Tag Archive | hormones

Authenticity and “Passing”

I originally wrote most of this as a comment to another blog I follow. But I realized it’s useful and wanted others to have the chance to consider this as well.

I really really dislike the term “passing” but I’m going to use it here because so many people in the community understand it. I prefer to think of it as just acceptance of who I am.

One of the things about “passing” seems to be a lack of effort. And I don’t mean that in the way some people might think. In fact, perhaps I mean it the opposite way.

When we’re unsure of ourselves, when we’re not authentically ourselves (which I agree is hard!), we start to “act”, and our role in society becomes performance art rather than just who we are.

But the funny thing is that people seem to be able to detect performance art versus authenticity. Maybe we try to hard. Maybe we make subtle mistakes or maybe we’re acting so hard that we don’t make mistakes. Maybe we “act” too hard and it sends signals to others.

I’m not really sure. But what I do know is that as I acquired personal inner peace, as I began to simply “be me” as opposed to someone society thought I should be, my issues with “passing” vanished.

Yeah, I admit I’ve had medical help along the way as an MtF trans woman but that help, while it definitely helped, wasn’t the final piece of the puzzle for me.

It was when I finally found a way to “be me” that I stopped acting. And almost as soon as I stopped acting, I stopped getting misgendered, etc. I know it’s not that easy for everyone. I know that hormones need time to work. I know that there are other aspects. But regardless of all those things, it does seem to me that “passing” includes being authentic, just “being you” rather than a construct.

NOTE: Part of finding that inner peace, for me at least, did come from surgery. Once I completed GCS, then I began to finally, for the first time in my life, begin to feel positive about my own body. So surgery played a role there too, but only a role.

Finally a Sense of Peace

I’ve mentioned before in other venues about how comfortable I was with my body changes almost immediately. I’ll mention them again here now – by the third day after surgery, I realized I couldn’t even remember what the old genitals felt like and it was a massively liberating feeling.

My traveling companion, who I love dearly and who I’ve called my “guardian angel”, said this about my immediate relaxation and sense of self-comfort:

“What was totally freaking awesome was seeing you lose all body modesty and shame the day you came back from the clinic.

Prior to surgery, you went to shower clothed and stepped out of the closed bathroom clothed. First day home you walked naked across the room talking about politics while looking for a dress. No self-consciousness at all.

That made me tear up. I knew you’d crossed into new territory in your life.”

I hadn’t even thought of that but she’s right. I no longer felt completely wrong naked, even and especially in front of my closest female friends.

I still tire easily, and run out of steam at the end of the evening, but last night, Sunday night, August 23rd, was the first full night’s sleep back in Texas. That was a breakthrough as well. I’ve consequently been awake all day today, working at a measured pace from home, dealing with some remaining Human Resources issues after my trip, and while I’m tired, I’m not feeling like I need a nap before bed tonight, probably around 11pm.

Nerve endings continue to wake up and I’m in a bit of discomfort but no real serious pain. A few aspirin now and then seem to work wonders for me. One part of down there has decided to be hyper sensitive at the moment. Hopefully that won’t continue too long, at least not quite like it is at the moment.

As I told friends today, wonderful is slipping on a pair of jeans and not dealing with a bulge or needing to tuck at all. Everything just slides on the way it should.

I didn’t have any real doubts left by the time surgery rolled around. By then, it had been several years of reviewing all the thoughts in my head. I do remember thinking, as they added something to my IV right before I lost consciousness, “Here we go. Let’s hope all this thinking has come to the right conclusion.” Yet when I awoke from surgery, that question was nowhere to be found. I asked a nurse if everything had gone ok, and she smiled and nodded, and gave me a thumbs up. When I saw Dr. Chettawut, he said things had gone wonderfully.

As for how things are going, I’m at the one month mark of my surgery (actually that was Saturday) and doing very well. I am not in any pain at all, just tenderness and general discomfort.

