8.29.2011

Mind your Ps and Qs

It had to happen eventually and thank goodness for comment moderation. While I try to keep this blog honest about the challenges of being trans, I also strive to keep a fairly positive outlook on things. So when some strager comes along and posts a comment that is intended to help/save/piss me off I try to see the lesson in it. Or I just laugh hysterically. I received one such comment this morning from someone you all know and love to hate: Anonymous. Anonymous felt the need to tell me how sad they felt for me, how upset they were that I couldn't find happiness as such a beautiful woman....hello? Did you even look past the first page? Not very often was I "mistaken" for a woman! They suggested I should sue my surgeon for "butchering" my chest. Thanks for your constructive pity but please, save it for someone who needs it. (Tell me again, why isn't there a sarcasm font?)

Not everyone understands what it is to be transgendered. Not everyone understands what it is to be a homosexual. What irks me when people who are perfectly comfortable in the own straight cisgender universe decide to tell me that they are sad I don't feel the same way they do. Poor me. Yes God gave me a brain and I use it...everyday. I think for myself and have my own opinions. I don't expect other people to share them and I certainly don't pity them if they have some of their own. Here's the part I want you to hear: I don't care if you don't like what I am doing. I am happy. This is my life and my body. I am an adult an I feel no need to explain myself to you. Thank you for your concern. Now please be on your way and find someone else to pity who might listen to your lame excuse about caring about their well-being. Oh, and if you plan on making comments Anonymous, try this link: http://www.amishrakefight.org/gfy/.

That said I can get back to writing about my life. If you follow this blog and my journey, I want to say thanks. Most of the comments I get are supportive and encouraging and I intend to keep this a positive hate-free place for all people no matter how they identify. I know there are some misguided individuals out there who are threatened by what they don't (or refuse to) understand. There are people out there that just wantto spread hate and misery. For those of you considering being haters please, visit the above link. Aggression comes from fear. I get that. But getting sucked into a battle over who is right, or better, or more virtuous is stupid. What ever happend to agree to disagree and live and let live. Every adult has a right to make their own life choices and have sovereignty over their own body. Stop worrying about what other people are doing and look after yourself.

Once that's done, consider putting something positive out into the world. Get out of your small town or your uncaring city mind set and look around at the people with whom you share your life, your neighbourhood, your community. What can you do to help someone else get what they need to be happy? Hug a homeless person. Smile at someone who looks like they are having a bad day. Buy flowers and hand them out one at a time to people who look sad....men or women. Compliment a complete stranger. Give something you love to someone who has nothing. Eat with that person sitting alone. Visit the old folks home with soft shortbread cookies. Talk to a young person and make them feel important. Give the wait person who's having a crappy day a $20 tip. Listen to someone vent without trying to solve thier problems. The people who need you the most are the ones you usually try to avoid. You might be surprised to find what you can learn from closing your eyes and opening your heart.

8.28.2011

Eight Weeks Post-Surgery

Eight weeks have passed since I had my breasts removed and every day I am thankful they are finally gone. I have hated them since they started growing like tumors in the 4th grade. They always made me feel awkward and I had an incredible amount of dysphoria related to them. The past two months without them  has been incredible. I love how I look in my dress shirts. I love how I look in my t-shirts. I love that I can wear a muscle shirt and a pair of jeans and not feel awkward. I love that my chest is flat. I love that it doesn't bounce when I run or wobble when I walk up stairs or jiggle when I laugh. It doesn't hurt once a month and doesn't swell up when I don't eat properly. I don't have sore shoulders from wearing a bra. I don't have chest pain and difficulty breathing from wearing a binder....or two even.  And no one is looking at my chest anymore unless I am walking around with out a shirt on. Since I only do that at home the only ones that ever stare are the cats and I'm pretty sure they don't give a damn.

I have become pretty lazy with the oil and vitamin E cream but I am trying to get back into the routine of massaging the scar tissue and applying the bio oil before bed. I am still a little concerned with the right side since it is quite a bit "looser" than the left. I am really happy with how the left side looks but I am concerned I lost quite a bit of nipple and a lot of what at first appears to be "areola" is actually scar tissue. If the scar tissue fades to white I will have to get the rest tattooed on which is no big deal I guess. I still have hopes that the right side will settle down and smooth out. I am going to start working out the pec muscles a bit and see if the dog ears and skin will tighten up and smooth out. The shooting pains are mostly gone except when I massage the scars but once they fade I am sure they will hardly be noticeable. In other news the fur is coming. Hairs area appearing around the nipple area and the pecs are getting fuzzy....looks like I'll get at least some chest hair which I am now totally stoked for.....almost as much as the slowest moustache ever.

