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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Source Unknown

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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dating, Uncategorized

Amy’s Enchanted Transition: MTF 5 months on HRT and 1st date!

So I have this little journal where I write down distinguishing HRT changes as I notice them.  This month I’ve had the least to write about, yet I’ve experienced the most profound changes.  They can’t be explained without pouring over microscopic evidence, but now more than ever, when I look at most of my body I can really see it.

Changes Diary

Day 126 – Testicles seem about 60% of original size;  My hips have grown so much that I have to pull trousers around my hips to get them on;  Weight is much more difficult to lose, but my waist still seems slimmer;  My breasts are shinier and squishier.

Day 132 – Wearing a bra is no longer optional, especially if I intend to run down stairs, because ouch.

Day 145 – My head hair is growing very quickly, while most body hair (except facial, public and nipple) is growing in slower and more sparesly; the breast pain has expanded past my areola.  My boobs are much more painfully tender now when touched.

Day 148 – The hair on my arms and legs really is less coarse.


The other changes I’ve noticed have been more experential.  For example, this is by far the coldest winter of my life because my skin is thinner, even though in actual terms the temperature has been fairly average.

My face has changed an awful lot.  Interestingly though I don’t feel it in my mind’s eye; without a mirror I figure myself looking as entirely masculine, and sometimes I have to look in the mirror quite a few times to connect with how my face looks now.  That said, what my face looks like changes considerably at different times of the day, the femininity of which depending on my rest, diet, water intake, and lighting.  These things really make a difference now.  It can be in as little as a few minutes that I perceive my face from looking reasonably female-like to perceiving a very obviously male face.

When I take my clothes off, I now at least see the trans woman that I am.  My features are much softer; my torso, though chunky and mannish, displays undoubtedly feminine curves.  My breasts, though still basically invisible, squish together almost convincingly in certain stances.  Not enough to display cleavage without special effort yet, should I ever wish to do that.

What has changed most is my mindset.  Aside the first week after getting the T-blocker injection which causes intense soul bleeding, I’m still feeling better and better.  Dysphoria is still on the wane, being replaced with giddy high-pitched energy and a still growing desire to dance.  Part of it is clearing up the initial hormonal malaise and taking steps to improve my quality of life, part of it is being able to look at myself in the mirror and having more of a reason to smile.

I feel myself growing as a person.  At points I have felt like a new life has been trying to burst forth from me, a cornucopia of new emotions, hopes, possibilities, where the negative effects of testosterone are becoming so foreign to my mind state that the estrogen effects are creating a whole new world for me.  Instead of imagining that it is changing me as a person, I see it instead as watching a grey world turn colour.  It fuels the imagination, it embraces curiosity, it encourages hope and instigates change.

The one big downer in all of this is my voice.  I haven’t practised in a long time, but I’ve been able to maintain the voice I use, and hold it more consistently for longer periods of time.  It is easier to notice when my pitch is dropping, or my vocalization is slipping deeper into my mouth and throat.  I’m struggling to get that buzz in the lips, but no matter what I do it’s still just not there…it wants to edge towards the precipice but doesn’t know how.  A trans girl with a perfect voice assured me recently that my voice ‘isn’t masculine’ and I believe her, it’s just not feminine either.  I ought be thankful, some girls are unable to reach the point that I’m at so how can I complain.  Still, I’m putting increasingly more time and effort into practice again; it’s draining, but it’s very worth it.

As such, I seem to end up presenting in a way that gets me gendered in public very rarely.  People seem to go out of their way to not say ‘Sir’ or ‘Miss,’ ‘he’ or ‘she.’  My clothing options can vary in terms of assumed gender identifiers, and is usually very casual, most often without make up.  I try to wear a trans badge when I go out, just so I don’t have to feel threatened at being described in male terms.

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Even so, I don’t really care what others’ think.  Call it confidence, or casual arrogance. On those days I seem to be provocative enough to warrant stares, I stare back and smile, and when they walk past I laugh, because the whole thing is absurdly funny.  I mean, breaking free of extreme gender constraints seems so menial, yet it is seen as a deviant revolution.  Staring is no biggie anyways, because people will stare at you for all sorts of reasons, for being attractive, for being large, for being impaired, for having a strange hairstyle, for wearing a hat.

Who cares?  I honestly got more abuse in years past for being seen as a man with long hair.  Then, as now, I walk in public with a smile on my face, embracing the worst, sliding past unavoidable scowls.  Everyone looks strange, especially the folks who see themselves as ‘normal.’  Besides, not knowing that I was trans for 28 years can easily lead me to believe that any apparent cis person could be trans and either not know it, or is repressing it.

So why be scared.  I’m starting to enjoy fear again because I understand its’ nefarious agenda.  I hear friends speak of dysphoria as demons and dragons when really it is just worms and shadow-puppets.  Fear in many situations is the force that tries to stop you from doing something you really want to do, or that would benefit you.  Fear is its’ own worst enemy, because it reminds you of those things you really want, it knows you can do all that you dream of, which is why it masquerades as these terrifying monsters, because fear has no power when you simply say ‘no’ to it.

Confidence I think is a massive factor, and the phrase ‘fake it till you make it’ really resonates. Confidence doesn’t mean flamboyance or attracting attention, it means walking down the street with your eyes up; being able to smile and chat with shop assistants. It is doing simple things in simple situations and making them….well, simple for you. Confidence shows that you know what you are doing is right, and you can do it, proudly.


Over the knife

Such is life on HRT.  Five months passing so slowly that now seem in the blink of an eye, finally appreciating the understanding and knowledge shared by other women much further ahead, the envy of my own self a year ago.

My second opinion for GRS by fortune got moved forward by 3 months to May, which heralds the beginnings of proceeding to surgery.  Sure, it may be still years away yet, but once that ball starts rolling, much deadlier realities come into play.

I’ve spent the past few months laying groundwork for the surgeries I need, think I need, and want.  This plan has changed a lot on postulizing about individual GRS surgeons, breast augmentation surgeons, tracheal shave surgeons, FFS surgeons, vocal surgeons.  It changed even more when I open my purse and remembered I don’t have £50,000+ just lying around to be picky.

I’m coming round to the idea that NHS funded GRS can be a viable option.  It is a tough tough tough choice when I think I could get better results elsewhere, yet might settle because it’s either NHS or nothing.  This is a lifelong decision, not just to have the operation, but how to get it.

