hrt, identity, transgender

Wait, I was transitioning? (15+ months HRT)

The Prostap Nightmare

I spent the first 14 months of HRT living a nightmare.  The T-blocker I was on (leuprorelin acetate sold as Prostap SR) crushed and suppressed my already failing mental health.  I have read stories of people who take it for endometriosis and other ailments who have had their lives destroyed on it as I have.  Some people react fine to it, all things considered as a t-blocker it has less side-effects than the others.

Now I am on Spironolactone, a 100mg tablet, twice a day.  All of a sudden the dark clouds have been lifting around me and I begin to reassert a sense of personal identity.  Some people conversely react as badly to Spiro as I did to leuprorelin, so I am saying to you now, if you have a blocker and your mental health is failing for no discernable reason, please look into it.  Furthermore, I already pee quite a lot, and Spiro exacerbates this to the extent that I can barely make a 90 minute car journey without having to stop at least once to pee.  In my case it seems I’m actually allergic to Spiro as evidenced by the rashes and hives I’ve been getting since starting.  Anti-histamines help but I’m asking a lot from my body to process all these drugs.

Changing a male bodied physiology in terms of removing testosterone is asking a lot of the mind.  On top of the depression, my libido was castrate – let me clarify, it wasn’t a low sex drive, it was a complete removal of a sex drive.  If you know unfettered male bodies then you’ll know that quite regularly it will make sexual demands and get frequent erections in anticipation of the natural release. This is much less likely to happen on HRT, as such one’s neurology has to play catch up to the new information it is being fed against the template it was set at birth.

On Spironolactone, my sex drive is coming back, very slowly.  It’s different now, visualization is an insufficient fantasy – there has to be a story, there has to be a connection.  When it comes to sexual activity I can no longer just get ‘up’ and go.  This works fine for me because as a demisexual I am only attracted to people I have a close connection with.  This experience is not universal, some trans women experience a significant increase in sex drive as they are now free to experience sex more honestly.  Pleasantly my infrequent erections have ceased to become as painful as they were a few months ago, though not necessarily from any change in my behaviour that way.

Surgery as a stick where the carrot should be

The grossest impediment to gaining a healthy sexual functioning (aside recovering from personal experiences of abuse and betrayal) is the configuration of my genitals.  Not long ago I had my pre-op consultation with Mr. Thomas from Nuffield Hospital in Brighton.  This process involves filling in a lot of forms, and speaking with a nurse who will be offering first hand care, who provided information sheets about the many things that must be done for GRS to be a success.  She showed us the dilators which aren’t as big as I feared, although try telling me that after the operation.

Next, a meeting with the surgeon himself.  He makes a brief explanation of what will happen in surgery and the likelihood of complications.  He offered an 80% of things being fine, 15% acceptable, and 5% of something going wrong.  For 100% of people, things can and will go wrong randomly, especially if you don’t follow procedure to the letter.  He asked me to lie on a bed, take my trousers and pants down, put a sheet over my genitals and left the room to allow me to do that.  He came back in, removed the sheet and handled my genitals so he could know what he was working with.  We continued our conversation as he was touching me, so be prepared for that.

Then came the hammer blow.  Because I am circumcised there is less material to work with in creating a vagina, therefore I need laser hair removal on my scrotum to give him more material.  Those who are uncircumcised may not need any hair removal at all.  As a consequence these women already have dates for surgery less than 6 months later and I am back in limbo after thinking I was so close to getting this whole process over and done with.

As much as anything it’s my own fault, I should have known, I should have been privately getting hair removal for the past two years and this wouldn’t have been an issue.  See, the GIC won’t sign off on funding for hair removal until the surgeon makes his assessment, and when the surgeon makes his assessment he is ready to operate as soon as his conditions are met.  Since, I have liaised with private laser therapists and electrolysists.  The woman who lasered my face at a private clinic as I was waiting for NHS facial hair removal was happy enough to zap my scrotum, however she needed to know what the surgeon wanted. ‘Three fingers from the base of the scrotum’ Mr Thomas said, although he has pretty thick fingers so I’m saying four.

Now I’m on the NHS pathway and counting down the weeks. 6 weeks until consultation, followed by 6 sessions of laser spaced around 6 weeks apart. 42 weeks. Then, most likely a further 12 weeks with an electrolycist to clear up the remaining hairs. 54 weeks.  Another YEAR of waiting.  If you want to be sure you are smooth down there, electrolysis alone will take two years.  Some time can be saved however.  Mr Thomas said to get in touch with his secretary for setting a date when hair removal was ‘nearing completion’ and I know some people try to set the date so that surgery comes just a couple of weeks after the last hair removal appointment and the area has had time to heal.

I really have always hated my balls, they’re disgusting things, and to feel held hostage by them, to feel my destiny is in limbo because of hair on them is extremely frustrating. More people have seen my genitals in the past few months than lovers do over years, although it’s only uncomfortable if you make it uncomfortable.  Getting my balls lasered was nowhere near as painful as getting my face done, in a sick way it felt a bit nice, and for a change I could have a conversation with the consultant without screaming due to the big laser in my face.

This is the biggest miscalculation I have made in my transition so far, so if you are circumcised and want GRS then you may want to consider starting genital hair removal no sooner than 2 years before surgery is anticipated.  Be wary though, some women have had GRS and been left with patchy hair patterns because they removed too much hair.

As a result of all this I’ve had to be a little more forward with the GIC, because it’s not just the waiting, t-blockers are poison.  I let them know of my anger in putting trans folk though so much unnecessary medical treatment.  The general health of a trans woman is considered to be better post GRS due to not having to take extra daily medication (I actually think that a large part of the elation after GRS is the rejuvenation of health from not having to take blockers).

I told my GIC therapist that ‘a friend’ who attended the clinic had been feeling depressed and was scared to bring it up in case they were denied service.  She reassured me and I was able to then admit that it was me who had the problems.  For any stories I’ve heard of her stopping medication she informed me that this mostly happens when a patient is clearly in a place of extreme distress.  In explaining my situation calmly she had no reason to deny me.  The next appointment I admitted to her that it’s possible I have Borderline Personality Disorder and she has offered to help me with it, because it is separate from my experience of being trans.

The medical stuff is hard.  It’s important to put the fears of ‘transition takes years’ into perspective.  Yes, this all takes a long time, slowly chipping away at the physical characteristics and growing into a new way of being.  Throughout all that is a comfortable window in which to come to terms with your situation and take care of whatever legal issues you have as well as figuring out how you feel you want to socially transition and then doing it, in earnest.

Oh yeah, wasn’t I supposed to be transitioning?

