11.16.2012

No-Shave November


I admit it. I took a head start on no-shave November. It's actually been months since I took a real razor to my face and actually had a clean shave but every couple of weeks I use the electric shaver and trim the scruff down to mere stubble. In essence that isn't really cheating. In my defence, it's friggin' cold up here and if I can grow my own winter scarf then I'm going to do it. The end of November will also mark two and a half years since starting testosterone therapy. Interestingly (and advantageously if you live in the arctic) T has increased my metabolism and my body temperature so I no longer suffer from cold fingers and toes.

As a kid, I always wanted a moustache at Halloween I would be a male character of some type. I never dressed as a slutty cat or princess. I do remember dressing as Dracula, the mad trapper of Rat River and my favourite costume ever: Big Gay Al. There has always been some sort of appeal for a moustache and I honestly can't really pinpoint where it may have come from. Even now just two weeks (ok four) into the no-shave challenge, I am excited by the crappy high school moustache that is emerging.

At some point in the future I suppose I will have to decide if a moustache is going to be a permanent fixture on my upper lip and if so what style of moustache I want to wear. Now if you've read any of the other posts tagged with moustache then you know I kind of have a little crush on the good old fashioned handlebar. Not the Hulk Hogan handlebar that seems to remind me of bicycles with banana seats, but the ringmaster, gunslinger, 1920's strongman, steampunk-dirigible-captain type of moustache. This may take years.

I have really fine hair. Testosterone has not thickened my hair or made it bushier or wiry or changed its colour. I have fine fuzzy hair interspersed between nice thick manly whiskers. It's like I have a beard with an undercoat. Until the end of the month I am going to keep you suspense about how this upper lip service is going. Hopefully with a little more encouragement and a couple more weeks I'll have something that look like a little more than a dark fungus. I'll post a photo of my growth at the end of the month. in the meantime visit the moustach-o-rama by clicking above.

Happy Movember.

10.22.2012

Dating Jokes for Trans Folks

I started T two and a half years ago and since then I have pretty much avoided dating. It seems just too complicated to try to have to explain to someone who may or may not be interested in me, why I am or am not a "typical male".  I am not sure how to approach someone I am interested in romantically and my flirting skills are so rusty they squeak. I am unsure of how dating even works anymore and complicating matters is a little crush I developed recently.

I've been single for two years and it's been a really good opportunity to get to know my new self better and settle into my skin so to speak. For the most part being, single has been a nice change and pretty relaxing. I don't have anyone else to worry about but me! I have made lots of new friends and my social life is busier now than I can ever remember. Up until a couple of days ago I never really bumped into anyone who really got me hot under the parka. But suddenly I find there is someone wandering through my head making it very hard to concentrate on anything.


OK so what right? It had to happen eventually. The interesting and surprising part is that this person was male and I haven't dated or thought about a man romantically in almost 20 years. So I am sitting here wondering what the hell has just happened to me?I realize that it is not uncommon for a trans person to have a shift in their orientation and I did read the comments on TransGuys post about shifting sexual orientation. Yet I still find myself a little surprised that my body is making decisions about who I should date without asking of its own.

It's pretty rare that I am attracted to a guy but I just can't seem to get this one handsome fella outta my head! I am suffering the stomach butterflies and sweaty palms and everything...I am blushing even writing this...and I feel so good but so silly too. It's like I've been reminded by the universe about how great it feels to be in love.

So I guess for the time being I will just enjoy the feeling and hope that eventually a handsome person wanders into my life to stay.



10.18.2012

The Hysterectomy Epic


For the last 6 months I have been waiting to hear back from the health department to see if they would cover a hysterectomy. I don't think it was ever a question of whether they would or they wouldn't but more a question of whether or not I would need to see another psychiatrist. A few weeks ago the approval finally came through.

