12.28.2010

Seven Months on T

Seven Months
It's been seven months since I started taking testosterone and while the first four months are definitely the most turbulent with regards to hormone therapy, the past few have not seemed as noteworthy. Once you sort of get in the swing of things and get back to your normal routine life sort of just carries on. Physical changes aren't as exciting perhaps because one can only spend so much time trying to remember if that hair was there last week...

Either way here are the noteworthy changes for the monthly update:

Acne: I love anitbiotics. My skin is clearing up and even though I still get blemishes on my back and chest they are considerably smaller and do not scar as badly as the others did. I do not know how long I will have to be on this drug but until things settle down it is really a blessing. I have been able to wear a binder without pain or irritation but look forward to having the increased greasiness I feel disappear soon!

Body:
It's December and it's cold and it's Christmas time so I am going to have to work extra hard to lose some of this hibernation chubb. So far I haven't had to go up a pant size but spring can't get here soon enough. I hope that if rumours are true and my top surgery does happen before the summer (hey I can dream) I think I will be more likely to exercise because I will be less self conscious about my chest. I am thinking of buying a one man kayak to encourage myself to get out a bit more as well. Fishing is a great motivator!

Injection: As promised I decided to stop talking about what's going on in my drawers unless there is some big news, instead I will give you a little update on how injection stuff is going. As you may know I've had a couple scares with injections and I find myself trying not to get too anxious about having to stab myself with a syringe once a week. This month I have mostly been sticking with the gluteal injection as I find it less painful and less intimidating. Also I haven't had the nasty ill panic dizzy spells that I had twice when injecting in my thighs. I will talk to my doctor about this when I see him next week.

Hair: Arm hairs are getting manly and my facial hair is growing little by little. I have a lot of good beard under my chin but I am still awaiting the sideburns and moustache. My facial hair is looking like it's coming in salt and pepper and as my hair gets more silver by the day it will be interesting to see exactly how it all looks when I can finally grow a moustache. I can see the shadows of hairs as they get thicker over my upper lip but good wax worthy moustaches are still a long way away.

Mood: Despite being recently single I am actually in a fairly decent mood these days. The feeling I am suffering most these days is homesickness. I need to find a way to let go of home and find a new place to start a new life. I have my eye on a small northern city but will not be making any big moves until after surgery and recovery. Having a decent job to go to wouldn't hurt either! Spring weather will no doubt help lift the spirits and now that the days are getting longer seeing some more sunshine wouldn't hurt either.

Voice: I don't think I have mentioned before that I am pretty self conscious of my voice. Some people say that my voice hasn't changed that much but others say they notice a big change. Funny, it must be how well they know you! I speak pretty quietly these days as my confidence seems to have abandoned me just when I need it the most. A little more confidence that my voice won't falter and crack will likely return my voice to a pitch where normal humans can hear it again.

Other: Yeah yeah I still need more exercise and need to eat better. thinking about doing a detoxifying cleanse to kick start the metabolism again and wean myself off all the sugar! Getting off that stuff will really help and into a healthier eating pattern. I have cut down on the amount of alcohol I drink which has helped me keep in better spirits and has left me with extra money in my pocket which is nice too. A new year is a great time for a positive change and I think I will set my mind to a simple home exercise program and commit to eating better. I love cooking so maybe it's time to cook up a storm of healthy food and reap the rewards in time for spring.

12.26.2010

One Step Closer

I meant to post this a while ago...

I got an early Christmas present: a call from the ministry of health last week telling me that they have finally approved the funding for my top surgery! YAY! As usual there is never anything concrete until it actually happens so I will not celebrate until I wake up in the hospital with both tits gone (what a nightmare to wake up and find out they only took one!)

I have a couple more steps before I can begin any type of countdown to freedom. I am awaiting approval to have my surgery done by the surgeon with whom I have already had a consultation. I have asked the ministry to consider allowing me to have him do the surgery because it is closer to my home and closer to my family: I would prefer to be with them during my recovery than alone in a  hotel in an unfamiliar city.  I am supposed to hear back regarding the actual location in the early part of January so I am hoping that it doesn't take another three months for them to decide. If they insist on me having the surgery done by their own guy then I end up having to travel a lot farther away and be alone during surgery and recovery but I will deal with that if it happens.

So until I hear more from the ministry office I will be cautiously optimistic about my chances of actually having top surgery sometime in the near future! And by near I mean sometime in the next year....

12.25.2010

A Wonderful Life

Jimmy Stewart
One of my very favourite movies of all time plays on television every Christmas Eve: It's a Wonderful Life. I saw this movie for the first time a few years ago and I was struck by the simplicity of the story and the profound yet honest lessons it taught me.

More recently, when considering the kind of man I hope to be, George Bailey has become one of the men I look up to. He is an exemplary model of masculinity; loyal, ethical, kind, generous, and loving while at the same time having moments of selfishness and disgruntled irritation. Sometimes he's a downright ass. He has dreams to see the world and build modern cities which he repeatedly sacrifices so that others might achieve their own dreams of having a modest home in which to raise their children.

He constantly seems to get the short end of the stick, poor George and until Clarence, his guardian angel, points out all the wonderful gifts George has he can't see them. Unfortunately this is often the problem we have when trying to find our own place in the world and it applies to notions of manhood as well. Too often we overlook our own strengths, and virtues when we compare ourselves to others. How often have you been envious of a character someone else has, fearing that you might not measure up without it? Not handsome like him, not strong like him, not outgoing like him, not rich like him, not athletic, or disciplined, or as smart as someone else? Why is it we look to others to validate our own worth? That simple kind gesture, or smile might have made someones day. The stern but honest criticism might have hurt someone feelings for a moment but it may have motivated them to success. Often the consequences of our actions on others lives goes untold. This holds true for good as well as bad.

George couldn't see that his greatest gift he ever gave to others was the sacrifice of his own dream. He couldn't see that the people he'd helped with his generosity were loyal and considered him more than a business man; they considered him a friend. And as we all know, no man is a failure who has friends.

Mr. Potter was the personification of that self-doubting voice that lives inside all of us. He is that self depricating doubtful voice that makes us believe that we aren't living up to other people's expectations of us, that we are letting people down, that we just might be worth more dead than alive. And honestly there isn't anyone that likes that old money-grubbing buzzard anyway.

George is a good man; a sensitive, kind,  family man who works hard to support his family. The reason people identify with George Bailey is he isn't a perfect man all the time; he is a real guy who had dreams and disappointments and made sacrifices and has regrets just like everyone else. George has  dreams of being great. He has a bit of an ego and he struggles reconcile the man he always dreamt of being with the man he sees himself to be. Until Clarence and Mary show him just what a loved and well respected man he is George never considers how his actions have affected others. He can't see himself through the eyes of his friends and therefore doesn't recognize himself as a success.

My grandfather was a man like George Bailey and I often wonder what he wanted from his life- before he went off to war, before he got married, and had a family. I wonder if his life had turned out the way he had wanted it to or if he was one of the lucky guys like George who wound up with so much more than he ever dreamed.

So for everyone out there who hears that cranky old Mr Potter in their head, close the door to his office today. Look closely at what is around you and see what you have,  it might make you realize you are richer than you think.

Merry Christmas.

11.28.2010

So Does This Mean You Want a Penis?

I stumbled across this project by accident while procrastinating my NaNoWriMo Novel. The artist is L.Weingarten and the project pretty much speaks for itself.

If you are interested anonymously add your "question" in the comments....

It seems fair that people are curious about transgender people. It seems to me that until recently transgender folk have sort of flown under the radar, been quiet and closeted and more timid in coming out. Perhaps this is becasue it is more challenging to the social fabric of society  because so many other things are based on biological sex rather than gender including sexual orientation. The notion of gender is  ingrained in us from the moment we're born and while I am all for educating people because I feel education eliminates ignorance and can alleviate fear which in my opinion is at the root of all violence. But while we are undergoing this great re-education about gender  I would like to also point out that while someone might be curious about "how the whole tranny thing works" the questions they may ask may be completely inappropriate. I have posted about this a few times and I have come to realize there is more than enough information out there in internetland for most people to become well versed in the innies to outies and vice versa of a transgender journey.

This doesn't mean we are obligated to answer questions that are too personal or make us feel uncomfortable. If we were to turn the tables and ask others these questions, we would be labelled nosy and pervertedly curious. No one's sex life, body, medical choices, genitals, or self expression are anyone's business but your own. But before this becomes another rant, here is the link to the project website. I have included the artist's statement under an image from the project the content of which hits close to home for me. Enjoy.