For now, that is all I am focused on.  Breast surgery doesn’t feel like a good idea until at least a year after GRS (to see if the removal of testicles produces enhanced HRT results), FFS isn’t a major concern worth saving for right now, trachael shave will come with time, and vocal surgery is just a bad idea to begin with and I’m giving myself at least another year of vocal training before I have to admit it may be a necessity.

Aside that, it’s getting difficult to say much more about the experience of being trans.  I was never in the closet, I don’t get grief on the streets, I’m not discriminated against professionally or medically, I don’t have issues with my family and friends, I have less issues with my body and dysphoria.  I’m incredibly lucky and privileged, all I can say is that I still didn’t think I could do it, yet my transition is becoming more and more of a success.

You see those before and after shots of transition and think, how did they manage to do that?  I could never do that!  Yet, that’s most likely what they thought, and they did it.  That’s what I thought and I did it [; I’m finally feeling it.  After 5 months of HRT, I actually feel it, I am so undoubtedly female that there is little left to consciously doubt].  If that’s what you think, you can do it.

The pictures below are separated by 18 months – the last photos I took of myself before I realised I was trans, and photos from a few days ago, drunk, at 6am.:

transitioncollage1

Pretty wow, huh?!  There was not a day when the person on the left thought I could be anything like the person on the right.  And yet there it is.  It was down to no special, magical effort on my part, it came down to understanding who I was and doing what I could raking through fields of broken glass until I unearthed my potential.  It’s not as difficult to do as it looks.  Lots of small changes.

Granted I haven’t stepped fully into the public domain with regard to employment and the potential difficulties there.

When it comes down to the world of dating and relationships, I have been at sea for so long it seems like I’ll never even have a peek of genuine interest again, let alone an actual date…

…except for this past week, when I went on a date.


Date Night

Yes, an actual date.  The only date I’ve had outside of a relationship in my entire life, except for maybe that time when I was 14 and was totally oblivious it was a date and the fly on my jeans was down the entire time anyway.

I met an intelligent, charming, attractive girl on a dating website.  After wafting through the perverts and the time wasters I came across someone I just had to find out more about.  We chatted via email, she suggested coffee and that suggestion turned into drinks.

Getting ready for a date as a woman is fun, terrifying and time consuming.  I needed an outfit, eyebrow waxing, hair fixing, make up…ok I didn’t need to do any of these things, but I wanted to look like I was making the effort as much as I actually was making the effort.

A good friend helped me pick out a dress, straightened my hair, even did my make up, all whilst calming me down and reassuring me.  I even wore heels for the second time ever.

We met at a bar, had a cocktail and were chatting immediately.  I have a great tool for having conversations with people, it’s called asking questions.  I was my typical weird self but she wasn’t fazed by this, and I was enthralled with how openly she shared her life with me.

After a while we hit a quieter bar, drinking until the wee hours with nary a moment of silence or wasted conversation.  At closing time we got some take out food and went to her house.  We sat up drinking tea until 6am when we decided it was sleepy time and I got a taxi home.

This for me is a great success.  I don’t want to kiss on a first date, and I was honest with her about my sexuality issues.  However, I’m not sure the issue is my sexuality, it’s more, how would I have sex now?

The first thing I have to do is back it way up.  I still struggle with attraction to begin with.  Since our date we have been in regular contact and I feel that excited little buzz in my belly, and I think she is interested in me too.  Holding hands is an intense experience for me, let alone the idea of a kiss.  I figure the answer is, if I’m with someone, we are comfortable, sexually attracted to each other and decide to be sexual, then we appreciate and help each other understand our explicit boundaries and I try to learn what I still like, and what is new that I might be prepared to try and enjoy.

That stuff is all potential for another time and not relevant at the moment.  Right now, I’m most excited to be getting to know this woman more and to share time together.  This coming week we have another date at the museum then we’re going for lunch.  I’ve never understood rushing dating; if something is meant to be then you have all the time in the world to explore it.

I find it very interesting to be dating someone the same gender as me. Gender roles for straight cis folk feel like a parachute drop into a cage of historical safety, where more often than not, the male is ‘the man’, and the female is ‘the woman’, each term coming with its own set of assumed responsibilities and perks. I always hated that. Whereas in this queer scenario, we are both individuals, we bring who we are to the table, rather than what we are – it is more nerve-wracking and initially jarring, but ultimately I hope it can foment greater openness, understanding, and shared responsibility.

My life is no more difficult than it ever was.  My gratitude for this sense of regularity is abundant and growing.  Please let my story show you that you can live truly and freely no matter what your position or age. I’m hardly a trans veteran, but in less than two years I’ve learned so much and forged a vastly more authentic life.  If there is a way you think I can help you, or a topic you’d like me to get into more gory depth about, please get in touch at unexpectedamy@outlook.com

Life is lived best when you live it as your truest self, and love yourself for who you are.

Namaste,

Amy Xx

 

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Waning of the Honey’d Moon

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

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

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

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


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

HRT Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Peace and love,

Amy Xx

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

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gender, mtf, transgender

Not Born, Not Bred, But…

Disclaimer – Talk of bodily sexual functions

Throughout all of human history there has only been one effective way of dealing with fear – Face it.  When one moves past trepidation into the concentrated focus of action, fear has less room to spread its’ gnarled branches.

That’s what I’ve been doing, I wrote down a list of the fears that wish to feast eternally upon my soul and one by one I tear them apart like the paper tigers they are.

It has been a very stressful, hectic few months, trying to get ready for a holiday and moving house in the same week, yet here I am now in my new digs, freshly sunned by the Iberian summer, letting myself bask in new successes.  One thing transitioning doesn’t lack is a plethora of opportunities to discover yourself, to challenge yourself, to be yourself.


Fertility Preservation

The one factor that was holding me back from medical transition is that I want kids someday, so a trip to the fertility clinic for storage was a must. The first step in preparation was what I affectionately called an ‘ejaculation timetable’, a good sample should be between two and five days old, and given some of the difficulties I have around that it was interesting having to force it in anticipation of the appointment. Too much info I know, but transparency demands it.

Anyways, the day came (no pun!) and I went to the hospital in perspiration, declaring myself as Amy the female, here to give a sperm sample.  The staff were professionally diligent as I was led into a room with a single leather chair, a crusty box full of what I assume was adult material and a tiny vial that I was somehow supposed to get my deposit into.  Tip: avoid the chair and crusty box.  I did what needed to be done and imagined as expected that this was conception, or at least the closest I will ever get.  I got my aim right thank goodness; aiming an ejaculating penis into a tiny cup without spillage is like trying to sneeze with your eyes open.  Like most things, it’s a scarier experience in your head and when it’s done it’s not so bad.