I began dilator #3 this week and that was, at least at first, a breathtaking experience in a very wincing way. Now it’s just tight and I need to be patient and persistent with myself. I’m on day #5 with dilator #3 so I’ve been impressed at the rate that I seem to be stretching to accommodate it.

I seem to be gaining strength each day, which is good. Back on estrogen again and the hot flashes are gone and my body temperature seems a bit more stable, at least to me.

Finally, while I’m improving, a different chapter of my life is closing. Our family dog of the last 11+ years was diagnosed with cancer so we’ll be putting him down soon. He’s been affectionate, caring, gentle, curious, fun, and very much a part of our family. He will be missed.

As one door closes, another door opens.

Thoughts in Mid-August

Today’s entry is a little more mundane. On Monday, August 11th, I came out at work to my co-workers. HR and my boss have been with me for this ride for a few months now as things have slowly moved forward. With that milestone now achieved, the next step is to see a lawyer and get the legal name and gender change done via the courts. I’ve waited this long for various reasons but now the reasons to wait are gone and over. All that remains is saving up the fees necessary for court and the lawyer and off we go, hopefully in late September or early October. Once that is done, update driver’s license, social security, then update work records at which point I will be allowed to present female full time at work.

Of course it won’t end there. There will be bank accounts, credit cards, bills, and other accounts that all need changed. I half wonder how people will take it when I change my name and gender on LinkedIn. There are a lot of former co-workers who I’ve not informed who are connected to me on LinkedIn these days. And then there’s the old Facebook account. Do I close it entirely? Keep it to keep an eye open towards old school friends from years ago when I was younger? I’ve only come out to a handful of those with whom I grew up, aside from my siblings. I’ll probably let that account sit quietly but I reserve the right to change my mind.

Progesterone continues to apparently work its magic slowly. I doubt I’ll ever have a big bust line but I’m very much filling an A cup now. I’d be really happy with a B cup and ecstatic with a C but I don’t think C is a reasonable expectation. After being lazy most of the summer, I’ve begun a dedicated walking program on the treadmill in the evenings. My goal is to get back to 170 (I was 173 recently) then begin losing weight down to about 155. If I can lose 1-2 pounds per month I can be there by next summer. I just need to keep working out. Once I’ve been walking again for a few weeks, I’ll begin adding some P-90 workouts to my regimen as well.

After the legal work comes looking for the stem cell treatment for my scalp to help further with hair regrowth, then all my savings will be either towards finishing facial hair removal or towards GRS. It now looks very unlikely that I will be able to get this done via insurance so now Thailand becomes a very attractive alternative destination.

I sort of have a dream and I don’t know if I can achieve it, but that dream is a B cup or C cup, lose enough waist to get down to about 28 inches there, enough of my own hair back that I don’t need to wear a wig (though I’d still likely do so in certain situations), after GRS to find the perfect grape colored one piece swimsuit. I’ve often dreamed of walking up to people I used to know on a beach somewhere and just saying hi, then watching the confusion. I’ve had even more wicked thoughts that amuse me to no end but I won’t post them here. My closest friends know about them.

I was recently asked a question, when did I know I couldn’t go back to “him”? Honestly, it was when I told my spouse, I knew where I was going. I had already looked over the precipice and almost ended it all before and I didn’t want to go back down that road. I knew where that road ended. But if I had ever had second thoughts, those second thoughts were destroyed forever by those who once said they loved me. When they were done, there was no “him” to return to, as they had turned their backs on me, spoke about me behind my back, and taken my grandchildren from me as well. You might say that their hatred, bigotry, and cruelty sealed the deal, nailed the door shut, and built a brick wall to hide the door. My happiness is with other people now. My happiness is forward.

As for everyone else, it’s been reassuring to experience so many supportive people in my life – friends, siblings, co-workers. That one disappointment remains my own children, and wondering what I did that they turned out like this.

