An Update On Life

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Updates!

So, it’s been awhile since I’ve updated y’all on my life.  So here is an update!

Grad school planning is taking center stage.  I’m excited and a little nervous to approach a program I’ve always wanted to enter while also being trans.  In my spare time, I’ve been voice training and it proving to be far more challenging than I thought.  In terms of running, I’ve recently returned after a few months off for recovery.  Whether or not I’m running in the next marathon in a few months is still up in the air.

Name and gender wise, I’ve successfully updated all of my information!  Birth certificate, SS, medical, college, passport, and more are all changed.  I have only a handful of things in my former legal name and I will be keeping them for convenience sake.  I lucked out being born in New York State, where I can change this information without undue hassle.  It is a rare privilege in the US.

Traveling while trans went very well!  I tucked like it was going out of business before my first flight as me.  TSA read me as a woman, clicked the button, and then proceeded to find an anomaly halfway down my thigh.  **Shrugs**  A pat down revealed nothing and I was on my way without ever having to disclose that I’m trans.  England and Scotland were a lot of fun.  Having my partner and I frequently referred to as ‘ladies’ made me all warm and fuzzy on the inside.  The UK agent who processed us when we entered the country exclaimed ‘fantastic!’ when my partner and I said we were a couple.  I was worried about passing but it never came up as an issue abroad.  Hiking was far easier than I thought it would be.  Hiding the slight amount of remaining discoloration from facial hair with a dab of foundation was not a problem.  Sports bras are amazing and English rugby players are charming.

Beyond work and travel, I’ve been struggling with a lot from my past.  I’ve remembered and begun addressing a lot of childhood trauma that while on the surface, was nearly impossible for me to approach until recently.  It definitely feels like 2 steps forward, 1 step back sometimes.  I’ve developed an appreciation for how much the experiences of my childhood have shaped me for better and worse.  A lot of the experience has been admitting hard truths and finding a way to live with what I’ve learned.  It is not an easy experience.

 

What Is It Like Being Trans Nearly A Year Into HRT?

My life is pretty normal.  I think about trans things a lot but rarely do they play out over the course of my day.  My day-to-day is surprisingly boring.  At the same time, I feel like I’m living fully.  It is a weird thing to express but it is true.  I don’t know how else to articulate the feeling of wellness and rightness with the world that I now have.

A few weeks ago, I tried on some of my old guy clothes just to see what it was like after 10+ months of me going full time.  They felt weird and poorly fitting.  My new hips make very loose jeans now very comfortable.  Boobs are either hidden by baggy shirts or poke out awkwardly in anything even remotely form fitting.  I forgot how natural I feel in women’s clothing.  Bras can be annoying and itchy.  I constantly feel like I need more clothes and shoes.  Compared to struggling with gender identity, these are problems I am more than happy to have.

Everyone now sees my partner and I in a lesbian relationship.  We get asked if we want separate checks when eating out (rarely happened before.)  Holding hands in public sometimes draws stares.  The majority of strangers are pretty cool about it.

Guys smile at me a lot now.  At first it weirded me out and now I kind of appreciate the warmth.  People are friendlier, more open, and less guarded with me.  I get compliments on my appearance.  That never happened pre-transition.  I am significantly more affectionate.  Whether it be my perceived role, hormones, or simply feeling more free to be my genuine self, I give out way more hugs than I ever did as a guy.

Well, that’s it for now.  I’m planning to write a bit more in the coming month as there are a few things I want to get off my chest.  Until then!

 

 

 

Day 382. A Blog Post A Bit Overdue

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So, I missed posting on my year anniversary.  Whoops!  I was really looking forward to it!  Oh well.  Truth be told, I have had a lot going on.  My life is speeding up with graduate school around the corner, planning trips to Europe over the summer, and a whole lot to do in between.  It is amazing to think that 382 days ago I finally admitted that I could be transgender.

 

Looking back…  The process was really scary.  Well, at least at first.

It took me some time to realize that all the dehumanizing fear and anxiety towards trans people was unjustified.  I logically knew it, but it took time emotionally to no longer react to people calling me a psychologically defunct pervert who is only ‘pretending.’  When people say things like that now, all I feel is a twinge of sadness for the person saying it.  In attempting to invalidate my existence, they openly display how insecure theirs is.  I used to live plagued by insecurity, and let me tell you, it is a miserable state to be in.  I don’t envy them.  There are a thousand ways to dress up insecurity and fear as ‘valid’ and I am sure I will hear many more creative ways to try and deny my existence and medical care in the future.

