2.24.2011

Nine Months on T

9 months and still no 'stache
Month Nine

Apparently you can make a whole baby in nine months but a moustache takes a little longer. I was hoping that by now I would have already had top surgery and a lot more facial hair but it's only been nine months. I am still noticing changes albeit little ones which is kind of frustrating but hey you can't rush perfection! Little by little I feel more at home in this body and sooner than later I hope I will finally feel complete. Here's the nine month update.

Acne: For the most part this seems to have disappeared but my skin is still a lot oilier than what I am used to. I am sure this is a side effect of both the testosterone and the cottonseed oil. I am not really sure if this will ever end but perhaps once I move down to a maintenance dose of testosterone or switch over to another delivery method this will no longer be an issue.

Body:
The diligent eating habits have paid off and combined with hockey and yoga I seem to have lost a bit of weight. I don't feel so crappy all the time and while I still get wicked bouts of homesickness, so far I have been lucky enough to avoid a winter cold or flu. I am feeling pretty good, taking my vitamins and walking around downtown at lunch when it's warm enough. I don't have a physical job at all so any time I can take the stairs or walk someplace I will.I have noticed too that I have muscles in places I never had muscles before... my backside is reshaping itself, I have lats and my abdominals are sometimes visible (just above the tiny winter survival belt). With a little work (and some surgery) I will have the body I've always wanted!

Injection: I haven't been able to get a consostently pain free shot yet. some weeks I don't have any problems and others I get pain and stiffness. I have become a little more adept at distinguishing vascular tissue. If I feel like I may have passed through or am next to a vessel I aspirate the syringe to check for blood and if I find some I immediately pull the needle out, swap it for a new one and start over. I am still looking for that sweet spot or spots and might have to try the legs again if the hips get too sore. I don't want to create a build up of scar tissue but I am unsure how that might be accomplished since I will be self injecting once a week for the rest of my life.

Hair: My hairline is definitely changing. I am noticing it more and more and while I wasn't exactly prepared for a bigger forehead I haven't yet started to panic about losing it all. Male pattern baldness is supposed to fall on your mother's side but I'mnot sure how that works if you're genetically female. Body hair is kind of odd honestly. It seems to fill in on one side of the body .... and then the other. So for a while I had a hairy right arm and a not so hairy left arm. All I can say to that is thank goodness it's winter and long sleeves aren't suspicious. I am hoping things even out by the time spring rolls around.

Mood: The days are noticeably longer and the increase in daylight seems to help a lot with my mood and energy. I am still waiting for warmer weather and frankly getting a little impatient about it. I still have moments where I feel awkward about my body and suffer dysphoria that usually results in depression. I try my best not to feel like everyone is looking at my chest or doubting my gender presentation. I still try to imagine the happiness of feeling at home in my own body.

Voice: Well my voice still cracks and feels pretty bumpy. I don't know how long its going to take to finally settle but I am hoping that I will see it drop into its final masculine tones around the one year mark.

Other: Yoga is going really well. While certain poses make me feel pretty self conscious, I have been wearing a pretty loose binder to class and that seems to help. The relaxation is good for my stress level I have had a couple injuries lately that haven't helped me feel that great. I separated my shoulder then took it easy for a couple weeks before heading back to hockey then injured it again using the auger to dig a couple holes when I went ice fishing.... the ice was about 39 inches thick. So I am working on taking it a bit easy instead. Weather is looking up a bit so might go for a nice winter hike.

2.22.2011

February Pity Party

It's true. I've been pretty miserable this month and to think that I haven't even got a menstrual cycle to blame it on. I am sure my estrogen hormones are at work plotting their evil little mood swings and it seems of late they have had the upper hand. I have been feeling pretty crappy since Christmas really. Most of it is homesickness. I haven't seen my family since May and being away from them at Christmas after breaking up with my girlfriend was really shitty. I have been trying to get myself motivated to do something besides sulk about it- taking a yoga class, trying to make some artwork, getting out of the house once in awhile but I have to admit I am really starting to feel defeated.

