8.31.2010

Three months on T

Month three is here and life just keeps throwing curve balls. I have neglected the blog lately as I have been busy with volunteer work and we were away for a friends wedding. I celebrated my 36th birthday last week and went to see the Yankees play the Jays, eat hot dogs and drink ice cold beer. Ah, what a game. Here's your monthly update and look forward to more consistent blogging!

Acne: Well the acne is getting worse but I have asked around and other guys say that this will subside. I have been lucky that most of the worst of it is on my back and chest and since I don’t yet run around topless it is easily hidden under clothes. I am thinking I will look into going to the tanning salon again for the winter to try and curb the outbreaks. I have found that it has helped with acne in the past so will give it a try again. Also Pears glycerine soap the orange coloured stuff seems to be working its own little miracle.

Body: The shoulders are here the shoulders are here! My body is slowly becoming more masculine and finally I can see and feel some of the changes. I am getting really excited to see my body shape changing even to the point where I can be caught by surprise. The biggest changes are still in muscle mass. My arms and legs are getting more muscular. The shape of my face seems to be changing as well and possibly my hairline. Still not having periods and since it’s been three months now will only report if for some reason they show up out of nowhere. I put myself on a bit of a diet, focusing on trying to lose some of this chubb. I feel like it’s working as my jeans are fitting better. Other clothes are not fitting as my arms and shoulders get bigger and the fat from my ass and hips slowly makes its way to my belly. Hoping that an active winter will help trim me down. I am definitely feeling like I will be comfortable when this puberty is finally over. Body temperature is warmer. Water retention is a bit of an issue and has contributed to a slight increase in blood pressure. Passed the first round of blood tests.

Drawers: Things are changing rapidly here. Bigger for sure, sensitive, and starting to understand why men think about sex all the time and why pubescent boys carry binders books or jackets and how advantageous baggy jeans would seem….

Hair:  The man hairs are growing in, finally! This month I finally noticed a significant change in my body hair. I am getting dark hair growing in on my thighs finally and my legs are starting look more masculine. I am getting a noticeable happy trail from my belly button to my pubic hairline and that has started working its way down the inside of my thighs. Still waiting for the hairy backside but I am definitely getting fuzzier. Like one guy said: the hair is creeping out like a vine. Facial hair is filling in on and under my chin. Side burns and a moustache are a ways away but perhaps not nearly as far as I had once imagined. Also got a few hairs on my chest, unfortunately they are around my nipples so they will disappear when I have my surgery.

Mood: Mood has been hit and miss this month. I am really enjoying the time I spend alone but I find I am really irritable and little things have started grating on my nerves, particularly the noise of other bodies. Whether it’s someone eating their lunch and chewing with their mouth open, sniffing, sneezing, coughing, snoring, licking, scratching, anything seems to be the most annoying thing ever. Maybe I am developing super sensitive hearing??? I am hot and cold with my interactions with other people as well alternately happy and friendly with annoyed and irritated. I am a difficult person to like and live with right now. I am still avoiding physical contact for the most part and feeling very insecure if I am not binding, or if I am naked.

Voice:  Voice is definitely changing. I can’t say in my head it sounds that much different but I am interested to hear how it sounds when it finally cracks and settles into its male pattern. My family and friends have noticed it dropping and I can’t reach the “girly” octave anymore. I wish I had been recording changes but guess I could start at three, six, and twelve months and monitor the changes. Tried singing in the car to work today, more of a disaster than ever before, the bucket I have been using to carry around my tune apparently has a hole in it.

Other: Passing more and more these days not having as much trouble with people mistaking me for a woman anymore, which is good. Hopefully my anxiety about it will settle down and I can regain some confidence in being around people again. I am pretty antisocial and not much for hanging out unless it is with small groups of people I know. I am officially a male now having the NWT recognize me as such when I changed my drivers licence and produced the proper paperwork from a doctor.

