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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Source Unknown

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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gender, transgender

Estrogen makes you calm and crazy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Waning of the Honey’d Moon

A thousand words for your silent thoughts.  All the things you wanted to say but didn’t and forgot, written on an invisible page.

Red moons’ eclipse shines dark, a trillion stars within the tear of a galaxy.  A thousand tears for your silent thoughts; you are Mars as a girl.

A moment not to think, so precious and unaware of it.  A thousand scars for your silent thoughts, etched into those forgotten memories.

Planets do not decide to shift or spin, invisible forces do not act on whim.  A thousand truths for your silent thoughts; you are Mars as a girl.


Let’s get straight into the good stuff my appreciated readers! (Disclaimer – Talk of sexual functioning)

HRT Update

Day 21 – Sexual thoughts could be nice.  Masturbation could be fun but I can’t actually be bothered.  The last push to erotic drive isn’t there; no flying mast exists to pitch my flag.  My sex drive feels like how it did during the terror of my revelation – almost non-existent.  I would have to force it. Use it or lose it they say, otherwise atrophy over the years is an actual concern.  Gross, but those are the physical propensities.  In coaxing an orgasm (how beautifully sentimental ;P) it felt different again, more layered rather than pointed, but to only a small degree of difference.

Another slight example of weepiness, where tears fall without becoming fully fledged crying.

Day 22 – My pubic hair seems furrier, the only hair that seems to have been effected so far.

Day 23 – My tear ducts looked drier and more deeply set.  My eyeballs seemed a different shape and didn’t look as though they fit as correctly within the socket, not in a good way.  Eye changes are documented on HRT, so I will keep, er…an eye on it and consider eye drops if it gets any worse.

Day 29 – I did some heavy exercise 4 days ago and am still suffering muscle fatigue.  I literally only tapped my shin with a tennis racquet by accident and have this massive bruise to show for it (which stayed longer than any bruise I’ve ever had) – I’ve done this loads of times and never got anything other than a tiny red cut.  My upper arms look smaller when not flexed but still defined, whilst my forearm is still as big, which looks weird.

Had a few cries.  It’s around that time of the month for me anyway, although there were a few sobbing, weeping tears that were new to me.

Day 31 – My face looks much softer.  My mum says the angles of my face seem less harsh.  I can look at my face and kind of see it, even with facial hair, but only looking straight on.

Day 32 – Definitely got some back fat growing. I’ll embrace this until I get to the point where I hate it like any other bodily insecure woman…Embrace the back fat my curvy beauties!

I realise I haven’t had morning wood in a while, sexual thoughts are much less frequent, and more appropriately sensual for me personally, which I think is just an individual trait.

Day 34 – I wasn’t exactly crying when I woke up, but the feelings towards crying were new.  I felt morning sexual desire but it’s easier to turn off without having an incessant erection tripodding all round the place.  It’s slightly frustrating but it works for me because it no longer demands I take action.

Day 35 – I feel my emotional repertoire growing.  Emotional statements and events seem more powerful in how they affect me.  I was wrong about the tears.  As much as I cried and nearly cried often before HRT, now, during even simple emotional moments, I have to fight if I want to hold back the tears.

Just the pressure of putting a kettlebell against my arm when working out now leaves me with bruises.

It took a friend to remind me of the hunger HRT brings; I’ve been munching constantly without knowing why. Losing fat is much more difficult on HRT, in fact, the female body needs a lot more fat than the male body in general so it makes sense that my body wants me to eat. Now I know why women must be so disciplined and obsessive about diet and exercise to have a body they can be comfortable in.

Here is the video version of my One Month HRT update:


I have been told that the effects come in waves, and I’ve certainly noticed that in between the long periods of imperceptible change that there are moments when I know something is happening.  Living in one’s own mind and body for so long, these changes, however slight are very recognisable and welcome.  Dysphoria has become more of a physical issue rather than a mental one.