So, what does that social change look like after over two years out and 15 months on HRT?  It’s not what you likely expect, it’s much much less than that, depending on perspective.

You are already you.  First you let go of what you’re not, then do you on a radical scale.  That may or may not look like very much internally or externally, but for an adult trans person there is a body of work that will take years even if it just simmers.  Understood and cherished concepts may go completely out the window as you come to learn about the experiences of life as another gender in a world where men and women are kept separate in the extreme.  For non-binary and some intersex people comes yet another layer of awareness to the complexity of our gendered constraints.

Personally, I still don’t get the whole thing.  I’ve been in too vulnerable a state the past year that I haven’t actively done anything to ‘transition.’  The good news is that regardless of HRT, transition happens automatically as you gain lived experience; every day brings a new experience, lesson or challenge of belief that locks you further into your identity, if you so choose.

When I buy clothes, I’m not transitioning anymore. When I put on make up I’m not transitioning anymore.  Transition may last forever but there is nothing I’m actively doing aside allowing the concrete to set on my identity.  Honestly, I just don’t care that much about presentation, I mostly wear jeans and a t-shirt – I can’t afford lots of female fit clothes and I still have plenty of good male clothes.  Obviously I look more masculine wearing the male clothes but it doesn’t seem to be an issue because people are looking at my face and hearing my voice.

When I speak I am very much still transitioning.  By all accounts my voice seems to be ‘good enough’ – I’m trying to be objective here…I can deduct that it’s not a male voice even though I kept my masculine parlance; it’s not really a gender neutral voice, because people’s brains assume gender automatically and the brain is seemingly only wired to say ‘male’ or ‘female.’  I work passively with my voice – through simple awareness of speaking – as an option because I spent 8 long months of intensive daily practice working on it and there is still a lot of fine tuning to do.  The fun thing is, as soon as someone has that automatic assumption of your correct gender, it can take quite surprising amount of obvious male gestures to get them to question it.

I am constantly carrying out overt and covert social experiments to understand the boundaries of layman gender understanding.  Maybe it’s a dangerous game but I seem to get away with it.  I am often quite cocky in public (I’m a total poser), even alone, I walk often with a masculine gait, and I think that confidence deters people who are determined to involve themselves in my day.  That and wearing pretty scruffy clothes that leave little room for extreme gendering.

I can do this because I know how lucky I am.  HRT has done wonders to feminize my face, and since it is many people’s first identifier I have an advantage for an easier life until society catches up with the notion that a woman, or a trans woman, shouldn’t be judged for her looks (see Mia Violet’s article Transgender Liberation Means an End to “Passing”).  Also 15 sessions of laser hair removal over the last 2+ years has made a massive difference.  If so inclined I could count problem hairs on my face and they would number less than 100, which is more than enough to make my face smooth.  When I finish laser some hair may eventually start to grow back, then it’s either top-up laser or electrolysis.  I can go a couple of weeks without shaving, even then it’s only because of those few little hairs annoying me.

To illustrate these changes I took a photo of my face every day for my first year of HRT. For your awareness I already had 7 laser treatments when the first photo was taken.  Here are the results:

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Attractiveness isn’t exciting

Around 14 months HRT I had to make the conclusion that in general I look like a woman, and it’s a pretty good feeling, though it is relative.  It doesn’t do anything to improve my life however, in fact I find it quite annoying at times.  My looks have become a focal point of praise for who I am, and I just don’t think my looks are an interesting topic except as a study into human behaviour.

I ‘pass’ most of the time now, in fact I haven’t been misgendered in quite a while, somehow.  The infrequent odd looks I would get from people don’t happen at all really, although people stare at me for acting weird the same way they did whilst living as male.  What I have noticed though, is that the rare times I do go out wearing a dress or a little bit of make up it’s almost exclusively men, not looking, but staring at me…if I was more confident I’d say they were checking me out.  On the one hand I can strongly assume I’m passing at that time but on the other I have all these guy boring their eyes into me.  I can totally see why some women get annoyed at the sense that these men are not just objectifying, but almost trying to impose ownership on women’s bodies.

Aside from a blatant sexual assault over the summer (a story for another time) I have guys coming up to me in bars and other public spaces.  I forget that I’m not being seen as a guy; they aren’t coming up for a chat or a fight, they’re coming for a woman, and if they can get away with it, to impose on my personal space.  It’s jarring to have to live this experience I’ve seen from the outside with apoplectic anger since I was a teenager.  Women aren’t oppressed? Try being one.  I’m still waiting for the first decent man to come and talk to me, aside friends of friends.  I was imposed certain principles of what a man is growing up – it was somewhat misogynistic but with honourable intent, as in respect for all people, especially women, to protect women, and to not touch them without consent.  Even in general, you don’t get into someone’s personal space ever without their permission.  Just another perspective on the puzzle that is people.

Body changes happen also in the mind

On a more pleasant note, I have been noticing the changes on my body more and more.  Now it’s my body I look at in the mornings rather than my face.  My breasts, though still not ‘dropped’ are much bigger than I ever expected they would be and I actually feel a weight behind them.  They look very small but they feel much bigger, and personally I’m satisfied, all I have to do is wear a bra and there’s no dispute that’s they’re probably breasts.  I’m almost pushing a C cup, surprising since both sides of my family have pretty small boobs.

They don’t look great but they work for me, the same as when I do look at the changes in my body I do it with the affirming knowledge that I have a woman’s body, on a male frame.  That’s what being trans IS.  You must, at some point, come to a place of acceptance of your born state.  Even though I envision myself as looking indistinguishable from a (certain kind of, cis-) woman naked, I still allow myself the peace of what I am, what I have strived for, rather than what I can’t change.  My hands will always be suspiciously large, my shoulders will always seem a little broader, my feet may seem larger than is expected of a woman in the cis world.  Again, we’re talking centimetres here, that is the difference between male and female bodies, not whole worlds.  In reality this isn’t something I think about often, I’m just trying to explain what can happen; I’ll give my breasts a little squeeze at the end of the day and glow in the light of my determination.  Regardless of how much you may know you need to go through all this, it takes a special human grit, and we all have it in us regardless of circumstance, remember that!

I am in the market for a slimmer waist, a fairly unreasonable goal.  As much as it hasn’t gotten slimmer at all, my hips continue to grow, further creating the illusion of a narrower waist.  That said, some mornings when I look at my body before eating I become shocked by the extent of apparent changes.  With the presence of my breasts it creates a figure that I would find attractive in a woman, so I concluded as humbly as possible that therefore I can be attractive.  Sometimes I still don’t like my body, especially with, you know, a penis in the mix, but that’s totally normal.  It means I’m at the point where my sense of body image is dependent on my self-confidence, not the sense of my own inevitable masculinity.  I could compress my waist with a year or more of corseting, but corsets are deeply uncomfortable and remind me too jaggedly of the aspects of transition I don’t really need to achieve that badly through struggle.