I have mentioned before that my family doctor is amazing. He spoke to a gynecologist on my behalf that would be willing to perform hysterectomy surgery. I was really nervous about going to see him the first time, dealing with the front desk staff, and having to answer all sorts of questions about my genitals (again), but he was so nice and genuinely interested in helping me, I was once again surprised by the compassion and support of which some people are capable. Both of these men wrote letters to the territory, made phone calls and have lobbied in small ways to help me. Hopefully the next person will not have to fight and wait for months to be approved for a procedure that is routinely performed on women without them having to see a psychiatrist. Granted they don't take healthy organs but the procedure is as routine as an appendectomy.

I am not in a big hurry to have this surgery. I have quite a few concerns about having my abdomen cut open. I would prefer to have a completely laparoscopic surgery if possible but if it can't be performed by my surgeon then I would honestly consider not having the surgery until a time it becomes a viable option.

So I suppose the hysterectomy is inevitable at some point but at the moment I am just enjoying life as my new self, keeping my eye open for a new roommate and preparing for another arctic winter.

10.08.2012

Wisdom and Roommates


Roommates can be a nightmare for anyone but finding someone you can trust to share your space can be a real challenge. I opened my home to an FTM guy in the hopes that I would have someone to share my experience with and at the same time give him the opportunity to transition in a safe and supportive space. My expectation of how things might play out were so far off base that I became very resentful ad things fell apart in just a few months.

I met Jason online, chatting about transition and as we got to know each other it seemed that at least on the surface we would be fairly compatible roommates. He likes to cook and clean, has an interest in art and hunting. We had a lot in common and I was looking forward to helping a brother out with his transition.

Just a few weeks after moving in, "Jason" started dating a guy I'll call "Brent" who claimed to be an MTF. At first I was anticipating having the queerest house on the block. I soon realized that Brent was really just a gay queen who was living deep in the back of the closet. Brent started spending all of his time at our place, hiding his clothes and drag with Jason. He began saying things to Jason like he wished Jason would wear dresses, grow out his hair and be more girly.

Jason landed a great job and despite having open-minded co-workers he began to cave to Brent's pressure. Brent threatened to break up with Jason if he went through with his transition because he didn't want people to think he was gay. When I found make up at the house I assumed it belonged to Brent but was dumbfounded when Jason walked through the door in a dress carrying a purse in full make-up.

I have always thought of myself as a pretty open-minded, live-and-let-live kind of guy but at that point I began to feel like I'd been manipulated and I was pissed.

Jason spent so much time trying to make everyone happy he lost himself. I tried talking to him to find out what was going on.  He said he felt like it would just be easier to live as a girl. That it would be easier on everyone else if he just lived as "Jane". Brent was happy that he had quit trying to be Jason, his co-workers were "relieved" that he started "dressing nicer" and his parents who had never been supportive were of course, ecstatic.

At this point I discovered that I was the only one who had been calling him Jason; everyone else in town knew him as Jane. Not only was I really hurt but I felt like he had turned my house into a "closet" not just for himself but for his boyfriend as well. I tried to understand what was going on. Jason said if it didn't matter to anyone else he would transition in a heartbeat. But in the meantime he's gone back to taking anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds so that he could be better medicated while he lived as a girl.

I was furious at Brent for thrilling to all of the regressions. While he went off to Toronto to experiment with his own gender identity at the gay clubs and drag hotels, Jason was left here to live a lovely medicated lie. I was angry that he couldn't see how he was sacrificing his authenticity for a person who was taking advantage of him. I was also really frustrated because I could see how messed up his situation was and there was nothing I could do to change it. He is going to make his mistakes and hopefully learn from them- just as I had at his age.

I suddenly understood how my family felt when I made poor choices and refused to listen to the wisdom of elders. 
It;s hard to watch someone mess up their life. Even if it's for a little while. Even f you have faith that they will figure it out at some point. Allowing someone the time to screw up, learn and grow up is a really hard thing to do. It's even harder to be supportive of them when you see them being hurt over and over. I am currently failing miserably at that. But I have to worry about my own life and my own relationships. Jason will figure it out. He is still living as Jane and will be moved in with Brent at the end of the month.

I learned a lot about myself and what I believe and what I can tolerate personally and I make no apologies for how I feel. I know what challenges me and discovered soemthing about myself that I want to improve. But this is not a relationship worth saving. After being lied to and used I am ready to move on.