My favorite invalidation is the simple ‘get help.’  I am glad I had the professional medical advice and help of a doctor as well as a seasoned therapist who saw beyond the stigma and fear and recommended treatment for a chemical imbalance that was destroying my life.  I am glad they pulled from decades of peer reviewed research when recommending the hormone replacement therapy that stopped a lifelong paralyzing anxiety.  I get this incredible opportunity to live like everyone else, and I am immensely grateful for it.  At first I was worried about what family and friends would think.  In truth it was a transition for all of us and it will go on for some time.  And yet, we have come together in love and acceptance.  I am glad I got help.

Yeah, there are a lot of changes.  I get hit on a lot more, makeup is complicated, and some conservative politicians have an unhealthy fascination with my genitals.  I’m judged in public by a different set of standards and it can be confining.  And yet, I love being me.  I love all of these changes, of growing into the woman I am and getting the opportunity to exist as such.  All the internal friction in my mind is gone.  Life is complicated but far easier to approach.  I have a body that makes sense, how I feel makes sense, and I am generally at peace.  It is still challenging, but far less so.

For the rest of my life I will have to take medication.  There will be people who attack my right to exist until the day I die.  Transitioning was a necessary medical treatment to save my life.  No matter what people say, I have the knowledge that what I did was right.  I am reminded every morning when I wake up and every night when I go to sleep.  I am reminded when I am there for my family, volunteering in my community, and helping those who need it.  I will be reminded of it when I am rocking my profession and being a strong roll model for a future generation who will not have to live with the same stigma that so many still experience now.

 

 

 

My only hope is for any person who is transgender and experiencing the unrelenting judgment to just hold on.  Find a more accepting and less hate filled place.  It is never too late for your life to get better.  You can never be too old or not ‘trans’ enough.  Stay alive.  This world is far better with you and your contribution will make it far better for those still to come.

 

 

 

 

 

Day 355. Slowly Counting Down To A Year

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Every day I get a little closer to reaching a year.  Nearly a year ago, I finally began to admit that I am transgender.  It has been a year of struggle and self-discovery.  I struggle to articulate what the experience is like, so I will use the following analogy.

You live your life and everything looks normal.  However, you slowly begin to feel that something is off.  With this nagging sensation not leaving you alone, you finally give in and get a pair of glasses, and then suddenly realize how terrible your vision has always been.  Everything is clear, articulate, and defined.  You and others are surprised and confused that you didn’t figure this out earlier.  You begin to realize that this is what everyone else experiences.  You may occasionally resent having to wear glasses, and even go stealth by wearing contacts.  You can never escape the truth that you need this assistance to live fully.  Other people might mock you, calling you things like ‘four eyes.’  You may get angry that your insurance doesn’t cover something so life changing, and that people don’t recognize how much it has helped you to see and function in the world. And yet you keep wearing them, because in the end, seeing is believing.

My transition began when I first accepted that it was a part of me, 355 days ago.  I eagerly await getting to a year because I am incredibly proud of the struggle, of having survived so far, and of how my life has changed.  I have had to own up to my own emotions, and find ways to cope with the abuse I experience growing up.  More than that, I have begun to recognize my own humanity and worth.  It is all gradual.  it is painful.  It is entirely worthwhile.

 

 

(Day 335) 6-Month HRT & Prediction Review

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5 days ago on March 11, I hit a semi-important benchmark.  I hit my 6-month mark since starting HRT!

 

Insane, I know!  It literally feels like it happened a lifetime ago.  The amount I have changed since then is pretty incredible.  At the same time, so much of me is still the same.  Does that make sense to you?  For me, how much I feel like I changed differs depending on the day.  Sometimes I look in the mirror and feel like there is no difference at all.  Sometimes I see a woman, and have to remind myself that it is me.

If there is any one big thing that I’ve learned through this experience, it is how disconcerting it is to constantly have men smile and stare at me.  I kid.  Well, it is really disconcerting, but what I mean to say is that the big thing I’ve learned is the incredible power of insecurity.  In talking with trans and non trans people alike, I am struck by how insecurity destroys us.  We hold onto it like some prize, refusing to let go of the shame, guilt, fear, and anxiety that is so uniquely ours.  We begin seeing the world in absolutes, where we hold up those around us to drag ourselves down.  In the end, it is this very insecurity that robs us of our own humanity, as well as the humanity of others.

