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.

IMG_6601

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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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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gender, transgender

A never ending night before an unseeable dawn.

Trigger warnings – Transphobia, suicide.

The positive human spirit is like a garden, endless upkeep and still the weeds will come back every single time.  There is no positivity without pain, no growth without setback. Life is a transient experience, we live through the turmoil because those beautiful flowers are worth it.

For all the supposed inspiration, I’m going to focus on some of the more horrible aspects I’ve been experiencing and trying to distinguish between ‘trans problems’ and ‘life problems’.

For some reason I was compelled to make a comment on the youtube.  Big mistake, this is the domain of invincible, invisible trolls after all.  Three phrases creep up, which are no doubt tenets of the trans experience, ‘You’re a freak’, ‘You have a mental illness’, ‘You’re a man’.  I find it all very interesting.  As a white male in a Western country I was seemingly the pinnacle of humanity, immune from credible ridicule for living an honourable life.  Now, as out and out trans, I find myself at the very bottom of the human pile, a supposedly easy target for the ‘normal’ people on us ‘lessers’.  There is no normal, only average, only mediocre.

There is no talking to many of these people.  For some reason, repeating ‘but you’re a man’ is supposed to have some sort of effect.  I compare it to telling an adopted child ‘but they’re not your real parents’, is this supposed to demean?  Is it supposed to be new information?  For that adopted child, it is best for it to not matter, these are the people who raised and nurtured, so they are the parents.  For me as trans, sure I have a male body, probably even male chromosomes, but I have gender dysphoria.  To repeat to myself ‘I’m a man, I’m a man’ is to create and compound the dysphoria so why would I do it!?  Ah, it’s a delusion you see.  The position is reversed for the trans individual; the delusion is the body we inherited.

We trans folk are mentally ill you see, we couldn’t drive a car in Russia.  It’s scary to think, my mental state has not changed overmuch since the alarm went off.  If I am mentally ill, then it leaves little chance for anyone else, because I function wonderfully in society, whilst I see the normative perish for lack of thirst.

A well adjusted transgender individual could function very well in the incorrect gender for their whole lives, many no doubt do without ever telling anyone.  The problem is, dysphoria exists, it taps at the mind every second, but it does not impair specifically – like all things, it’s not the situation, it’s how you deal with it.  So the choice is, live with the tap-tap-tap of the lie you may be living, or do what you need to do to be free! (Read: in new chains) Transition is a logical, rational decision against a choice-less biological condition.

I would posit that if you think I’m a man, then I’m more of a man for having the guts to transition.  Even more so, it takes a lot of ‘female’ strength to retain a female identity after spending so much time conditioned as a male! Heck, I haven’t started hormones, so I have enough testronic anger and physical strength that if I met some of these bigots on the street they would be picking out teeth through their nostrils.  Nothing so dangerous as a woman scorned, especially in a man’s body.  I wouldn’t do that though, and I diminish myself for saying it, it’s just how strong this body calls out, and a factor I personally despise in myself, just like phallocentric sexual urges.

I know plenty of cisgender males with penises who aren’t men, because they shame themselves, they are slime.  I’ve said to myself in the past – What makes me a man?  That I am honourable, loyal, open, loving, helpful etc.  These are the exact same things that make a woman.  Not body type, not social conditioning. When I do start hormones, I will lose that strength and I will be incredibly vulnerable, and this is when real men will step up for me. This is when I will start using a women’s bathroom in public (note it is not called the vagina bathroom, or the XX bathroom), because there are enough pretenders in man-suits who would murder me just as quickly, and I just wanna pee.

Put simply, I don’t ‘think’ I am a woman, it is an unconscious compulsion that creates a specific demand which burdens little of my mental alacrity, it is just very, very, very annoying.  What man thinks he is a woman?  It is a trick question, no man thinks he is a woman, only a woman does, it is a logical fallacy.  If I thought I was a woman, then I would have a mental illness and I’d sign myself into a mental institution.