This ongoing body of work explores the power dynamics inherent in the questions asked of transgender, transsexual, genderqueer, gender non-conforming, and gender-variant people.

Many documentary photographic projects that deal with trans issues exploit the genders of their subjects, pointing to an "otherness" or inappropriately exoticizing their bodies. A Series of Questions seeks instead to make visible the transphobia and gender-baiting that can become part of everyday interactions and lives, forming a fuller picture of the various lived experiences. In so doing, this work contrasts with the dehumanizing approaches that predominate the images made of transgender, transsexual, genderqueer, gender non-conforming, and gender-variant people, which often focus solely on their gender or trans status, or use them to further a specific point about social construction and gender.

The subjects hold signs depicting questions that each has had posed to them personally— some by strangers, others by loved ones, friends, or colleagues. Presented on white wooden boards, the questions are turned on the viewer, shifting the dynamics under which they were originally asked, and prompting the viewer to cast a reflective, self-critical eye upon themself, revealing how invasive this frame of reference can be.


As a greater number of subjects and questions are accumulated, a relentless conversation of questioning emerges. Attention is directed not on the backgrounds of the transgender, transsexual, genderqueer, gender non-conforming, or gender-variant subjects, but on the dynamics at work in these conversations. I am interested in uncovering the typology of these questions, discovering what categories of questions emerge as the script of power dynamics and interrogation is flipped.



To see more images from the project visit
www.lweingarten.com/projects/ques/

11.26.2010

Six months on Testosterone

Six months seemed really far away six months ago and my one year anniversary seems just as far into the future. Lots of big big changes this month both in my personal and professional life. Lots of projects and plans for the future. Still waiting to hear from the ministry of health about my surgery. God sometimes it feels like this will never end.

Acne: Thank god for antibiotics. I am enjoying some relief from the really bad acne. While I have some scarring I am happy to report that the large painful zits are disappearing. I still have acne mostly on my back and shoulders but I noticed there is a definite relation to the injection cycle and to diet. Cutting out fatty greasy food and cutting down on dairy has helped a lot. Drinking lots of water has helped too so I am enjoying clearer skin.

Body: Ok so I thought it would be interesting to take photo of my body before I started T and six months and a year. So far all I have learned from this is that I need to hit the gym! I have gained quite a bit of weight although I am not sure if some of it isn’t just body mass migration (or perhaps mass body migration?). I think it’s time to start watching what I eat and trying to get a little more exercise during the week. While I still play hockey once a week the fact that I have a desk job now has impacted the amount of daily exercise I am use to getting. Being in the arctic during the cold dark winter doesn’t exactly entice one to get out and exercise either but at least I can watch what I eat. Come spring I think I will start biking to work.

Drawers: Still no sign of mother nature! Seriously, love it. No monthly mood roller coaster, no unexplained crying, none of it. This will be the last post about my drawers… be glad there’s no more news about my hairy butt crack!

Hair: Hair is coming, slowly but surely. Arm hairs are certainly looking masculine. Hairy knees, wrists, hands, chest, belly, inner thighs, calves probably toes but I haven’t really bent down to check. I feel like I am losing some hair from my head as I seem to be shedding out a new hairline. Hairs on my towel, t shirts, sweaters and pillows. There’s a chance I’ll develop male pattern baldness…have to figure out what to do with my ears if that’s the case….maybe toques will come back in style….

Mood: It’s ben a bit of a rocky month mood wise. Big changes including the break up of my relationship and severe bouts of homesickness are making a positive attitude challenging. I have taken on a big project every month to keep my mind and hands busy and it seems to be working. I am feeling a little more settled here for the time being but I am making a plan to return to my beloved home within the next 18 months if I can. I am hoping that my time here will create opportunities for me to move home sometime hopefully before the next arctic winter!

Voice: My voice keeps dropping. It changes a little more every month. Singing is still out of the question and my karaoke career has been put on hold while I await the final drop and settle of the vocal chords. People who haven’t talked to me ina while have marked on how much my voice has changed. I have no record unfortunately except my videos from last summer. Made a recording at six months and will make another on the nine and twelve month markers. Should be mostly settled within the year.

Other: Been staying really busy as mentioned. Writing a novel in the month of December and hoping to get a second job in December. I am going to pay off my debts and hopefully save some money so I can return home or at least go for a visit. Unsure at this point where my life is headed. I need a plan.

Clothes that used to fit are now getting too small in the arms and shoulders. My pants fet better and my belt needs a new hole. Could use a little less around the middle but until it warms up will have to eat less ‘till I can exercise more. Got a permanent job at a the graphic design and printers owned by the same company as the newspaper. Will learn some new skills while I am there and hopefully be able to get some design work done as well… going to need a portfolio to get a kick ass job when I return.

11.14.2010

Gender, Brain, and Body: the Battle for Scientific Supremacy

I have been following a blog by a man named William Harryman called The Masculine Heart which is about masculinity and the search for the authentic tender heart of men. I am attracted to this site because it is open minded, talks about gender as something beyond the body and avoids reinforcing social stereotypes of men that foster misunderstanding. William seems to be a genuine and kind man and being able to learn about the true hearts of men has been truly inspiring.

Recently there was a post on the site linked to a podcast by Natasha Mitchell of ABC radio national (Australia) discussing the biology of the human brain, the effect of hormones, the fallacy of the premise of scientific study in gender research and the differences between male and female brains. You can listen to it here: Battlelines: science, sex, brains and gender

I listened to this podcast with some interest and then with mounting trepidation. As a transgendered individual I was horrified to hear of the multiple surgeries to "normalize" female patients born with genetically high testosterone levels and masculinized genitals. As is the case with many intersex individuals, decisions made by doctors or other medical "experts" that determine gender based on the presentation of genitals has been proven to be devastating both physically and emotionally.

I worry that inconclusive evidence in the area of gender study be it biological, psychological, sociological,  or medical will blur the real problems of gender being a social construct linked to sex and endocrine biology. I would hate to think that I would be stuck in this girl body because my body's biology trumps my brain and gender identity. If I were and forced to be "trained" or "re-educated" to be a girl like some think they can "re educate" a person to be straight suggesting there is something wrong with us and that to be fixed we need to be normalized ergo heterosexual and cisgendered.

With the help of testosterone and hopefully surgery soon, my body is becoming more masculine. I am getting the broad shoulders and deep voice, my body is getting hairy, and above all I am happier now, in control of my emotions, more comfortable in my own skin. Soon, I will finally have the body that more closely matches my soul.

For science and scientists, educators and researchers: a healthy and friendly relationship between body and brain is what medicine, psychology, sociology, etc. should be striving for (and supporting) with respect to gender and sex. I would hate to think that transgendered, homosexual, or other gender variant individuals could be denied medical care, basic human rights, happiness, or freedom of sovereignty over their body and spirit based on some fishy misinterpreted scientific study: "but you only think your a boy, science says otherwise."

11.10.2010

National Novel Writing Month

If you read this blog then you know I have signed up for the National Novel Writing month the goal of which is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. It works out to 1667 words per day which doesn't seem so bad unless you miss one, or two, or even three. Then you need to write 6000 words just to catch up to where you can once again write just 1600 words a day.

Okay so I have been procrastinating a little bit and I might not make it by deadline but I am bound and determined to give it my best shot even if I have to call in sick on the 29th and 30th. I posted a widget on the sidebar so if you are so inclined you can check back once in a while and see just how far behind I get!!

So for those of you who asked, here is the first little introduction/preface/prologue to my developing novel. I hope you enjoy.