 

201 days ago, I wrote about my predictions regarding HRT.  Now that I am 6-months in, I thought I would re-visit the predictions and see how accurate/inaccurate they were.

*1.  Starting estrogen and starting puberty round 2 will not be as bad for me as for other people, and I will experience far less emotional change as a result.

I was kind of right.  I have experienced pretty radical emotional swings.  Granted, I have not had sudden bouts of depression.  Rather, there have been a lot of smaller things.  I can easily cry now, I cry when I run, when I see food that is tasty and being delivered to me, and when anyone shows me or mentions babies and the fragility of life.  I feel emotion fully, and find myself living in the moment with that emotion.  I never had that when in a dissociative state.  At 6-months in, I would say I experienced an average level of emotional change.  Though, to be fair, some of that may have just been pushing past the dissociative state instead of the affects of HRT.

*2.  I will experience a noticeable difference when on estrogen after a few days.  The difference will mainly be in my baseline mood, which will be less anxious as a result.

I was wrong.  Well, there was the thrill of starting, but that didn’t last for long.  In retrospect, it took a few weeks to a month before I experienced a noticeable change in my mood.  For lack of a better way to describe it, life became easier.  Sure, there were more hurdles in my life, but they were tangible.  Before, everything felt impossible, insurmountable, and ultimately unfulfilling.

*3.  My sexuality will remain the same, how I approach it may change.

AHAHAHAHAHAHA.  I was wrong.  Excuse the caps lock but that is not at all true.  Without getting into much detail, let’s just say that HRT changed everything in ways I was not ready for.  I try my best to carefully plan for every eventuality.  I was not ready for how much it would change.  It is incredibly different from what it used to be.

*4.  Self-confidence will come from having a greater mastery over my appearence (hair, make-up, glasses, and body language) then from estrogen and testosterone blockers alone.

I was wrong.  I don’t think I get that much self confidence from these things.  Rather, looking in the mirror and seeing a woman looking back at me (even with a laser induced week long mustache shadow without makeup) is far more powerful.

*5.  I will have a hard time going out into public until I feel like I ‘can pass.’  I will spend a lot of my time telling myself that this is unimportant, and still struggle with it daily.

I was wrong.  Yeah, originally I planned to be out in May.  I made it to October of the previous year before I couldn’t stand being in guy clothes anymore.  It was hard at first, but I got really good at it.  Being proud of being trans helped. In the end, the most help came from stepping outside everyday regardless of how I felt.  I sometimes have moments of hesitation, but they are nothing compared to what they were like before.  I do struggle with things daily, but this is not one of them.

*6.  I will work on my voice, but I may not find a higher pitch that I enjoy, am good at, or may be able to inhabit comfortably.

I was kind of right.  I have been voice training, but I have discovered that it is less about the pitch and more about the timbre.  I also wasn’t aware of just how much time it will take.  I’m glad I started early.

*7.  Life will continue to gradually feel more real and I will feel more alive as a result.

I was right.  I don’t feel like I am living in a dream anymore.

*8.  I will continue to get closer to family and friends.

I was right.  I have continued to get closer to family and friends.  Talking to them has become easier as well.  I have little to no anxiety surrounding it.

*9.  I will be several steps closer to my dreams of being an architect.

I was right.  In the time between now and then, I’ve applied to graduate schools, organized everything together, and been accepted to a number of graduate programs.  I will be an architect.

*10.  I will have at least one terrible experience in public because I am transgender.

I was wrong.  I have had terrible experiences, but not specifically because I am transgender.  They occurred because I am perceived as a woman.

*11.  Self loathing will still cause me self doubt, though the amount and frequency will be less.

I was wrong.  Self loathing stopped.  Insecurity took its place.  Semantics?  Maybe, but they feel different.  Replace self loathing with insecurity and the statement is true.

*12.  The overall experience will be far easier then I am making it out to be, which in my own mind often resembles Everest, if not K2.

I was right.  While there are some days that are an absolute struggle to get through, day to day life is pleasant and rewarding.

*13.  The time will come when a person comes to the door, and I do not get undressed and then dressed again.