It was deflating.  I had to take the cup of semen marked ‘Amy’ through a hall to the nurse, hiding it under my jacket so no-one could see the transsexual with the sperm, handing it over with the reddest face.  A few hours later I had to call back, everything was normal and 15 ‘straws’ have been saved for the next 55 years for when I have the opportunity to have children.

It’s a double edged sword, this is 15 attempts at IVF, the quality is obviously decreased in freezing, however now it doesn’t matter how long I wait, it will be a 29 year olds sperm not subject to the grief I would put my body through until the opportunity to have a child presents itself.  This is as good as it’s going to get, I have to accept it, hope for the best and move on.  I don’t want to think about how a severe power cut could ruin everything.


Make-up lesson

I’d been encouraged to go to a make-up counter for some professional advice, makeup is expensive and it becomes worthless if you have the wrong gear (give it to someone who could use it!), so it makes sense to get it as right as possible.  I went a step further and booked an appointment at a pro makeup store for an hour long lesson.  Scary stuff, walking in seeing all these overdone yet still beautiful women in their faces.  I was put in front of the lights and sweat the bit out.  Thankfully my consultant was very nice and guided me along like the beginner I am, teaching me about skincare, skin tones, brushes, techniques, concealers, contouring, highlighting and so on.  I was even brave enough to let her draw eyeliner on my water-line, which just seems unhealthy.

I came out beaming with confidence, even with the still present beard shadow.  She gave me a sheet of instructions for what she did and recommendations for products. Ever since, my makeup game has really improved – CC cream for eyes bags, appropriately toned concealer, smokey eyes.  I feel I actually understand what makeup is about now, I can make adjustments, compromises, repairs, and more so I can sometimes observe others and get an idea of what they’ve done, even how they’ve got it wrong.  Importantly, I now understand the limitations to the extent flaws can be hidden and learned to accept imperfection.

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Moving to the city

I feel so lucky to have escaped my hometown if only for a couple of months.  Gone are the home comforts, but they are replaced by independence, self-worth and the opportunity to grow my life.  I’m living with two other girls and it’s amazing; we blether late into the night in the house, and we go out and enjoy the social life I’ve been missing the past year and a half.  I made sure to bring only newer clothes, to remove the temptation of slipping into boy-mode because it’s ‘easier’.  With such limited outfit choices it surely is an adventure trying to look in any way acceptable for leaving the house, but for some reason I’m not as scared about it as I was…….provided I have something to wear.  Clothes usually necessitate makeup for me, so I’m trying to learn the value of being pre-prepared in case something comes up at short notice, though usually I’m too lackadaisical.

I wear my breast forms as a habit now, regardless of company so there can be no illusions.  Consistency is the key, not only for public perception but for my long term emotional well-being.  I can’t describe why some plastic pink moulds make such a difference for me, but I try not to argue with dysphoria.  It could be called a cop-out, but when dysphoria cannot rationally, logically, or intellectually be refuted it is simpler to allow myself to be happy in assuaging its demands.  I understand the difference; depression may seem like it wants you to hate yourself, anorexia may tell you that you’re fat, but dysphoria just wants you to be yourself without fear of repercussion.


Work

I did a couple of shifts in the local library to earn some extra money for the holiday and to test the waters of employment.  Work is work, no-one commented on the disparity between my name and my clothes, from my face and my voice.  I was there to work and it was more boring than stressful.

Now begins the real job hunt so that I can afford to stay in the city.  Being trans doesn’t phase me, it’s what I might wear to an interview and to work that scares me, my initial image I feel will make a very important impact, and I am just not on top of my image game (time to book a stylist appointment then).  A couple of months HRT wouldn’t hurt either, but unfortunately that’s not within my timeframe.

I have until the end of August to find a way of making enough money to pay the bills.  I can’t move back to my hometown, I just can’t.


Hormones

My endocrinologist appointment is less than a month away.  I still haven’t done adequate research on HRT by my own standard, I will, but it won’t change my mind.  So far as I know I’ll get a bunch more blood sucked out and told to come back in [hopefully] a month to start treatment.  For some reasons they asked me to bring a urine sample with me rather than take one there, which is pretty strange.  Since getting the appointment letter time has slowed to an unbearable pace.  I tried calling up to benefit of a cancellation but it seems the clinic only runs every fortnight, and the session before mine is “already overbooked.”  Any setback now would be more massive a blow than anything so far.

I try to downplay HRT in my mind as much as possible, but there is no point denying the desperation I feel to get started.  I am so firmly entrenched as being in this perceived female ‘role’ that hormones are the one immediate thing that can make a life’s worth of difference.  I try to convince myself that they won’t do anything, trying not to let hopefulness spill over into an unquenchable need that can never be sated.

The more time goes by; with the benefit of laser, a decent skin care routine, and a sweet hairdresser I can look at myself and already start to see it.  Even as my harshest critic I can sometimes look in the mirror and not see a man even without makeup.  I want to count myself lucky, I may not pass for an attractive male or an attractive female, but I will dub myself a ‘hot human.’

I’m going to try to embrace the testosterone while I have it, there is no denying its power, before the muscle sheds away and physical vulnerability becomes a major concern.


Coming out to the rest of the family

I am a very lucky, very grateful, very thankful woman.  My friends have been great, my mum is a superstar, but wow was I scared about telling my grandparents.  They’re rural types, not strictly religious but regular church goers, a retired, sensitive Nan, and a gruff quiet grandfather who spends a lot of time in a big shed fixing machinery for fun.

I had the worries anyone would in this situation, and I was pretty surprised by their support.  I called my gran and though she didn’t ask or say much when I told her, she rang up the next day saying she’d been scouring the internet and asking me questions.  My granda was totally fine with it just saying to make sure I was certain before I started getting any surgeries.  Of course, they haven’ seen me yet, so I’m holding out before I can call it a big win.

Also my aunt and her fiancée know and made the switch to female pronouns instantly.  We’re a pretty small family, so apart from distant relatives I barely know that’s that.  Good for me, I wish we all could have it as good but we don’t, and I ought use this energy and support to help those who do not have it.


Operation ‘Find the Transgenders’

Part of the reason I moved to the city is to interact with other transfolk.  I’m still not really able to avail of support groups due the isolation of my age (29), but I’ve been able to get in contact with a couple of new people through Facebook and have arranged to go for coffee with the organiser of a new 25+ AFAB group to get some insight on how I might start up a group for 25+ AMAB people.  I must find the transgenders, otherwise how will I be queen?

