So I’ve been going through something pretty big in my life, and have been looking for a handy way to organize my thoughts. But I don’t want to organize them in a vacuum either, that can be dangerous, and I wanted to share this with somewhat/mostly like minded people. Basically I was looking for a public forum to organize my thoughts, maybe enjoy some dialogue, and share this adventure with others; and here I am (or here I’ve been for awhile...just, doing a thing now…). So for those who don’t know, I’ve been transitioning Male to Female (MtF) since around January 27th. Officially on Hormone Treatment Therapy (HRT) since May 8th.
The first thing that came to mind was how happy I am I live in a pretty open and LGBT friendly city. Most people in the States, outside NA, or even in several parts of Canada really struggle with getting medical support. I mean, I just walked into my doctor’s office and said I wanted to begin HRT (which my doctor wasn’t even aware of) and within minutes he had assured me he’d do some research and find me someone more knowledgeable to help. Before the end of the day he had referred me to one of the best endocrinologists in the city (outside of the only facility in my province that specializes in trans treatment). By May I had already had a preliminary appointment and completed my follow up appointment and began HRT. After the horror stories I’ve read all over the internet with people having to fight for years upon years and go out of state/province to find a doctor that would even see them and humour their request, I was expecting so much more...struggle. Not that I’m really complaining. But already through my journey I feel I’ve learned a lot about trans struggles and I’ve only just begun. I didn’t even realize how much I was dreading this fight until I had basically avoided it completely and felt the weight lift from my shoulders.
I am also lucky enough to have incredibly supportive friends and a partner. They’ve all accepted the change and used my new name and pronouns without a peep of protest (hint? My new name maaaaaaay be inspired/related/similar to my new avatar…), and it just reminds me how a support network can make rough times easier. My partner has been so supportive not batting an eye and I have no question in my mind she will be there for me regardless of how I dress or identify. Doctors, friends, and partners are all people I choose to have around me, and I’m just lucky I chose well. My family was less supportive, with my transition being compared to a death in the family even. That’s how upset it made some people. But with many actual deaths in the family, and now reactions to this being so negative, it can feel like I’ve lost my entire family.
Support networks often go under appreciated or undervalued when times aren’t tough but I can’t stress enough how important it is for everyone, no matter their hardships, to surround themselves with individuals that can be trusted and will support you.
So that’s my somewhat objective situation going into this. I can’t emphasize enough how lucky I feel to have what I do have going for me. The emotional struggle is so unbelievably brutal and the ups and downs are so vicious, I can’t imagine going through it without the positives I have. That brings me to my first sort of, major revelation though.
I’ve felt this crushing duality fairly early, one that I’d actually mostly avoided up until HRT began. I mean sure gender dysphoria came by sometimes but I was able to push it aside before for the most part. I was in an almost denial for so long in my life that I knew it would be hard to see myself as anything but, well, my old self. To truly accept myself. Once I started going by my new name and those close to me started using female pronouns I started to get this weird feeling, like I was a fraud or something. It didn’t matter that more and more of my wardrobe was for women, or that I was on hormones and had little tittlets (as I affectionately call my burgeoning breasts), or even that I knew this was what I wanted. I felt this feeling I was just tricking everyone, that someone out there was more trans than me and I should just stop faking. Internally I’d often refer to myself as male or female at random, old or new name. Everytime I messed one up I’d sort of kick myself mentally. Thankfully this internal name/pronoun battle has mostly subsided. It’s always interesting to me to notice times where logically I know one thing, but emotionally my mind goes somewhere else entirely and this was definitely one of those times. Also boy, you never realize how much those around you or even you yourself use pronouns until you have to change which ones you use.
Living as a trans person, even in early stages, is so drastically different than you can comprehend through readings. And never mind the constant self disgust with your body. My weight is staying roughly the same but my fat is moving all over, my muscles are turning to fat even as I lose old fat, and I’m currently holding weight in both male and female spots. I can lose 10lbs and my pants get tighter. Since I have osteoarthritis in my hip a lot of rigorous exercise routines are out of reach which makes it tricky to keep up weight management. All the while you constantly feel this general sense of disgust with your body and you notice every little look, every laugh, every glance and you wonder:
“Do they know? Is that directed my way? Are they judging me?”
...and the scariest...
“Am I safe?”
In the past I’d hear this and thought I knew what it was like. I thought I could at least guess what it would be like. But there was this instant pressure of eyes on you beyond what I could even comprehend before I came out. It was like when I had no issues with my doctors, and felt a weight lifted I wasn’t even aware of. I always thought that I was fairly aware of my privilege (outward look of a white, cis, hetero male). God damn was I ignorant. Trans people, non-hetero/non-cis couples holding hands, women, pretty much any group that has said this in things I was reading I had no idea. It blows my mind that no matter how well read I was on this type of thing, I was still ignorant as all get out.
The more you know
Every little step further towards femininity is more and more daunting. Every extra piece of clothing, or that second pierced ear, or the thought of wearing dangly earrings, or a feminine outfit, all seem to give some sort of instant agoraphobia. It seems like every step of the day is just fraught with all these extra pressures. I’ve always felt I was exceptional at dealing with high pressure situations. I mean I’ve worked security in some seriously dangerous neighborhoods. I’ve taken part of apartment raids alongside the police and been charged at by crackheads with a knives. I’ve shrugged off emotional abuse from family, partner, and friends (most of which are out of my life thankfully). I consider myself durable, but this shit is hard. I’m actually having to put into place self care tips/tricks/methods I could get away without previously.
I think this is partially why I started this thread (and will hopefully keep it updated with new progress/info/thoughts as I go along). I want an open spot to share, to discuss, and to sometimes simply dump thoughts. I want to encourage dialogue, not only for my own sake but I hope some people out there find it interesting or that it brings awareness (granted if you’ve read through this much wall of text that’s probably a moot point and I’m preaching to the choir). As this is already getting really long I think I’ll take a break here. There’s so many other things that come to mind that I’d like to share, but I don’t want to post too much at once. Another side effect of transitioning is that every conversation, topic, or pretty much anything, seems to be pointed at or about you. As someone who doesn’t really savour spotlights, I think this is good for now.
Here are some topics I plan to eventually put down in words/more words, let me know if there’s any you’re curious about or want added to the list (or just have general questions):
-how “fun” my job hunt was while beginning my transition,
-asking to use a preferred name at a new workplace after 6 months of being unemployed,
-how important a relaxing and rewarding hobby has been,
-shifts in perception of LGBT violence,
-having to try and pass as male in the future,
-the drastic difference in MtF journeys vs FtM ones,