With so long to wait still until surgery I’m trying to put it out of my mind for now.  Soon will come a time where I must get stronger, healthier, fitter and happier to maximize my chances during recovery; quit smoking, come to terms, prepare etc, but that isn’t now.  All I can really do now is keep working on my voice and keep learning, every day.

Misery doesn’t have to stop transition

Finally, I know I don’t post much, I have a lot of topics aside these general updates that I really want to write about, but to be honest, I’ve been in a very bad emotional state for a long time.  A large part of it was down to the t-blocker I was on.  I thought it was just how HRT worked, that I could tough it out, and I have no idea how I coped with it for so long.  However the root cause is personal experience, a really horrible dragged out ending to a relationship with my first love over two years ago, and foreknowledge about losing the best job I ever had, coalescing to become the catalyst for me to realise I am a transsexual all happening within a few weeks.

Transition ironically became moot to me, it was something I had to do that I have invested the minimum amount that dysphoria directs me to do – by that I mean I have been assertive in organising transition related appointments for as soon as possible and going to every single appointment no matter how inconvenient, whilst letting every other aspect of my life fall apart – but I’ve been dying inside throughout the whole process with a broken heart and broken dreams.  My mental health is improving, but I still don’t have any reason in my life, and while that is the case transition just hasn’t been a priority.  I’ve still done all I could to speed up the process because I just want to clear the path to deal with these more pertinent issues.  Being trans isn’t everything, it’s one thing.

Transition has never been the top priority in my life, and I’ve done it with a constant intense feeling of hopelessness for the fate of my life that severely depressed people go through.  I’m trying to be kinder to myself, and I have a better chance on the new t-blockers, but the life I want to rebuild isn’t as a woman, it’s as a successful person.  What I’m saying is, you can still feel awful through transition, you can be totally broken, and you can still do it as well as you want to.  I haven’t had the motivation or the reason to do anything for over two years now, there’s no joy in it for me, but somehow I just kept allowing my dysphoria to push my journey and it has worked out.

I was lucky enough to have a relationship with a woman this year – it didn’t last because frankly I’m just too messed up (we’re still on good terms), but she showed me that I really can meet someone who treats me right, who respects me, who listens to me.  For all the shock of transitioning, it’s such sweet solace every time something or someone grounds you back to reality in a way you thought was lost, to the point now where I consider myself as secure and unconcerned with my identity as a woman as I was with being a man before I had my realisation.

On top of everything, I have a fantastic network of incredibly supportive cis and trans friends, and my immediate family are amazing.  I’ve spent my life investing in my personal relationships so much as I am able, and the payoff is loving friends who stick by you, regardless of the adversity you face together as transgender person, and public ally.

I’m a very lucky woman.  And if you’re preparing for this journey, or on your way, you can feel this way too.  Just keep going and it will come, in your own way, for you, to share with the people you love, and who love you.

Amy Xx

P.S. If you would like to see some of the physical body results, or are just a pervert, feel free to visit @wrathoftran on Twitter.  Here I post about body and sex issues, so it has a few nude photos of me that I have posted for education and my own satisfaction.  Be warned this feed has a lot of swearing and potentially undesirable content on it. Or visit my main Twitter @unexpectedamy for trans information, experiences and affirmations almost daily.

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hormones, hrt, transgender

Hormones are Momentum

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Surely you’ve seen it?  In the latter quarter of the first year on HRT, the majority of trans women find they have very little to say.  It isn’t a case that changes have stopped, just that the physical and emotional foundations have been set in concrete and it becomes so subtle that it is almost indescribable to explain the sensations without experiencing them yourself.  When you’re doing it, you’re doing it – it’s wonderful to be on the path to an honest life, but the actual process is not that exciting.  I want to optimistic and positive but I also want to try to share the realities of transition away from more acute presentations that I sometimes see in wider trans media.

We simply cannot claim to know very much about our inner workings in general.  Hormones are momentum, it allows transition to be carried by forces other than disabling dysphoria, as in, those initial changes in emotions and mind-mapping at the onset of HRT are quite profound in their nuance; those things that may in general be noticed most broadly as a reduction in aggressiveness, sex drive and a sense of over-emotionality.  These attributes eventually calm down to a regular functioning background level, but the mind is still changing, growing evolving, and it’s all happening sub-consciously.

It’s too much to expect to have one eyeball peering back into the brain to notice all these changes; nobody has the time or awareness to document it all, so it just happens, and you are the change you want to see.


I am three weeks off one year on HRT, and though I remember clearly the days when its’ acquisition was a dream, I barely remember that person.  In a wonderful dichotomy, I recall it clearly because it is me, but I have grown so much in that space in awareness and knowledge that I couldn’t pretend to think with that same mind.  In that, I barely remember who I was 4 months ago so many of the inner workings have changed.

You want to know what trans dreams are?  Utter regularity.  For as remarkably interesting as the experience of transitioning is, it doesn’t hold sanity quite as well as being able to throw on a random dress to go to the shop to buy some milk without having to worry or care about looking out for people who may be looking at you.  When you get over being trans yourself, you can get over it for how anyone else perceives too.serveimage

So, it has been nearly 4 months since an update.  I’ve had my own issues with anxiety both unlinked to transition yet inexorable from hormone medication. In this time I’ve went from being still wary of my perception, to being gendered female the majority of the time, and what’s more is that I understand how people would view me this way regardless of my presentation.  So let’s look at the physical signs:

Hormones: In April I went from 2mg Progynova to 3mg, after finally seeing my endocrinologist for the second time.  Due to my levels still being too low, 2 months later in June I was upped again to 4mg.

Moving up to 3mg was emotionally difficult in the same way coming onto estrogen was initially but less severe.  I found myself pretty depressed and volatile for nearly two weeks but it settled down after that.  Luckily, moving up to 4mg wasn’t a problem, I imagine because my body is getting used to a consistently higher level of estrogen.