It doesn’t matter how you find you support, but what does matter is that you reach out to seek it.  I think I’d be screwed without the internet to help guide me, but I really need to meet some real life trans people.  I went with a bunch of girls on a crazy night out to the gay bar last week and I didn’t see any other obviously possibly trans people.  Either they are all awesomely blended in or they weren’t there.  Of course, how are you supposed to know what a trans person looks like, how we seem to gender each other is often based on an automatic assumption.

People look at me, some see trans, some see man, some see woman, this is evidenced in my interactions.  Restaurants seem to be good places to get passes, I assume at the courtesy of waiting staff.  Other trans girls have intimated similarly, so maybe that’s a good place for new transfolks to get a boost.

On the night of the gay bar I was introduced to an awesome girl who took me shopping the next day and managed to get me the whole way round a clothes shop without running away, which is very impressive.  She gives me butterflies, a feeling I’ve rarely experienced.  It inspired a dream where I finally stopped treading the same path the blue haired girl showed me, allowing me now to find a new way.  To feel in myself that I could have romantic inclinations again is a real boon, and as much as I feel getting involved with someone right now isn’t the best idea no matter how much I’d love a cuddle, I’m very happy to have hopefully made a new friend!  Hopefully I can contain my emotions and not do anything stupid, a date with me is like finding a dead jellyfish on the beach, it may seem dead but it can still sting you and mess up your day.


Holiday to Barcelona

So, I drove myself mad getting ready for this holiday, I had to get it right.  All I had was cabin baggage so I needed to fit everything into one backpack for 5 nights, and fit all my cosmetic stuff into one of those airport security bomb material bags.  It had been so long since I’ve been on any kind of holiday, let alone to actual summer sun, let alone going as a female!

I don’t know how I did it, but I aced it and brought everything I needed.  Against all odds, the entire holiday went off without a hitch.  It was amazing.

I’m going to write about it in a separate post since this one is getting a bit bedraggled, and once I can upload the photos I’ll do a nice holiday story time post.


Voice

Eugh.  I sound bad.  I’ve plateaued with what I’ve learned, the glimpses are rare.  I took a week off practice for going on holiday and it’s put me back a lot.  My voice therapist says it will be around Christmas before I have anything I would consider worthwhile.  Through watching lessons online I’ve developed an American inflection rather than that of my natural dialect.

A possible upside I think I’m noticing is that the rate of a passing voice is partially proportional to aesthetic appearance.  That is, the more obviously femme I am in passing situations, the more I can get away with vocally.  I can’t say that for sure, but it’s certainly conceivable .


Future

I’ve gone from living at 100mph to sauntering now at a casual run.  The unending lists have somehow been mostly completed in a frantic, determined daze.  The word is:  Persevere.  People, I never believed I could get this far, I’m not particularly motivated, industrious, feminine, confident and so on, but I’ve still been able to make these big steps, and it hasn’t even been a year since the reality of my identity clicked.  I’ve had no choice, except to live in an eternal gender purgatory.  To think I could get this far without much understanding or self-belief shows me how far I can go to get where I need to be.  It motivates me to believe that anyone reading this in a similar situation can get where they need to be.

Let’s keep moving forward together, keep each others backs, leave no-one behind.

Amy Xx

P.S. I forgot to mention I made an email for this blog unexpectedamy@outlook.com, so if anyone has any questions or something they want me to talk about or help with please totally feel free to get in touch, I’d be happy to try to help!

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female voice, feminization, transgender

Voice Tips for Girls #2

DisclaimerI am not qualified in any way as a voice therapist.  The tips and instructions provided here were given to me by a qualified speech therapist, but have been designed for my own individual needs.  These exercises may not be appropriate or necessary for you and are only an illustration of potentially useful voice adapting methods.  Look after your voice, it’s the only one you have, and please consult a professional before making these potentially damaging and permanent changes to your voice.  I am nowhere near achieving a passable voice or a strong understanding of these vocal concepts and am as much in the dark as any other beginner.  Some of the ideas, concepts and additions below are borne of my own mostly ignorant interpretations and opinions.  Try these at your own risk.

This one is for my girls, with achy throats compounded with vocal confusion.  I had my second voice therapy appointment and have learned a lot.  I don’t know about you, but before seeing a professional I had waded through a ton of YouTube videos, bought the Kathe Perez and Andrea James voice feminization programs, and even the EVA voice app.

I spent months working up the courage to try the exercises, and when I finally got around to it, I did the exercises, but I didn’t see what the point was, I didn’t see what I was trying to achieve.  I’ve had no basis of comparison to know whether what I was doing was correct, or whether the changes I was making were improvements, or a steady way of destroying my voice.

In my last post I outlined a few basics I learned in my first lesson, and I would like to share now the techniques I learned in the second lesson.

Firstly, anything I’ve encountered has suggested I practice for at least an hour a day, my voice therapist said the same (too much will over-strain the voice), but suggested doing 4 sessions of 10-15 minutes per day to optimize progress, rather than lumping the entire hour into one daily session.

If you feel the need to clear your throat, DON’T; take a drink of room temperature water instead.  I’ve been nicotene free for a little bit now and get goo in my throat but still don’t clear it because it’s doing damage.  If you have acid reflux or any other vocal/throat anomalies, I would advise not doing these exercises and speaking with a doctor or voice professional first.

Technique 1 – The Straw Method

This exercise is scientifically shown to reduce vocal chord tension and feelings of tightness in the throat.  It may seem silly, but the results are frankly astounding for such a simple activity.  It takes a little bit of practice to begin with but is quick, easy, and can be done in 5 minutes.