8.21.2011

One Year, Three Months on T

15 Months on T
I can't believe how fast this second year has gone. Summer is nearly over once again and come spring I will have been taking testosterone for two years. It seems far now but I know it will be here in no time. It's been a crazy busy month kayaking, fishing, visiting, and of course the big boob-off. As for the rest of the month, this is how it shaped up:

Acne: Well this is pretty much staying the same. The antibiotic treatments are working to control the breakouts but what I eat definitely has an impact. I won't be posting any more about my skin unless there is a significant change.

Body: My chest is healing nicely which you can read about when I post the Two Month post op update. I finally feel like I have the body I was supposed to have. I wore a shirt and tie for the first time since top surgery: it rocked. I might consider wearing a shirt and tie to work at least one day a week. I also love that I can do pushups and lift heavy things. I love that I don't feel tired and weak anymore. Part of that is likely my blood pressure increase and the increase in red blood cells. On the downside of that I sweat a lot. I am sure my core body temperature has increased as I can't remember the last time I had cold feet. Physically I feel pretty damn good.

Injection: Well this is getting boring, again since there have been no significant advancements or injuries resulting from self-injection there's really no point in talking about it anymore. But if something exciting happens of course I'll keep you posted.

Voice: I am really starting to love my voice. Although I don't use it too much, (I seem to have become pretty shy and soft spoken since transitioning) I do like the way it sounds. I like that I still sound like me but just a different version of me. No one has ever mistaken me for someone else and everyone who knows me and/or know me before still recognizes my voice. Yeah they tell me it's deep but not so much that I sound like a different person. Next up...getting some volume behind it so I don't feel like I might break it if I use it.

Hair: It's coming. Slowly but surely the hair is growing in. I have increased the amount of protein in my diet and I am noticing that my body has been using it to make hair. Things start out fuzzy and then get really fine fuzzy then the sparse dark hairs grow in a s things thicken up. I am happy to report that the chest and belly are getting really fuzzy and the happy trail is working its way up toward my belly button. I noticed hair on my toes and I think there's a good chance it is also going to spread down from my wrists and start growing on the tops of my hands as well. Most of my hair is fine and fairly light so it's hard to tell sometimes. In other news my long awaited moustache is still coming in at a snail's pace.

Mood: My mood is a swing. Seriously. Some days are good and some are bad but for the most part life is pretty good. I feel like I have a handle on  my emotions and I am more content on a day to day basis. I am definitely not as quick to get angry as I used to be. I also seem to deal with anger a lot differently than I used to as well. I find I have the urge to do something physical to "burn it off".  I find doing something physical is the easiest and quickest way to dissipate anger. I am much better at letting things go and realizing what I should and shouldn't be worrying about. I no longer make someone else's behaviour my responsibility and try to just live my life for me and do what will make me happy. I'm a single guy and I am trying really hard to be a solid, ethical, consistent and kind man. Some days it's easier than others.

Socialization: I have been having troubles with the whole idea of stealth. I thought that perhaps a monthly update on some of the "passing" into society might be good here since I am eliminating discussion about other physical things. I am still trying to decide whether or not to "out" myself at the office. I despise being the topic of gossip but realize I have no control over what others say, all I can control is my response assuming they address me directly. A couple people at the office are quite derogatory towards others and have a narrow and rather snobbish view of others. I find it difficult to listen to them degrade others in our town and can only imagine what the gossip would be if they found out a transexual was working amongst them. This is a pretty small town still and gossip spreads like wildfire and I am sure that a lot of people that I meet know what I am and either don't care or keep their opinions to themselves....at least until they can share it with someone else behind my back. I'll have more to say about his in another post.


Other: I am staying really busy and making new friends. I am starting to enjoy this place a little more now that I have some of my own friends and opportunities at work. I might be the only one of my kind in town for now but once in a while a brother shows up to keep me company. I have things to look forward to every week (not just Fridays) and will hopefully make some more new friends and settle into my own northern rhythm.

8.12.2011

Calming Top Surgery Recovery Anxiety

I have been worrying a little about how my chest looks and yes I know it is still early in the game. I haven't really been able to get answers to all the questions I had about how long things take to recover. I have been massaging my scars and I have one spot on my right side that is particularly chunky with scar tissue. I have been worrying about whether or not my right pec will ever return to a normal shape and if the loose flab and remaining swelling that reminds me of the boob that used to be there will EVER go away.