Along with this I was prescribed the 12 week injection of Prostap 3DCS which creates a special kind of hell.  I’ve talked to others and had already done enough research to learn Prostap/leuprorelin is absolutely the worst testosterone blocker to be on.  On the 4 week blocker, the last few days were irritating as testosterone trickled back into my system, however I’m only 8 weeks into the 12 week shot and I feel the T seeping back in already, which is normal and very distressing for many.bluespill

Even without that fact, the past two months have seen me feeling more like a eunuch than a woman.  My sex drive is absolutely severed; it’s not low, it simply doesn’t exist.  The influence of a sex drive is a key component in human wellness (even for plenty of asexuals) even if I don’t like to admit it, but without some sort of a drive it’s hard to feel like any kind of person.  This apparently isn’t such an issue on other T-blockers, and like many of my peers I’m seeking an alternative.  For the lack of experiential data on Prostap, I’ve still found that cis men and women on this drug have the exact same problem, and it is not healthy for many active relationships.

Face:  I might say I’m one of the lucky ones, my features initially lent well to the idea of a feminizing face.  A couple of months ago (8 months 17 days into HRT) I saw it finally, a face that I would gender as female; because that matters…as much as my prime goal is to be seen as female in society, I really wanted to see it and believe it for myself, if anything, to deal with the disassociation of being gendered female whilst seeing myself as looking quite male.  That would confuse me, ‘I look like a guy, how don’t people see that?’ Now, I almost consistently see a face way more attractive than dead to rights I am privileged to.  Even from the side in certain angles I look good, and rarely, from below, I could see my jaw and chin just about pull through holistically.

A lot of these benefits come from laser treatments.  I’ve been having laser for over 18 months now, with at least another 6 to go.  I was told at the start it would take this long, and it’s not as grueling as it has to be, if you can start early.  I’ve had 12 sessions in that time with 5 more to go;  I still won’t have a clear face by then, but right now I’d say I only have a couple hundred hairs really coming through at any one time, which considering I had upwards of 30,000 hairs to start with is a massive improvement.  In the last week leading up to laser, many more hairs start to come through, so I know even 2 years of treatment isn’t going to be enough and the next level pain of electrolysis becomes the only long term option.  It’s not 2 years of still having unmanageable facial hair, it consistently gets better and easier to hide, but I personally do recommend making it a priority in transition, on the same level as obtaining HRT, if this is the path you have to go down.

I get called ‘cute’ ‘adorable’ even at times ‘beautiful.’ I’m not boasting – it is a buoying experience, but it can be perturbing without having a certain level of belief and self-love to allow the joy of these compliments.

For years I watched the transition timelines and got that cold dread, I still do.  When I see beautiful trans women I still wish I could look so good, as passably delicious as them…and then I get told they feel the same way, and about me.

 

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A couple of months ago, I would have struggled to find good photos, but now I have an abundance.  I look good right?!  I posit this as a means to your own inspiration, and serve up the treats low expectations can bring.  Sure, it doesn’t always look so good…

It’s a lot better than this…

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Those are ‘Help Me!’ eyes. Sometimes I still have to check out the mirror just to make sure it’s real.  Not as often as I used to, and in some ways I actually feel my face as looking as it does now rather than how it used to, yet behind my more sparkly eyes it is the same person viewing it, and there can be a strange ‘joining dysphoria’ where the mind is still playing catch-up, but it is close to an almost unquestionable reality.

But you know what?  Whoopy-do.  A pretty face doesn’t pay my bills, it doesn’t guarantee me a good honest relationship, and it doesn’t make me not trans; it just gives me a little more wriggle room in playing with public perception.  It’s important not to get caught up in aesthetics; appreciate them, then get humble.

Also, eyebrows.  Going into an eyebrow bar is much less painful than laser and much less humiliatingly worrisome than a GIC therapist asking about your masturbation habits.  It’s a great first step, and when you see how much a wax and shape changes the outlook of your face, you’ll see why eyebrows are a big deal to some people.

Voice: I had my final voice lesson recently, the first of my transition programs to come to an end.  My voice is far from perfect, and still is probably what will get me clocked on most occasions.  I ploughed about 8 months intense daily practice to get to where I am and stopped, and it’s going to take another few months of focused practice to fine tune my voice to sound reasonably passable; since it’s important to me.  However in the meantime, like I’ve said before, confidence and acceptance make a big difference even in the delivery of your voice, as does presentation.  My voice will still sound like the voice I’ve always had in my head to an extent, because it is my voice; even if it were perfectly passable I would still hear myself because we all have a unique vocal identity.  It is simply, my voice, as female.  Embrace that, you’re trying to be yourself, not someone else!

Body: Look, I follow people at the same stage of their journey as me but from all different age groups.  I started HRT at 29 years old and my monthly effects have been corroborated almost identically with a 19 year old, whereas a 24 year old may have very few results, and a 45 year old can have them happen even quicker.  Age is not the prime issue when it comes to HRT results, genetics are.  Also be aware that many people are experts at manipulating their image both in the real world and the digitized one.  Don’t let me or anyone else fool you from the realities of your personal journey.

Changes in my body shape are only now beginning to become more pronounced.  Here’s the thing, male and female human bodies are, in general, remarkably similar.  Humans tend to look like humans.  Sure, primary and secondary traits of gendered biological sexes can seem very blatant, but little has to change to alter innate perceptions of gender.  When you spend time with non-binary and intersex folk you can get a real idea of this, that if ambiguity is possible, then the lines between male and female are mutually blurred within each other.  An inch here, a breast there.

My breasts have been the most notable change, I’d say obviously.  Though they are small and undeveloped, it’s difficult not to notice the two bags of chocolate and cheese fed fatty flesh bumps protruding from me.  I don’t need bra inserts anymore, a simple push up bra can give the idea of some kind of boob if I so choose, barely.  I don’t care about having boobs, but I can’t deny they are fun, and add to a feminine look.  On my mostly male frame they don’t look too good naked, but you take what you can get.

They still hurt to touch and that’s a good thing because it means they are still growing, there’s a long way to go, but it’s already exceeded my low expectations.  I still hate wearing a bra, but now even a long walk without one can be pretty unpleasant.  Like most of transition, it becomes a normal thing and not a particularly exacting subject to spend energy thinking about.

I suppose it shows the major benefit of HRT is that even the most trying dysphoric notions can come and go and be taken for granted after a time, if you let it.

Other changes are the result of wonderful coincidences.  A loss of muscle mass makes the neck, shoulders, and arms seem a little less harsh without any actual reduction in size.  Whilst my waist hasn’t gotten any smaller, the growth of fat around my hips partially creates the illusion of a smaller waist.

The loss of strength is ever more of an issue.  Carrying shopping can become a real problem sometimes and I seem much more prone to foot and leg pain.  I haven’t been exercising as much as I should but still I recognise the difference in capability levels.  Self-defence would be a real concern now because I am simply less able to weigh leverage on a confrontation.