I mostly hate my new job even though it has only been two months. I try to focus on the positive aspects of it but some days I feel like I might actually just snap and come completely unglued and have a raging hissy fit all over the office. I am trying to remember that doing something eight times is somehow making me a better designer but most of the time I just fucking hate having to do the same job over and over and over for someone's anal 1/16th of an inch that a client will never ever notice. The people I work with are nice enough but they are 10+ years younger than I am as the new guy I kind of feel like I am the third person in a marriage....it's awkward. A serious lack of leadership and professionalism aren't helping me feel like I should take this job seriously. No real prospect for advancement and the chance of seeing a raise anytime is like wishing to win the lottery.

It's been super cold here too for the last month the temperature has been hanging out mostly around -30C to -35C. Add the wind and we've been down to -45C more than once and -50C at least one time. It warmed up to -22C today which felt damn near like spring, at least until I walked into the wind and the -32C windchill breezed across my skin. If it actually makes it to -4C this weekend I think I might go snowshoeing in my shorts. The city cancelled the march carnival and with no vacation time at all until Easter time has not been my friend.

I have been out a couple times but since I am a single guy now hanging out with my e and her friends feels a little weird. I am still feeling pretty self conscious and more than a little paranoid about how things are going since I keep getting second hand info about things that are being said behind my back. Not exactly sure how to face people who have only had one side of a break up story starring me as the heartless bastard... I really hurt my best friend when the guilt and awkwardness made me avoid playing nice at her birthday party. I can't ever take it back or do it over and I know I came out of that looking like a total asshole. I know she was angry and hurt but I still don't know how to make it up to her.

Wah wah wah I know. I warned you it was a pity party.  My car is acting up. The service engine light came on tonight. I am crossing my fingers it's the gas cap or the twitchy temperature and not something major. I need a leak repaired in the oil pan, new brakes, new belts, a new muffler, and probably new spark plugs. Some of that work I can do myself (and will) but have no garage and spring is a long way off.

I am looking forward to the end of this month, why I'm not sure. Maybe I'll get to go home for a visit in March. Maybe it will warm up, the snow will melt a little and I can ride my bike to work and fix my car. Maybe I'll get a chance to go fishing again and actually catch something this time! Maybe I'll get a job offer and be able to move. Maybe I'll get on the cancellation list and have my top surgery early. Maybe I'll actually make some prints, participate in some exchanges and have enough drawings for a show. Maybe this month I will see a moustache. Maybe I'll win the lottery or meet some new friends and maybe, just maybe March will bring me a bluebird.

2.16.2011

Desperate for a Real Hero Pt.3

Eminem. Yes Seriously. Now before you get all excited and upset hear me out. This guy here might not be what you expect at all. Sure you've heard one side of the story- the media's side. A hyped up thirty second or two minute edited sound byte that maybe makes him look not so good...but what do you really know about him besides he says dirty words, is at the centre of a lot of controversy, and sells millions and millions of records?

Did you know that he was born into extreme poverty? Did you know that he is the legal guardian of his little brother? Did you know that he adopted two other children that aren't his biological kids? No? Hmm. Did you know he married his high school sweetheart? That his own mother tried to sue him? Maybe he is a lot more interesting than you imagined.

When I heard all the controversy about his lyrics and how much parenta hated him and the media never really gave him much of a fair shake either after all he was a white kid singing black music and he was a high school drop out....what could he possibly have to share with the world? Well actually a lot. This guy isn't even forty years old. He is only two years older than I am and was born into circumstances that would likely find most of us trying to merely survive. This kid made something of himself with the talent that he had and did it by himself. If nothing else you have to admit the kid has heart.

I try to imagine what my life might be like if I were as motivated to change it as Eminem was to change his. Is there a chance that I might be as successful as he is? Maybe but honestly I doubt it. I can;t even imagine how hard he had to work, how many times he must have felt like giving up, how may times someone must have said give it up you'll never make it, stop dreaming kid you're never going to be anybody. I wonder how many times someone jealous of his early victories tried to sabotage him, how many times someone tried to take advantage of him, and how difficult it might have been to NOT feel guilty about cutting the ties to the people who were sure to try and drag him down....including his mother.