Trans folk can look kind of strange, sure, but please present us with an alternative.  To remove what makes us dysphoric through pills or reparative therapy would be to remove our personality, our individuality.  Trans is trans.  I get transphobia, the assumed sexualisation, perversion, fetishistic deluded state – it is the mistake of thinking that transition is a mental/social/cultural issue, whereas it is truly a biological/medical issue.

I will not disagree with those who for honourable reasons disagree with me invading a ‘female-only’ space, or for damaging my otherwise healthy body.  There will always be psycho trans who will ruin it, but the vast majority of weirdoes and psychopaths in the world are not trans, even proportionally. Being raised as male, I can share those concerns and worries now that I know myself to be female minded, but we have to work together here, to respect each other’s privacy.


Leelah Alcorn

This blog is now and forever dedicated to Leelah, and to all trans youth who have suffered and lost their lives.  I am forever in awe of trans youth.  Though I didn’t know much about it when I was young, I’m not sure I would have had the guts to come out.  I got enough grief in school for having long hair to nearly go on a suicidal rampage, but to come out as she did, and others do, in her situation?  That’s amazing, that’s brave.  It is the bravest of us who get chastised and marginalised, that’s counting those with other myriad complicating life issues.  You are the people worth caring about, and you have my love.  I wish I could renew your strength from afar for all you deserve.

To Leelah, look how many people she is helping now.  Her own experience may have ended in tragedy, but she has become a life donor, she has spread awareness and given hope to others, I think she may save a lot of beautiful lives.  I love you SO much Leelah, Rest In Power.

Used without permission, only empathy.

Used without permission, only empathy.

Suicide and suicide idealation are very dangerous things.  Even with the strength and experience I demand to possess, sometimes it seems… … … sometimes it seems like that option makes more sense.  Rather than be a ‘freak’, rather than never being genetic, rather than never being accepted, rather going through the whole overblown nightmare.  But it’s bull, it is a challenge life sets for us and no matter what we can persevere.  You can always try again, you can always start again from nothing.  Suicide is not the resolution of a problem, it is the end of the opportunity to resolve the problem.


Trans problems vs. Life problems.

Are there trans problems?  I will say again, I am very new trans, so my words hold little water against those with more complete real life experience.  The medical transition, that is a trans problem.  The social transition is partly a trans problem in the transitional period, afterwards I will argue (with zero authority) that these problems become life problems.  Getting murdered for being trans is a life problem, because we are not responsible for the actions of others’.

I lost four friends today because I couldn’t deal with the karmic injustice and relationship comparisons.  I’m still very upset that for all my love that has been cheated and trampled upon leaving me alone, that those who cheat and call their partner a ‘cancer on the world’ get rewarded with love, sex, companionship and closeness.  This is a life problem.

Two of those friends were close females and now I have no girl buddies to help me transition.  This is a life problem.  I scare myself to think I may never be in another relationship again, going further I will say that being trans may significantly reduce my chances of a relationship.  I still think this is a life problem.  I want to reduce the experience of being transsexual into the tiniest possible space, because that’s how small it should be.  Sure, being trans sucks, but you know what, it’s a life problem.

Trans problems are a small circle within the big circle that is life problems.  Trans problems are simply a unique flavour of life problems.  For all anyone knows, the perfect partner awaits those who are true.  What use is half a heart?


Personal progress

I met an old friend on NYE, the one I thought would have guessed about me even 10+ years ago.  She was not surprised.  Thank goodness someone knew.  The party was well represented by L, G, B and I was the cherry T on top.  It’s good to get out there, fewer people care than I would have thought, again they were more interested in my husky hat.  Walking past a bar an old man called me over, on seeing who I was he simply said ‘F*** Off’.  I laughed right in his face, because even if I were the most beautiful natural girl I still wouldn’t have wasted more than those few seconds indulging a feckless hack.

I read my journals to write a 2014 year in review and read all the increasingly obvious signs of dysphoria. Talk about an elephant in the room! How easily humans can be blinded by that which is eminently obvious.