    The thunder never seemed to stop but he couldn’t be sure since he was drifting in and out  of consciousness. Jack’s dreams were filled with images of ice and rock, the knocking of a small wooden boat against salty whitecaps, clenched fists, and shouts threatening him with death. Bodies blackened around him, the stench of scurvy rotted teeth and shit nauseated even his memory. His father’s stubborn crazy voice haunted him. He wasn’t sure anyone else had survived but was too weak to mourn their loss. Secretly he prayed he was the lone survivor.
     The first time he opened his eyes it was dark. A rock seemed to burn next to the bed. A strange smelling smoke filled his nostrils and burned inside of his skull. It wasn’t a smell he recognized. Jack was covered with the fur skin of something that used to be alive and by the smell of it whatever hadn’t been dead too long. His tongue felt like it didn’t fit in his mouth and his head pounded. He turned toward a figure kneeling beside him, it nodded and grunted for him to drink from a stone saucer. The liquid was bitter and oily. He tried not to choke on it as it slid down his throat. A chunk of something fatty was placed between his lips and the figure nodded again to encourage him to eat. It was disgusting but his stomach ached. Delirium and months on a ship made him feel as if he was perpetually falling.
    He dreamed between short periods of lucidness. Sometimes Jack couldn’t tell if he was awake or asleep or floating someplace on a raft between the two worlds. He dreamed of swimming under sky blue ice, eating fish and sliding along snow on his belly. The howling and yipping of wolves was inside his head but as the pack brushed past his legs while he ran he was sure he was hallucinating. There were lights that danced across the dark purple sky, tinkling flaming green ribbons; a kind of magic only the Vikings might have known. He tasted blood from the moon, and sat around the carcass of a great wide horned beast feasting on wet flesh with a giant white bear and a mermaid. The bear had hair so soft and fine and so white he could have sworn it was made of stars. The mermaid was brown and fatand wrinkled like a walrus with huge heavy breasts that hung over her spotted green torso and when she laughed the whole earth seemed to shake. The strange dreams carried on and underneath it all was a quiet vibration like the feet of a thousand soldiers.
   He guessed that the figure caring for him was a woman her soft hands washed his face and fed him. He could hear her singing and sometimes humming while she sewed something from what looked a bit like leather. She brought him solid food and he ate what he guessed was fish wrapped in a thick wet leaf. It tasted not too bad and finally he had enough strength to prop himself up and hold a wooden cup of hot tea-like liquid. He looked at her as she held some sort of dried meat for him and she smiled.
    Two more days passed before he was strong enough to be guided out of the dark room by his nurse, she was stronger than he imagined. When his eyes adjusted to the light the land was like nothing he had ever seen in his young life. The land stretched as far as he could see with no buildings or signs of civilization. The earth undulated in ripples and parts of it seemed to be alive with a palpable motion. The thrumming sound was there, the same endless thunder in his dreams only quieter, as if the vibration was coming from beneath his feet.
    The air smelled of nothing but the brine scent of the sea drifting on the cold breeze. His skin erupted in goose flesh and a shiver ran through his body. Again, he felt as if his bones had been frozen and were just now warminginside his body. He felt the woman grip him tighter to keep him from falling. In the bright light of the sun he realized that this was not a woman at all bit a sturdy little man with a very pretty face. The nurse wasn't much taller than himself. Jack tried to speak but his voice was a ragged whisper. And his giant tongue was heavy and dry. The stranger shook his head and mumbled something pointing at the horizon. Jack scanned the valley and blinked a few times as the dark rippling form he thought was a hill came into focus as a giant swarm of animals. He couldn’t make out individuals as the mass of tiny bodies writhed across the ground all headed in the same direction with single-minded determination. The man beside him made a noise in his throat and began speaking in a language Jack had never heard. Jack’s body was weak and ravaged from the ocean crossing. His fingers and toes had been bitten by frost over the winter as he watched his father slowly go mad.  In the spring when the ice separated and freed the ship everyone wanted to return home including Jack. Only a few men were willing to follow Henry further into the new world but his son was not one of them. The crew threw them all off the ship, turned east, and headed toward home leaving the group stranded in a foreign land with a lunatic at the helm.
    The eight of them sailed around the bay for days, his father intent on mapping the entire thing. The madness was clear to the others when Henry insisted they could make it through the passage and back to England in time to watch the mutineers hang. Jack was pretty certain William and Thomas had died of despair and frustration. Philip and Edward, who had abandoned ship with only their loyalty to a madman to feed them, perished before the storm even hit. Francisco, Herman and his father were likely drown in the bay, their bodies probably washed up on a rocky shore and feasted upon by scavengers. How Jack had survived the cold water and made it to shore when he’d never learned to swim he could only accept as a miracle of God.
    The dreams still came to him in the dark and even sometimes in the middle of the day. Fish with horns, hairless dogs, black foxes, giants, a thousand talking black birds and a giant flying eyeball swirled around in his head. He wanted to draw. He somehow conveyed to the little man what he wanted and with a crude quill on a long piece of skin he made pictures of his dreams from animal blood. Jack almost never thought of his father and was simultaneously relieved and terrified to find himself alone in a barren wilderness. The pictures on the skin grew more elaborate as he tried to recreate the dreams as accurately as his limited artistic skills would allow.
   His companion in the darkness sang quietly while he sewed and women came and went giggling at Jack's curly hair and blue eyes. They brought food that was foreign to his tongue as the language to his ears. His companion took him on longer and longer walks every day and he felt the urgency in the little man’s voice as the wind got colder. Jack realized there was another journey for him on the horizon; soon they would be following the animals’ path.
   It was only hours later after a long nap that the little man set the boots down in front of Jack and urged him to put them on. The pathches of paper thin red scar tissue on his feet had just recently formed and his toes were still tender but the boots made him feel like he had brand new feet. The little man pulled a heavy skin jacket over Jacks head and took his hand. He looked around the little room for a moment as if making sure there was nothing he was forgetting and they headed out into the sunset toward the sound of the thunder. They walked for what seemed like hours but since the sun never seemed to set it was hard for Jack to tell how long they had been walking. He was pleasantly surprised at his endurance and although he was still tired his body seemed to move without him even thinking and the rhythm of the vibration kept him moving.
   His mind found its own way into the dreamland as if the resonance of the thunder were a key to unlocking a door between worlds. Jack seemed to be able to see things he could not explain but these images were so different from his dreams. As the thunder got louder the images became clearer. He saw another little man with a belt made of skin and covered in blood. Through the star speckled darkness he could see cold, figures falling out of the sky and writhing out of the sea. There were buildings built of secrets, more boats, shiny coins, barking dogs, a plague, yellow rocks, hundreds of men with tools and machines, holes dug deep into the earth, dizziness, sadness, and a boy….
   Jack nearly crashed into the back of his companion unsure if he had been sleep walking. The little man pointed to a bump on the horizon and made a noise. Jack looked at him and smiled. He had no idea what else to do. The little man smiled back and Jack was struck with a sorrow so profound he could not understand it. The images flooded back and this little man was in all of them somehow. He couldn’t explain it but knew in that moment that he was there for some reason and he wanted to find out what that reason was. Why had he survived and no one else? How had this man found him when there didn’t seem to be anyone else around at all? Jack had no idea where they were headed or what would be there when they arrived. He just let his feet carry him across the earth following the little man humming quietly to a song he had heard over and over in his dreams.

11.07.2010

Gender Identity Crisis Revisited

Things have been really rocky on the home front of late...my girlfriend and I have decided to back up and back out of our relationship to a point where we can both tolerate each other. I have been kind of a jerk and both of us have been avoiding having  the conversation about my transition and our relationship. A lot of our relationship difficulty is because I just feel so lost in the space between the lesbian woman she fell in love with and the man I am on my way to becoming.

My body is becoming a vessel like the one I always imagined my spirit should have but it doesn't yet feel comfortable or familiar. I have been pulling away from nearly all amorous contact with other life forms. My body is awkward and I am getting very self conscious about the way I am perceived. My girlfriend reads as a lesbian and most people here know her as a lesbian. There is a pretty large and out group of gays and lesbians in this small city and most people are pretty good at reading lesbians and gays. When I go out with my girlfriend to a place where people don't know us things get muddy. My girlfriend is pretty obviously a lesbian and when we are out as a couple my identity is suddenly in question once again. When she calls me sweetheart or baby or wants or hold my hand or be affectionate in public I feel like I am being outed as a liar; as if I am parading around in a charade pretending to be something I am not. Worse, I am sure she feels this too.

I love my girlfriend very much. I am not sure how to deal with this feeling of being stuck in a place where I can't move through the rest of my life as a guy because my identity (and by proxy my girlfriend's identity) will always be questioned. People give us odd and sometimes nasty looks when we walk through a mall holding hands and this has really started to bother me. I am tired of being stared at and whispered about. I just want to be a guy, a normal looking guy and not have anyone question that because of how I look or how my girlfriend looks.

