Here we are back to the infamous parents photo scanning project writeup. Today I wanted to talk about scanning the photos themselves. This is part two of three, hopefully next time I will talk about how I scanned my negatives.
I was talking with a friend when they asked me how I handled my photo scanning project. As a little background, my parents died and they left me photo albums and negatives of thousands of photos (many of them duplicates). This was all I had left from my childhood, so I wanted to make digital copies for the future.
Initially I didn’t have any plan, and it was a horrendous project that things got lost, didn’t get scanned, etc. So I turned around and did it again in a more organized manner and had some really good results. Because of the size of this write up (I try and keep my posts small enough to keep people’s interests) I am dividing it up into three posts.
I am sure in the ensuing days that I am going to rant, rave and cry here about my transition. There is so much that sucks, so much that isn’t talked about that you could fill a book (and I probably will).
That being said, with the debt/transphobia/dysphoria and other problems I want to acknowledge my privilege at the outset. I am in a much better place then many of my trans and non-binary people and I don’t ever forget it.
There are multiple areas where I have privilege starting with my skin color. I am white, which starts me at the top of the privilege pyramid when it comes to transitioning concerning ethnicity. It is still absolutely dangerous for me, I could be stabbed, shot, beat up, fired, etc. However, the statistics show that out of all of my trans and non-binary people I am the least likely to suffer that hatred. It still can happen, but I start out with a weighted advantage.
The second area I have privilege is access to credit. I do not have money to pay stuff outright. I don’t have the ability to just buy things and walk away with no consequences. I do however have an education level and a professional field that gives me better access to white collar jobs, and much better access to credit.
I will still have to pay this all back. Right now we are at approximately $32,000 for my face left after paying back almost $8000 already. I have spent more than $10,000 in electrolysis on credit card that I have been able to pay back (and just dumped another $1500 today for flight down to Phoenix). There is an additional $25k I will be spending as we move forward (not counting my portion of the cost of SRS if I get it) for lip feminization/facelift/tummy tuck. I can access that credit right now if I wanted, but I really can’t afford the payments.
That being said I do have to pay this all back, but I am in a much better position then a lot of people transitioning who can’t even get access to credit. In the end maybe they are better off if their not hitting $50k in negative value, but the depression and dysphoria I suffer from is only worse for others who can’t touch it, so no I don’t think they are better off even if they aren’t in debt.
I have another set of privilege, I have insurance (this goes with the white collar work/education privilege). I still have to pay, but having the insurance gives me access to doctors, HRT treatments, surgeons and lab tests along with a very good therapist to work on my childhood PTSD.
Finally, and the most important privilege I have is my husband. I am married to someone who dedicates their life to me (as I do to them). They are devoted to helping me through transition. They are there when I cry, when I laugh or when I am just confused and scared. Wolsey is the highest point of my privilege and without him I would be dead (and that isn’t hyperbole). Too many of my trans people do not have someone else (whether they have class/ethnicity privileges or not). For this last privilege I am the most grateful and without it I couldn’t do this.
I know I have privilege, and I know even with that I am going to have hateful days of crying. I will come here to cry, just understand that I realize this privilege even if I use this platform to vent.
I have been at four consults with different surgeons trying to get a feeling for who I wanted to go with. Last night I saw Dr. Antonio Mangubat and I decided he is the guy. Funny enough, he is the guy who did the FTM top surgery for my husband back in 2016.
The surprise I have had overall is the wide variance between surgeons and how they handle things. They are all good surgeons, but I hesitated at each of the three previous surgeons because it just didn’t feel right for whatever the reason. Now however, I will be getting 800cc implants in April and I am excited. Another great part is the fact that my insurance is going to pay for it.
I did want to talk about my consultations a little though. The four doctors all very qualified, but very different.
Dr. Javad Sajan – a great surgeon in Seattle did my original consult back in November of 2018. He is a very personable guy, but I wasn’t happy with what his before/after pictures are for trans ladies, and he seemed to want to go with a smaller size on me, which thinking about is probably what I was seeing in those trans ladies photos… implants that for me looked too small for their frames.