Best of luck to you Jason. I hope you find whatever you are looking for.

9.24.2012

Some Vacation that Turned Out to Be.


It's been almost 3 months since my last post and while I thought that maybe there wasn't too much left to say about being transgendered, after two years living this new life I realized, boy was I ever wrong.
I'm not sure where to start to describe the roller-coaster ride that has been summer '12  but I've come to realize that being a trans man is going to shape my life more than I had initially anticipated.

Remember all those posts about being "discovered", the paranoia I had that someone would find out my secret. Well I'm pretty much over that. While I don't run around waving a transgender or queer flag, I am WAY less concerned about what people think. That frankly, is none of my business. As Popeye would say: I yam what I yam and most days that's good enough.

T really does have its perks, one being the increased metabolism. While my grocery bill is a bit higher since i am eating more than I used to, I am also enjoying the increased body temperature – no more cold feet! I rode my bike to work all summer after making a pact with myslef that I'd ride more days than I drove and i discovered how much I missed the freedom of a bike. I used to ride everywhere when I was a kid and I'd forgotten about the great feeling of the wind in your hair and the smell of the air away from the street. As a result of biking and kayaking almost every day over the summer I ended up having to buy a bunch of new clothes because I reshaped my body in just a few short months. My waist and hips are now narrower than my shoulders and I have trimmed off a good deal of extra chubb I kept complaining about last year. I can't be certain it will stay off over the winter but a little extra insulation at 40 below is not a bad thing.

Two years and four months is where I'm at now and I am feeling great about how I look. I still can't get over what a difference top surgery has made to my mental state. I imagine it is the same way a depressed person feels after finally being treated with Prozac. My mood seems to have stabilized for the most part which is a really nice change. I hope that after my hysterectomy any accidental or incidental estrogen induced mood fluctuations will be done. I'm not entirely sure yet when surgery might happen but I am definitely looking forward to getting it over with! More on the fun medical politics topic later.

Early in the summer I met a trans guy looking to move north. I offered him a safe and supportive place to stay and things looked like they were going well, but then it all fell apart. I'm not sure exactly what happened but within about 3 weeks of getting here, he decided to go back in the closet after more than a year of living as his true self. I was really disappointed and angry and for a while I had a really hard time dealing with his decision to quit his transition. That led to a lot of drama around my house this summer, some of which I will tell you about in the near future.

Life was not all controversy and drama, thank goodness and there is lots to celebrate and be thankful for so keep checking in to see what's up with the TransCanada Coyote!





9.18.2012

YES! Trans Canada Coyote is Back!

There has been a lot of things going on in my new life lately that I would like to post about. So have patience friends, I have a lot of writing to do for you! Stay tuned for posts on NWT Pride celebrations, roommate horror stories (surprise ending!), moustache updates, and of course more medical drama than ever before! YAY!

So please tune in, join in, share your experiences, and keep it positive!
See you soon!

6.01.2012

Two Year Man-niversary

Two years on T and I gotta say for sure 100% this is the best thing I have ever done. In spite of the fact that I still can't grow a decent moustache, I am totally happy to be celebrating my second year of transition. I'm not really sure when transition is complete, when my "mental illness" will have been successfully treated and I'll have been "cured". but here after two years I'd say I'm well on my way to living in a permanent state of normal.

I was actually really concerned about starting T, worried about the medical implications and how it might change the way I think. I was worried about losing my ability to feel emotion because it is such a strong motivation for my art practice. I know now that T won't change the way you feel or the way you think except by proxy. By that I mean the changes the T brings about in the way you feel about yourself spill over in positive ways. I noticed a big difference in my behaviour because of the positive effects that T had on my mental wellness. My level of patience, my ability to bite my tongue, my ability to say no all changed for the better after starting T. It took a while for me to get to this place but I no longer feel like a slave to my emotions the way I did when I had estrogen pumping through my veins.

