hrt, mtf, transgender, Uncategorized

Amy does a Gender: 7 Months HRT

ladscapeamy

After a while it’s barely worth thinking about anymore.  However, the thoughts will still persist.  Once trans hits, that’s it – you can forget at times, but it’s still going to bite, even if you ‘pass 100%’ Better to seek peace.

I barely even know what to say at this point that could be helpful for someone beginning their own adventure.  I don’t think that’s particularly uncommon, after a while it’s just regular living again.  I made a video documenting as best I can of the effects that I’ve noticed:

I keep saying to myself ‘I haven’t changed,’ but then I look at a video of myself from a year ago and wonder who that person is.  More has changed about who I am in the past year than has ever changed in my life.  Part of it is HRT, part of it becoming more comfortable in transition, part of it is the massive acceleration of personal growth.  At this point, I feel ready to leave almost all of my past behind except the lessons I’ve learned and the people I love.

I turned 30 recently, and I can tell you for sure that HRT still does plenty, it’s not too late; it’s never too late.  With this I have discovered a wonderful benefit to being trans ‘later in life.’ I read these articles about how it’s harder to make friends after turning 30, but being a modern day transgender person you’re just a few clicks away from encountering another trans person.  That’s not to say friendship is guaranteed; I’ve been treated badly by plenty of transfolk at this point, but the opportunity is there.

Being trans is neither a good nor a bad thing; it’s just something that happens, leaving the individual with choices about how to deal with that information.  All one can do is try their best, and at one point be able to say, ‘This is good enough [for me].’

A question I’ve been asking of myself a lot recently is ‘What is my gender?’ I light-heartedly labelled myself as polygender months ago and it has stuck.  For what limited experiential knowledge anyone has of internal gender, I feel it swishing about like a spirit level in a washing machine, I can’t pin it down.  I suppose this makes me genderfluid, I suppose this makes me non-binary, and I’m more terrified of that than I ever was of coming out as transgender to begin with.  The more ‘feminine’ I come to look, the more ‘masculine’ I feel to act.

It’s so easy for me.  I feel as though I’m transitioning in a way that will hopefully be the norm in the future; that is, transition, move on, without all the real world damage so many trans people endure.  I have had the wonderful pleasure of making friends with the amazing Naomhan (tirnanogender.wordpress.com), who is non-binary (them/theirs) recently.  That future only comes when non-binary folk can do the same as I’m doing, no matter how difficult that seems.  If you are binary trans or cis, go meet an ‘enby,’ ask them about their lives and pronouns, and come to understand the unique difficulties they face in our binary world.  Then try to feel humble and gracious, expressing gratitude.

That all being said, I know I’m incredibly privileged.  I have a body, a face and a voice now that could carry me through as cis-normative if I were so inclined to put in that effort.  I still haven’t gotten any hassle on the streets, haven’t been held back medically overmuch, and haven’t been denied public services.  I still avoid a lot of places though – clothes shops, cosmetics stores, swimming pools, gyms, public toilets (whenever possible) – and these are issues that become less urgent as I compromise, and focus on more important life matters.

Passing?  Still I refuse to try to pass, although when it does happen I can’t deny I like it.  It happens in the strangest situations.  I can be all done up, looking great, get misgendered and have my day ruined, and then a few days later, still sad and wearing ‘male’ garb, no makeup and pass grandly.  It’s very strange, although as I was warned, as time goes by misgendering hurts more and more, because it can make me feel like I’ve achieved nothing, because I’ve still put in a lot of energy into this.

I understand the contradiction in this and the unrealistic expectations I set for society.  Gender is a scam once you figure it out, but the demands of dysphoria are very real.  It is a serious balancing act to find personal inner freedom whilst trying to stop society from bringing it down.

Images of water appear once more.  Rather than repress what simply is, one can follow a path of less resistance; water flows where it wills, and where it wills is where it wants to, unknowingly.

“Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.

Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”
Bruce Lee

 

What is in a pretty face?  Where will it get you?  It will get you noticed, it will get you objectified.  It will get people telling you ‘oh, but you’re so pretty’, while you gasp in exasperation at the change in attitude, at the little bodily flaws…or the big flaws between the legs.  Thankfully with HRT these flaws are not only physically less, but they feel less.  Sure, dysphoria flares up from time to time, but after a while it becomes exhausting and all that matters is finding ways to get through the days, to make them valuable.