I was right!  In fact, I answered the door a few hours ago to a nice person interested in sweeping my driveway.  It came far sooner than I thought.  The idea of changing into guy clothes for any reason other than a laugh is no longer entertained by me.  In my mind, my innate response is, “why would a woman put on guys clothes to answer the door?

*14.  I will get my ears pierced and hair done.

I was right on both counts with hair professionally done several times now and ears pierced a month ago.

*15.  Quicker then I expect, things will become normal.

I was right.  I live in a new normal.

 

 

6-months in, I am incredibly grateful that I started this process.  Despite the hurdles and challenges, I realize more than ever before how I needed this to live.

 

Here is to seeing what happens over the course of another 6-months!

 

 

 

The 31 Day Trans-Challenge Questions

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I took the 30 Day Trans-Challenge along with some friends.  As we went through the days, we realized that there were a lot of questions that we liked, and others that we wished we had been asked.  Spending a few weeks creating our own list and using the 30 Day Trans-Challenge as a guide, I am proud to present an updated 31 Day Trans-Challenge.  Questions are organized into 4 broad categories, including questions regarding coming out, your experience of being trans internally, your experience of being trans in public, and trans related outreach.  A thank you to The Miserable Muse for the original 30 questions.  Enjoy!

 

 

 

The 31 Day Trans-Challenge Questions

 1) When did you realize the term transgender referred to you?

 2) Who was the first person you told about being transgender?

 3) How did you choose your name?  Were there other names you were thinking of using?

 4) Have you come out to your family, how did/would they take it, and what did you learn from the process?

 5)  How do you describe your identity (transgender, transexual, etc), and how far in the process of transitioning do you have to go to find peace with your identity?

6) How do you experience dysphoria and how do you manage it?

 7) What are your hopes and fears in regards to being transgender?

 8) What are you doing (mentally, physically, or other) to stay healthy for transitioning?

 9) Explain your thoughts/feelings/experiences regarding bathrooms.

 10) How have you embraced your transgender identity and what motivates you towards positive change?

 11) Are you or your family religious?  How do these views add to or come in conflict with your transgender experience?

 12) What are your future goals/dreams/ambitions as your true self?

 13)  Has your sexuality, gender, or relationship identity changed since transitioning?  If you have a partner pre-transition, what has happened in your relationship?  What do you look for in a partner now?

 14)  Do you ever question your trans identity?

 15)  How has transitioning changed the way you feel about your body?

 16) How do you handle being mis-gendered and have you ever been ‘outed’?

 17) Is ‘passing’ important to you?  If so, then what are some things you do to pass?  If not, then why?

 18) Have laws regarding transgender people affect you?  What is a tangible step the government (local/state/national) can take to make your experience easier?

 19) If you have kids, then what has your experience transitioning with them been like?  If not, then would you be interested in having them in the future?  Why or why not?

 20) What are your views on the cis-gendered community?

 21) Has being transgender changed your experience at work?  How might it benefit/impact the pursuit of your career?

 22) What are some stereotypes you have experienced as transgender?

 23) What have your experiences with the medical community been like?

 24) Since accepting that you are transgender, what has been your worst and best trans-specific experience?

 25)  What are your thoughts regarding depictions of transgender individuals in the media?

26) How have you coped or made peace with the parts of your body that can’t be changed?  Have you considered/pursue binding/corseting/fake boobs/packer/etc ways of physically changing your body?

 27) Are you active in the LGBTQ+ community?  What are your thoughts regarding the community?

 28) Are you comfortable answering questions about being transgender? Under what conditions is it ok for a teacher/friend/stranger/etc to ask?

 29) What have you learned since accepting that you are transgender that you would have loved to know at the beginning or would want to tell someone just starting the process?

 30)  Has there been a particular individual who has either helped motivate you to transition or provides support as you live as your true self?

 31)  What question do you wish was asked and what is your response?

30 Day Trans-Challenge: Day 30

Write a haiku about being trans

 

When I step outside

Anxiety is no more,

I just feel the wind.

 
And there you have it.  30 days of trans related subjects, with only a few related hiccups.  While a great way to explore what I’ve been going through, I found myself perplexed by some of the questions and wishing that others were asked.  So, I’ve taken the existing list and turned it into a new, 31 Day Trans-Challenge that I will post shortly.  Either way, doing this was a bunch of a fun.

30 Day Trans-Challenge: Day 29

Write out something positive about yourself using the letters of your name.