I have been spoiled by the laser sessions I paid for because I know what it feels like to have a hair-free face.  My first NHS laser appointment was only a patch test, with an IPL laser and an alexandrite laser like I’d been getting privately.  It was much more impersonal than the private treatment and they didn’t mess around.  I was told each session would be for 20 minutes every 6-8 weeks, whereas the previous sessions took about 45 minutes.  They told me it would hurt more on HRT……they were very right, it was almost unbearable.  My skin was singed for a couple of days afterwards requiring much more stringent aftercare with SPF 30 moisturizer and Vaseline rather than the pure Aloe Vera I’d been using.  Thankfully I was prescribed EMLA cream which is a topical anaesthetic, but I’ve been advised it’s still going to hurt.

The horrible thing is, whilst general dysphoria may lesson over time, incidents of dysphoria can become more severe.  Having to deal with facial hair the past two months has basically kept me at home, I hate it.  I don’t want to attempt to cover it with make up because I don’t think I can, although my trans friends say this is silly.  I haven’t presented fully nor worn makeup once since starting HRT because I hate my face hair so much and it is really putting me back.

Things have been tough recently – I almost gave up being public about my transition as I feel I’ve lost so much support in the year since I’ve come out.  These are problems relating to the relationships I have with people rather than specific trans stuff, but being trans does play its part.  Going through what is the biggest change in my life, I want to share my experiences because objectively I think they are pretty fascinating.

However, people have their own stuff to deal with, sometimes they don’t want to talk about it, often enough they don’t know what to say.  Some people have never brought the topic up, maybe because they feel it is disrespectful, that it’s none of their business, or that they simply don’t care. After a while of bringing my issues up without any response I have given up, although there may come a time when I start blurting it out again and people can deal with it, or not.

As much as I try to make my trans experience as low key as possible, I still need to talk about it with people, I need to bounce ideas off people, so I’m learning that aside my closest friends who even no amount of education my information could prepare them for, having trans friends is absolutely necessary.  Throughout these very difficult times I want to thank Mia and Faith on WordPress for their friendly ears, empathy and support, along with the other fantastic women I’ve been sharing experiences with all over the world.

If you haven’t reached out yet, do so – knowing other people are going through almost identical experiences at points is entirely heart-warming and refreshing and plenty of us want to share it, even in very intimate details only transfolk could truly appreciate. Many exciting and unique secrets are shared when the transfolk get together.

Whilst I am it, can I ask if anyone reading this knows where Rimonim is? His blogs are beautiful but he has just fallen off the map since July and I can’t get in touch with him.  Rim, if you are reading this let us know you are ok!


Myself, I have had to give up entirely on my hometown.  Trust can be a tough sell for me at the best of times, and I’ve learned the hard way the difference between mere acceptance, vocal support, and actual help.  Being trans is not a pitiable situation, I do not feel humbled by the fact someone would accept me and use appropriate pronouns etc; to do so would make me less of a person in others eyes’.  Respect for my situation is a standard that does not need to be earned – I used to think trans activists were being aggressive when they said this but now I understand.  As much as our new trans friends help us, those who have been with us on our life journey so far need to step up and play an active role because that’s what good friends do. And good families.

Being trans seems to not only be a detector for unpalatable strangers, it is also an indicator of who is really going to stick up for you in this life; it’s seeing which people would visit you in hospital without actually having to go to hospital.  It has taken a year and a serious breakdown to realise just who is there for me.

There are big losses, but it made sense to spread my net wide to give myself a better chance of reeling in the keepers, so although I am sad, I don’t regret my courage in trusting more people than I could expect to be trusted in the long run.  I am lucky to have a couple of lifelong friends at my side, so I can say that anything else is trimming fat, even in losing friends I’ve had since I was a teenager.

I decided I would not be forced back into the closet, that I would trust others to live up to their own nature and announced my medical transition to the world.  What I decide to share is not because others ask, but because my freedom cannot be bound.