Odds and Ends in the Lazy Days of Summer

After this last facial hair removal session, I’m enjoying an extended period of absolutely no facial hair at all. I know the neck and jawline will come back pretty strong again but given where we were on the upper and lower lip and center of the chin, as well as the cheeks, things may be pretty darned sparse from here on out. And for the moment, I’m enjoying it.

I am also noticing how rapidly skin with no facial hair returns to coloring similar to the rest of the face. At the same time there are texture differences from years of facial hair and shaving, so I can see why some transwomen opt to have full facial peels once the facial hair is gone. I’ll definitely want to give it time to heal afterwards but what I’m seeing is even more reason to consider a full facial peel eventually.

Today was interesting for another reason as well. My endocrinologist started me on progesterone. Progesterone should help further the breast development as well as put a little more rear end on me. At least that is the theory. But another side effect of progesterone is increases in hair growth. Since I’m trying to grow mine back, or as much as I can, this is rather welcome. I hope that it helps the process along. Well, both processes! 🙂

That brings me to another item. After coordinating with HR and my boss, I will be officially coming out to my teammates on August 11th. We’ve reviewed and edited my coming out statement. The meeting will be short and I’ll read that then offer to take any questions after the meeting is “officially over”. HR said we must do it that way so that if anyone wants to leave, they can. However, I honestly expect everyone to stay and ask a few questions. But we’ll see. Regardless, it will soon be done and then all that’s left between me and fulltime is the legal paperwork in September or October.

And the last item for this entry. I was saddened to hear of another transwoman who took her life recently. But what angered me were her family, who in their total rejection of her drove her towards that suicide. That same family today took over her Facebook page, changed her name back to her male name, and said the services would be in “his” honor. Even in death, they desecrate someone. That is how sick, twisted, and evil those who hate us actually are.

Gender is not strictly a social construct

I just had cause to have to type this yet again for someone else, so I thought I’d place this answer here, where it can be easily referenced and seen. I’ve used the image in this reference before but it’s good to have the full reference too.

Gender is not solely a social construct. It is, in fact, partly biological. If I can show you just one image that demonstrates this (and there are dozens of scientific studies about this now), will you believe me?

This link contains pictures of actual brain scan results done during autopsies. Please note the image partway down the page. That image is a stained cross sectional slice of the central section of the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis in the hypothalamus (BSTc) in the brain.

Please note that the upper left image is the BSTc of a heterosexual adult male. Then lower left image is the BSTc of a homosexual adult male. They are almost identical, aren’t they?

The upper right image is the BSTc of an adult heterosexual female. It is very different from that of the males, isn’t it? And the lower right image is the BSTc of a male-to-female transsexual. Her BSTc is very similar to the adult heterosexual female BSTc. It is also nothing like the male BSTc, is it?

This is just one of nearly a dozen different physical brain differences between transsexual individuals and the rest of the population. I, we as transsexual women, literally have a female brain inside a male body.

Most people do not realize that there is this duality inside them. They don’t realize it because their brain and their bodies match. So to them it seems like one uniform whole.

But to those of us born this way, it is a constant clawing pain inside. It’s horror as your body becomes something that your brain isn’t intended to work with.

And we don’t know how to fix the brain. These brain structures form and set between the 8th and 16th week of pregnancy. Once set, they can never be changed. No amount of testosterone will change my brain into male. In fact, more testosterone usually makes us more depressed.

So no, gender is not solely a social construct. That is a myth promulgated by Dr. Money and Dr. McHugh (who recently wrote a pile of crap in the Wall Street Journal) back in the 1960s at Johns Hopkins. And their assumptions have all been disproved. Gender really does have a partial biological component and when that component is mismatched to person’s body, significant psychological trauma can occur. This is why we take hormones and undergo surgery – to align our body with our brains, because we have no idea how to do the reverse.

For more information on how hormonal levels in the womb impact individuals, please review this 2011 AMA Webcast. It is about an hour long but contains important medical information that relates to how transsexual brains come to be the way they are.