Sure you might be saying that sounds shallow and insensitive and I would probably agree but imagine how you might feel if your partner were transitioning and suddenly people started looking at you as straight, or gay or lesbian. How would you deal with it? How would you deal with all the questions, the very personal questions about your sex life and sexuality? How would it be different if you and your partner had been together for a long time and you had to explain to your family, your co-workers, your children? What if you just started dating someone and they told you they were born a different gender? Would you still date them?

Yeah it's complicated isn't it. I don't want my girlfriend to feel like she has to explain to her friends or acquaintances that I'm not really a guy. That has happened a few times and not only does it really hurt, it also undermines my identity and reinforces the idea that trans people aren't really men or women but are still truly bound to their original biology.

So we finally talked about it and decided to start over in a platonic place and see what happens. So far the tension has disappeared and life has returned to some semblance of normal. I am not sure how things will progress in the future but we are going to just take it one day at a time so both of us can figure out if this relationship will survive a double dose of identity crisis.

11.04.2010

Red Taped to a Chair in the Waiting Room of the Ministry

I got a call this afternoon from the medical people in charge of my case, yeah apparently I have a case...  and to tell you the truth, I panicked. I got all nervous and felt like crying and it's been a long time since that happened. I was excited and nervous and angry and impatient but eventually a got a few answers.

Apparently, they (the ministry of health) are waiting for paperwork and recommendations and diagnoses and case histories from my psychiatrist so they can review my case. It sounds like there is a chance that I might get surgery covered and it is just a matter of time depending on what they find in their review. Assuming they agree to cover the cost, the next issue which I should have seen coming, is that more than likely they expect me to go to a different hospital, to a different surgeon, (never mind I've already had the referral and consultation) in a city over 800 km from home, and away from my family. I am going to plead my case IF they decide they approve funding for surgery. Why they think I should have to drive 3 hours to get on a plane to fly almost 1000 kilometers to stay in a hospital and recover in a hotel away from my family and my doctors is beyond me... well honestly you know its a government thing when.... the reason they would have me do that instead of letting me get the surgery in a hospital in another province that is closer to my home and family and my doctors is because the hospital where I already have a surgeon (who just needs confirmation of payment) is not in the province where I pay taxes and health care premiums.

So here I am after calling and calling for two months, finally talking to somene who might be able to help me. I asked my case worker to fax the request directly to my psychiatrist's office instead of having them wait and wait and wait for the snail mail to arrive....it's been a month already and they have received nothing... I am hoping that by the end of next week they have what they need and I can get onto the next phase of waiting: the review process.

Eventually they will send me a letter letting me know if I qualify for funding or if there are more hoops for me to jump through, and then things could go a couple ways.... I could end up having to wait to get a referral to another surgeon in my home province and then wait some more for a consultation and then wait some more for a surgery date. How long do you suppose that will take?  OR they may decide after my heartfelt and well argued statement about how having surgery outside my home province will actually SAVE them money they might let me have surgery in a place where I already have a referral, a surgeon, a doctor, and I will be closer to my family, and closer to home.

But till that happens I will sit quietly taped to this chair in the hurry up and wait department of the ministry of health....

god how old are these magazines....

11.01.2010

Oh Jeebus what have I done?

I am participating in the NaNoWriMo....National Novel Writing month. 50,000 words in 30 days. Ready, Set, GO!

I am trying to get better at actually sitting down to write instead of letting the evenings slip away while watching tv and checking facebook every fifteen seconds. So if I write something I find particularly excellent I might just post it here. I don't know if you can follow the progress of my novel or not but I will keep you posted on the current word count and after a bit more exploration I'll see if you can follow it!

No promises that it will be in order or make any sense...national novel editing month isn't until March!!!

Wish me luck!

10.27.2010

Again, with the Tits...

I am getting frustrated waiting for someone else to decide my fate with regard to my top surgery. It seems like the people in charge of making funding decisions are not that interested in expediting any process on my behalf. I saw my surgeon on July 2nd. He insists that he get a letter from my provincial health insurance saying they will pay for the procedure before he will perform the surgery. I asked my doctor to send a letter to the province which he did and they received it July 23. For the next two months it was passed from department to department and then sat on someones desk a couple weeks while they were on vacation. Then it went to the minister's office.  The minister's office can't make a decision and have asked for more information from my referring doctor and mailed him a request for further information. Now I must wait for my doctor to respond to the minister, and for the minister to make a decision. It has been almost four months now and while I haven't had to wait as long as some other guys I am getting frustrated with all the red tape. I hope I don't have to start this process all over again when the surgeon forgets that I already paid for a consultation....


Someone somewhere has to make a decision about my case but there is no standard medical coverage across the country and in fact in some places there is no care afforded to transgendered individuals at all. If things fall through I have to start saving to pay for my own surgery and as it sits right now it will cost me $12,500 for a surgery I can have done in the US for $5000. Why it's so much more here I don't know. I also don't know how much longer it is going to take for someone to decide whether or not I will be having my surgery. Every day I hate them more and more.

I want to do so many things just as a normal guy and I am painfully self conscious about my chest that I worry all the time about what shirt to wear, what binder to wear, whether people are looking at my chest. I feel more and more like my tits are the only thing left that are a dead giveaway to that something that just isn't quite right. I took a yoga class to fire up my writing creativity but felt uncomfortable trying some of the moves...does yoga have moves...because I still can't stand up straight with my shoulders back and not feel self conscious and embarrassed. I want to be able to go to yoga and not worry about someone seeing down the front of my shirt. I don't want to worry every time someone pats me on the back wondering if they felt a bra under my shirt. I want to feel comfortable enough to go to the gym and walk or run on a treadmill, or go flying down a set of stairs without my chest bouncing. I want to wear a dress shirt, a t-shirt, a suit jacket, swim trunks and nothing else. I want to be able to breathe, to relax, and not worry about my tits every time I am in public.

I am crossing my fingers and hoping that someday soon I can just be me.

10.24.2010

Five Months on T

Wow I have no idea what happened to month four....seriously?! It just seemed to disappear so fast I hardly kept track of any changes! There are a few notables and for anyone who is keeping track of their own transition here is the usual rundown:

Month Five
Acne: Well here is a photo of my back so you can see exactly what kind of special hell this acne is. There are hundreds of tiny blackheads and a number of large hard deep pimples that are extremely painful. I am still scrubbing every day with antibacterial soap and applying topical acne cream. I started an oral antibiotic a couple of weeks ago and will document any improvements with a monthly photograph. My doctor said I probably won't see any big changes for about three months. I am counting on this clearing up eventually otherwise I may switch to an androgen patch to avoid injecting oil and maybe help clear up my skin once and for all.

Body: My ass is migrating. I am developing a bit of a belly and the love handles that formerly made their home on my hips have nearly disappeared. I love that I am getting shoulders and the veins are starting to stand out against my muscles. My feet are bigger and I am going to need to get new winter boots. I have noticed a lot of my clothes don’t fit me like they used to especially in arms and shoulders. Shirts in particular are getting tighter as I get thicker. It goes without saying that I would still feel a lot better if I could have my chest surgery. I am still very uncomfortable even defensive about my chest and as testosterone works its magic these negative feelings about my breasts get stronger. Sometimes still feel uncomfortable even when I’m binding. The acne isn't helping too much either and I am very self conscious about that as well. I am not happy with the way my back looks or feels but I am trying to be patient and let the antibiotic work its magic.

Drawers: Growth seems to have slowed down but the sex drive is still in full force. In other news, I am getting a hairy butt crack. :/

Hair: Well aside from the hair creeping up the crack in my backside the hair on my legs is getting thicker particularly on my inner thighs. I have a trail of hair growing above and below my belly button and I am finally getting noticeably thicker hair on my forearms. I have noticed a few random hairs sprouting up on my chest which is definitely getting fuzzier…. a good sign that I will have at least some chest hair (I am actually hoping to be quite hairy but I guess that depends on what genes get turned on by the testosterone!) My facial hair isn’t growing in as fast or as thick as I would like but I keep shaving about twice a week.

Mood: I am feeling quite a bit better than I was earlier and I think a lot of that has to do with getting regular exercise, eating better and feeling like I am finally getting a handle on my life and who I am. I definitely feel more grounded and more emotionally stable than I have in a long time.  Once my body matches these feelings I will have more confidence in public, feel less awkward about my body, stand up straight and probably be more sociable. I know I will definitely be less afraid of being beat up or “outed” and will feel less like I have to hide from the world.