An unexpected win from transitioning is shortening my full name from 28 letters in length to 18 letters in length (goodbye second last name!)  My first name remains the same length of 4 letters, which is one of the reasons I chose it.

 

 

L.  Lovingly

E.  Excited

A.  About

H.  Humanity

 

People can be pretty amazing.  More I go through this process, the more I appreciate those family, friends, and colleagues arounds me.

30 Day Trans-Challenge: Day 28

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What is something you have to do everyday or else you feel like your whole day is off if you don’t do it?

I need to center myself.  It can be through planned morning/evening meditation, or just during a quiet unplanned moment during the day.  When I center myself, I calm my own internal monolog down and take stock of what I am feeling.  I get a better sense of whether or not I am stressed, and I take ownership over the experience.

When I do this, I feel more alert regarding my own feelings.  I enjoy whatever I am doing easier.  Work becomes easier to do.

When I do not do this, I can often put work off for hours, have less enjoyment in activities, and spend the day feeling rushed.

 

I have 4 kinds of meditation I use depending on the situation.  The first is simply closing my eyes and focusing on my breathing.  I do this if I am out in public and need a moment.  The second is a mindfulness exercise that I mostly do while walking.  I focus entirely in what I am experiencing, and point out to myself everything going on around me.  I list the sounds, smells, sights, and everything else I experience.  After a few minutes I feel centered.  The third is a straight-up meditation.  I sit in a comfortable place, focus on my breathing for 5-10 minutes and shut out all thoughts from my mind except the breathing.  Once the breathing is done, I spend a few minutes just experiencing all of the thoughts and emotions I previously thought, but I don’t engage with them.  After that and while remaining a slow breathing cycle, I tease out the emotions in my mind and explore them individually.  the forth is yoga, which combines stretching with a focused mind that I find relaxing and rejuvenating.

30 Day Trans-Challenge: Day 27

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What goals do you have?
1.  Become A Professional Architect

I have the skill set, the passion, and am fully engaged.  For 10 years that was not enough.  With HRT, it no longer feels like the cards are impossibly stacked against me.  I get the chance to finally pursue what I am interested in and to realize my dream.  The best day of my life will be my first day at work.  It will signify having overcome the greatest hurdles in my young life.  It is an end goal, that I slowly work towards even though it is years away.  Heh, my ultimate goal is to be employed!

2.  Survive Transitioning

Previously, I’ve written about the ‘judge,’ a nihilistic and self-destructive part of myself that makes me selfishly hold onto my internalized cruelty like some gold metal.  I’ve been able to better understand and even label this part of me.  Knowing what this part of me can do, I understand how utterly catastrophic it can be if I gave into the fear, anxiety, stress, and worry that at times can feel pervasive.  Transitioning took all the rules and threw them up in the air.  I’m relearning many things I took for granted about myself, and discovering new things everyday.  Who knows when I may hit some emotional or psychological land mine?  I’ve learned to be ready, and to not take things for granted.  That is why surviving transitioning is near the top of my list of goals.

3.  Run My First Ultra-Marathon

I don’t run that fast.  Truth be told, I never did.  I used to be the slowest member of one of the fastest cross-country teams in the United States.  I like distance.  I like the experience of going through all of those miles.  I love the physical and emotional challenge that is created.  About 5 months ago, I ran my first marathon.  I want to run another one.  The problem I have is that HRT has decimated my endurance.  I’ve nearly got up to 4 mile runs again though so I am not giving up hope.  It may take another 10 years, but I want to run an ultra-marathon.  A 50 miles run is my ultimate run related goal.  Reaching this goal means that regardless of transitioning, I’ve been able to hold onto a love of mine, change, grow, adapt, and succeed.

4.  Continue Self-Interest

I credit all of the progress I’ve made to fostering a self interest.  Going from pure self-hate to something resembling excitement and even love at times, I’ve experienced through my own life how powerful it can be to look inward.  It can also be amazingly painful.  My goal is to not give in to wanting to dodge the pain, and instead continue to grow.

5.  Volunteer My Time

I enjoy helping people and I believe providing my time for others is the best way I can give back.  A longterm goal I have is to volunteer more.  I also want the effectiveness of my volunteer effort to increase over time as well.  I want to learn how to help more people in a way that is more helpful for what they need.

6.  Better At Baking

I love baking.  I haven’t spent much time with it.  Still a long way away from mastery.  Need to keep at it as the end result is super tasty!