Appetite and weight is also a concern.  Before HRT, I could happily maintain a goal weight of 10st 7lb (147lbs) – 10st 10lbs (150lbs), yet 8 months in I was stuck at 11st 7 lbs (161 lbs) and now, even with making a few changes I’m up to 11st 10lbs (164 lbs) which is unthinkable for me.  Of course this goes into creating new fat masses at a speed quicker than the heavier muscle can atrophy, and it may not show that much, but it bothers me greatly.

 

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Hair continues to grow slightly less coarse and slightly slower but it still comes in annoyingly fast, and it will continue to do so because humans tend to grow a lot of hair.  It is still prominent in my nose, nipples and pubic area but this further highlights the similarity of sexes, especially if you’ve ever seen a cis woman try to remove nose hair with a set of kitchen tongs.

My skin is noticeably brighter than it was six months ago, but again, it’s not something that can be kept track of and as time goes by it’s easy to forget what it felt like the same way I can’t totally remember what my old bed felt like, and it becomes just as relevant.

Aside that, you’re going to have a body that somewhat reminds you of the body you had pre-HRT.  It’s your body, it will always be your body, and that’s a good thing; look at what it can do, look at how effortlessly a human body can at times accept cross-sex hormone therapy.  It is affirmation at its finest.

Mind: As far as emotions go, the drastic ups and downs are settled for the most part as HRT normalises in my system.  I cry as often as I ever did…maybe less in fact, although I am rarely prone to aggressive anger.  Violence still exists in my mind, although it is much less likely to manifest than ever.

My sex drive as I said is minus zero.  Erections are incredibly rare, though still annoyingly robust, and have actually become quite painful.  Trying to force one upon myself fortnightly has now become a struggle to do even monthly.  The pain is just another deterrent in an otherwise defunct sex life.  This however isn’t an exclusive effect.  Many trans women on HRT have regular or high sex drives, and an ability to temper it at will and have a great time, but circumstances personally leave me bereft.

Sex may become more a part of my life at some stage, but I think it’s important to spell out what sex means as a trans woman on hormones seeking surgery.  We should know by now that even genital surgery is not sexually motivated, however, sex can be desirable regardless of genitalia, and with the changes brought about by something like surgery, it’s more of a learning experience to use what you have now being borne out of lack of choice, rather than an explosive coming together of all the hopes of immediate normality in pre-transition thought.  For me, it’s still more a case of ‘Oh gosh, what am I going to do?’ than ‘Ok, let’s do this!’ Although……… a story for another time.

IMG_5724Otherwise…pff.  The dense arrays of neurons and goo in my mind have changed me enough to not know how much I’ve changed, and in that I can only know myself for who I am now.  I am free from the repression of a false life, free from the hindering yoke of dysphoria, how could I say which changes are hormonally induced and which are a product of self-acceptance and exploration.  Either way, I’m seen as a brighter person, the lows are still low, but the highs are higher; content people tend to break out more often in genuine smiles.  I walk about the streets with the same casual arrogance I did whilst living as male, and I love it.  Revel in your strength, if you can do this, you can do anything.

I’m still having a difficult time in my life but in terms of transition, well, that’s the one thing that’s working out pretty well.  Time and experience makes one adept.  Putting in the time early in my transition has allowed me to get by without very much effort or stress at this point when I have bigger fish to fry than dragging my transition on any longer than it needs to.

I still rarely wear make up, but I’ve done it enough times, picked up enough tips, and been helped by enough people that if I want to put it on I can do it just as well as the millions of Western women who aren’t very good at makeup but still make it work.  At times I even experiment.  I’ve been with enough cis girls who’ve shopped for makeup their entire adult lives to see that they often don’t know what they’re looking for either, and so you learn blagging tricks for getting round a store without feeling like you’re standing out.  And then it too, becomes normal.

Same with shopping for clothes.  I observed for a long time before I was brave enough to get in on the fun.  I still get anxious, especially by myself, but it’s not a big deal.  Flick through the hangers of things that look like clothes and pretend you are looking for your size and then just go ‘naaaah.’

At one time, you’ll hopefully see something, something you just want, and you’ll go find out that it’s in your size.  If you’re super brave you’ll ask your friend to keep watch while you go into the changing room and then come in to see how you look.  It looks great on you; you’re scared, but you gotta buy it; not give it to your friend to buy, but to go up yourself and pay for it.

It’s a great feeling, and before long confidence and knowledge builds, and if something doesn’t work out?  Postal returns.  I don’t know how, but now I can put an outfit together that makes sense for my style.  Honesty from friends and family is essential, because as much as you can hopefully tell what just doesn’t work in the mirror, a good friend will tell you not to wear that mess of misplaced fabric outside, and help you make adjustments.  Match colours, cover unwanted lumps and bumps, accentuate desired lumps and bumps, appropriate accessories.  It’s less scary than it looks.IMG_6317

As a wardrobe grows, opportunities to mix and match become exciting, and unique new looks can be created to express yourself the way you want to rather than the way you feel you should.  Go easy on yourself, it’s taken me nearly two years to show that I can pull off jeans with a dress.

If you’ve been following my story you may see that there is a lot more confidence now in being able to do all the transition-y stuff.  Looking from the inside out at the wall of seemingly impenetrable transition guides and information that greets trans women making the leap…it doesn’t have to be as scary as it sounds.  The real changes honestly come from inside, and it’s from those that it’s easier to deal with the practical issues.

With so many potential dreams, hopes and obstacles in a ‘male to female’ transition, try not to see it as so many unattainable goals; learn to pick smaller battles, celebrate in little victories, start building a picture of experience, compromise, discover yourself, and over time it will come together.  A long time.  All the small cogs in transition eventually start adding up and connecting with each other to build a better idea of the picture you are trying to create.  Don’t let the word ‘years’ scare you, this is time to grow more quickly than at maybe any other point in your life; there are so many little and momentous successes to be had that they can outshine many of the difficulties you may have to endure, for a long time.


In a lot of ways, HRT sucks.  Sometimes a big shot of testosterone feels like exactly what I need when emotions become strongly overbearing, but I’m at a place now where this is just how it is.  For all my appreciation on surviving thus far, larger battles await.

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Ready to battle dysphoria demons!

I’ve had my second opinion for lower surgery and now I’m waiting for a pre-op assessment.  If things go well I could be lying on that operating table within six months.  There is no doubt in my mind that this is what I’m going to do, but it’s still terrifying.  As reality creeps in and I picture myself getting ready to go under, and then dealing with the extensive and probably very painful recovery recovery period, a little bit of panic sets, because all things going well this will happen.  The worries are the same any trans women going towards this procedure experiences; there is only hope that it will be satisfactory, whilst preparing myself for the notion that it will go badly.  Again I temper my expectations – it doesn’t have to look right, it doesn’t have to work right, it doesn’t have to feel right, it just has to be there in place of what I currently have.  Being able to have this operation at all is the bonus, any positive effect is a privilege.