Voice: I tried singing along to the radio in my car on the way to work last week. Hysterical. My voice still cracks and gets really pitchy, not that I could sing before T but now it’s really prepubescent! I am sure my voice is still changing and I am not sure exactly when I will know it has stopped. I guess it can take up to a year or more to fully settle so it will be interesting to see if I notice a big difference when that finally happens. Right now I know it has dropped quite a bit but I still don’t sound that different to my own ear.

Other: Hockey has certainly helped trim down some of my body fat and getting out and sweating has certainly helped to improve my sleep and mood. My appetite is increasing and I feel a little nervous to eat as often as I am hungry because I am afraid I will build a giant fat gut in no time at all. I am still waiting for the great leap in metabolic rate but I have noticed that I have no trouble generating my own body heat.

Creating My Own Masculinity Pt 2

There have been a number of men in my life that have meant a great deal to me. Each of them has taught me a little something that I have used to construct my own idea of masculinity. I have tried not to use stereotypes in creating my male self but I have to say there are a few things I have learned and put into my masculinity repertoire. OK that sounds kinda dumb but I do sort of carry around a little mental bag of miscellaneous artifacts that are shiny little representations of my own idea of masculinity.

I've learned a lot about men and about how different men are from each other. It never fails to amaze me how different people are and how amazing every person really is. Painting any group with a single brush covers up their individual beauty and diversity and makes us blind to the possibility of seeing similarities or opportunities to learn. The men in my life have taught me great things about strength, generosity, kindness, patience, and bravery.*

The first and probably biggest influence on me as a boy was my Grandfather. He was a great man. He was funny and tender and generous. His family was important to him and he set a positive example for other men in the community. He raised eight children to be amazing, smart, kind, understanding and open-minded people, who raised another generation of amazing people. I remember going to visit my grandmother a few years after his death and she answered the door with tears in her eyes. When I asked her why she was crying she said that she had been reading love letters he had written to her during the war. She still loves him and it has been thirteen years since we lost him.

My Grandpa fought in the second world war when he was just a kid. I saw photos of him and my grandmother during the war and I was surprised at how young they looked. He was a really handsome guy with wildly curly hair and an easygoing smile. He never talked about it much and it was a rare time that he would tell us about shaving another kid's head while on the boat on his way to Europe or about canoeing up a river into an ambush. He fought with the Americans in the Alutian islands off the coast of Alaska against the Japanese. Every year on Remembrance Day he would play his trumpet at the cenotaph. Honor, bravery, sacrifice, patience, a sense of humour at the best and worst of times,  and the importance of family are things I learned from my Grandpa.

My second biggest influence on me as a kid was my father. Until I was about seven years old he was the  greatest guy I knew. I have really fantastic memories of my dad when I was little. He taught me to drive, to fish,  how to piss outside, build a fire, and roast a marshmallow. He taught me to drive a tractor. We watched Hockey Night in Canada together lying on the couch when I was still in footed pajamas. He taught me how to fly a kite, carve a pumpkin, and took me trick or treating in the snow. We used to walk together for hours in fallow summer fields looking for arrowheads. He taught me how to shoot a gun at the dump and how to find value in what other people would throw away...although I am pretty sure that is really a lesson passed down from my grandmother. My Dad was the greatest dad in the world when I was a little kid and it broke my heart to bits when he left.  Things haven't been the same without him. He did teach me how to make a little kid feel important.

One day maybe I'll be someone's dad and teach my kid some of the lessons I learned about family. Maybe if I am really lucky I'll get to be a grandpa too.

*The women in my life have taught me things as well but I'll post about those lessons later and how they differ from the lessons I have learned from men.

10.17.2010

A Shot in the Ass


Today was the first day I injected into my backside. There is really no way to landmark the injection site on your own so I basically just tried to find the muscle in my hip by memory (I had quite a few IM injections when I spent a week in the hospital after arm surgery...one shot in alternating hips every four hours for three or four days) and by moving my leg to palpate the muscle under the skin.  I did pretty good actually. I didn't hit anything important like a nerve or blood vessel and I am positive I penetrated the muscle. I was only off the landmark by about half an inch I discovered after having my girlfriend landmark for me but I could feel the muscle before I injected and it was nearly painless.

It's only been two weeks since I ended up on the bathroom floor trying to decide whether to call an ambulance after nearly passing out after my injection. I thought I was in real trouble and having an alternative to injecting into my legs has been something I have been wanting to try for a long time. The scare I had a couple weeks ago was the shot in the ass I needed to try the ventrogluteal  injection site and I am so happy with the results that I wish I had learned to inject here first! In the future I plan to rotate my injections between my hips and my thighs but if anything bad happens while injecting my things I think I might stick with the more fleshy option.

10.12.2010

Creating My Own Masculinity

Even five months into my transition, I still spend some time considering what kind of man I want to be. I think of the men who have influenced me and taught me about masculinity. What traits do these manly men have, what is it about a good man that people admire? Just what is it that makes a good man good? These are things I need to know if I am going to be the kind of man I admire.

Now I am sure already there are some of you who are thinking...creating masculinity, I thought you always knew you were a guy?  Bear Bergman put it very eloquently when he said: Not feeling like a girl is not the same as feeling like a man. Not having been socialized as a boy I missed out on a lot and am still sort of in the dark about what male culture is all about. What exactly is male bonding? What do guys talk about when there are no women around? Does a pissing contest really involve pissing? Not feeling like a girl makes perfect sense to me and being a guy is still a little blurry. Things are still a little confusing for me because while I desperately want the body of a man to match more closely the way I feel inside, I can see no way for me to kill off the trilogy of little ladies that still live inside me: the crafty lady, the thrifty shopper, and the cleaning lady. Now granted the thrifty shopper could go either way. If you ask some people in my family it is one of the strongest genes I may have inherited from my father who is the only other person I know who can be as excited to have got a nearly brand new pair of shoes for five bucks.

Masculinity is a gender construction just as much as femininity is.  Sure there are characteristics that may generally be more prevalent in boys or girls but the ideas of gender are nearly inescapable and children are immersed in gender from the get go. From birth, the choice of name, the colour of the blankets, clothes, diapers, nursery, toys, and even the expectations of parents, grandparents and siblings are based upon that little baby's genitals. If you don't believe me walk into a toys r us or any department store. Look at advertising for men and women. It's all gendered. All of it. You can't escape it. So what the hell do you do when you're a kid and everything you are expected to be feels wrong? When they tell you ALL little girls (or boys) want to be princesses (or hockey players). What happens when you are the girl that doesn't want to be pretty but instead wants a haircut like the boy down the street? The one who doesn't want to wear a pretty dress and wear make up and high heels like the other girls but wants jeans and flannel and high-tops? What of the little boy that doesn't want to go hunting? Or who hates being dirty and doesn't like sports of any kind and loves his long curly hair.

I was that kid, and there are more of us out there than you might think. We don't understand why you don't listen when we tell you we are different.  We are scavengers collecting all the little scraps of gender that feel applicable to our unique selves. Like ravens we collect all the bright and shiny bits of boy-ness or girl-ness we need to create an understanding of the men and women and bi-gendered spirits we might become. Little boys and girls listen from under tables and behind doors, they lie awake in bed with the door open listening, sit quietly at the top of the stairs for answers to the questions of gender. Every man or woman who is kind to us or unkind to use teaches us something about gender, how the sexes are perceived, and talked about. We learn to listen quietly and take notes for a time when we feel strong enough to strap the patchwork wings onto our backs and leave the safety of our stick built nests to explore the world finally cloaked in the skin of our own gender.

10.11.2010

Canadian Thanksgiving

It's thanksgiving today and over the last year I have had a lot to be thankful for. I live in a country that is known for being polite, for being nice, for being safe. Despite what our politicians might make you believe, people in Canada are very accepting and for the most part take the attitude of live and let live.  I am lucky that no matter where I find myself I am constantly surprised by my fellow countrymen in their ability to just let you be who you are.

I am also thankful that my family has been accepting of me. I am thankful that my mom didn't cry, that my sister is still talking to me and my father is still in my life. I am really thankful that my grandmother and grandfather raised such a wonderful family and that I am surrounded (albeit distantly) with wonderful and generous and understanding aunts and uncles who did their part to raise awesome compassionate kids who are my cousins. I love you all very much and I am blessed to have you in my life.

I am lucky to be able to go to work at a job with terrific people and do something I actually like. They even pay me. While this might not last at least for now I have a great and supportive workplace.