I think about what I was doing at twenty, or twenty five and wish that I had the chance to do it all over again, to make the right choices instead of the easy ones. To take the time to listen to what my parents, family and friends were telling me. I was stubborn, but not in the good way! I learned too late that taking advice doesn't make you weak, that it's ok to change your mind, and that it's ok to be who you really are. I wish I could have been a boy my whole life but I will be almost forty years old before I approach a point where I feel like my life can finally begin.

I haven't had to deal with as much controversy as Eminem. I haven't had the pressure of fame, or fortune or a family to raise. I haven't been obligated to travel across the country and send time alone or with strangers in hotels or busses, or let people take my picture or say whatever they wanted about me, truth or not. I have never had people threaten my life, wish me dead, try to take everything I have because they feel entitled to it. I have never had to deal with all of that and try not to develop an addiction to something that could help me fall asleep. People sometimes misinterpret what I am trying to say as an artist but usually I don't get asked to leave, or asked never to show up. And none of this happened to me when I was in my twenties.

For a guy to come out of all of that, poverty, slander, abandonment, vile misrepresentation, greedy money sucking parents, a broken heart, and still be able to walk tall and tell the truth about his life the ugly and the awesome is incredible. He is still in his daughter's life which is more than a lot of young fathers can say. He knows where he comes from he knows he's made mistakes but he also seems to have a pretty good grasp on what is right and what is wrong even if his presentation is a little rough around the edges for some people's liking.

Go ahead, watch his videos, listen to the lyrics of his songs. Maybe when you turn down the tv and hear what he is telling you about his life and about coping there is a lesson in it.  Maybe that poor white boy from Detroit really is someone you can learn from- if you're not too proud to listen.

2.09.2011

Kindergarten for Queers Pt2: Tomboys

So as far as gender goes these days, girls wearing boy clothes is far less frightening or worrisome to the general public than boys who wear "girl" clothes. Or so I thought. Apparently, little girls who prefer to wear "boy" clothes, cut their hair short or whatever else finds them strying from their expected gender presentation only warrant a crisis when they belong to a celebrity. How easily it becomes to blame the parent when they fear that "mom might be making her trans".

Angelina Jolie's daughter Shiloh likes to dress like a boy, asked to have her hair cut short and generally shows early signs that she will definitely be a tomboy. She might be transgendered but at this stage the only people who likely know that for sure are Shiloh and her family. I can just imagine the scandal it will bring hopefully the family will be smart and announce it at a time when the media might be preoccupied with something and by the time they can turn their attention to the transsexual child it will already be old (and uneventfully boring) news....perhaps a royal wedding would be good timing?

Anyone who is a parent knows that you can't make your kids anything they aren't already on some level. You can't make a girl into a boy or a boy into a girl, you can't make a gay kid straight, you can't make a really introverted kid an extrovert. You can't turn water into wine or loaves into fishes nor should you try. Kids are going to be who they are and all you can do is help them polish what is good to make them shine. Teach them to be good, understanding people and whether they are an athlete or zookeeper, gay, fat, super-smart, or just a really enthusiastic cheerleader they will turn out allright. Straight parents raise gay kids, gay parents raise straight kids, athletes raise couch potatoes and ministers raise atheists - that's the best thing about kids I think....they keep you guessing.

As a kid I know what it was like to be different and to feel different from other little girls. I was always angry and frustrated when I would hear things like: Every little girl wants to be a princess....uh not true actually. I never wanted to be a princess....ever. I never wanted to be pretty or be feminine or any of that. I did really want to have a kid but as I grew up I realized that I can still be a parent to a child but it doesn't mean I have to birth it. Lots of kids out there need homes and there's no reason one day one can't maybe share a home with me. I am sure that my parents wouldn't necessarily have chosen a transsexual kid or a gay kid  if they had the choice.  Parents don't often choose to have children with disabilities, or extraordinary gifts, or addictions either but we're all here because our parents loved us enough to let us grow up to be who we needed to be despite the challenges they might have face from other parents or their own family.

