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.
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.
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.:
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Life is lived best when you live it as your truest self, and love yourself for who you are.