“The aim of these exercises is to build air pressure below the vocal chords to enable them to come together with less effort”

What you will need:

  • A bendy cocktail straw (small diameter)
  • A glass filled with about 2 inches of water
Cuddly Bear Optional

Cuddly Bear Optional

“Directions:

  1. Holding the glass in one hand and the straw in the other (have the straw in the water not touching the bottom, top, or sides), blow a steady stream of air into the water.  Keep your shoulders down and relaxed.  You will see bubbles in the glass.  Do this 5 times.  Your throat should seem more open.
  2. Blow through the straw into the water, this time adding the prolonged sound ‘uuuuuuuuuuuuuu.’  Use a pitch that is comfortable for you.  Ensure a good lip seal is maintained around the straw so no air leaks from the sides of your lips or down your nose.  This is tricky and may take several attempts (be careful not to blow water everywhere!).  Repeat this 5 times.  You throat should feel even more open.
  3. Pulse rhythmically on ‘uuuuu’, increasing the volume.  Repeat x5.
  4. Again, on the sound ‘uuuuuu’. Glide from high pitch to low pitch 5 times.
  5. Now glide from low pitch to high pitch and back down again 5 times.
  6. Hum a simple tune like Happy Birthday (or Iron Man by Black Sabbath =P) through the straw.
  7. Finally imitate the intonation of speech by humming through the straw, e.g.  Gliding up as if you were asking a question, e.g. ‘How are you today?’
  8. Remove the straw and begin to speak.  Notice a feeling of openness and effortless in your throat.” [1]

Paraphrased from [1] – Titze, 2006.  Voice Training and Therapy with a Semi-Occluded Vocal Tract:  Rational and Scientific Underpinnings.

From the first try on this exercise I noticed the openness.  After a couple of days I was surprised by the quality of my voice immediately after following these steps.

Technique 2 – Humming

For these exercises I was asked to try them in different pitches to find what was comfortable for me.  Online voice programs will generally ask you to aim for an A3 note (220HZ); however I was informed my A3 was unnatural, and a G3 or G#3 worked better and was still within the ‘feminine’ range.  Use an online piano, free mobile piano app, or a tuned musical instrument if you have one to find these pitches.  If your throat gets tight whilst doing these exercises, try step one of the straw again exercise to reduce the tension.

“Directions:

  1. Begin breathing down the nose and add the hum ‘mmmmmm….’  Gently place two fingers either side of your nose and feel for the vibrations.  Also, experiment with placing your hand on your chest, checking for vibration and resonance.  When done correctly there should be very little buzzing in the chest.  There will always be a little buzzing in the throat as this is of course where the vocal chords are located.  Imagine your voice coming from the front of the lips and/or the centre of the tongue.
  2. Once this has been achieved, the hum can be prolonged, remembering the lips should make light contact while the teeth remain apart.  Imagine the sound forward onto the lips.  This will allow the tongue to assume a neutral position, and because the hum is very close to quiet breathing, it will also put the larynx in a neutral position.  While you prolong the hum, not only will you feel the vibration around the face and lips, but also listen to the ’rounded’ quality of the sounds.
  3. Vowel sounds can be added to the hum, making sure initial the focus remains on the hum rather than the vowel, to prevent any increase in glottal tension.  You may then be able to produce the hum with simultaneous onset of breath and voice.
  4. Try the following sounds, 3 times each in a row at a pitch that feels natural and comfortable [in your preponderantly ‘female’ range] (i.e. Mmm … ah, Mmm … ah, Mmm … ah).
  5. Mmm … ah  – Mmm … oo  – Mmm … ee  – Mmm … ay  – Mmm … oh  – Mmm … eye.
  6. Once you have mastered these, you can move onto words and phrases, maintaining an intoned voice and initially prolonging the hum at the beginning of words (You may also want to first sing, and then say the words and phrases at your preferred pitch).
  7. – Main  – Mine  – Mean  – Moan  – Moon  – Mourn  – Many  – Money  – Morning  – Moaning  – Mining  – Meaning
  8. Short Phrases: – Many moons  – Many more  – Morn or noon  – More money  – My name  – Many miles  – Moaning Minnie  – Manage money
  9. Longer Phrases:
  • My name is Naomi More
  • My mum makes mince on Mondays
  •  My money may go missing
  • Mad Max moans from morning till night
  • Noisy monkeys made away with it
  • Mean Mary mocks Mike
  • Many miles more to the mountain
  • Martin has marmalade in the morning
  • Mandy like mince and minestrone soup”[2]

[2] These exercises were graciously provided to me by my voice therapist.  They are shared without permission, though I hope by sharing them that it can take a little pressure off NHS voice resources and help some of the transwomen who either cannot gain access to vocal therapy, or those who are thoughtlessly destroying their throats with bad practice in understandable despair, bearing in mind my disclaimer).

Remember to breathe diaphragmatically in general and before speaking and to drink at least 2 litres of water per day.

Once these exercises are completed you may want to try a few other speech patterns out.  A dictaphone may be helpful in gauging your progress.

  • Trying singing and speaking 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.
  • Try humming then speaking the days of the week, or the months of the year.

Another little tip is to practice saying ‘mmhmm’ as a confirmation tone at different pitches.  This could be helpful in social situations rather than using words like ‘Sure’ and ‘Yeah’ which may sound inherently masculine for us, and potentially end in a downward inflection, a big difficulty in voice ‘feminization’ and a sure-fire tell.

Think Gumbel 2 Gumbel from Family Guy –

You might be able to use a Spectogram (download at your own risk) to gauge the pitch and inflection of your voice.  A set up guide for this Spectogram can be found HERE, again courtesy of Deep Stealth Productions.

Through doing these vocal exercises I’ve subtly been able to help myself take the voice away from my chest.  There is still a little resonance there often enough, but through gentle experimentation I can find what reduces that chest resonance to almost zero.  Remember this is a journey of change, not a switch that flicks between ‘male’ voice and ‘female’ voice.  I’ll be honest, I sound like a horrible transsexual, and you have to be able to deal with that for a while, maybe at the very least 6 months, maybe 2 years, maybe forever, because this is a transition, and it is usually very difficult, and probably impossible without a concerted effort and desire to improve.

Remember, the people who love and care about you will understand you are going through changes, your efforts will show them how serious and dedicated you are.  Strangers won’t know any different and will assume that it’s just your voice.

The good news is, my voice therapist said that when you “Get it”, progress becomes exponential and real results can be achieved.

Whilst making inroads with my vocal technique, I find it somewhat emotionally taxing already to go back to my old voice.  Even in private, when I tried a couple of times to bring the chest resonance back in, I just really didn’t like how it sounds, and I never want to hear it again, it is almost intolerable.  It is fine for a male voice, but it is not my voice.  Be prepared to feel like this, as it is a common experience.  Say goodbye to your old voice, realise that it’s most likely goodbye forever.

I hope these tips help you to understand the early stages of the process from the inside even just a little bit.  It is difficult and embarrassing at times, but remain courageous, stay focused, committed and determined, and you will reach your goals.

You can do it!