Sure it's easy to point fingers at a celebrity mom who you know nothing about and say that she must not spend enough time with her kids or maybe because of fame and fortune it's guilt she lets her daughter act like this. Some say it's a tragedy, and that she is forcing her daughter to dress like a boy for attention. Kids have a strong sense of self and berating a parent for allowing a child to express themselves is like asking a smart kid to dumb it down.

The feminist movement allowed women a lot of freedom and paved the way for girls to enter spaces that were formerly off limits to them, spaces mostly occupied by men be it socially, economically, politically or in a chosen career path. It seems that girls picked up some "male" characteristics along the way and in some cases have even taken male social signifiers and appropriate them to establish their own identities. So as girls and women now move about in spaces on equal footing with men why is it surprising that some might dress the part? And why is it that for the most part "tomboy" isn't something to worry about but for boys who are picking up female signifiers in the same way there is the horrifying sound of whispers?

Perhaps we are moving toward a place where boys and girls will look similar, where androgyny might be fashionable so that boys and men can express female characteristics in the same way women and girls can express their male characteristics. Funny thing is we are so preoccupied with what we might lose that we can't see all the wonderful things that might be gained.

2.07.2011

Desperate for a Real Hero Pt.2

I am really interested in exploring the existence of role models for boys, young men and grown men in particular how they influence the formulation/ creation of a man's identity as a man. Since this thread is going to be ongoing and kinda long I'm going to split it into multiple entries.

Are there present day heroes that a boy, teen, young man, middle aged man, or FTM could look to as a moral compass? Anyone he could think of that would set a positive example for him, a hero who has a story to which he can turn for guidance when he find himself in a crisis? Are there any ethical, compassionate, kind, intelligent, heroes out there for boys? What about for men who are already grown up and needing guidance? where do they turn to find heroes? What about teenagers who are quick to emulate anything cool, or transsexuals who are looking to create their own masculinity? Who comes to mind as a positive male role model? Who would you model your perfect male self after? Can role models for men only be other men or is there room for men to learn something about masculinity from women?

I think there are actually a few good men out there (and some excellent women as well) that guys of all ages can learn something from.  I will provide examples along the way of men I look up to and would love to hear from anyone who wants to argue a case for their own heroes.

The first real hero I think any man could look up to would be Dumbledore from the Harry Potter series. Since many boys are lacking a strong father figure, Dumbledore acts as proof that there are good men in the world who are genuinely interested in the well being of children. Dumbledore is never labelled a pedophile or creep nor is it ever suggested that his realtionship with his students is anything but fatherly. Dumbledore also shows boys that not all men are interested in typical male behaviours such as fighting, drinking, and sex and can be just as interesting if their hobbies include knitting, gardening, and ten pin bowling.

Dumbledore is a kind, wise, old man (wizard) who lets Harry Potter make his own mistakes because he knows that is how he will learn. Fathers take note here, Dumbledore could also be seen as a father figure and men who have children might want to look more specifically at how he interacts with his students. How does he win their affection, hand out discipline, set an example for his students? What is it about him that makes him so loved and respected? He's not perfect at this and he does make mistakes but that in itself is a valuable lesson, no? Nowadays we are so concerned with protecting our children from the world, they grow up and have no idea how to live in it! Dumbledore allows Harry to be hurt, to make his own decisions when faced with them, and live with the consequences of those decisions -just as Dumbledore had to.

Another reason Dumbledore is such a good role model is that while he is fictional he is not perfect; he has made mistakes and he's had to face the consequences of those mistakes. He lives with regrets, with his own if onlys or what ifs. He is constantly faced with decisions that are difficult, and while he tries to be diplomatic and do the right thing, he is also willing to do whatever it takes to follow through on what he thinks is ethical. The right decision is not always the easy one. Dumbledore stands up for what he believes in and is not worried about what others think of him, a hard thing for many of us. All of these are valuable lessons for any boy or any man when faced with having to make choices that may not be popular with others.

Dumbledore is also (according to his creator) a homosexual. Huh. Another excellent lesson in this day and age where it is still particularly difficult for men to come out and still be accepted as men. Dumbledore is a good man, an ethical man, who ultimately sacrifices his own life for something he really believes in. That strength of character is something far more valuable than good looks, athletic ability or money. It will last longer, make you friends, bring you joy, let others experience joy with you and regardless of your sexual orientation it is a quality others will admire. You can be proud of yourself which will help build confidence and self esteem. Knowing who you are and what you stand for will keep you out of trouble, steel you against peer pressure, and set you apart as a leader. You will be a reflection of what kind of man others want to be. That seems like a pretty good place to start.