Then comes to the big question of what next?  To what extent does being transgender effect you for the rest of your life?  The transition period comes and goes regardless of how long it takes.  For my experience, this is a very quick transition and therefore may feel quite disorientating for a while once it’s done.  My optimum is not to normalise being trans, it’s to negate it.  My gender(s) shouldn’t have to be normalized, only hopefully accepted and embraced as an everyday occurrence.  There are still a few things I have to do to be totally free; to not be scared of swimming pools, gyms, and still to an extent clothes and makeup stores.  Maybe wearing a bathing suit…..maybe.  I don’t like them but it could be an affirming experience one day.  Then back to shorts.

Toilets aren’t a problem – With good observational skills you can make trips to the toilet less stressful.  I don’t do it so much now, but if it were possible I would keep a glance of the toilet when I needed to go and went when it seemed there would be less people there.  I would take advantage of single stalls, disabled and gender neutral toilets whenever possible.  However, for the most part I’ll still easily go to the bathroom in a busy bus station because I gotta pee and it is always going to much less troublesome for everyone and for me to use the women’s toilets.  And if I’m drunk, outdoors and really need to pee, I’ll still do what I need to do in a hidden space, giving that I can with the equipment I’ve got.  That’s the big drawback to not having a penis for me, not being able to pee at will.  Ahem.  Not endorsing.

As I have tried my best to manifest this experience I’ve been feeling better than ever in some ways. A couple of years ago I escaped from an abusive relationship, found out I was losing my job, and realised that I was transgender within a month and it broke me.  I still suffer quite a lot from the effects of these little traumas but I have also turned them into positives, necessary blows that got me to this point.  If that relationship hadn’t ended, if I hadn’t lost that job, if I hadn’t realised I was trans..I couldn’t believe my life would be anywhere near as good and full of possibility as it is now.  Sometimes the sacrifices you make are of things that hold your life back.


To this point I’ve have been transitioning for almost two years and on HRT for almost one year.  This whole thing came out of nowhere, and now I’m doing what I thought two years ago was only for other people, or a certain type of person.  But it’s happening, and it’s still pretty surreal, which is why I try to encourage at least myself to think about it as little as possible because it can very easily swallow up your whole life.

The goal for me is the same as always, to alleiviate dysphoria as much as possible and then get on with my life.  Yet on the way I’ve learned so much about the human condition.  I’ve met, spoke with and made more friends in these past couple of years than I ever have, people from all walks of life.  I don’t think of myself as being particularly ‘queer’ because I feel just like a regular person, and I realised my ignorance in going to queer events – folks who may be all kinds of genders with all kinds of styles, hairstyles, mannerisms, impairments etc who are just like me, who are just like you, who are just like anyone.

Queer is a reclaimed term, not because we are different from ‘normal’ society, but because we aren’t; we are simply unique within it.  Getting more ingrained into queer scenes and circles, to see at times real solidarity is a very special and heart-yearning experience.

Being transgender inevitably opens one’s eyes to new ways of understanding the world, and with that information many want to speak out, to educate, to help, because there isn’t always a lot of information or support for transgender people.

Sometimes, I feel I would like to go stealth, but more often I think we all have a role as our individual experiences are entirely unique and whatever we add is part of a beautiful collage, not part of some grey book about how you should or shouldn’t transition, how you should act, who you should be.

I want to encourage you to keep finding your ways to express yourself, it doesn’t have to be limited, it doesn’t have to be forced, it doesn’t have to be anything other than what you want.  What other way could it be?

I’m here because realising I am trans hit me in a momentary flash when I was 28, and once it was out of my jail of oppression there was no stopping it.  It was terrifying, rightly so, but it’s not the worst thing that can happen in your life.  In fact, for all the bad life changing things that can happen in life, being trans is probably one of the best, because for all you may lose in health, wealth and support, you gain back in truth, love, hope, potential, opportunity, and greater support than you can imagine.

Just because it’s far away doesn’t mean you can’t get there, it will just be a more epic journey!  That’s not platitudes, it’s spoken from experience.

Until next time,

Amy Xx

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Estrogen makes you calm and crazy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Waning of the Honey’d Moon

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

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

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

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


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

HRT Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Peace and love,

Amy Xx

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

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Amy’s Hormone Adventure, Week One!


Welcome to my first hormone update 🙂

For years I read blogs and watched videos about transwomen on Hormone Replacement Therapy, repressing the cold dread of what I later came to know as ‘gender dysphoria’, lying to myself that it seemed like exactly what I needed.  Waiting.  It was all about the wait, the patience necessary to get to this point – months, maybe years, it seemed like the day would never come.

I wanted as much information as possible, what happens to your body, when?  What happens to your mind, how?

The day did come and I was ill-prepared, but I have taken the plunge and began HRT a week ago.  I want to add my version of events to the ever growing range of subjective transgender experiences for anyone like myself who has found them to be a comfort and a benefit.  The more of our experiences we share, the greater we can understand each other, and be understood from the outside.

A quick recap:

My name is Amy, I’m 29, and from Northern Ireland.  Two weeks shy of a year ago today, I finally came to the realisation that I was probably transgender.  I had twenty years of repression, which unfurled itself at distorted paces throughout the next few months.  Two days before Christmas I made the decision to go ‘full time’, and in March this year that’s what I did.  My documents have been changed and so I live my life now being known as a transsexual female. It all happened in a sort of daze, strange to think of that as being behind me, and life is basically the same.

I started this blog very soon after my revelation to get these thoughts out as part of what I consider a time capsule.  Now I move onto the next big stage in transition, medical.

I have as a starting dose to be re-evaluated in 3 months:

Estrogen – Progynova, estradiol valerate, 2mg pills to take once a day.

Testosterone blocker – Prostap SR, Leuprorelin acetate, 3.75mg, delivered by monthly intramuscular injection

Coming into this I was in a bad state, I hated life, I was becoming very withdrawn, anti-social, depressed, worse even.  I was going to take my first estrogen on a Monday, but I was too scared, I was so worried that my awful mental state would be exacerbated greatly by the hormonal shift, that it was an emotional risk I couldn’t take.  On Tuesday I bit the bullet and things began to change.


Day 1 – 10am.   Nobody I know understands, right this second I’m making one of the biggest changes I will ever make.  It is exciting and terrifying in equal measure.  Old doubts linger but they are long past exhausted.  Do it or don’t.  I ate the little blue pill and relaxed, nothing I can do about it now, let medical science take its’ course.