My family and friends have noticed a difference as well. Not just in my physical appearance but more so in my state of being. They are surprised at how laid back I have become, less prone to flying off the handle or reacting in anger or irritation more quickly. I find it ironic that one of the fears some trans guys have about starting T is the idea that they will lose their ability to control their emotions and become monsters of rage and get aggressive. I think that that fear comes from those few documented cases where testosterone is used illegally and in great quantities for athletic enhancement. A regular metered dose of Testosterone has huge physical and mental consequences and to abuse it would be like abusing any other substance. 

I am glad to say that I am finally at a place where I feel like I am whole. I am happy with my body, very happy with the changes with which testosterone has blessed me, and feeling like I can face my future head on. Looking back I think so many mistakes I made were a result of not being able to articulate how I really felt about who I was. I think I felt so uncomfortable in my body that much of my life was spent acting out like a little kid trying to figure out what was going to make that awful feeling go away. Now that I am finally living in a body I can love I am hoping to move forward and be a better brother, a better son, a better grandson, a better nephew, and a better person all around.

I have the tools and the experience to help others, to mentor, to teach and to build understanding by bridging the gap between us. I want to make the world a better place and I am going to do that by living authentically. I will be supportive of my friends in their time of need. I will stand behind my family no matter what, give them as much time as they need to come to understand me and accept my as a man. I will educate people when I can about gender and sexuality in a way that isn't threatening and find opportunities to mentor others who might need someone just to listen.

I have gone through my transition as a single guy and I've actually loved every minute of it. Sure it's been lonely at times but I think I am finally at a place where I know I can rely on me. At last I feel self-reliant, self-sufficient, and I actually like my (new) self quite a bit. I am a little apprehensive about getting out there and dating. No one ever offers to set me up with a date and I'm kind of glad I don't have to deal with that nightmare in a small town. I'm sure there is someone out there for me but at the moment I am enjoying my mid-life bachelorhood.

Summer has finally arrived in the north and I am likely to be a very busy boy with art and writing and fishing and kayaking. I am taking full advantage of every opportunity no matter how terrifying to live the rest of my life without fear. I spent the first half of my life hiding and being miserable, making excuses and never really allowing myself to do what I wanted, to be successful in what I wanted. Looking forward I have everything I need to achieve what I dreamed of as a little kid and there is nothing in the way to stop me.

The future is looking bright no matter what.

5.19.2012

At some point you just have to say Goodbye.

I've neglected posting here for quite some time and I suppose it's because there isn't really much to say anymore. I've basically completed my transition. Most of the anxiety around expectation and presentation have disappeared and I mostly just live my life. I've realized that no matter how worried I am about people finding out I'm trans (and why should I care?) I can't do anything to alter their behaviour. People will talk behind my back. People will talk, and whisper and point and use my identity as a little piece of juicy news to move themselves up the gossip ladder. I can do nothing to stop this. I can ask people to keep what they know to themselves but as I found out time and time again you just can't trust people to keep their mouths shut. So now I just live my life and stop worrying about who knows what. At this point I've stopped caring and good thing too cause it freed up a lot of my time!

When I started this blog I wanted to give other guys another perspective, a Canadian perspective. When I was looking for information during my own transition I found it difficult to find experiences from my own country. This doesn't mean that American or European experiences will be different but the medical systems are VERY different and so I wanted to find more information about what I could reasonably expect from doctors, hospitals, how long I might have to wait and of course if and how much transition would end up costing.

I will continue to post about these things when they happen: physical changes, trans "incidents", and anything related to trans medical  procedures. What I will no longer be posting about is sociological observations about gender. I see things. I have opinions but I don't want to get into an online debate about who is right and whether or not I am paranoid. I do not appreciate patronizing comments so if you have some of those please visit this post. I'm not here to get into a tangle of words or debate whether or not you might think I'm paranoid. I was weary about starting a blog for this exact reason. I've removed some posts and refused to publish some comments so consider this your notice dear readers that this will not become a forum for airing your prejudices. I welcome comments about your personal experiences shared or different from mine is great and those comments WILL be posted. The more experiences I can offer to other FTM guys the better.

So I am sort of saying goodbye to you all as I expect that posts will be irregular from now on as I await the next leg of the journey. So until then I wish you all well and hope that in these pages you can find something that will help you on your own journey. Thank you for sharing your stories and taking the time to read mine.

