

I posit to not lie on a line or between a track, but to ride ‘gender’ like a wave, take control of dysphoria like it’s a surfboard, become an expert dysphoria surfer, expect the waves to crest and crash over you sometimes, expect to fall into endless possibilities for choices of direction.  Think of these things for a time, but remember why you came, to find peace, calm, a true smile upon your face as a blazing sun of energy reflects its’ light and the spray blinds you to all but your focus.

Gender happens.  You don’t find it.

Gender is the word used to differentiate whatever it differentiates itself from.  It is an aspect of an individual, more innate and deep than most.  Gender, I suppose, is also a sufficient distinguishment between individuals in certain ways, though not necessarily through distinguishing features.  Gender is not the word ‘gender’, I find there is a serious language barrier which makes it very difficult to engage the precepts of discussing transgender issues from the basis of our awareness. For ourselves, moving on from the traditional sexed values of the words ‘male’ and ‘female’, ‘man’ and ‘woman’, to using those words to describe what we are.

What I mean is, I find myself by unconscious design to deign myself a woman, though I [supposedly] have a man’s everything.  For me, even having to attach those words creates a restriction, for me.  I’m not trying to write New-Speak, I’m just trying like I always have to eradicate those concepts like I try to eradicate any other pre-conceived assumption on human beings based on physical identifiers.  I guess it’s like wanting to talk to someone on a phone with a before meeting them, knowing a mind before attaching bodily traits, like I would hope for others to know me before imparting physical judgement.

This is my current, narrow, not at all serious interpretation. I do not deny, nor am I deluded from biological probabilities. There is too little psychophysical information for anyone to speak with authority. All I know is, trans people exist.

Ok, so the questions are always there, just like the…sigh….dysphoria.  However, I seem to have found a nice calm for now, things are a lot less overwhelming, less mind heavy.  So much anxiety, confusion, and all those things that lead one downhill from getting so single-minded on gender business.  It happens and it’s ok, though we have to take time to step back, we can begin some of the healing at any time.  Part of that is letting go of the past, another part is embracing the present.

Calm water days prepare for rough seas ahead.


In embracing the present, I personally have been trying to cool off on hyperactive transition mayhem, so much as I can be willing.  When trying to eat a mountain this big, the days go by and it seems like nothing can make enough of a difference, only crumbs when it may seem like progress is a spectre, but crumbs are still crumbs, even if few singles bites will make any noticeable difference.  However, it is not a Sisyphesian task, all those little bits matter, they really do bring us closer to our goals, but trying to do too much at once I find can totally jam the system and I personally just end up panicking.

So, I’m trying to tone down the demands.  I’m in a place that is comparatively acceptable for now.  My make-up and voice hasn’t improved, though I have been getting to wear some pretty nice clothes.

My voice is what holds everything back.  I’ve accepted the necessary horror and hard work, and it is a vital factor for me long term.  I don’t want to improve my looks because it feels pointless when I sound like this.  I’m not so much worried about the self-expression aspect so much as the grinding mental incongruity so this is how I do it.  I winged an appointment at a hospital voice clinic next month, and I really think it’s up there on the list of horribly embarrassing things for me to do in transition.  Gonna sound sooooo bad, and I just know I’m going to have a break down afterwards. I have to be honest, if I become aware of my voice in a conversation I can feel pretty uncomfortable.  Ears shall come to bleeding one day, when Amy is around.

I’ve started wearing hip pads and breast forms, even though I said to myself I wouldn’t.  It’s not nearly as internally humiliating as I feared, in fact it felt more appropriate than I would have liked, but hey, whatever works.  I’m pretty self-conscious about it, but not enough to not do it.  I mean, if I grow breasts or get chest surgery they’re going to be there, so may as well get used to it.  Palm to face initializing,  Palm to face engaging.  Palm to face complete.  Not fun, but whatever, it’s fine.

Overall, beyond little trinkets the best thing for me has been being outside, sensing who I am in the world, learning what not to wear, gaining confidence.  Each mistake now is one less to make in the future, and wow there are some really embarrassing mistakes to be made!  With good friends, it can be a lot of fun, and it can be alone too, if you are prepared to laugh at yourself.  I dunno, I must be crazy, because still when I walk into town I seem to be one of the very few ones with even the faintest of a smile.  Do smile!  Other people?  ‘Some folks would try and tell you how to butter your toast.’  Some people want what they want for themselves for you, but what do you want for you? I want your smiles, gimme gimme gimme! 😀


I’m aware this blog is just a big block of writing, so here are a few photos of beautiful Westeros:

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And one of me, cause I love ya 😉

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Spread the happy times people!

Amy Xx

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