Also he was a little too much into self-promoting/instagram/etc. Made me uncomfortable. Also they didn’t like taking insurance (they refuse to contract with my insurance but agree to do it as out of network, meaning it can be turned down by my insurance if he tries and charge too high a price. This does not mean he is a bad surgeon, but that combined with a lot higher prices meant he wasn’t my number one pick (but still in the running until I sat with Dr. Mangubat)
Dr. Ellie Zara Ley – a fantastic surgeon who did my FFS bone work, although the office interaction/after care could use a little touch up. The reason in the end I didn’t go with her was because first, it is in Scottsdale and I don’t really care to stay another two weeks in a hotel in Arizona if I don’t have to. The extra cost of the flight down, the hotel stay, food, etc makes this not my favorite.
On top of that she explained she would decide what looked right for my body frame once I was under and do it with an expander. She is a wonderfully artistic person, but I wasn’t to keen on waking up not knowing what to expect.
Dr. Christiane Ueno – a fantastic Kaiser surgeon. She actually walked me through all the questions I should ask, and she was very knowledgeable. The biggest reasons I didn’t go with her was the upper limit on size, she didn’t think she could go above 600cc (which was in the lower range of what I wanted) but especially her equipment only let her go through the bottom of the breast, not through the armpit. This means very visible scars, not the highest on my list, but she is still a great surgeon.
Dr. Antonio Mangubat – The surgeon I am going with and an overall great choice. First and foremost I was experienced with his office (only Dr. Ley scored for similar reasons) and I knew his office was responsive to concerns and were there 24/7 during recovery.
Also Dr. Mangubat is the one that liked the 800cc and explained how it would help camoflauge the center of my chest and give me a proportional shape. He didn’t have any prejudgments on what I was interested in. Also, his before/after photos blew everyone else’s out of the water, and when I look at my husband’s top surgery results I see that he is a good surgeon.
Also it helps that he is the second closest surgeon to our home, meaning I will get the surgery done and come home to my apartment to heal. He also didn’t hesitate about FMLA paperwork or taking my insurance.
Dr. Mangubat’s office is going to contact our transgender case manager Raelean today and will arrange the insurance coverage. We talked about possible dates and when I asked about April they said that shouldn’t be a problem at all. This gives my hubby a chance to work a few audits, and me a chance to get ready physically and mentally. Also it is kind of funny that it will be approximately a year after my FFS that I get my breast augmentation (same month, one year later).
This last month was supposed to be mostly vacation and medical appointments. With Christmas coming and this being the first Christmas where I am not so depressed that I was numb, I knew it might be a little rough emotionally.
It was a lot worse than expected. On Christmas Eve I got a call from my sibling. They had a broken leg, had decided to run off to Vegas to marry someone and within three days of being there it was broken off. I get a call saying they are stuck there with no money, no flight and no place to stay. They literally only went to Vegas wearing pajamas (although they did get some clothing when they got there).
I spent the next three days on the phone with them, other hotels and airlines trying to arrange a way for them back. To make it worse, the sibling wasn’t behaving very rationally and was having some issues of their own. They wouldn’t just take the next flight home and had to wait a day and a half (meaning I had to pay for an extra hotel night). They yelled at me (but stopped when I hung up and I think they knew I was going to leave them if they didn’t cut that shit out), and finally they got home.
They are doing better, which relaxes me. However, I haven’t slept more than 4 hours a night until last night since this whole event. It has set off my own mental health issues, but fortunately my hubby and my therapist have been really good (more about my therapy in the future).
The end result is a lot of extra money on a credit card, mental health flare and a continual worry that my sibling is going to hurt themselves as they are currently homeless back in Bellingham. It wracks me with guilt because I can’t afford any more money, and they have been nice about it not asking, but I still end up feeling like a failure.
None of this even counts the emotional grief I am not able to process because of this for the death of my parents and my missing them.
That is ok, this is a new year, new outlook and a new girl who is establishing boundaries. So don’t pity me too much, I will be fine. I just needed to write down a very abbreviated version here.
I will probably post a roundup of 2019, but I figure I will let that digest a few days first. As for 2020 I just wanted to outline my plans overall.
Resolutions are not the same as goals. Resolutions are the things I truly want to task myself with for the year. Things I expect to call myself out on. Goals are a lot more flexible. My life is hectic and I am trying to be ok with not achieving goals. The resolutions though are more important.
This list is mostly for me to work out over the next couple of weeks what I have time for and what I don’t. I will give updates to these subjects as the year progresses.
The only resolution I am going to try and keep is to be kind to myself. This has always been hard for me to do, and I would use whatever I could to be harder on me than I should. I have a great husband, a great therapist and a lot of great friends who are supportive. I will use that support this year to be kinder to myself.