4.23.2012

Revision Quest Completed!

It's been 4 weeks since I had my chest revisions to take care of the dog ears under my arms and I have to tell you that I am feeling fantastic. I have mentioned once or twice before that I have the best doctor in the territory and probably the country when it comes to having someone who will stand up for you ad go out of his way to help me which he did by getting a general surgeon to do the procedure. 

The surgeon I saw was awesome. No nonsense and to the point, and since he had some plastics background and by the sounds of it some experience with trans patients, I was shocked that after a 15 minute initial consultation I had a surgery appointment exactly one week later. Go ahead, read that part again, I did say one week. 

And so there it was. no time to get nervous or fret or even think that holy crap I was going to have to be awake for this one. No kidding. The procedure is relatively minor but after 18-20 pokes of a nice fat needle full of freezing I was just nearly ready to run out of the place. But that was the worst part. IT took just under an hour to remove the dogears and sew me back up, dress the wounds and send me home. 

I was offered a prescription for Tylenol 3 but passed. I stayed home from work the following day so didn't even really miss any work. I was a little sore for a few days and avoided putting my arms above my head. I have a few spots that are still tender and the dissolving stitches are still working themselves out but other than that it has been a pretty uneventful  procedure.

Then next thing is to see if I can get my left nipple tattooed back onto my chest There is an awful lot of scar tissue there since the graft didn't take and I hope that a talented tattoo artists can fix that up for me. 

As a trans patient, ok as the trans patient in the territory, I always feel so blessed to be able to go into my doctor's office and have him actually KNOW what is going on and how we can go about dealing with it and educating other medical staff along the way. I have to say that for the most part my experience here has been tremendously positive. I am so lucky to live in a country where medical care is seen as a necessity and is offered equally to everyone regardless of their ability to pay for it.

So here is the new me, at least from the outside! There will be lots of swimming this summer me thinks!





3.19.2012

Revision Quest

If only things for trans people could work out as quick and painlessly as my most recent consultation. My family doctor referred me to a general surgeon here in town who works two week rotations as a locum. He spends approximately ten days seeing patients and performing procedures and he has quite a bit of plastics experience. He saw my little dog ears and within minutes I had an appointment to have them repaired. That appointment? it's not a year away, or a month even. It's happening in a week. And it's covered by my health care. Seriously.

When I told him that the surgeon who did my original surgery wanted to charge me $1800 to fix them and there was a short pause before he said Eighteen hundred? That's highway robbery. I'll say.So there you have it. Good things do happen. The ongoing saga of my uterus is another story but since this is a happy story I'll save that for another day.

So Tuesday March 27th in the early afternoon I will have the fatty little beaks in my armpits removed and then look out because the t-shirts are gonna get TIGHT-yo!

2.29.2012

Semantic Scribbling

I have been working on a document at work that basically is the sexual education curriculum for the entire province and I've had the opportunity to do a little behind the scenes education on the topic of gender identity. There is a LOT of information available about transgender identity disorder, transgender "lifestyle", gender expression and what have you. Unfortunately not all of it is accurate or applicable or relevant or correct  for that matter. Much like that age old game of telephone someone somewhere screws up the message and that error is copied and carried over again and again until it somehow becomes fact.

I was impressed by the clients willingness to learn and include the correct information even though I think there is a little further to go I was pleasantly surprised by the reception to my suggestions on how to improve the content. Lucky for some trans kid out there now or in the future who will actually be able to get his or her hands on the correct information.

I was a little surprised by the misconceptions and misunderstandings contained in what has been a thoroughly researched document and I wonder if it is not unlike the era not so long ago when HIV and AIDS "education" was still full of misinformation and speculation as we learned more and more about the disease and its pathology. I suppose the same holds true for notions of gender and in some respects sexual orientation since when discussing these two things together things seem to get muddier instead of clearer.