Amy Xx

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gender, transgender

Free Pass

It’s a classic story told on the road by many sparkling travellers, the occasion when one is gendered correctly for the first time by a stranger.  Likely it comes when least expected, for preceding it is the scary period when the pessimist inside says: ‘Nobody will ever see me for who I truly am.’  For as often as hopes are dashed, it’s important to realise that similarly our doubts are quashed, because how we perceive is only one view of how things are.

A few days before I came across this little comic on Transgender Graphics:

It made me sad, as sad as listening to ‘La Valse D’Amelie’ whilst watching couples hug close together on bridges during the still cold nights.  ‘This will never happen to me’, I thought, almost defiant in accessing future failures.

The fates care not for emotional whim.  A few days later, in the midst of that four or five day period each month I feel utterly despondent (hmm!) I met one of my girlfriends who convinced me to go out to dinner with her.  It was a horrendous day so we arrived at the restaurant with big coats on and I was too sad to wear any make up, I looked and felt decisively ‘unfemale’.  The hostess at the front desk greeted us briefly and signalled a waiter to take us to our table.

“Just a second and we’ll show you ladies to your table.”  Huh?

The waiter comes over and ushers us to the table, hands out the menus,

“So, have either of you girls eaten here before?”  What?!

My friend of course heard this as well and we both enjoyed the surreal moment.  I say surreal because dude…..

Lady looks like a dude…

Lady looks like a dude…

A funny thought I’ve had since, that if I were a man, I’d have been pretty damn offended at being misgendered, and if that’s the case, why am I so passively lenient to those who would misgender me?

So what happened?  I’m calling it a fluke, a ‘free pass’.  I consider this whole passing thing to be a rate rather than a fixed value depending on personal success, and I really have to call perception into question.  I could make all sorts of excuses to try and invalidate myself but I’m going to take it, and use it to show that a transitioner isn’t always the one who knows how well they are doing.  It can become typical to get negative about physical appearance, and I think we need these little boons from others to lift our heads from the grey stone to look once more at the path we travel.  I am so grateful for my loved ones and friends.

I finished my 6 session private laser therapy not long before all this, coming across a new craze for tweezing out the hairs from dead follicles (not recommended =D).  I tweezed just about every single [dark] hair out of my face, which didn’t hurt as much as you’d think since the hairs have been basically cauterized half a dozen times.  It makes a massive difference to how I look, no shadow, just the few fine greys and skin.  A perception is, that adult males are generally considered to have at least a little beard shadow at all times, take that away and the doors of ambiguity creak open a little. Way too much of the hair grows back though, it’s only good for one clearance after a laser session. Again, not recommended.

Also, I don’t know why in male upbringing, we are made to avoid anything that could be considered not macho, so much so that we ruin ourselves to maintain the image.  I said I’d refrain from giving actual transition advice, but I’m going to give some simple life advice – moisturize.  My skin has improved as much in the past couple of months with a learned skincare routine as I see at the two month point in most transition videos.  My skin is bright and alive, because I treat it so much better now, and people notice this.

Appointments, The Lasers! The Voices!

Looking for solid work at the moment is almost pointless.  From home, my monthly/six weekly laser appointments were a 2 and a half hour round trip; my fortnightly therapy appointment at the gender clinic is a 4 hour round trip; now I’ve started voice therapy, which is now a fortnightly 5 hour round trip.  Upcoming is an unknown appointment for fertility storage that I rush downstairs in hope for every morning, and then all the appointments hopefully testing for and prescribing HRT.  That’s too many appointments to take on a new hire, not that it will stop me trying.

Each little appointment is progress, inconvenient, but not an effort.  However, the voice therapy was terrifying.  For my first appointment a couple of interns were present, three cis-women, and me, hitting falsetto.  Basically it was only an assessment, I was asked what my goals were, what my issues were, what my habits were.  For future comparison I had to read a pre-written paragraph into a dictaphone, and do various basic exercises to monitor my breath and voice placement.  For example I was asked to go ‘shhhhhhhh’ for as long as possible, I was made go ‘eeee’ to check my pitch, and then again to see if I could modify the pitch.  It was all just making fundamental noises to give the therapist a baseline to individualise my treatment. It succckkkeeeedddd, it’s going to continue to suuuuuccccckkkkk, and it’s my number one priority, even over HRT.

As I’ve written before, the voice thing scares me.  I’m no longer scared of the changes to my identity and so on, nor scared of the exercises – like many aspects of transition I’ve noticed, the recalcitrance fades away because the train never stops.  I’m just scared of sounding stupid, having that cartoon squeaky trans voice.  You know what I learned?  Too bad.  It’s a real-time transition, not a time warp, the reality is, you have to plough on right through the horror.

‘If you’re going through hell, keep going.’ – Winston Churchill

Homework number one is simply motivation, dedication, commitment.  The process is to permanently stretch the vocal chords and say goodbye to the old voice.  Transwomen say they can keep their male voice but in many videos I’ve seen them try to show this it leads to uncomfortableness and coughing fits.  So are ya ready?

The notes I got were:

  • Increase fluid intake, WATER, avoid alcohol, fizzy drinks, dairy
  • Avoid spicy foods
  • Practice humming at different pitches, feeling for a buzzing in the face/lips
  • Don’t clear your throat unnecessarily
  • Avoid answering by shouting when upset or anxious (or in general)
  • Warm up your voice if you are going to use it for a long time
  • Observe cis-females in real life in terms of: presentation/image, pitch, resonance, ‘femaleness’
  • Consider female role models and how they carry their voices.

I’ve been doing voice practice through youtube video’s, doing the paid programs, using the apps, using a spectrograph etc, but I have no idea what I’m doing and how to achieve that, and I’m hoping voice therapy will help this.  Step one for me is simple, speak with a voice located above the throat.  As a natal male, my voice had sunk down into my chest, giving that rattling ‘bricks in a cement mixer’ kind of sound, which leads to all those downward inflections at the end of sentences and other vocal maladies.

I asked, what is a female voice, and she didn’t know, because such a thing doesn’t always specifically exist on a bandwidth, all there is, is a commonality.  I’ve made my commitment and now I am using a new voice all the time.  It sounds as stupid as I feared, but I don’t feel as stupid as I feared.  I’m making myself do this now all day, every day, because it’s the only way I know that is fully involved, it is the only way for it to become automatic.  There is no magic technique of ‘male voice off’ to ‘female voice on’, it has to go in stages – Very Male, Somewhat Male, ‘Gender Neutral’, Somewhat Female, Very Female.  Each step must be taken, each lesson must be learned on its own and put together, just like anything else that must be learned.