What I have learned is that transition is such a personal journey that the best resource we have by far is ourselves.  In understanding and loving ourselves we can appreciate the changes much more, we can celebrate the goals we have worked so hard for even if no-one else knows how much we sacrifice.  We can ground and connect ourselves so much more to the world around us and get a deeper meaning about what out experience on this earth is.

If there were ever a time in life to seek out those most solid and enlightening mental, spiritual and emotional resources that will help carry me through the rest of my life, this is it.

I have learned that I can stick to a task as I have been practising my voice at least twice a day, EVERY day, for the past six months.  It is very slowly getting there, I’d say I’m at about a 5 out of 10 now – my voice is gender neutral, or sometimes like a fake whiney female.  I still smoked through this process and made some ok progress but when I’m not smoking it sounds so much better.

It is a gruelling process, listening back every time to a voice that just isn’t right, but just keep going anyway.  I have ONE recording out of hundreds over the past six months where I heard MY voice;  not a glimpse of what I might sounds like, but what I intend to sound like as my ‘genuine self’.  I cannot replicate it yet but it is the single most encouraging thing so far.  Recording each session makes a real difference, because although my voice still sounds wrong I can hear the tiny little bits of progress over weeks and months.  I’ll have a new blog with lots of voice tips as soon as I can get to it.


I thought the honeymoon was over, that the initial euphoria I experienced starting HRT was forever over after having a major emotional slip.  I almost gave up on everything and everyone. I almost deleted this blog.  Instead I feel myself growing stronger, more resolute.  I am finding solutions within myself for my problems and growing closer to those who help me.  My mind isn’t necessarily clearer, but I am gaining a truer understanding of myself by hormonally being the person I was always supposed to be.  I won’t give up, because this is just the beginning of a new life, and the hormones haven’t even truly begun to work their magic yet!

Starting HRT is a brave step – it is a lifelong commitment, it is a sacrifice of all that I have been and never should, it is saying to myself with clarity and passion that I know who I am and that I will do whatever it takes to get there.

Hopefully got some real good blogs coming up soon on voice, sexuality, and all that I have learned on my first year of transition, so stay tuned. A massive thank you to everyone who has shared in my story this past year, and everyone who has let me share in theirs.

Peace and love,

Amy Xx

P.S. Here’s something a little extra I recorded, hopefully a little uplifting and affirming….or just weird and stupid 😛

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gender, transgender

Free Pass

It’s a classic story told on the road by many sparkling travellers, the occasion when one is gendered correctly for the first time by a stranger.  Likely it comes when least expected, for preceding it is the scary period when the pessimist inside says: ‘Nobody will ever see me for who I truly am.’  For as often as hopes are dashed, it’s important to realise that similarly our doubts are quashed, because how we perceive is only one view of how things are.

A few days before I came across this little comic on Transgender Graphics:

It made me sad, as sad as listening to ‘La Valse D’Amelie’ whilst watching couples hug close together on bridges during the still cold nights.  ‘This will never happen to me’, I thought, almost defiant in accessing future failures.

The fates care not for emotional whim.  A few days later, in the midst of that four or five day period each month I feel utterly despondent (hmm!) I met one of my girlfriends who convinced me to go out to dinner with her.  It was a horrendous day so we arrived at the restaurant with big coats on and I was too sad to wear any make up, I looked and felt decisively ‘unfemale’.  The hostess at the front desk greeted us briefly and signalled a waiter to take us to our table.

“Just a second and we’ll show you ladies to your table.”  Huh?

The waiter comes over and ushers us to the table, hands out the menus,

“So, have either of you girls eaten here before?”  What?!

My friend of course heard this as well and we both enjoyed the surreal moment.  I say surreal because dude…..

Lady looks like a dude…

Lady looks like a dude…

A funny thought I’ve had since, that if I were a man, I’d have been pretty damn offended at being misgendered, and if that’s the case, why am I so passively lenient to those who would misgender me?