I have never been called a freak, or loser or anyhting else derogatory by any of my friends, family, co-workers, or acquaintances. I have been treated with dignity and respect when I need medical attention. My friends who even when things are awkward stand by me, stand up for me, and stand bedside me when things are tough. There aren't a whole lot of you but know that you are very dear to me, each of you. I learn things from you you don't even know you are teaching me, thank you.

I am thankful for so many things: my family and friends, my health; the opportunities to learn, to travel to different part of the country, and the ability to learn and grow. Despite the challenges I have faced this year and the challenges yet to come, I am thankful for every day I get in this wonderful crazy life.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

10.06.2010

Hockey Update.

I have been going to hockey faithfully for the last couple of weeks. We usually have two change rooms booked for us and I have taken to changing in the one farthest away from the front door. Usually everyone crams into the first dressing room and the second one is pretty empty. The second dressing room is sort of the unofficial gender-neutral room and one of the bio guys changed in there with us last week which was totally fine. I actually kind of enjoyed having another guy around; I felt a little less alone. This week however they segregated him to a completely different room...all by himself and as attendance dwindles it will be interesting to see if he comes back to the dressing room or stays stuck in the ref's closet.

I realized that my feelings of awkwardness were causing me to segregate myself. I have been avoiding people and spending a lot of time alone and my dysphoria made me feel like I didn't belong anywhere. What I finally realized was that by segregating myself I was drawing attention to myself instead of just changing in one of the assigned dressing rooms. I am feeling less anxious about going to hockey and less anxious about changing. I don't worry about being "outed" anymore and care less about the gender tags. No one has made a fuss or complained or questioned my presence at the games. I have been so wrapped up in my transition I keep thinking it is the only thing other people are talking about when I am around...wow how egotistical is that? It's funny, the first time I went through puberty I am sure no one was talking about me and that was just fine! I'm not a mind reader thank god but I realize that no matter how uneasy I feel in my own skin, my discomfort isn't necessarily perceived by others. I need to worry less about what other people are thinking or talking about and enjoy some ignorant bliss!

10.03.2010

Injection Scare

I had a pretty scary moment this morning when I gave myself my shot. I sort of hesitated when piercing the skin and paused part way in. When I continued to plunge the needle into the muscle I experienced quite a bit of pain and some resistance which is unusual. Instead of pulling the needle out, changing it and trying again in another spot I just pushed it into my leg muscle and started my injection. I pulled back on the plunger but didn't get any blood in the syringe tip so I pushed the oil in like normal, I experienced quite a bit of pain while injecting the T but figured it would go away. But then things got worse.

I started to feel really light headed and as soon as I finished my injection, I was at the point that I hoped I could get  the needle out of my leg before I passed out. When  pulled the needle out of my thigh, blood spurted out from the injection site and I knew I had hit a vessel. I slapped some kleenex over the injection site and lay down on the bathroom floor.

I was really dizzy and nauseous and my head was pounding. I started to panic. I thought maybe I had injected directly into a vein or artery the way the blood came shooting out. I tried sitting up and hung my head over the toilet bowl hoping not to be sick. I was still really dizzy with a sickening head rush and then I started sweating. My body got really hot and was perspiring to the point that my hair and t-shirt were soaking wet and sweat was dripping off my face into the water. I laid back down on the floor and prayed that it wasn't the flu or food poisoning but worried mostly that I was going to have a heart attack or stroke from injecting the oil into my vein. I thought to myself: I don't want to die here, not on the bathroom floor in my underwear.

I was sure that  there was no blood in the drawback and laid on the floor for about fifteen minutes until I wasn't dizzy or nauseous. Then I sat up and leaned against the wall until I felt strong enough to sit up on the toilet. Finally I could stand and brush my teeth and I made myself a cup of hot milk and sat on the couch. The injection site is really tender and a bit swollen. I probably should have iced it. No doubt I will have a great bruise on that leg I am sure and hockey tomorrow will be pretty interesting.

After a little research figure that I probably did just pierce a vessel and that was what the pain was upon injection. I should have just pulled the needle out and started over. It was probably the pain that caused me to feel so dizzy, that and the fact that I hadn't eaten since supper the night before. I guess I shouldn't have pushed when I felt resistance.

In the future I think I will be more aware of things that are out of the norm. I want to learn to inject into a more fleshy part of my body, so will try to get someone to show me how to landmark the glutes. I know, I have been talking about that forever so if anyone has some tips that would be great! When things don't feel right I will start over, pull the needle out and try another spot.

It was really pretty scary lying on the bathroom floor in my underwear wondering if I should wake my girlfriend to call the ambulance....I don't want to experience that ever again.

9.25.2010

Four Months on T

Month Four

Acne: All I have to say about this is the acne at this point totally sucks. I have huge deep sore welts on my and seem to have some spectacular talent for creating little blackheads. I am scrubbing my back daily with Pears soap and using a sulphur based acne cream intended for adults. It seems to work really well but if I miss a day or two and I suffer for it. I have a doctor’s appointment next week so will definitely be asking for something to help before they start scarring.

Body: The  changes that are occurring with my body seem to have slowed down a bit his month. Once in a while I definitely feel like I am retaining water which I understand is part of  T-therapy. I have experienced some swelling in my legs and hands and am definitely feeling fatter than I am used to. I am excited to be filling out and am slowly getting used to having a thicker heavier frame. It seems odd that the body I have inhabited for 35 years is no longer exactly familiar to me but is somehow feeling more comfortable…

Drawers: Still growing bit by bit, simultaneously my best friend and worst enemy… I’ve been doing research on bottom surgery options and am considering which options may or may not be right for me.

Hair:  Hair is growing in thicker and instead of just being fuzzy. The hair on my legs is starting to look more natural. I have now got hairy knees and upper thighs. My inner thighs are definitely looking more masculine. I do have the odd hairless ankles that prove how much I believe in the beauty and power of socks. My stomach is growing soft blond hairs that are getting longer and darker every week. Haven’t grown any hair on my arms or chest or feet or back…..thank goodness. Facial hair is coming in slowly, one hair at a time on my cheeks along the jaw line and slowly creeping down my side burns. Have pretty good hairs growing on and around my chin but none on my face. I am constantly pushing back my moustache’s eta…

Mood: This month the déjà vu of pubescent antisocial behaviour has been overwhelming. I have been depressed about a lot of things and have pretty much pulled out of most of my relationships. I am not much of a friend these days, spending most of my time alone. Being away from my home in BC is hard too even though I have a really great job. I miss my friends, school, and doing something I really really enjoy. I am having trouble making friends because I feel awkward and afraid that no one will understand me and I am not sure if or when to tell people about my transition. I still feel very insecure if I am not binding and recent events around hockey and dressing rooms have made me feel more insecure about my body and my identity.

Voice:  This has definitely changed. I don’t know if it is going to drop any more but the changes that have occurred so far are feeling more and more male to me. I speak fairly quietly these days; unsure with my new voice. When I get excited and I raise my voice it cracks and wobbles and I usually end up coughing because the “rattle” feels like I have a cold or sore throat. Hopefully it will settle into it’s new normal sometime in the next two months.

Other: Passing. This word is pissing me off and making me feel like a liar and I am having difficulty wrapping my head round feeling the need to justify who I am. I almost never have anyone “mistake” me for a woman. It’s interesting that with lower voice and the “right” clothes people don’t look for other clues, ie my chest. I am going to talk to my doctor and hopefully get some help with my acne problem. I am also hoping that more physical activity will help with my mood and self-confidence.

9.22.2010

First Night at Hockey

It's official. I am currently stuck in between genders. At my first hockey practice this week I felt really awkward and out of place. I have decided to play with the women's hockey recreational team who allow men as drop in players which is fine with me. I am not ready to play on an all men's rec team; the other rec hockey team is mixed but once again I would have to decide which dressing room to use and explaining tits to a bunch of guys or facial hair to a bunch of ladies.... I don't know would be more difficult. Playing on a team where I know a lot of the players is less weird despite the stares I currently endure from the women who don't know me.

Playing with a lot of women I already know who don't care one way or the other where I dress, makes it easier to sit alone in a dressing room. When I signed up they left it up to me to decide where to change. I could dress with the girls or dress by myself which was awkward. I think it will become even more difficult later when that dressing room becomes the men's dressing room....I am too far into my transition to feel comfortable in the ladies dressing room and not far enough along to feel comfortable in the men's.