Remember, laser and voice are creating permanent changes.

Cis-gender dissonance

I met an old friend last week for the first time in years, a cis lesbian woman.  She told me about her gender struggles throughout life.  As a kid she was referred to as male regardless of how she presented, and she didn’t mind.  As an adult, she often wondered if she was a man, or was supposed to be a man.  A while back she had a couple of years dealing with a real gender identity crisis, but was unable to conceptualize the idea of dysphoria.  She didn’t and doesn’t understand it, but the feelings subsided, she came to realise she is just a woman who likes to screw other women.  She has male traits 614-629 and female traits 1646-2042. You know what I mean? She is who she is.

This is where I have some empathy towards a little trans criticism, and wonder where the lines are between being transgender, and having dysphoria.  For example, I could be as feminine as I want, moreso than I ever will be as a real life transwoman, think about being a woman every day, dress as a woman every day, do all that stuff, but without dysphoria, what would I be?  The term transgender consists of an overlap of personal gender freedom and medically understood gender dysphoria.

Each are valid, though ‘wants’ are very different from ‘needs’, and as with my friend, if there isn’t a long term problem, then maybe there are better long term solutions than transition.  Accepting oneself in ones gender doesn’t always need a change in gender self-perception.  Listen to the transitioned when they say it – if you can avoid transition, avoid transition, there is no glamour, and the price is too high if all you want to do is look in the mirror and see a pretty face.  Additional or removal of breast tissue is a consequence in aid of soothing the tumultuous mind, not in looking good, although the results often seem generally pleasantly congruous.

…and finally

I know my posts are too long. Shush, they are essays 😉

My passport arrived a few days ago.  The Sex says ‘F’.  I am officially, legally female… a bit, there’s still the two year wait for a Gender Recognition Certificate.  Now I can get all my other documents changed and that’s another kind of fun yet frustrating chore out of the way.

I guess a key thing for me right now is consistency.  Dysphoria is a constant annoyance, and I am rolling with it rather than resisting, and the things I’m doing are what my body asks for.  I know to expect a lot of different types of changes.  From the revelation, so much changed instantly and it takes a long while to untangle that giant clusterfudge into intentional components.

There are a lot of weights and balances in my experience, gradualisation.  I gain a little more self awareness, I commit a little more to voice, a little more to make-up (bleh), a little more to my presentation.  Though I moaned and scorned about it, I wear breast forms any time I’m going to be around people, because, you know, boobs don’t come on and off like that, and strangers don’t know they aren’t real, soooo… I’m not working by some sort of guide I read, it’s really what makes this experience more tangible and quite truly it helps, it all helps, and it’s bloody annoying.

The medical wait continues, but I continue to take power back, to claim, reclaim, and expand my life, and it’s working.  People notice the changes, they know it’s not a phase when they see it day in, day out, I notice, and I’m starting to feel it. I’m starting to look in the mirror and go, hey…..maybe.

Amy Xx

May be I'm a woman, but I ain't no lady.

May be I’m a woman, but I ain’t no lady.

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gender, identity, transgender

Absolving the Void

Peel back the layers like the painful scabs they are.  All those layers of dead skin built up as defences throughout life that bring us farther from ourselves.  Creating a solid foundation whilst aware of what is already built.  The mixer drips and overflows whether it is preferred or not; one can build upon concrete, or one can build upon frittering dreams made from ashes tinier than sand.

I am the only person who can give me what my life wants.  I’m the only person who can find out, the only one who can do it, and the only one who cares enough [to make it happen].  Just words, conjecture, yet we are individuals, same as everyone in every position, rich or poor, totally equal and deserving in every single right.  It is wonderful to find the value and strength of the human spirit, but what about a human spirit?  To whatever degree one transcends gender, it is looking inwards that counts, not outwards.  Society is this, people are that, opinions fly with an invisible sludgy density.

For myself, since coming out, I’ve come closer to myself in some ways, yet grown further in others.  With such jarring self-realisation it can be difficult to hold onto the connectedness which binds our own values.  There must be balance, without a sense of selfness there is no scale upon which to weigh burden.  See not yourself through the eyes of others, for their worth is not determined by how they imagine you see theirs.  Only a heart will let another heart inside’ its realm.

I had the wonderful opportunity recently to spend a few days in my grandparents’ country house whilst they went on holiday, the sort place where a wi-fi signal makes 56k seem tolerable.  Good.  The overwhelmingness in general of technology and seemingly insightful ‘5 Reasons Why…’ articles resonates too loudly with the online trans experience, it’s just too much information, and how much of it is really helpful when reading about self-help overtakes actually helping oneself?

Such was my greeting view –

IMG_2626

A little stream rolls under this picture. So tiny, yet still unstoppable in it’s flow.

In my reflections I had some a couple of important moments of clarity.

The first was to finally let go of my last relationship and first love for real.  I read an article on closure where it just clicked, or more accurately on how sometimes there is no closure, and the light brightened in my heart.  I’ve had to accept that sometimes, with some people, there are no avenues to receipt of empathy, understanding, compassion, conciliation etc, no matter how I could try or yearn.  I still got left being called a liar and a void, and must accept there is nothing I can do to alleviate this.  I think if anything, I was simply naive, just as I was naive about her. I am aware that some trans-folk have or hold onto their revelation whilst in a committed relationship and hold it in for whatever reasons for however long, but that wasn’t me.  It was the ending of the relationship that spurred me to look at my life and to finally see that which has perennially invaded my unconscious.  I was never given the chance to rebuild trust enough to try to explain how I came out so soon after the breakup, I’ve just received a continuation of the insults and abuse I’ve tried to carry for the past year.  I think this would have happened whether I was trans or not, I have spoke my love, prayers and devotions, retaining the positive memories and experiences, but now I can never look back.  We could have helped each other, and we should have been good friends at least. It is a sad ending. It is a new beginning.

Indeed, I was naive for over 28 years that so called gender issues were such a pivotal issue in my life.  Without the emotional upheaval and final unclasping I can only wonder how long it may have been before I started asking myself such serious questions.  And to be true, after those first few weeks of screaming and crying, I started telling people straight away, because I had no choice it hurt so much to have it all hit me at once.  Mais c’etait et c’est la vie.  The pain from all that is gone now so I know it is over, and in forcing myself to write this it allows my acceptance to breathe, to let go of the hurt, and mostly to let go of the hope it can be resolved.  It hurts me a lot to be thought of as a source of pain for others, I truly hope she can come to understand one day, to let go of her hurt, to forgive the grievances she feels.