I put the bio-oil or generic version of it on my scars once a day when I remember and I have a couple silicone scar reducing pads that I want to use but just haven't got around to patching on. I know the bio-oil will reduce the appearance of the scars but I am more concerned about the scar tissue under the skin than at the incision site. One thing I am really excited about is the chest hair that seems to be sprouting like crazy. If I am lucky enough to be a fuzzy guy then I will worry a lot less about how things look on the surface.

While I was Googling scar management and chest surgery, this page Recovering from Gynomastia caught my attention. Not only is it about chest surgery recovery for MEN but it answered ALL the questions I had and even a couple I didn't! If you've recently had top surgery or are planning to have it in the future this is a great resource to keep handy when you start to worry about how things look. The recovery time is L-O-N-G. So while your initial recovery will be approximately 6 weeks the actual recovery time to see final results will be more like 12-18 months. Just another thing for a trans person to count.



8.07.2011

...And Now Back to Your Regularly Scheduled Summer

It's official. I can now return to my regular activities. The six week recovery flew by and although the first couple were difficult the last week was probably the hardest. I say that because I felt great and summer is short so every moment that I couldn't be out on the water fishing with my new kayak was frustrating. To make up for it I am going to kayak a LOT from now until one of two things happens: the water freezes or I can't fit into the kayak wearing my parka. The weather has been beautiful here and I am hoping September will have at least a few nice weeks where I can get out and explore some of the smaller lakes near my house.

Today I went on a hike to a place called Cameron Falls, it's quite beautiful and I actually did it.... Yes my friends, after years and years of avoidance, I finally went swimming. Wow. So fun. I forgot about how great swimming feels and finally being able to wear just a pair of trunks into the water was an amazing experience. It didn't hurt that the weather was hot and the water cold and the falls beautiful! Even the little bit of sunburn was totally worth it!

Of course I took my fishing rod. You never know when you might get a chance to use one.... Even though I wasn't supposed to fish before the 6 week mark it's pretty hard NOT to fish when you are out in a boat with your best friend and the sun is shining. So yeah I kinda broke that rule last week... but it was totally worth it! The fishing was fantastic! I caught a bunch o'fish and had an awesome visit!

My doctor was pretty excited about the results so far and figures that once everything is all healed up it will look fantastic so that was exciting news. He said there was no reason to worry about the incisions widening or anything tearing or anything like that. Everything has healed up really nice so far in his opinion and there's nothing I shouldn't be able to do....I mean I can't fly or anything, but sometimes it sure feels like I might. So with only a few short weeks left in the arctic summer I am off to have a quick peek at the northern lights and enjoy the quiet stillness of the night before embarking on another fishing and kayaking adventure.

8.04.2011

The Tranny's New Clothes

I went for a walk on my lunch break. It was a beautiful sunny day with a nice breeze and I as I wandered along the street I felt it: contentment. My body finally felt normal....well different but normal. I could feel the wind on my skin without the burden of breasts or shame. I ran up the stairs to the library without my chest bouncing. I bent over to pick up my pen and didn't feel the weight of them hanging off my chest.

I felt tall. I felt happy. Even though I am still getting used to the amputation and the phantom boobs I am hoping in time my brain will clue in and the memory of how my body used to feel will disappear. I am hoping too that the sharp pains and the aches will subside eventually and I can not even think about it until I take off my shirt and see the scars and think...oh yeah...I used to have boobs! Every day I am thankful and excited to walk around in my "new" body. I love the way I look and I love the way it feels to finally be free!!

It's been just over one month since me top surgery but I am ready to go out and get myself a new wardrobe! I have been relishing the last six....ok three weeks of being able to wear nothing but a t-shirt....well I mean nothing under my t-shirt except for me! Every morning I get dressed I feel like there is something I am forgetting....but since I only have to wear one shirt now instead of 2 or three my life is definitely cooler!

Before I had top surgery, a binder would make my chest and stomach flat to about even so I looked fit and pretty flat from top to bottom. Now that my chest has been reshaped my stomach needs a little work....My jeans are getting looser and since I have been eating well and healthy for some time now I think I might have a few reasons to get myself some new clothes! I believe I mentioned my preferred "woodsman" style in the Lumberjack Post , now with a nice flat chest my options are opening up....just a bit. Since it's pretty cool here most of the year I am usually dressed in layers. Only now my layers won't have to consist on anything tight or made of spandex.I do have to wear busness casual at work but I am even looking forward to buying some nice new dress shirts and even a few more ties!