8.13.2010

My Perfect Life

somewhere here is a piece of my heart
I always talk about doing great things but never seem to be able to deliver. Lately I have decided not to say to much about my grand ideas and plans until they actually become a reality. I have decided not to talk about any plans until there is actually something to talk about. My perfect life is the exception to this.  When things get tough and I just don't know what to do, I think of the future and the possibility that a simple life can make a man really happy.

Oh the fantasy of a perfect life! It's different for everyone. What would mine be and how would I live? When I am alone in the dark, just before I fall asleep, I imagine the contentment I feel in my future life. When I need a "happy place" this is where I go: the surroundings are mapped out and I know every corner and detail of this life, of this simple happiness. The exact location is yet to be determined but the rest, the rest is nearly guaranteed. Here's a little glimpse into what I hope will be my future.


There are a few things that give me indescribable pleasure and no matter where I end up, they are necessities: mountains, a clear glacier-fed river, wildlife, a loyal and well behaved dog, a pair of cats (maybe more), the smell of a forest, good trout fishing, a chainsaw, heat from a wood stove, a birdhouse and bird feeder, a reliable truck, good coffee, internet (to order books and watch movies), and the love of a beautiful full-figured woman who occasionally spends the night but lives in her own house.

I am no longer interested in the house and picket fence  or fancy condo in a city with a commute to an executive job and an addiction to a $6/cup of coffee. I think maybe that's the dream of twenty somethings new to the world and still optimistic about his or her oyster.  Having lived in a city the last three years, I can appreciate the conveniences of cheap on-demand everything but this instant access seems to quickly erode two valuable lessons: the value of a well earned dollar and the virtue patience. People in cities soon lack both these qualities to some degree. I soon found if I couldn't have what I wanted when I wanted for the price I wanted I got bitchy, yes boy bitchy, and more and more I was escaping every chance I could. I lived a while in the place of my dreams. Certain circumstances forced me to leave there, to leave pieces of my heart behind. I had to leave behind the buried bodies of my friends, memories of love and loss and magic; inexplicable healing powers of the spirits of the earth, lessons about life and death and survival. The time I spent in this place gave me a taste of something not unlike the beauty of a truffle: natural and earthy and rich.

In my perfect life, I would build a log cabin and studio on a piece of property with a view of the mountains. I would have an apple tree and a plum tree. I would grow cat mint and beets, carrots and zucchini, sweet peas and lilies. I would cut dry logs with a chainsaw, chop them with a 6 or 8 pound splitting moll and stack the wood in a neat pile in a woodshed for winter. I would have flannel sheets and a wool blanket on an incredibly comfortable double bed. I would sleep with the windows open a crack to feel the coolness of the night fall across my head. I would listen to the coyotes sing to each other and the owls low cooing as they hunt silently in the meadow.

Chickadees and Juncos would wake me up in time to make a coffee and sit out on the deck with the dog and greet the day before opening the studio and pulling prints until lunch. For lunch I would have a peanut butter sandwich and glass of milk, chocolate chip cookies maybe an apple from my tree. I would take my dog for a walk through the forest and pick up bark or bits of moss to make paper. The cats would come too. In the afternoon I might write at the picnic table or go into town for groceries and check the mail.

In the winter I might play a game of hockey or wander around the hardware store and look at tools. I might go to the lake and cut a hole in the ice and try my luck at getting a fresh, cold trout for supper. I would start a fire in the wood stove and fill the bird feeders. I would eat hot, home made split pea soup with a soft buttered dinner bun. I would have a long hot shower and shave only if I felt like it. I might watch the news or a hockey game, but more likely I would sit in an overstuffed armchair and read for a couple of hours. Have a cup of green or lemon ginger tea before stoking the fire and crawling into bed.

You see,  I am a simple man. My heart still lives in a fairly small, although not isolated place. The fibres of my soul and my emotions are tangled amongst the branches of the forest and the rhythm of my heartbeat echoes in the mumbling whispers of the river. When I feel the wind blow across my skin,  whether freezing or warm like the breath of a satisfied lover, I feel alive, I feel calm, I feel at home. Every time I drove through the high canyon walls of red rock away from the setting sun, away from the place I buried my friends I felt a pain in my chest, a panic and sadness that I might not ever see my beloved river, experience the peace of those mountains or the quiet spaces at the end of old logging roads. I hate good-byes.