So what happened?  I’m calling it a fluke, a ‘free pass’.  I consider this whole passing thing to be a rate rather than a fixed value depending on personal success, and I really have to call perception into question.  I could make all sorts of excuses to try and invalidate myself but I’m going to take it, and use it to show that a transitioner isn’t always the one who knows how well they are doing.  It can become typical to get negative about physical appearance, and I think we need these little boons from others to lift our heads from the grey stone to look once more at the path we travel.  I am so grateful for my loved ones and friends.

I finished my 6 session private laser therapy not long before all this, coming across a new craze for tweezing out the hairs from dead follicles (not recommended =D).  I tweezed just about every single [dark] hair out of my face, which didn’t hurt as much as you’d think since the hairs have been basically cauterized half a dozen times.  It makes a massive difference to how I look, no shadow, just the few fine greys and skin.  A perception is, that adult males are generally considered to have at least a little beard shadow at all times, take that away and the doors of ambiguity creak open a little. Way too much of the hair grows back though, it’s only good for one clearance after a laser session. Again, not recommended.

Also, I don’t know why in male upbringing, we are made to avoid anything that could be considered not macho, so much so that we ruin ourselves to maintain the image.  I said I’d refrain from giving actual transition advice, but I’m going to give some simple life advice – moisturize.  My skin has improved as much in the past couple of months with a learned skincare routine as I see at the two month point in most transition videos.  My skin is bright and alive, because I treat it so much better now, and people notice this.

Appointments, The Lasers! The Voices!

Looking for solid work at the moment is almost pointless.  From home, my monthly/six weekly laser appointments were a 2 and a half hour round trip; my fortnightly therapy appointment at the gender clinic is a 4 hour round trip; now I’ve started voice therapy, which is now a fortnightly 5 hour round trip.  Upcoming is an unknown appointment for fertility storage that I rush downstairs in hope for every morning, and then all the appointments hopefully testing for and prescribing HRT.  That’s too many appointments to take on a new hire, not that it will stop me trying.

Each little appointment is progress, inconvenient, but not an effort.  However, the voice therapy was terrifying.  For my first appointment a couple of interns were present, three cis-women, and me, hitting falsetto.  Basically it was only an assessment, I was asked what my goals were, what my issues were, what my habits were.  For future comparison I had to read a pre-written paragraph into a dictaphone, and do various basic exercises to monitor my breath and voice placement.  For example I was asked to go ‘shhhhhhhh’ for as long as possible, I was made go ‘eeee’ to check my pitch, and then again to see if I could modify the pitch.  It was all just making fundamental noises to give the therapist a baseline to individualise my treatment. It succckkkeeeedddd, it’s going to continue to suuuuuccccckkkkk, and it’s my number one priority, even over HRT.

As I’ve written before, the voice thing scares me.  I’m no longer scared of the changes to my identity and so on, nor scared of the exercises – like many aspects of transition I’ve noticed, the recalcitrance fades away because the train never stops.  I’m just scared of sounding stupid, having that cartoon squeaky trans voice.  You know what I learned?  Too bad.  It’s a real-time transition, not a time warp, the reality is, you have to plough on right through the horror.

‘If you’re going through hell, keep going.’ – Winston Churchill

Homework number one is simply motivation, dedication, commitment.  The process is to permanently stretch the vocal chords and say goodbye to the old voice.  Transwomen say they can keep their male voice but in many videos I’ve seen them try to show this it leads to uncomfortableness and coughing fits.  So are ya ready?

The notes I got were:

  • Increase fluid intake, WATER, avoid alcohol, fizzy drinks, dairy
  • Avoid spicy foods
  • Practice humming at different pitches, feeling for a buzzing in the face/lips
  • Don’t clear your throat unnecessarily
  • Avoid answering by shouting when upset or anxious (or in general)
  • Warm up your voice if you are going to use it for a long time
  • Observe cis-females in real life in terms of: presentation/image, pitch, resonance, ‘femaleness’
  • Consider female role models and how they carry their voices.