Second laser appointment went well, for all the squirming pain.  I’m upgrading the pain from ‘rubber band with a drawing pin’ to ‘rubber band with a drawing pin covered in electricity and fire’.  My previously furry hands are basically hair free, as are the sides of my cheeks and a little bit under the chin.  The shadowlands however can be burned and burned but still they will not dissipate, it will take a long time, though at least the growth speed and darkness have somewhat abated.  I’m noticing all the tiny fine white hairs that will need to be needled out for even greater cost and agony.  Because it’s all for vanity, right? It is much more painful to not have it done, that’s all.

At work, I’ve set a transition date with the manager, which will free me to live completely full time in all aspect of my life. 8th of April 2015 will be the day I am female to all I will know and meet until it is legally verified, forever.  For this I booked a week off, and will write a letter with help from management to hand to out-of-office staff on the day I go off to allow them time to take in the information and talk to the office staff who already know.

Here’s how big a deal gender transition is.  On the day before I go off, I will work my butt off and I will go home at 5pm.  On the day I come back full Amy, I will work my butt off and I will go home at 5pm.  I’m too busy to answer a lot of questions.  I simply ask for the respect and courtesy to change my pronoun. I’m not asking them to indulge in a delusion, I’m asking them to help me with my dysphoria.

I am very lucky, my name is Jamie which I will keep for professional situations, we have single stall toilets of which the disabled doubles as the female, and we wear a unisex uniform.  The only changes that will be on show is a little make up, using a different bathroom and I suppose a different voice.  The staff still to find out are generally 50+, and I also deal with a lot of Christian groups, so they may be perturbed, but guess what, either do your job/use the service, or don’t.  I’m still doing my job.

Voice is still the thing that will ruin me.  I have been practising, sure there are exercises and chats about tone, resonance, frequency and so on, but still I’m not seeing the connection between that and what the result is supposed to be. It will be the last piece of this current puzzle.

I got my eyebrows done properly yesterday and they look great even with boyface, and on Saturday I’m finally going to get my hair cut and styled.  This is a massive step for me, because it will give me a more obvious feminine demeanour that just cannot be hidden, not that I would want to hide.  I’m more nervous about this than the laser for some reason.

I got to use my Christmas savings to buy enough clothes to get by without ever having to dress like an out and out male ever again.  Funny thing is, I dress like a lesbian, or at the very least a tragic transsexual, but I don’t mind.

Big regards go out to Rockstar Games.  Not only have they allowed me to move my GTA Online profile from Xbox to PS4, but I was able to change my name, and change my gender.  That’s right, my name is MetalAmy, I have a rocket launcher and you don’t. And I dress like Rob Halford. >_<

I see the issue now between transition-ing and transition itself, that is, without a decent voice, there’s no point wearing good make up; without correct presentation, clothes are irrelevant.  At one point it will all come together.  I’m very out and out because I don’t intend to stay in this town, and I don’t deny it.  I’m happy to be seen as trans for now, even though I see myself as female.  I think I want it to be obvious at this point, so people can see the causation of what I’m striving to achieve, that I know who I am.

I wonder what I can do to spread awareness? I can do it here to the world, and locally in the real-o-sphere.  Knowledge is great, but just to give folks the chance to see me in action and realise there’s nothing particularly weird going on apart from my own personal experience, as well as how I look and sound.  Plus I love the look on people’s faces’ when I tell them my name is Amy in a deep masculine voice.  I also find shop keepers specifically look away, or over compensate with masculine terms like ‘man’, ‘mate’, and ‘sir’.

You don’t need to look good to feel good. Biologically we are all fleshy blob sacks, and attraction is only determined by reproductive demand. We are getting past this evolutionary crutch as reproduction takes care of itself enough that so what if homosexuals and transsexuals aren’t committed to ‘natural’ task. Maybe that’s why we can be seen as freaks, from the false belief that we have no place or even right to be, because it is assumed we do not wish to procreate, and are therefore not part of the human experience.