The effect was of relief and placebo throughout the day, just the victory of making this commitment, having this opportunity, although I can feel the foreign substance working on my body.  I felt a nice tingle in my brain, similar to other drug interactions I’ve had before.  Although these drugs can take weeks or months to take effect, I know from my own experience that I am usually quite quickly receptive to drug effects and this is no different, it hit me straight away.

It’s a thinking day, a day for wonderment, possibility, hope, fear, courage, letting go as my mind fuzzes over in waves, growing less concerned with my current daily grind.

Day 2 – I got up, starting my new 10am ritual of take estrogen, take a photo, briefly meditate.  I went to the nurse so she could stick a needle in my bum filled with testosterone blockers.  Quite quickly again I felt it working on me, with a few squeezing pains in my guts and testicles.  I had been warned I may have a testosterone boost for a few days while the drugs do their work and they were not wrong.  I went to see a good friend straight after, more or less dragging her out of the house before I tried to jump her.  It was less a feeling of being horny and more a strong feeling of biological need.  The feeling still lingers a week later, it is annoying.

We went into town as the two new drugs circulated throughout my system.  I walked through shops experiencing both genders, and neither, in a surreal haze.  I realised I wasn’t under the yoke of dysphoria.  Sure, the same worries, fears and resignations were there but the darkness behind it was lifting.  My confidence grew, my obsessing about how others perceived me began to wane.  Instead of thinking about my spirit crushing loneliness, I was thinking about my loneliness crushing spirit.

I was annoyed that I haven’t been able to tell many people about starting HRT, and more annoyed that those who did know didn’t seem curious or interested at all, even other transfolk; quickly I’ve had to understand more deeply how intrinsically personal this experience is, no matter how much I want to share.  I think quite easily I could be as single-mindedly annoying as if I were pregnant given any real chance to talk about what is changing.

I calmed later in the evening, being sure to note that my elation is still paper over the cracks of the exact same problems that were always there.  I felt fine, jovial even, but my emotional triggers were still firing, they just didn’t have any impact.  I felt like a paper tiger, that any moment this initial elation would wear off and I would be back in the mind gutter.  I decided that this is a grace period, a chance to deal with some of these lingering issues whilst I have energy.  Regardless of how much more uplifted I feel, my goals are exactly the same.

Day 3 – Still rolling with the testosterone, sore guts and testicles again for a few hours.  Various aches.  Emotional changes in the same vein as emotions I’ve always had, feeling grateful to have a bit of any kind of feeling again for a few days.  Usually I wake up and I start thinking all sorts of garbage, all sorts of dysphoria, but the past couple of days I haven’t, I’ve been, like I said, fine.

I feel the physical buzz of the changes in my brain chemistry, but nothing discernibly new.

Day 4 – Still no dreams.  I woke up with various pains.  Maybe I’m going crazy, but my skin feels the tiniest bit softer.  When I rub my fingers up and down my spiky haired arms there is much less resistance, surely imagining it, though I’ll take the boost.  It doesn’t feel like it’s something I’m really doing, this is an express art of subtlety.

At my voice lesson we pin down the issues with my articulation, intonation, prosody and accent. I feel like I’m going backwards again. As much as the lessons have been enjoyable this week, I’ve done something wrong in my practice that will be hard to remedy. If I knew how I sounded at the end it would be easier, because not knowing how I’m supposed to sound makes it difficult to sound like that. All things aside, it is my voice that will ruin me.

I can’t deny making a few more masculine seeming actions in my swagger.  Without the dysphoria drill in my forehead I’m less ill at ease with myself, I don’t feel I have to try as hard, but I’m careful because the triggers still go off.  I went shopping with my Mum and didn’t get needlessly frustrated the entire time which is quite rare.  I was calm enough around the shops, though I did man it out a bit.  I had a funny thought, watching all the people, that for years I tried to resist fitting into the man slot I never wanted to fit into, and now I’m fighting against the female slot that I don’t want to fit into either.  I’m not rejecting gender, I’m rejecting extreme gendering.  For being gender expansive, fluid even, queer folks like me can’t waste energy trying to fit into boxes that cannot contain us.

I look in the mirror and I see beard.  Whatever is going on around, that’s fine, but I have facial hair.  I can’t cover it with make up and I’m not going to try.  I’m not going to up my femme because it makes me feel dysphoric, so I feel stuck middling for a few more weeks until laser starts again. I won’t use a public bathroom with hair on my face, sorry.

Feeling way too calm.  The buzzing is becoming a druggy head rush, coming in waves.  I’m excited for the next pill tomorrow.  I try not to overanalyse any possible changes in the differentiation of my thoughts.

Day 5 – The morning wood sex drive thing bugs me.  I wonder what will happen when the day comes that part no longer works anymore, possibly like the sadness of losing a long term bad friend. It felt slightly different this morning, warmer, less mechanical.  I put no thought to it; I have lots of different moods.  My skin feels the tiniest bit different again today, I can’t deny I’m getting softer.  Being softer is strange, from being used to the brusque skin of a male, this slight change challenges my concepts of vulnerability and potential fragility.  I thought I had a little change on my nipples, but it was falsehood.  I anticipate a lot of time staring in the mirror asking myself if anything has changed in the past hour.

I feel more in tune with myself than I have done in maybe a couple of years.  My heart is growing, dysphoria is a vague shadow.  My voice seems the slightest bit softer, my throat is less sore, probably because I’m more relaxed.  Later into the day the drugged feeling of the past few days started to tone down.

Day 6 – I had an entire phone call with my mother without getting irrationally frustrated.  That’s a big deal, I love my mum, but there’s just something about talking to her on the phone that drives me nuts almost every time.  Not this time.  It definitely feels like things are slowing down after the initial hit, testosterone levels should be coming down, and the little bit of extra estrogen will still be scouting out my body, building silos and power plants.

I had a workout and didn’t get quite the same buzz off it I’m used to doing.  I still enjoyed it just the same and pushed just as hard, but it was missing that testosterone rush that made me feel really good about my strength and how I could destroy things with it.  I didn’t have a shower for a while afterwards and realised that I didn’t stink quite so much as I should, even my feet were bearable.

This medication does something to my guts.  Another girl I talked to on estradiol did warn me about flatulence and possibly diarrhea. Also I’ve got a few spots.

Day 7 – 10am is the highlight of my day.  An alarm goes off playing ‘Fluff’ by Black Sabbath and I take my pill.  Somehow I’m still riding a high, even with not nice dreams and not nice thoughts.  The numbness seems to be wearing off, thought my content mood persists.