The woman in charge has been very accommodating but I am still extremely anxious about changing. Even if I had my own dressing room I would feel even more like the outsider, the one who doesn't fit in anywhere. I really want to play this year but the anxiety is making it difficult to enjoy what should be an enjoyable recreational experience.

I can't play in a binder because I am afraid of getting hurt if my binder gets too tight or impedes my breathing. Dressing alone this year seems to be my only option and although it will be a little lonely in the dressing room I know that when I am ready to move into the men's room I will be confident and comfortable and only a little less scared.

9.15.2010

Paranoia and the Gossip Girl

Life never seems to level out and get boring which is a good thing and a bad thing. I could use a little less drama in my life particularly when it is the result of someone else's  issue. Here's the scoop: Last week a woman started working with us whom I met last year. She knew me as a woman, a lesbian, my former self, from playing in a golf tournament and occasionally playing softball together. I never really liked this person but had no problems getting along with her when the situation dictated it. Now she and I work at the same place and I have a few concerns about her presence as I fear it will affect my relationships at work.

When I was hired, I told my boss and her supervisor that I was trans. One other person who works with me knows for sure my situation because I told her; she is great and doing extremely well at remembering to use male pronouns etc. I am sure there are a few other people who have figured it out for themselves but are polite enough to keep it to themselves and don't treat me any differently now that they know.

The thing I am pissed off about is that I feel like I have been outed quite against my will and by someone who has no right to gossip about me to my co-workers in order to make friends and fit in. Now it is a huge assumption on my part that this is the case and here is where things get messy. I am not afraid to be honest with someone about my transition if they have the balls to ask me face to face. I am not ashamed of who I am but at the same time I do not feel like I am obligated to tell people that I used to be a woman. I don't think that is anyone's business and yet somehow I feel as though by not disclosing this information I am somehow a liar by omission.

I am fairly confident that this woman has told my "secret" to at least a couple of my co-workers and I hesitate to use the word secret because it implies deception. I am finally living as the person I have always been which is more truthful than trying to conform to the betrayal of my biological sex. Now most of the time I wouldn't really care about the motives or agenda of someone who is obviously out to step on anyone she can to advance her career, acceptance, or whatever but this time I am unsure if I am just being paranoid or if this is really happening. The other frustrating part is that I feel like I can't find out the truth without betraying myself  and revealing my trans status only to somehow feel I should defend myself and my identity. I have no proof she has said anything. I only have a significant change in behaviour to gauge whether or not this situation is real or in my head. I would confront the gossip girl but I am sure she would lie to me.

Tomorrow I will go to work and hope that the whispers and giggles, the cold shoulders and sideways glances aren't malicious, that I was just seeing things. I am hoping the instant silences that occur when I walk into a conversation isn't because I am the topic of discussion. No. Tomorrow I will go to work and pretend there is nothing wrong. I will be polite and helpful as usual and hopefully no one will say anything if I decide to wear my bright blue T-shirt which reads: Bad Estrogen.

9.14.2010

Hockey Locker Rooms

Hockey season starts in a couple weeks. I really want to play but being a pre-op tranny doesn't help when trying to figure out where to get into gear. So many things I have written about seem to repeat themselves over and over again and prove repetedly the absolute binary in outr culture's assumption of gender. I am unsure how to feel about hockey as yet but the same anxiety over doors has reared it head once again: do I change with the ladies or the men?

I should probably mention that I intend to play with the women hockey association and while the majority of players are female, there are not usually enough players to have a game, so they allow men to play as drop in players to keep the numbers up. There is no hitting, and no slap shots. It's basically a way to get off the couch at least one night a week and have some fun. Most of the women that play hockey are women I know and most of them are lesbians who don't really care about where I change.  The problem is I don't feel like I should be changing with the women since I have decided to transition, not because of any sexuality thing but because I feel as though I am taking advantage of a unique situation. Maybe I should?

While the women's change room is definitely the place I would feel the safest, I am not sure how the women who don't know me would feel about having a hairy low-voiced guy named Marcus there. The other thing is that no matter how I look or who I am comfortale around the fact remains that I have had to choose a comfortable gender presentation and I chose male. Yes currently my body betrays my gender but if I am going to fit in with the other guys how will it look if I am changing with the women. Are the guys going to be so freaked out by me that I should fear for my safety or is that just another one of those things that women are taught to believe? Maybe those guys will be supportive or even ambivalent to me and just be glad have another guy around despite the fact I still have tits.

A pre-op friend of mine joined a mens football team this summer and was playing in the mens league. I always meant to ask him how his teammates dealt with him being a tranny, if it was awkward, if they all knew about his transition or if it was something he felt he needed to disclose. How did it go in the dressing room and was he ever afraid for his safety? I know that people up here are pretty open-minded about things and pretty laid back but at the same time it only takes one person who thinks that round pegs should go in round holes to beat you till you can't see to make you fearful of all people.

I have asked the administrator about playing as a regular member, to see if I can play on a regular basis. I am going to suck it up and take my chances and change in the mens locker room. I will probably wear a bra and binder and wear a t-shirt under my gear which will be really hot but that's ok. If I actually have my top surgery this year maybe next winter I can consider playing in the other mixed hockey league as well. Thank goodess I don't have to make this decision for curling!

Hopefully no one will ask why I don't wear a jockstrap!

9.11.2010

Secret Clubs of Junior High

I was thinking more about the pedagogical theory of separating girls from boys to learn about puberty. Why is it that girls and boys are separated and taught about the facts of life in a homogenous environment? What is the theory behind separating the sexes instead of letting the girls learn about male puberty and the boys learn about girl puberty. Would there perhaps be less mystery and disparity between the sexes if we knew more about how each other experience growing up? What if girls could understand about how testosterone affects a boy's body and boys learned how estrogen affects a woman's mood? What on earth would happen if girls and boys had a greater understanding of each others biology? Would it be easier to understand gender if we had a more solid understanding of how hormones affect a body, any body? Can gender be freed from biological sex or is our culture too ingrained with what it means to be a boy and what it means to be a girl?

I was listening to the radio today and there were mothers talking about being out in public with their teenage 13/14/15 year old daughters. They were talking about how they would ream out an old man for looking at their daughter but if an older woman looked at their son they wouldn't say anything despite the fact that their sons were only 13/14/15 as well. So there is definitly and without question a disparity in expectations of how men and women are supposed to act and what sort of public interaction is acceptable between men and women particularly with respect to age. But there are some seriously harmful implications in this type of thinking.

These mothers made assumptions about the intentions of the men who were looking at their daughters. A man alone with a younger female child is too often looked at as a sexual deviant or criminal and a woman's instinct is to protect that child from the male sexual predator. Unfortunately this creates a problem. A long time ago I made a similar assumption about a situation where I observed a man talking to and playing with a young girl 3/4 years old on a jungle gym. I recognized the young girl's parents and warned them about the creepy guy hanging out with their daughter. Turned out to be the girls uncle. Oops. That incident made me realize that I had been conditioned to see men with young girls as criminals, creeps, and sexual predators. How are men then to interact with their children? How are girls or boys to learn about having a positive male role model when society has cast such a despicable shadow across any relationship a man has with a child? Particularly in this day and age of broken families and single parents, how can a father build a relationship with his child when people seem to be quick to label him a danger?

Would having had some understanding about the growing pains of each other help mend this distrust and fear that is experienced and spread throughout society? Is there a way to mend the rift between the sexes and come to some new understanding about gender? Perhaps if we all had to endure the same awful movies and learned a little more about the biology of each other we could come to understand a little more compassionately how every ones soul fits differently into their body.

9.07.2010

You Want to Know What?

It's true that a lot of things change when your begin hormone therapy. Yes, things in my pants have changed, along with my voice and other parts of my body. I am going through a second puberty. This is the price I have to pay to become the man I have felt I am for years. It is a right of passage, a test of will  and at times feels like a test of my faith by way of suffering. This self inflicted puberty is the hard part.  I must suffer, endure and sacrifice, to achieve the goal of feeling complete. The acne, mood swings, depression, frustration, and anti-social feelings of a teenager are not fun when you are an adult. These behaviours are not acceptable at thirty-six. I am supposed to have moved beyond all this but what others don't understand is puberty is miserable no matter how old you are and hormones play a larger role in your emotional well being than you might expect.