And so during the quiet dark hours I dream of a future in that place, cradled by mountains and soothed by the white sound of river water. A place where my body is connected to the earth, my heart adopts the trees, and the coyotes sing at my doorstep.

8.12.2010

Me and my 'M"

Well today I had to surrender my provincial drivers licence in order to register and insure my car in the territories. I can't say I was too happy about that but since the rules governing insurance can't be the same in every province/territory I had to suck it up and switch. Not all is bad, I will save on insurance which is good and getting the licence was actually pretty simple, show your ID, surrender you old licence get a temporary licence until your new one arrives in the mail....approx wait time 60 days. I know, by dogsled in the summer.

I was really worried about switching over that I would negate my residency in my province but until that actually becomes and issue I will just keep paying them my health care premiums, fees, and income tax. I even tried lying about losing my drivers licence but there is always someone who has already tried that and they have policies etc...Needless to say I was in a hurry since I will be without any insurance come Tuesday.

I gathered up all the ID I could think of that I might possibly need: my passport, my birth certificate, my official change of name certificate, a pay stub, a bank statement, the carry letter from my psychiatrist, and my drivers licence hidden in my back pocket. I went to work half an hour early left a note for my supervisor and walked to the DMV so I could be the first person in line. When they opened the doors I walked into the first little booth and met a lovely woman who convinced me to surrender my licence and just get it over with. she said it wouldn't affect my residency, after all it was just a licence and it was really more important who took your money at the end of the year.

While filling out the application for drivers licence, I noticed a small box that said: change of name, change of gender and I thought to myself, what the hell let's give it a try my mom's advice ringing in my head...You'll never know unless you ask. So I asked. I asked if along with the letter from my doctor I had enough ID there to change the gender marker on my drivers licence. She looked over all the documentation, read the application form and then asked her supervisor who decided, yes. Yes I did have enough ID and yes I could absolutely have the M for male appear on my new drivers licence. So today I officially became a boy. According to the government of this territory I am now Marcus with an M not Marcus with an F.

As I walked back to work I had a hard time not skipping...seriously...I was so happy to finally have a piece of ID that doesn't make people look two or three times only to say something like: uh that's a girl's name... I will no longer have to explain why I have a girl's name on my ID unless someone needs to know my middle name which is unlikely since with most ID except your birth certificate and DL, you can get away with a middle initial. So I am now one step closer to having a coherent identity. I no longer have to be anxious about my driver's licence contradicting my gender presentation.

Interestingly, it makes me wonder why there aren't more boxes to choose from when it comes to representing your gender identity on forms. Why is it we can only choose M or F. Are they asking us for our biological sex? and if so then shouldn't the question ask that? When they ask you for your gender it may differ from your sex so are you a liar for not choosing the right box? Sex: M or F? Gender: Masculine, Feminine, Queer, Other? And moreover, what about the salutation? I am not Dr. Mrs. Mr. Ms. or Miss. and why is it that only the ladies have to reveal their marital status with a salutation? Dr. is the only one that is gender neutral but more often than not people will assume you are male....sad but true. Why can't these also be more user friendly? If the form can't request you disclose your gender then requiring you to choose a prefix gives them the next best thing, in case the computer or call-centre guy in India can't decide on your gender by your name. And why the hell are they mandatory? It's impossible to fill out an online form when you can't move forward until you pick one. Pick one, but just one. Because it's black or white, there is no middle. How can a company expect to  tailor their service sales pitch (or more likely tailor their fees) to you if they don't know your gender?

So now that I am in possession of my first M I intend to change my passport and other identification except my birth certificate. I will leave my birth certificate F as a record of what once was. I am not ashamed of who I am or who I was and although I will be a lucky enough person to experience both ends of the spectrum from now on I am not going to play nice when it comes to filling in boxes: Sex? yes please. Gender? I'll check all the boxes. As for the Mr. Mrs. Ms.? Yep you guessed it...Doctor it is! Doctor of what you say? Well that's another post entirely isn't it!