When I had my intake meeting at the psychiatrist to confirm a GID diagnosis, I was given a package that described in detail variations of gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation. I quickly came to understand that gender and sexual orientation are tied to physical markers of male and female biology. The problem lies in the fact that presentation of a thing doesn't necessarily make it that thing. OK what the hell am I talking about: the use of the words heterosexual or homosexual to describe a transgender person's sexual orientation is inadequate because it only serves to bring attention once more to their body in relation to their desire.

If a married MTF person decides to transition (assuming her cisgender wife stays with her) her sexual orientation does not change. She is still attracted to her wife just as she was when she had to exist in the body of a man. Once she transitions and is read as female by others  however she will be labelled a lesbian and "suddenly" become a homosexual. Do you see how ridiculous this is? Not to mention that somehow her partner has now also become a lesbian by this definition.

Let's make this even more complicated. A cisgendered butch lesbian is out an a date with her cisgender femme partner. To many people they will both appear to be straight but again this is based entirely on the perspective of the viewer, not on the reality of the sexual orientation of either woman.

I'm not suggesting there aren't other sexualities just that these particular terms: homosexual, gay, lesbian and straight tie the idea of sexual orientation to the body and as we all know we are more than just a body. Pansexual, bisexual, omnisexual, whatever other terms all work equally as well to eliminate the body from orientation.

Trying to explain the nuances of gay and straight and how they relate or don't relate to gender identity makes things difficult yes. There is a simple solution that finally made it off the dispute page and onto Wikipedia. The words are androphilic and gynephilic. Androphilic describes a person who is attracted to men. Gynephilic describes a person who is attracted to women. Neither word implies a biological sex, or gender identity. What exactly is a homosexual transgender? without modifying it with a word like "man" or "female" those two words together don't really tell you anything.

My androphilic trans friend who is currently going through his transition is becoming visibly queer. This doesn't make him gay it makes him appear gay to others– his sexual orientation hasn't changed because he cut his hair short and changed his name, nor because he started hormones. He only appears gay because of how his body is perceived.

I'm pretty sure I have now outed myself to the entire office having had the educational gender discussion pretty much in front of the entire art department but honestly I feel ok about that. It felt good to be able to educate a few people and have them be receptive to actually learning. I know how lost I felt (and still do sometimes) without anyone around to talk to and I can't imagine what that might be like for a teenager. Finally getting my confidence back makes me think I might like to have a little more active participation in teaching people about gender identity.

This isn't difficult. It's not theoretical physics. WE can educate ourselves and our peers so that we can hang onto all the identities out there who just don't fit neatly into little boxes. I'm a gynephilic kinda guy who still identifies as queer....figure that one out! So just like learning to program a VCR (back in the day), or how to use a Mac, we CAN do it. It just takes a little effort.

2.27.2012

Chest Surgery Update

my dog ears aren't this cute
It's been 8 months since I had top surgery and I haven't posted much about what's been going on for the last three months mostly because there hasn't been much to post about. I've been talking to my doctor about getting revisions to fix the dog ears under my arms and he has been awesome so at the moment here is what's been going on:

I called the surgeon's office and asked about getting a consult for revisions via email. When I heard back, the result was a little disappointing but not really unexpected. Of course there was no way that I was going to pay more for the revision out of my own pocket than what the province paid for me to have the entire surgery in a hospital with anaesthetic and the works. apparently there is a scale for what constitutes revision and cosmetic. I suppose if I had breast cancer and needed a new boob or wanted the dog ear fixed I'd be "allowed" but as it stands now I am only cosmetically disfigured? or perhaps my results are satisfactory on a scale of aesthetics (provided they aren't on anyone else's body but mine). Go figure.

Like I said before I have the most amazing family doctor EVER and he has lined up a referral to a general surgeon here in town who should be able to snip off the extra skin and sew up the two little flaps and splish splash I'll be back in my kayak in just a few days instead of weeks. I have the appointment in just a few short weeks from now so will keep mu fingers crossed that the surgeon is willing and able to repair the pooches under my arms.

So till then it'll be sweaters and my parka which is probably a good thing since the temperature is still hovering around -20C!