Folks just don’t understand, of course they don’t, I didn’t until about six months ago and I’ve been dysphoric all my life.  So let’s be strong little transgender lovelies and spread the homemade honest goodness that we in general come to represent!

In the longest and darkest of nights, day still comes.

Leelah!  Leelah!  Leelah!

With kind love and headscratches for all,

Amy Xx

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gender, identity, transgender

How to Snore Like a Girl

Phew, times flies in such a way it feels like being strapped to the front of a ruthlessly chugging train. Sometimes it can feel like the train was left at the depot.  Already it’s that time to reflect and look forward, the past is done and a hard year can still be a good year.

I had my first full laser appointment at a clinic last week. I’ve decided to pay for this myself rather wait for NHS treatment which could begin around the same time as RLE and hormones, which would be unacceptable for me. I’m not sure which it hurt most, my face or my purse.  Who am I kidding, it is flipping painful!  This was an Alexandrite laser to compliment my light skin and dark hair, not even electrolysis so we’re not even at full scream yet.  Imagine an elastic band with a drawing pin through it constantly snapping: it’s a sharp, immediate, very annoying pain.  However, the hurt only lasts for a second, then it’s gone forever, so what is most important in this situation is to just take it, because one minute after the 50-minute treatment, I felt ready to go again.

I got my hands done as well, as a comparison I can see how truly resilient male facial hair is.  My hands have shown about 2mm growth only in a week with some nice closed follicles, whereas there is barely a noticable effect on my face, though it is growing slightly more slowly as a whole.  Upper lip is the biggest killer and the most important, visualization techniques can help…imagine a nice soft face. Ok, it doesn’t help, but an hour of pain every few weeks is better than a lifetime of moustache.

Second GIC appointment was an interesting back and forth which left me feeling somewhat dissatisfied, yet more resolute.  I’m not trying to play devil’s advocate with my identity, I know there is little true certainty, but I need to be challenged.  It doesn’t satisfy me to say ‘I’m trans’ and have it so easily accepted.  I’m not being transphobic, I’m just saying, if you are the doctor for this case, maybe try to seek out reasonable doubt?  The potential effect on individual well-being is too enormous take it so seemingly lightly.

She’s playing her game though (i.e. doing her job), and I wonder if she is trying to help me or if I’m seeing things wrong.  Something did make a big impact on me though, when discussing transition, she asked ‘What’s stopping you?  What’s holding you back?’

Uh.

I don’t know?  Everything and nothing?  Looking into it, the things I think are holding me back are life issues, not trans issues.  Fear of lonliness is rightfully exacerbated but it is still more a life issue than a trans issue for example.  My problem is not how the outside world may view it, but how I view myself.  Maybe you know what it’s like, some days it feels like the most natural thing in the world, other days moods get in the way.

I have a sense of embarassment, but only because I didn’t have that female upbringing; I don’t know what goes with what or what looks good together yet, and that makes me feel more like a fraud than the worries of public presentation. Sometimes I sense those ingrained male traits, but it’s important to not be too harsh, this is a learning process with a steep curve.

So, nothing really is holding me back.  Still, transition for me is a process, not an event, I’ve decided to take another big step forward.  I’ve told my mother and friends that they can call me Amy exclusively and use the pronouns, and that I appreciate their efforts.  Comfortable as this is for me, I have to continually present an acceptable image for us all to progress, no aesthetic gender-flipping. Especially with a male voice, it’s not fair to present as male and expect to be referred to as female, because of my body – this is not an afforded luxury as it is for cis-folk, and is probably the most difficult part about being trans.  Many clothes are needed.

When I go back to work I’m going to inform my manager that the transition is on, then tell my grandparents and that will be that, the first in a new series of intensifying anti-climaxes.  I’ll transition at work, but I’ll still be just as busy so no-one will have time to make a big deal out of it.  Indeed, it’s something I discussed with my therapist, what is the big deal?  Like many things trans, a dangerous dichotomy exists.  It’s as big of a deal as you want it to be.  Just please don’t drown me in a toilet, or cook me and place my body parts under the floor boards.  I used to be offended through my ignorance of trans issues, but just because I’ve gotten over it, doesn’t mean there aren’t nasty bigots out there waiting to ruin lives.