8.10.2010

Oh my god he is simply adorable

I had a doctor's appointment today, to get the results from the recent tests I had to check my blood chemistry and testosterone levels. This was the first visit I had with the GP who was recommended to me by the nurse practitioner at the clinic. I was kind of nervous about meeting him and I wasn't sure what to expect since I seem to be the only tranny that I know of living in town.....for now.

Anyway, when he finally came in the room it took me a few moments to decide that he is absolutely the most adorable little queer man I have ever seen. Ever. He did his residency with a transgender health program out east so believe it or not here in this little town I actually have a doctor with transgender medical experience! I no longer have to worry about having to explain myself over and over again, and have someone walk up and down the halls wondering loudly have we figured out if this patient is male or female?? (yes this actually happened to me at the hospital...twice)


I am feeling better now I know I have someone I can trust with all my gender issues in a medical capacity. I have someone who is willing to take the time to make sure that I know what I need to do to stay healthy while managing the other aspects of transition. He has booked me an information appointment to go over all the things I will need to do to keep my Cholesterol, blood pressure, hormone levels, etc. in check. I have someone who will fill my prescription, make sure I get my blood tests every three to six months, perform pap tests as long as I still have a cervix... I no longer have to worry if I feel there is something going wrong with my medication or if I have issues after surgery, or concerns about my mental health, or simply need a referral, I now have a doctor here who can help me.


I am lucky. So far things seem to have been going along pretty smoothly. A few minor bumps along the way and a long time standing in line with the rest of the trannies to access the health care services I need but so far my transition has been a pretty smooth road. I hope that my luck continues when it comes to having top surgery.


I am waiting to hear back from BC health about whether or not my surgery will be covered and although I am fairly certain that I will end up paying at least a portion of it, I have my fingers crossed that the leftover amount won't be beyond my means. If it is I will move on to back up plans B and C and D if necessary.


As usual I'll keep you posted.

8.07.2010

Powers of Invisibility

Invisibility is widely regarded as one of the most desirable super powers a person can have. Sure sneaking around naked (clothes aren't invisible) to see what people are up to has a certain voyeuristic appeal but when faced with the double edged sword of wishing to be and actually becoming invisible, the super-ness of invisibility fades quickly.

One thing about writing a blog is that you're never really sure who is reading it. When I write I imagine that there are people out there reading this, people I don't know, people I do know but who will never tell me they do. For the most part I like feeling invisible and writing for an invisible audience although I do enjoy getting comments once in a while that let me know there are people who actually read this. In some ways I kind of wish that I had remained completely anonymous with my blog so that I wouldn't feel like I need to edit the things I feel I need to say.

Some of you may have noticed that some earlier posts have disappeared. I removed the posts about my family because I wanted to focus on my experience with transition and I because I found out that some of what I said was hurtful to people in my family. I never intended to hurt anyone and although much of my gender experiences from childhood influence who I am today, I now feel like I must be more careful when talking about my past (and to some extent my present). Experiences with my family haven't all been good. I tried not to be judgmental,  tried to present the facts as I remembered them, and yes a lot of the gender issues were painful. But that's OK! Life is not all roses and candy or camping and fishing! My family talked amongst themselves about my blog and apparently some confronted my sister about what I was writing instead of talking to me. (She never revealed any names so you're safe whoever you are) I hate that she got put in the middle because my family was unwilling to actually talk to me.

This is one instance where I felt invisible. The fact that no one would talk to me also made me feel shameful. I thank my sister for being courageous enough to point out that some things I say maybe should be left off the blog and reminding me that things I say regardless of my intention may be hurtful to some of my readers. But where exactly can I draw that line?

The question of  my visibility/invisibility comes around nearly every day. There are times when I wish I was invisible. I wish people couldn't see the humiliation they cause when they ask me about my genitals or my sex life as if it is their business to know. (Frankly, that's nobody's business and if you have questions like that, here's the best 21st century answer I can give you: Google it.) I want to be invisible when I need to use the washroom at work. I want to be invisible when people try to determine my gender out loud for everyone to hear. I want to be invisible when kids ask me of I am a girl or a boy. I want to be invisible when someone thinks it's great they have figured out I am trans, expecting me to be happy about it and give them a prize and a pat on the back.


