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:

1yearhrtmonthsv2

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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gender, hormones, transgender

When you can’t calm the waves, ride the storm.

There are always going to be low points, really low points, in anyone’s life.  Transition is a neon bug-catcher around the neck, the buzzing swarms of fear, anxiety, stress and panic crackling away, dying and brought back to life in never ending attempts to torment.  What matters is what you can do now, even if in screaming and crying through the whole process you can do what you need to do, it shows not weakness, but the highest level of courage imaginable.  The harder the process is, the braver you become.

Through it all, remember and celebrate each little success, for they are beautiful, and incomparable to what most people will ever know. Rejoice in your unique experience, the quality of self-knowledge, and the enlightenment of your understanding of the world at large.

At the moment, I only really know three emotions – stress, anger and panic.  In the past year I’ve developed somewhat of an anxiety disorder, mostly through the stress of work, cruel betrayal and heartbreak by loved ones and feelings about my situation in life. At times it is greatly exacerbated by the sheer weight of the transition process.  I dealt with depression for a long period in the distant past, but anxiety is a different animal; it doesn’t make me unhappy, rather it makes me feel like I’m not in control of my shifting emotions and how I express them.

I have a bad habit of comparing my life situation to that of others’, and being trans for me unfairly highlights my shortcomings in a more profound way than ever.  This way of thinking can never work, one is only ever comparable to oneself and what I need in life is relevant only to me.  If you’re also just a regular Jane, you probably notice that many people consider their lives sucky to an extent – working for just enough to pay the bills; having problems with partners; watching as friendships are lost to the realities of adult responsibility, work, marriage, kids.  All the things teenagers say they’ll never do; how we’ll never lose touch or ‘be like that’, yet we follow the exact same path each generation does.  Life goes on, as we either grow closer to ourselves, or further away.

‘It’s not the load that breaks you down…it’s the way you carry it.’ – Lena Horne

I used to pride myself on being able to deal more effectively with more difficult problems than those I would try to help; now I see myself on the other end.  I want to be stronger, I need to be stronger.  In a lot of ways I am ashamed of my attitude, I see videos of little kids in hospital beds waiting to die and I bawl my eye’s out at their simple insurmountable strength in the face of doom.  I read about a woman who didn’t know she was born with XY chromosomes who had to suffer serious medical and social indignity through puberty and developed osteoporosis amongst other ailments just for being born with the condition, whilst I complain about a bit of facial hair and a masculine voice.

I’ve spent the last year preparing to build my life back up from scratch after losing everything – my apartment, my job, what I mistook to be a loving relationship.  It’s only now that things are picking up for big positive change, and there are a lot of big changes coming.  An opportunity has arisen to move into an apartment in the capital city (Belfast) without having to sign a contract, with a good friend. I’m taking the risk with my savings to move up at the end of this month in the hope I can find work and stay there.  The plus to this is that most of my trans related appointments are in the city anyway, but the downside is that I have so many appointments a day job would not be sustainable.  By moving up with the money I have, I’m basically putting myself on a timer to find a reliable source of income or I’m screwed, but if it somehow works, possibility can bloom.

Also in a month’s time, I’ll be off to Barcelona for nearly a week, my first holiday in a long time, and I’m trying to prepare for it in consideration of my place in transition, which is pretty stressful.

‘What do you mean, every month?!’

The crux in this is the appointments.  Gender therapy, laser therapy, voice therapy, fertility appointments, and soon endocrinology appointments, each of these building pressure on top of each other and taking up massive chunks of time and money trying to get there and back.

Voice therapy is humiliatingly embarrassing and feels like no progress is being made, so it’s important to take as much humour as possible, and to realise that the only way to get there is to persevere, to never give up because it will take a long time for any of the progress to feel like progress. The constant daily practice is incredibly draining. Keep going though, it is the only way.

I had my first fertility appointment, where it was explained to me the various risks should I ever get the opportunity to have a child.  Waiver after waiver was signed, informing me that freezing could irreparably damage the sperm, that the machines could break down, and that IVF will be my only method of having genetic offspring.  These are huge risks for me and enough to unsteady my commitment to the medical pathway, because having my own kids is more important to me than my gender.  The catch-22 is to show those future children the way to live in fear of themselves by not being resolute in myself.