‘Forgive people in your life, even those who are not sorry for their actions.  Holding onto anger only hurts you, not them.‘ – Source unknown

I’m sorry.  I forgive you.


The other release was of course related to trans issues, you know, that whole thing where breath is castigated by binders and corsets, for fun…  I’ve seen the struggle in myself and many others who in finding ourselves wish to put a name to that which takes us [from a past] to a future.  I understand how important personally, socially and politically it can be to use the names and terms, but I think I am moving past gendered terms, past binary, past non-binary, for now.  I’m sure I’ll proselytize yet through a few more terms of thinking.

I’m not trying to raise myself above, or come up with a new term; I just feel sometimes that all the questioning is like leaving the tap on, all that precious energy cascading into a black hole where answers are echoes.  I’m concerned with my individuality, not my gender, and though they are concordant, even thinking about thinking about a name for whom or what I am seems counter productive.  This is not a rejection of trans identity, it is more a showing of my growing comfort and acceptance in a self-actualized role.  One’s role is to be oneself.

Please forgive the impertinence, I’m just a babe when it comes to actually dealing with this stuff, but for me it is liberating.  No longer do I have to read trans-critical information, nor trans-affirming information and try to apply it to my own situation.  I hope that I have a more highly prioritised sense of self than sense of gender.  As trans, with continued self-awareness I would like to believe one can release the unfettered nature of oneself without bond – yet when dysphoria calls, does thon us ask to lie our identity on a line, or between the tracks?

When trying to explain all this stuff, I’ve found it essentially comes to sound contradictory in many ways, but to other trans folk, these seeming contradictions evoke understanding and empathy, and no doubt it confuses the fudge out of most people.  This shared connection however helps us understand the realities of our incongruities.

I posit to not lie on a line or between a track, but to ride ‘gender’ like a wave, take control of dysphoria like it’s a surfboard, become an expert dysphoria surfer, expect the waves to crest and crash over you sometimes, expect to fall into endless possibilities for choices of direction.  Think of these things for a time, but remember why you came, to find peace, calm, a true smile upon your face as a blazing sun of energy reflects its’ light and the spray blinds you to all but your focus.

Gender happens.  You don’t find it.

Gender is the word used to differentiate whatever it differentiates itself from.  It is an aspect of an individual, more innate and deep than most.  Gender, I suppose, is also a sufficient distinguishment between individuals in certain ways, though not necessarily through distinguishing features.  Gender is not the word ‘gender’, I find there is a serious language barrier which makes it very difficult to engage the precepts of discussing transgender issues from the basis of our awareness. For ourselves, moving on from the traditional sexed values of the words ‘male’ and ‘female’, ‘man’ and ‘woman’, to using those words to describe what we are.

What I mean is, I find myself by unconscious design to deign myself a woman, though I [supposedly] have a man’s everything.  For me, even having to attach those words creates a restriction, for me.  I’m not trying to write New-Speak, I’m just trying like I always have to eradicate those concepts like I try to eradicate any other pre-conceived assumption on human beings based on physical identifiers.  I guess it’s like wanting to talk to someone on a phone with a before meeting them, knowing a mind before attaching bodily traits, like I would hope for others to know me before imparting physical judgement.

This is my current, narrow, not at all serious interpretation. I do not deny, nor am I deluded from biological probabilities. There is too little psychophysical information for anyone to speak with authority. All I know is, trans people exist.

Ok, so the questions are always there, just like the…sigh….dysphoria.  However, I seem to have found a nice calm for now, things are a lot less overwhelming, less mind heavy.  So much anxiety, confusion, and all those things that lead one downhill from getting so single-minded on gender business.  It happens and it’s ok, though we have to take time to step back, we can begin some of the healing at any time.  Part of that is letting go of the past, another part is embracing the present.

Calm water days prepare for rough seas ahead.


In embracing the present, I personally have been trying to cool off on hyperactive transition mayhem, so much as I can be willing.  When trying to eat a mountain this big, the days go by and it seems like nothing can make enough of a difference, only crumbs when it may seem like progress is a spectre, but crumbs are still crumbs, even if few singles bites will make any noticeable difference.  However, it is not a Sisyphesian task, all those little bits matter, they really do bring us closer to our goals, but trying to do too much at once I find can totally jam the system and I personally just end up panicking.

So, I’m trying to tone down the demands.  I’m in a place that is comparatively acceptable for now.  My make-up and voice hasn’t improved, though I have been getting to wear some pretty nice clothes.

My voice is what holds everything back.  I’ve accepted the necessary horror and hard work, and it is a vital factor for me long term.  I don’t want to improve my looks because it feels pointless when I sound like this.  I’m not so much worried about the self-expression aspect so much as the grinding mental incongruity so this is how I do it.  I winged an appointment at a hospital voice clinic next month, and I really think it’s up there on the list of horribly embarrassing things for me to do in transition.  Gonna sound sooooo bad, and I just know I’m going to have a break down afterwards. I have to be honest, if I become aware of my voice in a conversation I can feel pretty uncomfortable.  Ears shall come to bleeding one day, when Amy is around.

I’ve started wearing hip pads and breast forms, even though I said to myself I wouldn’t.  It’s not nearly as internally humiliating as I feared, in fact it felt more appropriate than I would have liked, but hey, whatever works.  I’m pretty self-conscious about it, but not enough to not do it.  I mean, if I grow breasts or get chest surgery they’re going to be there, so may as well get used to it.  Palm to face initializing,  Palm to face engaging.  Palm to face complete.  Not fun, but whatever, it’s fine.

Overall, beyond little trinkets the best thing for me has been being outside, sensing who I am in the world, learning what not to wear, gaining confidence.  Each mistake now is one less to make in the future, and wow there are some really embarrassing mistakes to be made!  With good friends, it can be a lot of fun, and it can be alone too, if you are prepared to laugh at yourself.  I dunno, I must be crazy, because still when I walk into town I seem to be one of the very few ones with even the faintest of a smile.  Do smile!  Other people?  ‘Some folks would try and tell you how to butter your toast.’  Some people want what they want for themselves for you, but what do you want for you? I want your smiles, gimme gimme gimme! 😀


I’m aware this blog is just a big block of writing, so here are a few photos of beautiful Westeros:

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And one of me, cause I love ya 😉

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Spread the happy times people!

Amy Xx

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