It is not easy being that kind of man. People will always try to tear you down, gossip behind your back, tell lies, step on you to get ahead. Dumbledore is faced with this very thing even at his age when he speaks the truth about something others fear or do not want to face. All of these lessons can apply to your own life, to the decisions you make every day. If you haven't read the Harry Potter books I recommend them no matter what age you are. If you think you're too old, read them to a kid, your cat, your nephew or even your dog. You might be surprised at the implications made in what might seem to be a simple childrens' fantasy but it's always the books that challenge us to be something more that end up on the banned book list.

2.05.2011

So I Dress Like a Lumberjack.

It's true, the look I like is casual but traditional and classic in a bushman sort of way. My mom asked me not long ago to describe to what kind of clothes I like. I didn't really realize that I am pretty picky about my clothes although sometimes from looking at me you might not think so!

Its funny that we could never shop together and even though I have been attracted to the same kind of clothing I could never really articulate why. I have always loved men's clothing probably because it just FELT more comfortable all around.

I suppose now that she has my somewhat lengthy description of dos and don'ts, stripes vs solids, and my rationalization for preferring buttons over zippers she may decide that a gift card is a much easier gift to give than plucking the specifics of what I might like in a sweater from my fashion guidelines.

I personally don;t think they are all that unreasonable or difficult particularly when women seem to have ten times as many fabrics, cuts, styles, designers, and accessories to consider and that doesn't even begin to explain shoe hoarding or why she might need an entire closet for her purse collection.

So here is my personal fashion sense more or less:

I prefer dark colours like brown, navy blue, charcoal, hunter green despite the fact that every single cat and dog hair will show up. I also like baby blue, oatmeal, heather grey, royal blue and white. I like plaid and flannel a lot - together they are like peanut butter and jam. I don't like paisley or silk unless it is on a really cool tie. I like gingham and checks and tasteful vertical stripes not (usually) horizontal ones. I generally prefer heavier weight materials like denim, flannel, canvas, heavy brushed cotton, and thick fleece. I prefer dark leather to light coloured leather.

I prefer pull-overs to zip-ups, buttons over zippers if something is going to be near my face. I generally prefer crew necks to V necks.  Brightly coloured dress shirts and bright coloured ties are ok, I like striped ties never solid coloured ties unless they are patterned. No Hawaiian shirts, (I went through that phase already) flowers or other busy patterns. Polo shirts are okay in moderation, two maybe three is plenty. No lace, or anything that could be described as frilly, no chains, studs, glitter or other bedazzled attire, ever.  Not ever.

I don't like light coloured suits or blazers all I can think is Miami Vice....another "style" that should be avoided by everyone.

Pants must never ever have pleats. Flat front dress pants are essential but don't ever believe that they really are static free or never need ironing. Dark jeans or normal denim that has faded from lots of wear are the best colours and in my opinion all jeans should be made with a button fly not a zipper fly but they are extremely hard to find. No low rise waist, no one needs to see my ass crack or my underwear and no wide or flared legs; the seventies ended when I was six. No wind pants, track suits, zip-off pants to shorts, Nothing stretchy or so tight it looks like you're beggin someone to look at your package, no clothes that say: I'm a metrosexual - don't you wish you were hot like me?
 
Classic wide leather belts, no composite material. Suspenders are ok. I wear sport socks with grey bottoms, no tube socks, no dress socks unless they are intended to be puppets.

I enjoy unique things, handmade things, clothes with nice details like cool buttons, elbow patches, hidden pockets, or a different coloured lining or stitching.


I am not an elf or the Prince of Persia so the shoes I wear won't ever have pointy toes. I don't wear cowboy boots because I can't get my feet in them. I don't usually wear running shoes or sneakers instead I like more casual hiker type footwear. I used to like Keens but there's something about them now I'm not to keen about. I like a good pair of work boots or waterproof hikers, and lined winter boots that are high enough to keep the snow out. I have Kamiks if I need them and one pair of dress shoes. If I can't wear them to go fishing or hiking then they shouldn't be on my feet.