This kindness also means to be more accepting of how I look. I have anxiety attacks about my transition, about what I look like, and about the fact I am changing shape (and this is good, more feminine). I know my body is shifting and its good. I know I may go up a little bit in weight and that is also ok.
2020 GOALS (NOT RESOLUTIONS)
I have a lot of goals for the year. I am hoping I can keep the majority of them but most of them are not required.
A LOT OF MEDICAL GOALS
Engage with as much of the transgender surgical procedures this year as I can.
Electrolysis (probably at least three trips in 2020 to Phoenix, unknown number locally for lower electrolysis). This includes the scheduled trip down to Phoenix in two weeks. Senza Pelo are awesome for this.
Breast Augmentation, aiming for April 2020. I am currently involved in consultations with three surgeons this January. Very excited by this, as it is covered by our insurance!!! Seeing Dr. Mangubat, Dr. Sajan and Dr. Ueno for the second time. I can go with Dr. Ley as well, but I would prefer not flying down and staying in Phoenix for two weeks, for something as simple as boobs.
Voice Work. I want to work on feminizing my voice. I have some resources, I just haven’t had the brain space to start.
Lip Feminization. I have consults with two of these same surgeons for lip feminization (probably the next biggest bang for my buck after breast augmentation). Currently considering Dr Mangubat, Dr. Sajan and I have already consulted with Dr. Ley.
Tummy Tuck. This is more optional, but I am fairly sure it might be done this year depending on our finances and the surgeons (we are seeing same surgeons for lip feminization as we are for this). I hesitate on this, and if it was only fat on my belly I might try losing more weight, but its a whole hell of a lot of skin from losing 100+ pounds and it sucks.
Lower face lift/feminization. This is also very optional. We have found it isn’t very expensive and I may consider lopping it in with Lip feminization (they already will have me under the knife).
Looking at possible procedure for Peryonie’s Disease. Unfortunately the side effect of dropping testosterone still hurts in full moments of passion and I may start pursuing “unkinking it”. That way if that fails we can always tap down the other side. I would like this done this year, this is painful, but it depends on everything else.
GRS… Gender Reassignment Surgery or the infamous “Bottom Surgery” is still very much on the table. I still have dysphoria, but it is always weighed on the risk of losing orgasm… however now the risk of my penis hurting when erect is also being considered. I suspect no matter what this isn’t even a consideration this year. I am just starting electrolysis for this in February. However it is now a possibility on the horizon.
I will have to look into my teeth this year. I need a crown at some point, I do have an FSA as well. I am going to see how much of my FSA I can use to spend on the above transgender items, but if I have enough left over FSA on what I can spend, I may go in and have a dentist do it.
I need to have my hearing looked at. It is steadily getting worse and we don’t know if I still have tubes in my ears. The prior ear doctor sucked, so we will have to start with a new one.
Get my stomach checked. I throw up pretty much daily, none of my medical questions have been answered and there hasn’t been much concern. I suspect it is a combination of hiatal hernia, greasy/bad/too much eaten food, and my anxiety. I am working on anxiety already with therapist, the rest still needs to be addressed.
There is a lot of stuff here, this is all optional and some will be done, some won’t. r
Put together my D&D World (2.0 baby)
Reassess all my websites, condense where I can and determine what I truly want to continue forward with.
Write at least 10,000 words a week. It seems like a lot, but I have done it before with minimal impact. This doesn’t have to be on a specific book, it can just be writing exercises or anything. This is just to get me back into it.
Get ahead in my self teaching of digital art.
Get ahead of Things You Should Know Youtube channel. For some reason this has been really hard, not in process, I have it super simple, but I am having some sort of anxiety/almost dysphoria about it. Might fall into my concerns with my voice.
Do more Photography.
Take more time with the hubby. I want to establish a regular weekly date night. We do this on and off, but things get stressed. When I say date night I don’t mean every time going out. I think living room floor picnic works for me, or just holding him.
Learn to not care about work when I am not at work.
Learn ASL (this falls under my failing hearing above). I am honest though, I have so much transition stuff that ASL is probably not in the cards. However, it is something I hope for.
I am sure I have a lot more goals, but those are all the main points I can think of now, I just don’t want to dig too deep as many of these deserve their own posts.
