3.31.2011

Despicable Me

While I do feel like this is a place for me to document my transition and discuss issues I have encountered, great experiences, bad days, surprises, triumphs and tragedies, I do have other things I am interested in. For a while, particularly at the beginning of this journey, I felt very very alone. Even though my friends and family were very supportive and I felt that I had enough support to make it through the most difficult parts of transition,  I was (and still am to a degree) isolated from things that are extremely important to me.

This first year I have experienced rapid body changes, weight gain, acne, an emotional roller-coaster, a break-up, severe home sickness and isolation. I spent a lot of time being introspective and self-centered and probably more often than not really really selfish. But you know what, I'm ok with that. No one else understands what it's like to be me, to go through a transition, to explain about your past, your name, your body, to field questions that are no one's business, to be betrayed by people you thought were your friends, or by your family. No one understands what it's like to hate living in your body, to feel like crying or screaming when they screw up your pronouns, slip and use your old name in front of people who have no idea about your past, or how if feels to be scared that the "lie" you are presenting to people will be found out any second. I have been a little paranoid, felt betrayed by my body, felt betrayed sometimes by my friends, and felt alone an awful lot precisely because no one can understand unless they have gone through it. As far as I know, I am the only transgender person in this city and that is lonely. It's nice to have empathetic or sympathetic people around, I would even take apathetic people most of the time but sometimes it's nice to have someone around who knows what it's like.  All I want is to feel safe, to feel like I can just blend into my manhood and then into the crowd....and you know what? It's starting to happen.

Every day I feel more and more comfortable in my body despite finding new hairs and adjusting to a new body shape. I am excited to see the beginnings of a moustache slowly but surely I will soon have the sweet salt and pepper handlebar of my dreams....yes seriously. Top surgery is approaching fast, less than 3 months now and I try to imagine what it will feel like once that weight has been lifted off my chest....literally. I am finally taking a much needed vacation and going home to see my family. My grandmother turns 90 in a couple days...(I've been carrying around the best card for months) and if the weather holds I might even get to see my dog and some mountains. I really really miss my dog.
    I am a little nervous about seeing my family. The last time I saw them was before I started Testosterone. Aside from a few phone calls and photos I have posted to the blog my parents, sister, aunts and uncles haven't seen me since I wrote my coming out letter to them. Some I haven't seen for years. I don't know what to expect but I am really looking forward to seeing everyone and showing them that I really am the same person, just now in a more comfortable package. I love my family very much and I am so very lucky that they are so supportive.

I am feeling more confident every day and the return of warm weather has helped me feel more like going out and being sociable. I have learned to say no, to live for me, to be independent, to be self sufficient, to be more responsible. I have learned I really am in control of my own life and like it or not I don't have to please anyone but me. So whether I get a hard time about my baby goatee or kudos for my career move, either way I'm the only one who has to be happy.

I start a new job in a couple weeks that will provide ample opportunity for growth, industry learning, creative challenges and wage bonus. I feel like I finally have a big-boy job where I can move upward within a company and actually have a career instead of just a job. Meeting new people and expanding my social circle couldn't hurt either.

So despite the fact I was unbearable for a while,and still have my despicable moments, things are looking up. The time I spent focusing on myself and being selfish was necessary to re-orient myself in the world as a man. I needed that time to reflect on who I wanted to be, how I was going to morph into  a new body and still feel like me. I was afraid to lose my history; afraid that by becoming Marcus I would somehow erasing everything that came before. That hibernation time made me realize I was not eliminating anything but instead honoring the little boy who had been hiding in my heart for so long. I  finally set him free instead of trying to keep him hidden for everyone. I hope that my family and friends will finally be able to see him, accept him and love him and know that all this time he has been the one protecting me.

3.27.2011

Ten Months on T

Ten Months and TaDa! There is finally enough hair on my chin I might be able grow something resembling normal facial hair. I experimented a little after lamenting my nine month mark with a sad lack of scruff so after my  job interview I quit shaving  part of my face to see just how substantial a goatee I could grow in the three weeks before I start a new job.

Acne: I've moved down to a maintenance dose of the minocycline I was prescribed for my acne problem. My back is breaking out more than usual but that could be a combination of stress and a higher fat die. I have increased my protein intake by eating more eggs. I still hold out hope that another year down the road the acne will have been just a temporary thing.

Body:
I had to have a semi physical from at the doctor to get the A-OK to have surgery. I had to be weighed and have my blood pressure taken and go through what medications I am on and so forth to determine my fitness for surgery and undergoing general anaesthetic. Ha ha...thought I lost weight last month but I have apparently put on about 20 pounds??? I thought the nurse said I weighed 82 kg which is only 180 lbs but she said I weighed 190 lbs so either her math is off or I am deaf. I know I am heavier but muscle weighs more than fat so I'm hoping it has just been an exchange or transformation of tissue....My doctor said he thought I looked thinner so I guess I am probably doing just fine.  In other news, that cold I said I hadn't got all winter..... just arrived late.  I have been fighting it for about ten days and look forward to once again using my nose.