The painful side of invisibility is when others are so uncomfortable with my transition they try to make me invisible so they don't have to face their own fears. I am slowly being erased, becoming invisible as people try to cope with my transition. I am positive that there are folks who are uncomfortable using the "new" pronouns and name that I have because they have known me for so long as a woman, as she and her. They are finding it difficult to make the transition with me. Again, I hope this becomes easier when I look more the male part.

I used to be a girlfriend, a sister, a daughter, a niece, but slowly I am becoming nothing. I am no longer spoken about with any pronouns and I have been stripped of my name. I no longer exist as my former girl-self and yet I have not yet been given the privilege of my new name, my new maleness, for fear  people will find out that I am a tranny. How embarrassing, really. Bet you wish you were invisible instead of having to talk about me. You don't talk about me anymore. I don't exist in parts of your world: at work, or with your family, with your friends, or acquaintances. After all what would they say? A tranny? Really? then ask you a bunch of personal questions that are none of their damn business and that would make you feel awkward. Better I am only visible at home when we're alone, out with people who already know the BIG secret but not in a place where someone who doesn't know might find out the truth. I am the boy Marcus, not yet a man, never to be a "real man". I exist as myself in my own realm but am invisible still, maybe forever in parts of yours. I understand but it hurts to think you are embarrassed of me. Sometimes I think you wish I was invisible so you wouldn't have to deal with it. I know the feeling, as I said before: sometimes I wish I was invisible.

And now here is the tough part about knowing my audience and having to see them and talk to them and respond to some of the things that I write, when mostly I just want to be anonymous. I don't want to talk about my blog with everyone because it takes away the safety of being invisible and having the ability to express myself freely without answering the inevitable: was that about me? Why did you say that? Is everything ok with you? Or having people confront my friends, my girlfriend, my sister, instead of me, as if they should be able to account for my actions. I am not trying to say that I don't have some sort of responsibility about what I write but here, in public space, it's just there's is a weird dichotomy of being visible and being invisible. Don't tell me you read my blog, I don't  know that I need to know, in fact it's better I don't know. This way I can be honest when I write.

There are times when I feel conflicted about what I write. I think it is important for me to be able to write how I feel even though the truth of how I feel may hurt people. I apologize to all of you who may be hurt by what I say in my blog but this is my experience of transition and my perspective of the world and if you are hurt by what I say, hurt because my experience isn't what you think it should be, or think that it's factually wrong well I guess you'll have to make yourself visible at least a little so we can talk about it.

I don't know: visible or invisible. I just want to blend in, be another face in the crowd. You'll be able to see me if you really look. As for a super power? I'd rather fly.

8.02.2010

When in Doubt...Trust the Kid

I mentioned a couple weeks ago that I have been feeling really anti-social. I truly am feeling like this is the bad haircut stage of transition. Everything seems to come into question at some point. All the things I used to be sure about now seem to need re-evaluation. I used to be a confident well spoken individual who enjoyed the company of others and welcomed being included in group activities. Now I find myself wanting to spend less and less time with anyone but myself and my cats because I feel trapped. When I am finally settled into my new body and my mind and my body finally vibrate at the same frequency perhaps that confident self assured individual will return.

Recently, I have developed a fairly short temper and find myself more irritable than not. I don't fly off the handle or get raging angry or anything I just find that I am becoming very particular about the way I like things and when they aren't the way I like them I get irritated. Another recent development is that I don't want to be touched unless I invite it. I don't want my hand held, or be petted or have my arm or leg or back rubbed by anyone unless it is necessary. I am becoming very protective of my body as it changes. I am shying away from physical contact, particularly if I am not wearing clothes as this seems to bring on a near panic and defending my naked personal space is instinctual. I can't get my clothes to fit the way they used to, my skin has erupted into its own topographical hell, and for some reason my ankles have decided to swell up like a pregnant woman's. Hopefully this will not last forever.