I realize I have been extremely radio silent lately, and that mostly has to do with me working on my mental health, the holidays, and the numerous small trips I am having to make for transition. All of this has left me emotionally and mentally exhausted. I realized this and I figured I might give you all a little update on what is going on and why.
For the last year or so I have been seeing a therapist for my mental health. It started just as a couple of sessions to appease the gatekeepers in my transition, but my therapist has turned out to be really good with PTSD, which I suffer pretty heavily from. I still don’t go as often as I should, both my husband and I are overwhelmed with work and my transgender related appointments, but it has picked up. That being said I am aware we haven’t even really scratched the surface yet.
The last couple of months the therapy I think I has been building up a strong base, and it has hit me a bit harder than expected. Combine that with me coming out of my depression and the first holidays where I can feel are also the first holidays I notice my parents missing. The hardest part though is dealing with the fucked up things in my younger life.
This has meant it has been really hard to talk about myself, my transition or even day to day things in this kind of format. I don’t know if I was hiding, or just not ready, or what it was. That being said I think I am going to talk more about myself here then I initially intended. Otherwise I end up ignoring huge chunks of my life here, and I really want to just use this as a full outlet about what I am going through.
I also want to be clear that my being transgender identity has nothing to do with the trauma. It did not cause me to be transgender, rather it delayed a lot of my self examination to confirm I was transgender.
I guess this is my way of saying I am going to try and make 2020 a more interactive year for my journey with those around me. I have found for the first 46 years of my life, I had compartmentalized everything, and most people weren’t allowed to know everything… evidently I hadn’t even told my husband of 27 years most of this stuff. So I need to work on that this year.
It is funny, I have to credit Wil Wheaton a lot for my decision to be more open. To watch someone who went through things like he did, be able to talk about it and how much that talking has helped him. So if you ever read this Wil, thank you for being you!
That all being said, I have to thank my husband the most. He has been incredibly supportive even though he is undergoing his own concerns, problems, etc. My transition is incredibly hard on him time wise. He worries about me constantly, now it isn’t even just my safety going out, but all the medical appointments and recovery. He has been my hero!
Also, I will be back posting regularly, there is a lot I have to get you all caught up on ;).
Another late post, but life is going at a million miles an hour. Then again Day 2 and 3 were remarkably quiet.
The biggest thing of course was a combined 10 hours of electrolysis I got. I sat as two wonderful people worked on my face at the same time for five hours. They got a large chunk of my face done. This included all around my mouth, almost to my chin and all the way up the left side of my face. Even now, two weeks later, I have a lot of smooth skin, especially above the lips (the important spot).
I had planned on going out later that night, but you can see from the pictures that I was feeling rough, I definitely wasn’t feeling feminine and we hid out for the entire day eating grocery store food and door dash Mexican food. It wasn’t a bad night.
The next day was a little better. I woke up feeling ugly duckling, but decided fuck it and I would dress up anyways. I got some looks from the locals, but no one had the cajones to say anything so we remained where we were, ate La Quinta breakfast and then turned in our room key (btw the Tempe LQ SUCKS, it was dirty, loud and at no time did we feel safe).
We then went and saw Charlie’s Angels. I enjoyed the movie thoroughly, albeit I admit it wasn’t “good cinema”. After that we went to Del Agave in Scottsdale and had a wonderful meal. The server/bartender Daniel was a great guy, I felt safe (probably the safest place I had felt in Arizona) and told us what to order that was the best, and he was right (and it wasn’t the most expensive dish).
We had an encounter after the meal though, walking to our car a guy was walking his two kids. He spotted us and loudly proclaimed the following:
Dad: So kids, who are we voting for in 2020?
Kids: Donald Trump!!!
Yep, the asshole said it as an intimidation factor because he saw I was transgender. I thought momentarily about going over there and handling it verbally, but he had kids and I was feeling fairly vulnerable after the electrolysis, but I decided not to. I thought the hubby was going to kill him though, that is why I love the man.
I was surprised when we boarded the plane that a very conservative lady (with a church group) told her husband to let “her” through so “she” can get her stuff and she smiled at me. I cannot even explain how nice it was to have someone validate me, especially someone who looked fairly conservative, after the Trump asshole. It put me in a better mood.
We then got back to the airport, waiting around for a few hours and flew home. I always forget how much I miss it here until I land in the Pacific Northwest
I figure it is one thirty in the morning and I would relate what happens when my husband has nightmares.