And aren’t I so pretty:

Remember, looking good is not the same as passing.  Just make sure to rock what you do!  And if you’re feeling insecure, I don’t actually look like that:

IMG_5295.JPG

Finally I feel like I did about five years ago, when I was single and filled with self-love; my best self living as a seemingly cisgender male.  Actually, I feel better than that….in fact, I feel better than I ever have in my life.  That doesn’t mean I’m happy, it means I can finally see forward.  I see the life I can have without constrictions, and what’s more, I want it.  Transition ends at some point, one dream fulfilled so what about those other dreams?  Don’t lose them.

I get so much inspiration from other transfolk who fulfil their ambitions.  I know scientists, teachers, activists, parents, engineers, videographers, musicians, games developers; people who remind me on a daily basis that being trans does not discount you from living a life of joy, perhaps even in excess of cisfolks.

At the moment, I have little in the way of practical success, but I am hopeful and ready to work.  At some point, this transition business will have to take a backseat, and it’s coming sooner than I imagined.  In the next few weeks I will have my second opinion to be referred for lower surgery.

My timeline has been working on the assumption that I would be waiting at least two years from referral, pending said second opinion, however the information I’ve been getting from Northern Ireland is that it’s closer to 7-8 months.  This depends on how much laser hair removal I might need downstairs but the possibility is that I could be looking at surgery in the first half of 2017.

Scary?  Not yet.  Until I get that confirmation date, until I’m on that table it’s not happening.  I’ve always been scared of any kind of surgery, yet with this I’m Zen.  Of course I’m scared of some things – of being put to sleep, of perhaps never waking up, of talking nonsense as I come round from anaesthetic, of the bleeding, of the back pain, of the defecating in a kidney dish, of getting dilated by a nurse, of dilating myself, of having to always dilate, of granulation, of loss of sensitivity, of lack of depth, of disgust of appearance, of long recovery, of complete failure, of urinary tract infections, and lots more.  However, as a decision?  I was told by myself I should have a vagina when I was 6 years old.  The moment I figured out I was trans I knew surgery would be what I needed.  When that date does come, things will change.

Through all of this, I don’t actually feel like I’ve even begun transitioning in earnest yet.  I’m accepting that I will still assume to feel the same way as I do now emotionally, but in terms of presentation I haven’t bought clothes in months, still with only enough to get by.  I haven’t learned any of the tricks about hair and make-up and whatever else, because to be honest I have other stuff going on.  One day I may get to all that stuff…but it won’t be me transitioning, it will just be me learning as a woman.

I’m still on the same dose I started at, so perhaps some of the issues may change or disappear as I work up to a functioning dosage.  So much as I feel more at peace, this is still a period of flux.  It has been over 8 months since my first and only endocrinologist appointment and it is immensely frustrating having to wait over 6 months to have a secondary blood test taken.  The monthly T-blocker injections I can feel running out over a week before I get topped up (also administration hurts more each time), and I just feel that I’ve gone as far as I can on 2mg, I’m ready for more.

I’m not trying to rush transition, but constant progress is important in getting this over and done with no later than it needs to.  But then, I am patient because I know people who are waiting over 2 years for an initial GIC appointment.  I know people who can’t even get an initial appointment.  I know people who can’t even come out because of the heartbreak it might cause.  So I try to practice being grateful for being able to even come out.

In my recent experience, it’s all a confidence game.  When you open the door to doubt it will quickly slither through.  In learning to be more confident in accepting my voice for example, I am more comfortable in public and I get a more positive response, even though my voice hasn’t actually changed (except maybe as a result of the confidence!).

I really don’t know what I’m going to discuss regarding the trans experience anymore.  It has been so totally normalized for me by sheer good fortune that I don’t feel I have anything to contribute, but I still want to try to help.  There’s still a long way to go though, with no doubt a few big setbacks and victories still to come.

So far, this is a story that has love, friendship, acceptance, inner understanding, revelation, growth, change.  It has also had depression, heartbreak, loss and anxiety I will remind you, but it is a beautiful thing to truly find yourself and show it to the world.

Namaste,

Amy Xx

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gender, transgender, Uncategorized

When dysphoria calms

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

Sexuality

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

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

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

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

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


 

Self-Love

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

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

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


 

Gender Theory

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading,

Amy Xx

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

 

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