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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.