This first appointment was only a consultation, at which I gave blood to test for hepatitis and HIV.  At the second appointment I will have to give a sperm sample to check for viability before freezing and then I assume a third appointment to give the sample for freezing.  Two words I never thought I’d hear together ‘Ejaculation Timetable.’  It will be interesting to work on because my sex drive is still basically non-existent. Another stressor is that these appointments are normally attended by couples, and the whole sperm sample thing generally by cis-men, not transsexual women, so it’s not a fun waiting room.

Hormones on the way?

All of this is in anticipation of Hormone Replacement Therapy.  The minimum wait for diagnosis in Northern Ireland is six months, with the Gender Identity Clinic here apparently notorious for making people wait at least a year.  I got diagnosed at exactly the six month mark, I wonder why.  I think it’s because I’m very clear, rational and unwavering as to what my transition goals are: to abate so much as possible the impact of dysphoria, and to be able to get on with my life.  I’m not doing it to have boobs or a cis-normative seeming body; I don’t need hormones to be a woman, I don’t need to label myself; I’ve been through enough crap in my life to hopefully be able to deal with it; I’m aware of the risks and limitations.  Hey, it would be nice to blend in flawlessly, but I accept that it will never happen, no matter how amazing I may look, no matter if I ‘pass 100%.’

Now is the time for deep research.  When the decision to take oestrogen is made, life branches off on a new path and the old paths close forever.  The clock starts ticking, with initial decisions for bottom surgery in my opinion needing to be made concurrently.  You can jump on this ride, but you can’t jump off and hope for things to be as they were.  This decision for me has never been ‘OMFG I’m finally getting ma hormonez!!’ No, it’s come to Jesus time, honey.  This isn’t someone else’s body; this isn’t watching transition videos on YouTube or meeting with other transgender successes.  What this definitely isn’t, is the ideals in your mind dysphoria have created about how you would hope to be.

Hormones will not change you in the ways that you dream, they may do a lot, but they will never do enough.  My hope is simply that hormones are a hammer with which to beat down dysphoria effectively.  This is the process of attempting to align our bodies with our minds, not our minds with our bodies, so no amount of modification on its’ own can beat dysphoria, you will only ever be able to ultimately cage (not vanquish) it with your heart, your soul and your mind – not medicine, not surgery.  Being a woman is not a special achievement, having boobs and a vagina is not a special achievement, this is a normalization process, not specialisation.  Being a woman will only get you as far as women go, and if you are trans, it quite likely won’t even get you that far. However, remember always that we are all equal and we can all go as far as our determination carries us.

I’m not trying to be brutal, but you have to understand the likelihood of realities here.  Medical transition can and does make unbearable lives into exceptionally amazing lives for some whose lives are unbearable because of extreme dysphoria only.  It is not a perfect treatment, is extremely risky and requires lifetime maintenance.  If you are quite unlucky, oestrogen will give you deep vein thrombosis, a stroke, or a pulmonary embolism.  The hormonal shifts might drive you to madness or worse, the surgery may leave you inorgasmic and feeling mutilated creating a new nightmare of intolerable suffering.  You don’t have to do any of these things to be the gender you experience yourself to be.

Please note that I haven’t done my research to the level I feel comfortable discussing intricacies, and I’m not trying to instil fear, I’m just saying there are some fatal scenarios and that whilst for some there is no choice, if there is a choice, be aware of the negative possibilities.

Life doesn’t wait.

Another thing that is holding me back is simply the lack of real life support.  Yes, I have plenty of amazingly supportive friends and family, and while I don’t expect them to understand exactly what I’m going through, I worry for their knowledge of what I’m about to go through.  The attitude I get is usually ‘Good for you, I’m so happy you are finally getting the chance to be yourself, I’ll do whatever I can to help.’  This is beautiful, I love and appreciate it so much, but what it feels like to me sometimes is a template, that they don’t understand these dangers, that they don’t challenge my decisions, that they don’t ask me about transition unless I bring it up, and even then I can tell they know basically nothing about transgender people, and for me that’s dangerous, especially for my decision making since I cannot do it alone. I understand their reticence, it is my issue, my journey, and they do what they can, and they do so much for me.  I need their help because I trust them, I rely on them.