Injection: I'm getting much better at this with practice. Not so much anxiety when stabbing myself anymore but still worry that I will have a repeat of the injection scare I had a few months ago. HAven't used the legs for a while and try to stick to the same time every week for the shot. With a couple more months of practice I'm sure I'll feel more like an expert.

Hair: Ok so I have less hair around my temples and more hair on my belly and chest. I am still trying to decide on a respectable haircut that doesn't make me look like an army deserter or a hippie. Would like to have a bit longer hair but traditional. Problem is I can't stand it when the hair gets too long over my ears so I don't go much more than a month without a trim. I have pretty hairy legs now and finally I am seeing significant changes in facial hair. For the last month I have been using the testosterone left over in the syringe on my upper lip and chin hoping to stimulate the moustache growth spurt. Combined with more protein in my diet and vitamin supplements I think it is working. Hair on my upper lip is finally visible and getting coarser and as you can see from the photo after a week without shaving there's a decent start to a small chin beard. Hoping that I might have a start on my dream moustache by fall.

Mood: The prospect of a trip home has improved my mood considerably. That and an escape from an unsatisfying employment situation to a prospective and bright looking future with a new and expanding company have made life a lot easier of late. Knowing that I will be making more money and have opportunities for advancement in my current career are also positive things. The return of longer days and warmer temperatures haven't hurt either. Getting back outside for more than the time it takes to walk from the car to the house has been a huge mood booster. Yoga probably didn't hurt either.

Voice: I think my voice is getting a little deeper again. I was definitely feeling like it hit a plateau but now I think it is changing again. The cold may or may not have helped. Sometimes I feel likeI have to learn to speak all over again in a new octave. Calling my cats in from outside will be interesting since I can't reach the high pitched here kitty kitty I used to. Still can't sing worth a damn though.

Other: I think my toes are longer and thicker. An odd observation for sure but the shape of them is different. A lot different, in a good way. Suddenly I look like I have normal feet. I have definitely changed shoe size and fit in a men's 81/2 to 9 when before I fit comfortably  in a 7. Thinking of removing my earring and possibly my eyebrow ring as well. Will likely remove the eyebrow ring for good after top surgery, might just replace the earring with a stud.....decoration TBD

3.19.2011

Does being Trans Make me a Liar?

The closer I get to looking like I've always wanted the further away I seem to get from feeling like I can express everything about me. It gets harder and harder to talk to people who don't know me. I find myself editing the past, evading questions or just keeping my mouth shut when it comes to having conversations with people at work or with strangers. I find it difficult to just be myself in the present. The first few months were really hard and even now almost a year in I know that I have at least another year to go before I will probably be comfortable in my new skin. Recovering from surgery, planning a hysterectomy, learning what I have to do to stay healthy while on testosterone, and waiting for my facial hair to grow in are some of the things I have to look forward to in the upcoming year. The last nine months have been really awkward and strange and even surreal sometimes. I think about how much has changed and how much hasn't and there have been both visible and not so visible changes.

I am not ashamed of who I am but I know people can be weird and cruel and while a lot of the time I have been pleasantly surprised by people's reactions, the more people see me as male the more afraid I am of expressing my more feminine side. I imagine that is how a lot of gay men feel or men who pursue careers or have hobbies that don't involve drinking and sports. I am still uncertain as to whether to be out with people or not and I am still feeling my way around that. I haven't told anyone I work with about being transgendered but I am sure there are people who suspect and others who have never questioned what gender I present. Meeting new people is getting easier but I feel more and more like I am being deceptive if I don't tell them....getting used to thinking "that's none of your business" is getting easier. I suppose if I were meeting someone for the first time I wouldn't really have a reason to question their gender identity and even if I did I would feel like it was none of my business to ask unless someone wanted to share that with me. I guess the only time it matters is at the doctor and when filling out forms that need all your identification to match. Renewing my passport should be a fun romp through the bureaucracy of red tape and misunderstanding that is the Feds.

So I wonder if this subtle feeling of guilt is something I am going to have to live with or maybe I just have to learn to keep my own secrets and not feel bad about it. Not everyone needs to know everything about me and I don't know why I feel like I should be telling anyone. The important people all know and I suppose if/when someone new becomes important enough in my life there will come a time when I will feel comfortable telling them about my gender identity. Until that time I am getting a lot of practise holding my tongue...