Day 8 (Today) – I look the tiniest bit cuter, only enough that I would notice.  My skin is brighter and I noticed my cheeks properly for the first time I can recall.  My reflection makes me smile, facial hair and all.

I only wanted to try estrogen to help with the mental ailment of dysphoria, so far it is doing that, but I’m under no illusions that something will hit.  I still feel the fizz fizz fizz in my brain, I’m not scared of it, I’m not going to lose myself like I feared, though I can imagine some of the neurological changes in time.

HRT may change my emotional composition somewhat, but it won’t initially or perhaps ever change how I actually deal with emotional issues.  For whatever ways our experiences have moulded our triggers and reactions, hormones don’t seem to be changing the thought process, rather it seems to be changing the information that is fed into the process, piece by piece.  I will still react in the same way, which may be challenged if a differing way of experiencing emotions comes to the fore.


For all that waiting to attain hormones, now comes the waiting for the hormones to do their work, if any.  Still I will maintain a fatalistic position, that each little change is the last, but still that I can be happy with what I am on the path towards. I’m still more worried about my voice and my facial hair.

I don’t want my HRT experience to be the focal point in my life until I start thinking about surgery.  Obviously it will be, as I celebrate and share all the little changes that make so much difference, but now that I am secure in my regimen, I want to start looking forward, past the all encompassingness of being transgender and moving back into everyday reality.

My blog is an attempted exercise of transparency and sharing.  I still remember how I have felt over the past while thinking about hormones, waiting for hormones, waiting some more, waiting, wondering what might happen, reading incessantly.  I want to help out as best I can, so if anyone has questions, requests for things to keep an eye on, philosophical interpretations to impart, please get in touch at unexpectedamy@outlook.com.  I also have an awful vlog if you want to put a face to a name.  Any way I can help, let me know, I try to be an open book for the community.

Finally I would like to promote a new website and vlog called Happily Ever Trans.  This site is run by a girl called Angie, who I believe is an amazing advocate for trans youth.  She’s very well spoken, super confident and doesn’t miss a beat when it comes to personal trans issues.  I recommend you go have a look, can never have too many resources 😉

Thank you all,

Amy Xx

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hrt, transgender

The Bell Tolls

It’s ok to make mistakes.  It better be, otherwise I’m screwed.

After the most gruelling month of waiting, I finally had my appointment with the endocrinologist on Wednesday past.  Turns out I didn’t need to bring pee in a cup; they just have that as a formality in the letter.  It was a notoriously quick chat with the doctor.  How long have you had gender dysphoria?  Do you understand the risks?  A brief explanation of what may happen over the next few months.  There and then he wrote a treatment form for blockers and estrogen.  What, so I just go cash this in?  Yip.  They took some blood and I have to go back in three months.

So, on Thursday I rang my GP and faxed across the prescription to be made, and made an appointment with the nurse on Wednesday coming to stick a needle in my bum.  The next day, I picked up the script, went to the pharmacy, and they gave me HRT medication.

I was prescribed ‘Prostap SR’, a leuprorelin drug, which is an injectable testosterone blocker that must be administered by a nurse.  The only time a male should ever use this drug is for prostate cancer, because that’s the only time the benefits of taking it outweigh the risks.  The leaflets are an anthology of side effects and risk factors letting you know that even if you don’t have a major ailment, chances are you might, and well before the at least 2 year limit before potential surgery.

They gave me Progynova, which is estradiol, 2mg once a day, a 12 week supply.  It is used for easing the symptoms of menopause, which is again not something a male body should be taking.  I was going to start today but I bailed.  I’ll do a proper starting hormones post soon, this isn’t my usual blog.  I have a friend who was prescribed on the same day and I’m hoping we can do some compare and contrast posts to give readers a range.

I was expecting to have another appointment in at the very least two weeks before getting the prescription, but there you go, Two days.  I’m…not ready.  What I mean is, in terms of dysphoria I would have started munching without pause, but in terms of general life.


Trigger warning – suicide

I signed a year contract on the house, so I’ll definitely be in the city for another year.  I am doing everything wrong though.  I am an utter slave to nicotine, when I try to quit smoking, I try to quit life.  I have become pretty insular and depressed and I’m struggling to deal with it.  As a result I haven’t been looking for work.  It has all come together to drag me down big time and I’m not sure how to get out of this mess at the moment.

I mentioned in my last post a new friend who gave me butterflies.  I got to meet her only a few times and she killed herself about a month ago.  It’s devastating.  I was talking to her a lot in her last days; I didn’t even know her well enough to know how bad things were for her, I just knew on instinct that she was an amazing human being.  She was only 25 and had a kid; I’ve met some of her friends since who have told me about her.  It’s so sad, we should be helping each other right now.

Out of the initial group of people I trusted to tell I was trans, I’ve told only a few about hormones, as well as a couple of friends I’ve made this year.  To be honest, I don’t even feel like telling anyone when I start.  It’s difficult to do because I want to be as transparent as possible, but it doesn’t seem like it will benefit anyone.  I figure my best bet for now is to talk about trans stuff in the company of other trans people, whether in real life or online.

I’ve spent the past few days claiming to be tying up loose ends.  It’s like I want to say goodbye to a part of myself without thinking of what I’m now able to greet into my life.  I want to be as prepared as possible, but how do you do that?  Sure, take pictures and measurements, then make your lifelong commitment.


It’s hard to know what to do here.  I feel so bad that I worry hormones will put me at even more risk.  I’m worried smoking will make my brain explode.  I’ve heard the opinions that starting the HRT could actually calm me down and bring me more to my centre.  I don’t know what to do, I feel I am doomed either way.  It’s less to do about transition, and more about the best way to maintain my mental health.  Take the plunge.  I don’t want to stop if I start, it’s all in or nothing.

Overthinking.  Putting too much pressure on myself.

This morning I had a nice dream, where I was my assertive, confident, loving self, where all this bounced off me and I was able to engage meaningfully with others.  I woke up to the reality of my circumstantially enhanced chemical malaise.  I was going to take my first hit of blue poison but I just don’t feel like I have what I need.  When then, will I be ready?

There has been a lot of soul searching, I’ve lost a lot of myself, gazing at the ruins of the mental fortresses, wondering where to start rebuilding, with no tools, no blueprints, and not enough help.  In the middle of all this I must make the biggest life-changing commitment of my life up to this point.

In a losing battle, what are one’s words on that last suicidal charge?

This is not a good way to start HRT, I know this, but I feel doomed either way, my mental strength is hidden from sight, it must be found somehow, no matter what. I’m taking a risk, so I wonder how this story will go.

Hang on tight.

Amy Xx

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