One of the stressors I have is that my friends are all isolated from each other; they don’t meet up or talk to each other so the only thing that is holding my network together is me.  Because of this I find myself running around like crazy trying to maintain these individual friendships and it takes too much energy on top of everything else.  I feel like they support, but they are unable to help. I totally understand; everyone is busy with their own lives, they don’t want to be offensive, they don’t know what to say, they expect me to educate them, and I maybe expect too much. One thing I am is completely grateful for the impact they have on my life in general, how I am accepted and cared for, and I know I am so lucky to have just that simple acceptance, when they could so easily have abandoned me. If anything, I have to try harder for them, to be more open, more vocal, because they know I don’t like being made a fuss of.

The best thing for me would be to have some real life support from other trans individuals, yet every time I reach out in my community my confidence gets raked.  Each time I build up the nerve to speak to a trans-person in this country, or a support group, I’m met with overawing awkwardness, coldness, misery and most generally silence which really impacts on my confidence and emboldens the idea of feeling like an outcast within the community and instilling an unhealthy lone-wolf attitude.

The most reasonable transfolk I’ve knowingly encountered have been through this blog and on YouTube, and I am indebted to those who so freely share their stories and encouragement. I’m hoping when I move to the city I’ll be able to foster some new vital bonds.

However, currently without this feeling of help, taking HRT now is going to be a difficult path, yet with therapy rules in the UK, I could put myself back by months or years if I fully indulge in my issues which will have the ironic impact of extending the duration of the difficulties that impact me daily. Problems like this can’t be let lie, so I’ve arranged for a regular counsellor to help through these issues. Never be scared to talk to someone if you have to, and if you are, do it anyway.

You’ve got male.

One struggle I have noticed is that of testosterone and male anger.  I feel I can distinguish between regular anger, and the anger brought on by testosterone, though it’s only hyperbole.  When I get the male anger, I want to be violent, I envision scenarios in my head where someone might say or do something disrespectful or dishonourable enough that I would get to inflict damage upon them, a seething rage to hunt, kill and screw.  I have to do some serious exercise and mindfulness to help abate these feelings as they have always been scarily abhorrent to me, but they are getting harder to control.  Indeed, I’ve often considered the sign of a strong man to be his ability to quell these very natural emotions and inclinations.  I’ve spoken with male friends and many accept they have these same impulses and agree they must work to supplant the urges to conquer, to destroy.

The anxiety has been brutal, I am not myself, in some ways I am less of a person than I was before my realisation, but at the same time I can’t say that I wouldn’t have felt like this anyway if I weren’t trans due to how I feel about my position in life.  Going through transition however is basically like trying to maintain the workload of two lives within the space of one.  For everything I think of, note down and try to do, I can think of about a dozen other things to do.  When I write my daily to-do list, it ends up becoming non-exhaustive and it can be very difficult sometimes.

Still, persevere.  There is a lot to do and there will be lots more to do, with ever more life changing decisions to be made.  Cisfolk don’t understand the nature of how transition impacts almost every aspect of life.  Every time I open my mouth, I’m transitioning; every time I get dressed, I’m transitioning; every time I leave the house, I’m transitioning; every new situation I introduce myself as female in, I’m transitioning, whether it’s relevant to the situation or not; any time I think of where my life is going, I’m transitioning.  Any time I do any of these things, I am facing fears, both new and entrenched.

Feed. Me. More.

I have a list of simple fears, and I am going to eat them, fears that a cis-person would generally never even conceive of as a need for concern. Things like using a public bathroom; shopping for clothes; getting my makeup done; going swimming; going to a support group; wearing clothes that show any of my skin other than my face and hands; using a changing room. I embrace the challenge, even if I am not up to it yet.

There is great strength to be earned through all this – the more fear we face, the less fear can impact us;  the more pain we endure, the less that can hurt us; the more we commit to our understanding of ourselves, the less we need to question who we are;  the more we do, the more we can do; the more we surprise ourselves, the more we realise how deep the wells of our capabilities are; the more we decide to take care of ourselves and our dreams, the more we realise what we are individually worth.

Doing it through pain, tears and fears, is still doing it. The toughest journeys make the best stories. Life is a battle that can never be won but must always be fought. We learn that when times get tough, we can be tougher, and that when we can’t always calm the waves presented by both our internal and external lives, we certainly have the ability to show our true resolve and ride the storm.

Amy Xx

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