He has these nightmares every so often. The external noises start off distant and scattered, some sort of faint noise coming from his throat as he sleeps. In the beginning I didn’t know what that meant, he was a small girl who doesn’t make a lot of sound (pretty much the exact opposite of me). Yet these screams would build up and becoming terrifyingly loud. Now after his transition the sounds aren’t any less bad, just a deeper tone.
The starting whimpering sounds are not pleasant. They come in waves actually, I have them figured out now. If I am not awake enough at the very beginning I am sometimes unable to move as they continue to grow louder. I end up panicking trying to move knowing it will be worse the longer I wait. They become this horrifying nightmare scream that totally fucks me up. The kind of sound someone watching something truly terrifying would make.
I immediately will lean over, rub his arm, hold him, kiss his head and reassure him and he whispers something like he loves me or something else small and rolls over to go to sleep. Usually that is it for the night, he sleeps and half the time he doesn’t even remember anything.
Yet here I am at 1:30am not going back to sleep at all because that noise freaks me the fuck out. His being in pain has always freaked me out and made it so I couldn’t sleep or do anything else but worry on him, but the nightmare sounds are the worst and I lay in bed terrified after waking him up and him going back to sleep.
The funniest part is sometimes he surfaces in his dreams after the nightmare and he doesn’t remember, he will pat me and ask me if I am ok or if I am sleeping well… My thoughts are usually “I was… til you had a nightmare”. I don’t say it though, but I do usually give him a hard time the next morning when I am looking exhausted and he is usually his normal self.
This post is a little late, but last weekend we went down to Phoenix for 10 hours of electrolysis. The overall judgment is that it is always worth it, but it was really rough. I will break this up so you don’t get a wall of text, so lets cover the first night, Friday November 15, 2019.
The first thing that happened the week before was growing out my facial hair. I haven’t done it since August and it really set my dysphoria off. It was enough that I don’t think I could do it just for 90 minutes of electrolysis, the 10 hours is something I would go through this for though. I just can’t do short visits because I would have to keep my beard long indefinitely, and I can’t do this week after week.
The morning of the trip was awesome and stressful at the same time. I fell asleep around 10pm and was promptly awake by 1am, but I didn’t feel too tired because I knew we had to be up at 3:30 anyways, so I stayed up and played some video games (Judgment) and headed out very early when my hubby woke up.
Arrival at SEA-TAC with Pre-Check was worth the money for five years of coverage. We got through the system in a record time, and I didn’t even get wanded by the guard, although my bag got “randomly selected”… so no wand for me, but the poor bag wasn’t so Lucky.
Waiting at the airport was a little stressful though. It was the first time I had to grow a beard in three months and I just wanted to hide. Eventually I had to visit the boys bathroom for the first time in 7 months since I was way too masculine looking for the women’s without risking assholes, so the hubby and I both went in to the boys bathroom together, where I took a picture of how I looked.
I didn’t get looked at much, which was great with me, but surprisingly the boys bathroom was a lot more alien to me then I remembered. Not sure what the difference was, except it was quiet even though there were several guys in there. I never imagined missing warm bathrooms with voices. Weird isn’t it.
We arrived in Phoenix with little problems, although the steward was nice and gave me a hard time for “being in a band”. However when we talked (he was obviously flaming) and I told him I am trans, I showed him before and after and he was floored (as was the other steward). He had a lot of questions, he thought it was funny a lot of people ask him about transgender people, and he would always explain “How the fuck do I know?”
We then landed in Phoenix, dirty, browns and browns, it is not something I would like to live at for the beauty of the landscape. We sat in first class as this other man in first class started taking everyone’s pillows and blankets and stuffing them inside his suitcase… WTF… We then got ourselves a fancy rental car… even had its own AC/heater temperature for each side…
Notice my side was 68 and hubby was 60.
Rainy Seattle saying goodbye.
Hubby was happy to be there.
Guy was literally taking all the blankets and pillows and shoving them in his suitcase.
On our way to rental company.
I believe those are road runners behind the pigeon.
We then checked in to a different then normal La Quinta… and that was its own brand of hell, but at least on Friday night it just seemed a little bit dirty and worn down. From there we got sandwiches at AZ Sandwich CO and hid out all night waiting for my 8am appointment. We watched videos, trying to use Hulu to stream, but that was limited results. Eventually we logged into Youtube and watched videos until we both passed out for our first day.