Yet, I wonder, was the therapist seeing through my pragmatism and offering me the best help of all?  In amongst our session, she said the long wait for treatment was to ensure a consistent gender identity incongruity and a consistent wish to transition.  I can argue with myself all day, and I can sneakily go see other counsellors, but this is the doctor who keeps the gates for me.  As much as I can reap the psychological benefits of these sessions, I get it now – I have to present clearly my female identity, not my doubts about it, in order to progress.  I need to help the doctor feel more comfortable, to make her job easier when she writes the reports to justify her decisions.

From now on, I will go into these appointments and say ‘My name is Amy, I suffer from perennial gender dysphoria and have done since I was a child.  It exists to such an extent that I am not able to lead the rest of my life in an acceptably regular fashion. I understand that these feelings may never alluviate unless I take steps to balance out this unconscious incongruity.  I find that assuming the female identity I have in my mind in my external life diminishes these feelings.  I wish to spend the rest of my life living in this female role, as I am female, and am here seeking treatment options, specifically hormones and eventually surgery.  I am of sound mind and I will present this case to you in each appointment until I reach the point through treatment where my dysphoria has abated to the extent that it is no longer a disabling factor in my life.’

I’ve went out presenting fully femme rather than androgenous femme more often of course, I’ve even went to the bar in heels, just casually, trying to go by the philosophy of ‘I don’t give a f***’.  I know what I look like, I know what I sound like, I get what I am.  Sure I’ll still get called by male terms, but like I say, it’s a process, it starts off at the most difficult and hopefully gets a little easier as time goes by.  Simply, I didn’t much look at strangers when I was out as male, certainly, I don’t look at people to gauge their reactions of me, so when I’m out being myself, why should I change how I view the world?  That is not the goal here.  Don’t listen to ascerbic little me though, I find the entire process arbitrary, though it can feel fantastic. [EDIT – I should be careful, as trans it can be very important to be aware of your surroundings, for safety’s sake.]

To be honest, folks were more interested in what animal my hat is supposed to be.

It's.  A.  Husky!

It’s. A. Husky!…?

If you wanted to put it a certain way, you could say my transition is tragic.  My make up is low power, facial hair shows through, I have the voice of a man, and my fashion sense leaves much to be desired.  Yet, it is not tragic, it is confident.  I am finding my own style, I am accepted by people, I feel good.  It’s easy to look and sound stupid, just talk to a few people and they will prove it for themselves too, being trans is just that large bit more obvious, and it’s from here that I think some of the biggest worries and insecurities come from.

I try not to think about being trans, my brain does that automatically, so I am a pretty cynical transitioner.  It’s too easy to over-think and convolute things, and no-one will have a more convoluted opinion of trans identites than the trans people themselves.  As much as the process moves ever forward, I find it important to keep stepping back.  In times when thoughts begin to get carried away or become too painful, the effect is pronounced and it’s no use mentally self-flagellating as punishment.

The title of this post ‘How To Snore Like A Girl’, is about limitation. Understanding of limitation is a strength, it shows us we understand our own power level and how to get the most out of our abilities, and what parts of our lives to not waste time on.

It may sound trite, but count your blessings. Each life has little things taken for granted that make big differences, things which when taken away show how fulfilling they were. Even in loss, one can understand that while not full, one need not be empty.

I deeply want to thank all my readers and followed bloggers for the kind comments and inspirational, insightful posts this year. We transfolk have our place in the evolution of humanity, for human nature is the greatest impediment to its’ own progress. Once we can move past the petty qualities of the human condition, then we can embrace the greater truths and loves of the universe.

Let’s make 2015 an amazing year! Let me see the passion in those eyes flare up once more!

With unquenchable hopes,

Amy Xx

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