My voice is dropping every week which I like but I no longer recognize it as my own. I am growing facial hair which I also love but again, seeing myself in the mirror reflects the man I have imagined becoming and the person I am now. How I feel and how I look are not yet synched: I am in limbo.

I read a blog post someplace and forgive me, I can not remember where, that said something like: If you are planning to transition, erase your past and create yourself all over in a new place where people haven't known you. There will always be someone who can't reconcile your former life with your new one. At first I thought this was bullshit but sometimes lately I am thinking that maybe there is something to consider there. Unless all your friends are trannies, there will always be people who just don't/won't get it. I can't help but think where the hell am I supposed to live, where am I supposed to work and exist while I go through this second bout of puberty? Am I supposed to hibernate until I can emerge from this den fully formed?

I moved to a place where most people don't know me. The people that do are friends of my girlfriend and seem to be pretty easygoing and cool about my whole transition. I started a job where people only know me as Marcus, there was no before time but when I talk about my past I have to edit which seems odd to me even now.  My mother never had a son until recently and to describe my past with myself as a little boy instead of a little girl seems like lying. And I am a horrible liar.

So here I am in a place where I have people that know me and people that don't know me.  I am trying to exist in a body under construction. It is currently is more foreign than the female one I have been trying to escape. I am trying to exist in a place where some people see me as that guy Marcus and others don't. It is weird to be out in public with my girlfriend and have people be even more confused by me. Some people don't know about my transition because I haven't told them either because I don't think it's my place or because they aren't in the right circle to hear the gossip.

I saw I guy I work with at my girlfriend's baseball game. He asked what i was doing there i told him I was there to see my girlfriend. He asked which one she was and when I pointed her out he got a really confused look on his face...
      Really? he asked.
      Yeah really.
      I thought she had a girlfriend.
      She does. 
      So you're saying she has a girlfriend and a boyfriend?
      Something like that.

OK Awkward. Before I was asked any more questions, I left. Then at work things were a little weird. My girlfriend hasn't told her parents about me, or her boss and co-workers. I don't know what to think about that. I don't know if she switches between she/he when talking to different people or how she remembers or how awful it must be to feel like she needs to. I hate to think she's embarrassed of me being transexual but I would understand if that was the case. I don't know if I could date me...

I know this will get more awkward for both of us as time and testosterone change the way I look. Other queers still see me as butch which is fine but that is still linked to being female as odd as that is for me now. Can female masculinity use male pronouns and still be female? Maybe my problem is I don't want to be seen as female at all and having anyone, queer or not, refer to me as she or her is what is really bothering me. I know I can't have it either way. Queers will soon read me as straight and I feel like I will then be exiled from the community that fostered my identity and sent me out into the world to become trans.  The LGBT community is a microcosm of the bigger world and just as hung up on labels as everyone else. Is a trans man a female or a male? Is the queer community ready for non operative trans men? Trans women have been far more visible but trans men are something of a conundrum I would think. Am I still a lesbian? Is my girlfriend a lesbian? Is my trans brother's girlfriend straight? Can we fit in with the queers if we have no labels? Does it matter?

While at a party a while back with some of these people we got to talking, my girlfriend was out of town, and they admitted to talking a lot amongst themselves about our situation but no one ever talked to either of us. I worry about my girlfriend changing her mind about being with me, after all she's a lesbian and likes girls and soon enough I will be a hairy-assed man with no breasts. I am looking forward to that but I am not sure she is.

My point is the blog post, and all the awkwardness, and the labels or lack of labels all boil down to one thing: faith. I have to remember why i am doing this and look into the future to know that all of this will pass. Everyone needs time to adjust to my transition. I need time to grow into my body, need time alone to hibernate and meditate, need to have faith that my friends and family and queer community will support me and accept me throughout the rough and awkward haircut stage and embrace me and celebrate my emergence and arrival into the world as a complete individual. I have to have faith in the seven year old boy who never thought about being anything but himself; a confident, happy, introverted, independent, artist. It's that kid that keeps me going, gives me strength, and beckons me into the future.