The first time through puberty I knew what to expect to a certain degree, tits, menstruation, zits, weepiness. There were bad films, questions scrawled on scraps of paper and put in a box during health class, bad drawings, terrifying images of childbirth, and embarrassment. I was going to become a woman despite my disappointment and protests. I experienced migraines from the intensity of hormone fluctuation. But my friends were all going through the same thing, the feelings of awkwardness and the need to create an independent identity. We were all growing, leaning to deal with our emotions, and swimming the shark infested waters together. I knew where I was headed despite the fact the boys' beach looked like way more fun.

There are a couple of things about this puberty that are different than the first time...besides the hair growth, dropping voice and muscle development. I am alone. I have no one to share this experience with me. Almost all of my friends are all settled in their bodies, in their identities, and busy doing things like having babies, buying a house, travelling the world, having successful careers. A few other things are different as well.

I don't remember people asking me about my genitals when I was twelve. How much pubic hair have you got? Are you satisfied with the aesthetic of your vagina? Do you want to get breast implants? These are not questions I remember being asked during my first puberty. I never enquired about the size,and shape of a penis, or  about the masturbation habits of my male friends. But now that I am an adult going through a second puberty, people feel compelled to ask me these things. Most of the time I don't mind explaining to people how things work with hormone therapy and transitioning. I think it is important to educate people because being informed about something makes it much easier to understand and therefore more difficult to hate. I don't mind if someone is asking to understand for their own  transition. But simple curiosity does not give you the right to ask me about the most private parts of my life.

You can ask me if I would be willing to answer some questions and depending on how well I know you I might indulge you. How would you like it if I asked about your sex life, details about your genitals or sex life, or the private parts of your relationship? If you are going to ask me questions of a personal nature related to my transition here are some things I would hope you would consider:

  1. Consider where we are. Is this something you would ask me in a grocery store, at the wal-mart, in a pub, or at a party? I might be willing to talk to you but not in front of a bunch of other people. Consider who else may be around. Please don't put me on the spot.
     
  2. Don't ask me questions when you are drunk or otherwise intoxicated. I understand you feel less inhibited when you've had a couple but seriously, if you want to know have the guts to ask me when you're sober.
     
  3. Do some research. Google shit. Look it up. Wikipedia. Do you still need to ask me about the physical effects of testosterone or has your curiosity been satisfied with a little internet research?
     
  4. Do you know me well enough to ask me this? If you don't know my favourite colour, the name of my dog, where I used to live, what my art is about, or one thing I am really really passionate about, you don't have any right to ask me about my puberty because you don't know me.
     
  5. Ask yourself why you feel you need to know. Is it because you want to know about me or because you need something to talk about with your friends? Are you speculating about it whispering about it or talking about it behind my back without knowing anything about me? If that's the case, don't bother even talking to me about my transition. Your compass is broken.

A couple of my friends are trans (hi boys!) but have already completed the hardest part of their puberty, they are swimming miles ahead of me and the shore is in sight for them. I have tried to follow my own rules when asking them questions about their transitions. I know how awkward it is to be asked these questions and frankly some of it is none of my business. My friends  have been extremely generous sharing information with me. We have had conversations that only trannies can appreciate because we have shared many of the same, often painful, experiences. We are brothers who have survived or are enduring a second puberty. So please, remeber the words of great mothers everywhere: think before you speak. Sometimes silence is golden.

9.06.2010

Gender Atheism

I remember being frustrated when people would ask me if I was a girl or a boy. Kids and adults alike never seemed to ask me what my name was, just what my gender was. I never realized how rude a question that was until later, as if what was between my legs was far more important than my name, where I am from, whether I prefer cats to dogs, or if I believe in God. No one cared about anything like that when they saw me.  First and foremost they had to be able to label me: girl or boy? Then they could proceed to make assumptions about me based on whether or not I conformed to the expectations of said gender.

Are you a girl or a boy? That is probably one of the most humiliating things you can ask a person. Most of the time it happens in public, people don't usher you aside to ask this, they don't lean across the counter and whisper it, they demand it of you in front of others, as if in shaming you somehow you will be exonerated for your lie. How many times have you been asked this by someone who appears angry that you dare show yourself without making it obvious that you are either apple or orange? Man or woman? As if there are only two choices and the Gordian knot of gender and sexuality could be untied to reveal just four strings male/female/straight/gay. But that still doesn't take into consideration gender. Gender is not about sexuality, and it is not about biology exactly, it's more of an expression of your inner self: your spirit. In fact I am pretty sure I could argue that gender is an entirely fabricated idea.

The idea that all biologically estrogen based creatures feel, act, are interested in, motivated by, and desire the same things is preposterous. Similarly the notion that all testosterone based biological creatures have carbon copy spirits is ridiculous. Gender is an expression of spirit and the idea that someones gender is "wrong" is as stupid as claiming that someone's culture is wrong. Sexuality is fluid, you can be straight or gay or someplace in between. For most people yes they have either a "boy" container  or a "girl" container for their spirit but the spirit inside that container may not always be what one would expect to find inside. That expectation comes from a long history of what has typically been expressed by each of these containers and what society has dictated acceptable. Boy containers may not always hold "blue" spirits and girl containers may not always contain "pink" spirits but because society has told us "pink" spirits go in girl containers and "blue" spirits go in boy containers. That is what we have come to accept as normal. How great would it be if spirits could choose the containers into which they are born. Unfortunately, society has dictated for a long time that our spirits are expected to twist and conform to match our biological body instead of allowing our spirits to shape our bodies into whatever form is most comfortable and satisfying.

Gender isn't really a concrete thing that you can put your finger on. It is personal for everyone; Gender is the a part of your spirit that expresses the ways in which you interact with your body: it is the ghost in the machine. How one relates to their own body should be a completely independent decision and it certainly should not be something that is regulated, legislated or discriminated against because each person has their own way to relate to their body: love it or hate it. Having the power and ability to chose how that body looks, acts, feels, and interacts with other bodies should be something that is as important as one's freedom to control of their own life and future, to choose their job, their lover, their, dog, their supper, their clothes.

Everyone has the right to be happy and to interact with their body in any way they see fit. To not allow someone that freedom is akin to torture, imprisonment and slavery. And seriously, what is the motivation behind keeping someone from being happy? From being able to choose for themselves? Ask yourself what is the motivation for someone who would deny this freedom to anyone? If society decided all our bodies should be the same, if we were all to be thin, or white.....

9.02.2010

Bear Bergman Sprained my Brain

The last time I was in a city that had a big bookstore, well actually eight or nine of them, I tracked down a book I had been wanting to pick up for a while now: The Nearest Exit may be Behind You by S. Bear Bergman, a trans guy who is a gender theorist and outlaw with a wicked sense of humor. I have laughed out loud a number of times reading his latest collection of essays. While his prose is lighthearted for the most part, there are a few times when the questions he's posed have really got me thinking about the way people think and the challenges trans people face when dealing with a culture that tends to prefer binary thought process.

When you think about the way our culture interprets information there always seems to be a binary. Politics, sexual orientation, health, race, economics, and of course gender are all separated into two categorical majorities and the leftovers, because they are minority, are swept aside as unimportant and/or complicated. There are two major political parties in Canada and the US. Sexual orientation is usually considered binary, straight or gay, bisexuals may just indecisive and possibly insatiable? Top or Bottom, Butch or Femme, Smoker or non smoker, Black or White, Hero or Villain, Rich or Poor (who are you kidding there is no middle class), Employed or Unemployed, Believer or Non-believer, Cat-Lover or Dog-Lover, Mr or Mrs, Man or Woman, Penis or Vagina? We have divided nearly everything into one of two categories and then subdivided those categories into two more categories and so on. Then a grey area comes along and people freak, and don't know what to do with something they might have to carry around in their pocket for a while because there is no slot, no drawer, no hole, no shelf, no jar, no box to definitively check, or name to place upon this thing that you can then label with absolute certainty.

I exist in the place where these boxes overlap. I am where the  black and white intersect where you are almost positive you know I am one thing only to find a little something to doubt. I am not what you think you know. Bear Bergman asks hard questions that make me think more theoretically about gender, passing, responsibility, socialization, psychology, and sexuality. As if I don't have enough to think about without my bedtime reading making me feel like I need to pull an all-nighter doing research. I haven't finished the book yet but I will be posting a few of my ideas about what he has written. I am always surprised to find another person who understands me, when I read his essays I can see many of my own thoughts and experiences and for a little while at least I feel a little less alone.