When I read this over it doesn't really seem that bad. Everyone has preferences for what they like to wear but laying it out for someone else can be kind of hard. It makes you think about what you must look like to other people. If your list has nothing on it but track pants and muscle shirts, what does that say about you? Make a list and see what your clothes say about you? Mine seem to be telling me I want to be a lumberjack.

It's Definitely Not How it Looks


I'm a little bit drunk right now which, since I started T at least, is out of character for me. The last time I was drunk, really drunk was in the summer of 2009 but since then I've pretty much given up drinking all together. I have the odd couple of beers or rye and gingerale but for the most part I don't drink but I make exceptions to that rule and tonight was one of those nights. I was totally excited about going out for my friend's birthday party. I had a really crappy day at work and couldn't wait for it to be over.

Unfortunately, transitioning has made me really self conscious and suspicious sometimes to the point of being paranoid and often I feel like I have been singled out of something; there is nothing worse than feeling like people are talking behind your back. Anyhow work drama, unexplained happenings with the SPCA, miserable occurrences in town and being homesick have all accumulated in a bit of a depression. Sometimes I can fight it off with a good sleep, exercise or yoga but tonight I began to wonder again about my emotional stability.

I told my friends I would meet them later, that I was going to relax unwind and have something to eat before meeting them at the pub. They were there at 6 I got there around 8:30 but the place was packed and there really wasn't any room for me to sit so I went up to my friend wished her a happy birthday and sat at a table by myself....actually two tables and two chairs before someone came along and took a table and the other chair and I was utterly alone. True or not I felt like everyone was looking at the loser guy alone at the one table with the one chair.

I am sure to my friends it looked like I didn't want to be at their table, which was not the case at all. I showed up later than expected, no one had saved me a chair, and there were a bunch of people I didn't know there. I felt extremely awkward knowing I would have to grab a chair from across the room and drag it over there and have people shuffle around or squeeze together enough so that I could sort of sit at the table. I didn't want to make a scene or have people staring at me or watching me try and fit into a table. I knew about half the people there  but since breaking up with my girlfriend I haven't spoken to most of them. I felt awkward and out of place and unsure of myself. My first instinct was to turn around and go home to run away but it was my best friend's birthday and I didn't want to bail on her.

I waited until a chair opened up and as I stood at the bar to get a drink I thought perfect! I'll grab a beer and go sit next to her and have a visit. Then I turn around and someone is sitting there so i wait and start talking to another single guy sitting at the bar and when more people leave I try again but this time there is someone giving one of those long drunk hugs which turns into a lap dance of sorts so I just make my way back to the bar. The next time I try to join the table there is another guy who has showed up who receives a giant round of hugs so again I just walk on past.

This isn't a big bar. Everyone can see me sitting at the bar not at the table and they probably are all thinking that I am being an asshole when really I just wish I had showed up an hour or two earlier so i could have sat with my friends but instead I just sit at the bar talking to a stranger.

It looked like I didn't care. It looked like I was being selfish. It probably looked like I was being a huge baby but until someone knows what it feels like to be so nervous, ashamed, scared, embarrassed of just being themselves and wishing they could be invisible there really isn't anything you can say. I am sure I am my own worst enemy but in this new body I don't yet remember what it is to be confident, to be self assured, to be proud. My friend was angry with me and I know I hurt her feelings and I wish that I had something to give her, something to tell her how much I wished I could have been brave enough to overcome all my fears and anxieties and just pull up a chair with a bunch of people who've only heard one side of a story, people who might only have tolerated me because of who I was dating, lesbians who might now see a traitor among them. I wish I could be less sensitive, that my actions would not be interpreted as selfishness, that I had the confidence I had before I started transitioning. I wish my fearful actions, my self-preserving actions didn't hurt other people. I wish others could understand just how awkward it is to still be in this body.

Happy Birthday, friend I hope you know how much I love you and how sorry I am that I couldn't find a way to join you tonight.