3.10.2011

Late Bloomers and Ugly Ducklings


I will be 37 this year. I remember being elated to be out of my 20's but now six and a half years later I am wondering what the hell happened.The thing about ugly ducklings is they are only ugly because they are expected to be one thing but defy expectation and become something else. Transgendered folks are kind of like ugly ducklings trying to be something we aren't, sometimes with devastating consequences. But when we finally figure out who we, are and we allow ourselves to bloom  the results can be magnificent.

Sometimes I feel like I haven't done much with my life because success is often measured by how long a person has held down a job or how much money they make. All too often a person is labeled successful or not  by what he or she does for a living. It has come to a point now that people are defined by what they do. When you meet someone new why is it they always ask what you do for a living? Not about what you are passionate about, what makes your heart beat fast or what you would pursue if you didn't have to work. Knowing what someone does for a living doesn't necessarily tell you anything about them at all. Just because someone is a doctor doesn't mean they are compassionate and kind or even nice for that matter. Sure you can make some likely assumptions about people but just knowing what they do will rarely tell you much.

I have two university degrees but haven't held a job for more than one season in over ten years. People my age have decent jobs usually with benefits, they are planning their retirement, their child's education, where they might like to go on vacation. I will have been at the same place for one whole year come July but I still feel like I am a failure in the eyes of my family.

I have quite a bit of debt accrued from  years of going to school but after only a year I already want to go back. The one thing I love more than anything in the world is being an artist.  Fortunately (or unfortunately) I am really really good at it but to be successful I need to dedicate a lot more time to it– something having a day job doesn't afford me. So I am thinking I might as well return to school and get my MFA and see if I can't become somewhat successful, or at least self sufficient at my chosen profession in five years. I don't need to be rich and I certainly don't want to be famous but being able to set up a studio, have my own house and a little piece of land, a garden, a dog, a wood stove, and a great fishing hole nearby would be all I would want. Just to be able to sustain a comfortable life somewhere close to nature and make art.

I know there are people who make their mark on the world later in life. I would like to think that I fall into that category. I finally feel like I am ready to begin but don't really know where to start. I am trying to make a plan but it seems every few weeks it changes because of all the what ifs and as soon as that happen. I need a few inspirations. I know what I want and now I just have to sort out exactly how to get there.

Transitioning later in life has benefits and setbacks. While I am positive this is the right path for me,  getting here took a lot longer than I might have liked. I try not to think what my life might have been like had I sorted out my identity when I was twenty instead of making poor choices. Although I learned a lot about who I am, many other lessons I learned the hard way. I am ready to set my regrets behind me and move towards success.  I am learning to take control of my own life in part and try not to look to others for approval although this is still difficult. Perhaps once I feel comfortable in my own body, happiness and confidence will return and I will finally feel like I am capable of captaining my own ship, sailing her towards my uncharted destiny. Just because I haven't yet made my mark doesn't mean I don't still have time. Don't count us ugly ducklings out! The next time you see us we might be more beautiful (or handsome) than you ever imagined possible.

3.04.2011

My Almost Lucky Day

Yesterday, I had the chance to have my surgery 3 months early and I blew it. I didn't notice the voice mail message on my phone until nearly 4:00– the call had come in at 1:30. When I called to tell them that absolutely I would go and have my surgery next Wednesday they told me they had already given the spot to someone else. No I know I already have a surgery date and it really isn't that far away but the thought of having missed the opportunity to have these damn things off next Wednesday upsets me. Sure there's a chance that another cancellation will come along but really, I don't consider myself that lucky.
    I have been trying to keep my head up, to keep my heart in it and not be too emotional. I'm trying my hardest to participate in my own life and try not to get discouraged. I am going to visit my family next month and I am really looking forward to seeing them– it's been almost a year. I never thought I could survive so far from home for so long but that's exactly what I have been doing- surviving.
    My frustration level gets so high sometimes I do stupid things, like one morning when I followed a guy who nearly forced me into oncoming traffic as he changed lanes and proceeded to yell driving lessons at this complete stranger. I almost felt bad later and thought I would never have done that anywhere else! I spent the morning pondering my error and vowed to try and think of ways to focus on positive things. Writing this blog is something positive that I have been neglecting a little. I said I would post twice a week and I am a bit behind but who's keeping score? I supose I should use this space more often perhaps to just expel the troubles in my mind. Sometimes when they get out on paper (or screen) the fears and troubles I seem to have don't look so bad....sort of like discovering the monster under the bed is just a pair of dirty gym socks, once you shine the flashlight on them.
    So how do I put a positive spin on what I'd hoped would be my early boobectomy? Well a few ways I guess:
  1. I will still be able to take time off work in April to visit my family and celebrate my grandma's 90th birthday
  2. It happend once, it might happen again. There's a chance that I might again be surprised by a cancellation and have my surgery date moved up.
  3. It was some other guy's lucky day who might have been waiting twice as long for his boobectomy, and that at least makes me feel like I'll be ok.