2.10.2012

Chick Flicks and the Altered Male

The good old days of being able to put on a sappy movie and have a good cry are over. It's true men will never understand why women watch so-called chick flicks, or even what it means to have or need "a good cry". The reason women don't understand why men just don't get "it" is because women don't have testosterone. Now I would be really interested to hear from my trans sisters who have opted in favour of the big E and given up their testosterone to find out if they now "get it".

I've had a couple of really depressing and frustrating days and I am not yet used to the new emotional framework I have going for me here. On one hand I have socialization telling me men don't cry and on the other I have the experience of living life as a woman for 34 years. Before I began my transition I experienced life as a series of catastrophes and jubilations. I had a severe hormone cycle that rivaled bipolar disorder. I experienced migraines in high school most likely as a result of an undiagnosed hormone imbalance and heap a bunch of long running family issues on top of that and you are looking at a recipe for disaster.

I felt so out of balance and so out of whack most of the time, but the worst part was feeling out of control. Not knowing how to or being able to control my emotions was very difficult and unfortunately I alienated many people in my life. Once I started Testosterone I found that I suddenly felt I like I had control over my emotions. I could actually make a decision based on facts and reason and NOT be swayed by emotions like guilt someone else's manipulation. I started to say no when I didn't want to do things. I found myself asking for what I wanted and not being suddenly overcome by tidal waves of emotion. I have more patience. I am less irritable and more likely to be able to sit in the same room as someone who drives me crazy and just let them be. I find I am more stable, more steady and feel better prepared to deal with any surprises good or bad that might come my way. I am finally the captain of my own vessel.

Life has leveled out. Testosterone has done many great things for me and I can't imagine being without it ever again....(although the Testosterone shortage at the moment has me a bit apprehensive). It is as if my body has been missing an essential ingredient up to this point and now finally my life is re-balancing itself. There is one thing though....sometimes I do want to watch 13 going on 30 or Sweet Home Alabama and eat a tub of peanut butter chocolate ice cream. But now, thanks to T, it isn't really an option since crying isn't really something I do much anymore. And when I need to as I've learned....I can't. How do you like that.

I'm stuck now kind of, not able to cry when I feel like I need to and yet thankfully I know I still can (thanks to a few manipulative commercials I saw over the Christmas holiday). What I'm not sure of is how I am going to deal with feeling crappy and not having access to my usual go-to coping mechanism. Please don't tell me physical exercise because seriously, no one enjoys running at -35C. And no, the gym is not an option for me as I'm not prepared to share locker room space with strangers. I know I could probably do some sort of fitness right here but frankly I am just too damn lazy for that. Fishing, sure, kayaking yes, hiking for sure but running up and down the stairs to break a sweat? I'll pass.

So while I try to figure out what might make me feel better besides some temperatures above zero and a little more sunshine, I think I'll stick to the vitamin D supplements and drawing. A little Iron Chef Japan never hurt either.....unless you are what's for dinner!

1.28.2012

Transgender Math: Counting up and Counting Down

Counting has seemed to take up a lot of my time since I started transitioning. First it was counting the days to the psychiatrist, then to the endocrinologist. Counting how much it was going to cost to change my name and then how many places I would need to contact to have my new name on all of my identification. I counted down the days to graduation and another arm surgery, then counted down the days to my first shot of testosterone. I started counting the weeks and months since that first shot, the days to my surgical consult and then to top surgery. Now, I am counting the weeks post-surgery, looking to count the wait to revisions and the weeks to finally getting a hysterectomy.

All of this counting keeping track of weeks, days, hours help pass the time and kept me distracted while I moved through the awkwardness of a second puberty. I have had other things to count as well, things that haven't been so pleasant. How many times did I just want to give up. How many times was I completely paranoid. How many times did I second guess myself, thinking that maybe I was just never going to be "normal". How many times did I correct someone when they called me she or forget to call me Marcus? How many times do I still go to bed homesick for the mountains? How many friends turned their backs? How many times did I have my heart broken on one way or another because I am transgendered? How often do I wish I'd known earlier? How many times did I wish I wasn't alone in this complicated journey far away from my family living in the middle of the fucking arctic?