I’ve been doing voice practice through youtube video’s, doing the paid programs, using the apps, using a spectrograph etc, but I have no idea what I’m doing and how to achieve that, and I’m hoping voice therapy will help this.  Step one for me is simple, speak with a voice located above the throat.  As a natal male, my voice had sunk down into my chest, giving that rattling ‘bricks in a cement mixer’ kind of sound, which leads to all those downward inflections at the end of sentences and other vocal maladies.

I asked, what is a female voice, and she didn’t know, because such a thing doesn’t always specifically exist on a bandwidth, all there is, is a commonality.  I’ve made my commitment and now I am using a new voice all the time.  It sounds as stupid as I feared, but I don’t feel as stupid as I feared.  I’m making myself do this now all day, every day, because it’s the only way I know that is fully involved, it is the only way for it to become automatic.  There is no magic technique of ‘male voice off’ to ‘female voice on’, it has to go in stages – Very Male, Somewhat Male, ‘Gender Neutral’, Somewhat Female, Very Female.  Each step must be taken, each lesson must be learned on its own and put together, just like anything else that must be learned.

Remember, laser and voice are creating permanent changes.

Cis-gender dissonance

I met an old friend last week for the first time in years, a cis lesbian woman.  She told me about her gender struggles throughout life.  As a kid she was referred to as male regardless of how she presented, and she didn’t mind.  As an adult, she often wondered if she was a man, or was supposed to be a man.  A while back she had a couple of years dealing with a real gender identity crisis, but was unable to conceptualize the idea of dysphoria.  She didn’t and doesn’t understand it, but the feelings subsided, she came to realise she is just a woman who likes to screw other women.  She has male traits 614-629 and female traits 1646-2042. You know what I mean? She is who she is.

This is where I have some empathy towards a little trans criticism, and wonder where the lines are between being transgender, and having dysphoria.  For example, I could be as feminine as I want, moreso than I ever will be as a real life transwoman, think about being a woman every day, dress as a woman every day, do all that stuff, but without dysphoria, what would I be?  The term transgender consists of an overlap of personal gender freedom and medically understood gender dysphoria.

Each are valid, though ‘wants’ are very different from ‘needs’, and as with my friend, if there isn’t a long term problem, then maybe there are better long term solutions than transition.  Accepting oneself in ones gender doesn’t always need a change in gender self-perception.  Listen to the transitioned when they say it – if you can avoid transition, avoid transition, there is no glamour, and the price is too high if all you want to do is look in the mirror and see a pretty face.  Additional or removal of breast tissue is a consequence in aid of soothing the tumultuous mind, not in looking good, although the results often seem generally pleasantly congruous.

…and finally

I know my posts are too long. Shush, they are essays 😉

My passport arrived a few days ago.  The Sex says ‘F’.  I am officially, legally female… a bit, there’s still the two year wait for a Gender Recognition Certificate.  Now I can get all my other documents changed and that’s another kind of fun yet frustrating chore out of the way.

I guess a key thing for me right now is consistency.  Dysphoria is a constant annoyance, and I am rolling with it rather than resisting, and the things I’m doing are what my body asks for.  I know to expect a lot of different types of changes.  From the revelation, so much changed instantly and it takes a long while to untangle that giant clusterfudge into intentional components.

There are a lot of weights and balances in my experience, gradualisation.  I gain a little more self awareness, I commit a little more to voice, a little more to make-up (bleh), a little more to my presentation.  Though I moaned and scorned about it, I wear breast forms any time I’m going to be around people, because, you know, boobs don’t come on and off like that, and strangers don’t know they aren’t real, soooo… I’m not working by some sort of guide I read, it’s really what makes this experience more tangible and quite truly it helps, it all helps, and it’s bloody annoying.

The medical wait continues, but I continue to take power back, to claim, reclaim, and expand my life, and it’s working.  People notice the changes, they know it’s not a phase when they see it day in, day out, I notice, and I’m starting to feel it. I’m starting to look in the mirror and go, hey…..maybe.

Amy Xx

May be I'm a woman, but I ain't no lady.

May be I’m a woman, but I ain’t no lady.

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