When I finally have time and money to go shopping for some new clothes, I will now be able to buy clothes that fit! Granted, I still don't have the body of a male model but when I see something I like it will finally fit me the way I want it to. I won't have to buy things big to cover my breasts now I can get clothes that fit, clothes I wouldn't have purchased before because they were too tight or the material was too thin to be able to wear with a bra or binder. I have a few dress shirts I am looking forward to wearing already! Instead of worrying about shirts fitting over my chest I now have to make sure they will fit me through the shoulders and arms....what's with all the skinny-armed shirts out there anyway?

I went through my dresser the other day and tried on a bunch of clothes that haven't fit my for a while. I was pretty excited to see that now even the smallest of them fit. Looking at myself in the mirror wearing a t-shirt or fitted dress shirt makes me so happy because I finally see what I have dreamed about for so long: broad shoulders and a beautiful flat chest. Every time I see myself reflected back in a smooth surface I am reminded that I no longer have to shrug, I can stand up tall and proud and have my body finally reinforce the identity of the guy that's been trapped inside it for so long! 

8.03.2011

One Year, Two Months

I know I have been neglecting this a little recently. There has been a lot going on and I'll  of course get to it  eventually! I am already fourteen months on T and there are still changes to be noted! It's true the changes come fast and furious in the beginning and the first year on T is definitely a whirlwind of changes: your body, your voice, your relationships. It really is like a second puberty but this time you go through it alone. So for the most part I haven't really noticed a huge change but there are a few things to note so as usual, here is the monthly low down:

Acne: Still. Seriously. I was hoping this would have cleared up by now. The medication is working pretty well but nothing ever worked as well as sunshine! Seeing as how we are headed into the dark cold months here being able to lie out in the sun is not really an option unless you want to freeze to death. I will ask my doc on my next visit and see if this is something that will eventually go away or not....if anyone has good news let me know would you?

Body: My body has been having it's own little roller coaster ride lately. At first I was worried about getting too chubby. It seems this second puberty works a lot like the first where you chunk out just before a growth spurt. Lately my jeans have become too big when only a few months ago I was worried I was going to tear out the seams. granted I have been eating a LOT better and I have given up alcohol for the most part....one or two beer here or there but a six pack can last me for months...not bad when it costs $18. (yes, I do know that's crazy). Top surgery also helped re-shape things and I gotta say I am happy with the results so far.

Injection: Not too much exciting news here. I'm starting to really get the hang of self injection but should probably be rotating my injection sites more than I am. I am injecting into alternating ventro-gluteal muscles every week but perhaps I should talk to my doctor about that as well. Maybe he can recommend another spot with a little more padding than the quadriceps as alternative injection locations.

Voice: It's happening. It really is getting a little deeper. I notice because it is getting more difficult for me to speak in what I would consider my normal pitch. I find I have to speak from a different spot in my throat, a little lower than I am used to. I suppose my muscles are used to the vibration being in one spot and with the vocal chords lengthening and thickening a bit that it will take a little time to relocate my voice. I can drop my voice pretty low now and I never have my gender confused over the phone. Now I can finally change my voice mail message!

Hair: I think hairs are working their way up from the bottom. My legs are spectacularly hairy except where my socks have worn it all off. My happy trail is emerging and making its way across my stomach. I didn't realize I had quite so much chest hair until i had to cover parts of it with frickin tape and adhesive bandages after surgery. With any luck it will start to fill in and thicken up. I think increasing my protein intake has helped quite a bit. Probably the vitamins didn't hurt either. As for a moustache or goatee, things are taking their time. I have to shave every couple days now otherwise my face looks like a four year old randomly pasted glitter patches all over it. Until things start growing in a more sustainable and cohesive pattern I think I'll stick to staying clean shaven. In other news random hairs are not only appearing on my upper arms they have also started to explore my shoulders.

Mood: For the most part, this has been pretty good. I got to spend time at home while recovering from surgery and I have been really busy with art proposals and projects, recovering from surgery and volunteering. Summer is short but sweet here although the weather hasn't really been cooperating. There's still a month left to get in all the kayaking and fishing I can before we return to the cooler temperatures of fall and the impending winter. I am trying to stay focused on what I want to accomplish while I am here and making sure that I make time to call home and go for a visit whenever I can wil hopefully alleviate some of the homesickness I still suffer. Making sure I stay busy over the winter will help ensure my sanity and cheerfulness.

Other: What else is there. There are definitely things that have changed as a result of T. My muscles are looking good and I am still really happy that I have shoulders and real toes. I am happier, more relaxed, less prone to flying off the handle but I do find myself suppressing a lot of anger and frustration instead of just venting it like I would have before starting T. It is definitely interesting to be able to experience both ends of the gender spectrum: a privilege most people will never have.