Thank goodness the worst of the transition is over, and if someone ever tells you it's not that bad it's because they are on the other side. The funny thing about pain is that it fades with time. You won;t remember how hard it was to punch that needle through your own skin after the one-hundred-and-fourth time. You won't remember the name of that guy or girl at work that made you feel so self-conscious. You probably won't even remember the name of your endocrinologist after a few years. There are a few things that will probably leave scars less obvious than the ones on your chest: the family member who refuses to respect you with your new name, the friend who could no longer relate to you, the partner who tried to be supportive but couldn't, the ass at the party who thought it was their job to tell everyone about your transition.

The other thing you count is money. How much does it cost to transition in purely financial terms? That number is different for everyone. I am lucky that I live in Canada where a LOT of the funding for FTMs is covered by the government. I didn't pay to see an endocrinologist, or to have top surgery. I won't have to pay for a hysterectomy or for my hospital stay. Testosterone is covered by my drug plan at work, the minimal amount i pay out of pocket covers the extra 20% and the cost of syringes and needles. I paid for my own travel to and from the hospital and the hotel. I paid the initial consultation fee for the plastic surgeon and if I can't get revisions done here by a general surgeon then the cost for that will also have to come out of my pocket at some point.

The best part of counting though is all the number ones. There are so many firsts you get to experience and really appreciate that most people never will. The first time you can walk into a washroom and NOT have people stare or tell you you're in the wrong place. The first time you are acknowledged as male over the phone or in person. The first time your mom sends you a card that starts: To a Wonderful Son, the first time you visit with your father and don't feel anxious and get into an argument. Your first driver's license that has an M as the gender marker. The first time you see your new chest, the first time you go swimming without a shirt on. The first time you wear a shirt and tie after top surgery. The first time you can walk past a tall building without imagining what it might be like to step off the roof.....these are all great events that most people never experience.

I have a lot more firsts to come and a lot more things to count. I am really looking forward to the first time I step into a university as a graduate student, the first time someone falls in love with me for the man I am today, the first kiss of a new lover, the first time my writing appears in print, my first solo art exhibit, my first moustache, my first teaching gig. There is a lot of counting in my future, now tell me what you've been counting?

1.02.2012

Looking Back, Looking Forward.

The first Christmas I celebrated after I started my transition was spent away from home as a newly single guy. It was pretty lonely. I didn't feel anything but miserable and that feeling lasted well into the new year. I was a pretty sad sack this time last year and even though I had a lot to look forward to I couldn't see past the immediate misery of everything I was lacking instead of realizing what was all around me.


I sit here now a year later and look at everything I have and what will be happening in 2012 and I feel like I have grown up yet again. Transition is definitely a journey in its own right but over the past year I really feel as if I have definitely defined who I want to be. I have a loose plan to become that man.

Being on my own for the past year has been a challenge but has really helped me become a man in my own right. I have been single for the first time since I was 18 and I am surprised at how much I have accomplished. I have had to trust myself to make my own decisions and deal with the consequences or successes of each decision. I have had to choose my own path and decide on my own future without the influence of responsibilities such as a partner, a mortgage, or children. I find I am in a position a bit unique from my peers many of whom are busy raising a family. I am at a point where the world is my oyster, a point most people experience at twenty.

Looking into the year ahead, I want to build upon the confidence and success I feel I have accumulated so far. I have made some wonderful new friends over the past year and hope to strengthen those ties in the upcoming year. I have stepped up to take on new responsibilities at work and hope that will offer me not only some financial security but some new experiences and maybe even a little bit of travel as well. I have a few opportnities to expand on my art career and I plan to maximize those in any way I can.

All in all the past year has been challenging but successful. I hope to have all my medical procedures completed this year including revisions to my chest to fix the dog ears under my arms as well I hope to finally have my hysterectomy. I have pending referrals for both and hope that both can be completed quickly and without incident. I will try to be more diligent in writing this year but as things slow down and become more routine I find there is less to discuss with regard to transition. It doesn't take long for a new normal to establish itself and for the preoccupation of your own transition to wane.

So here's to another year of adventure and success, challenges and lessons. Good luck to everyone and thanks for reading!