The lifting grey clouds.

It probably goes without saying that my childhood, along with my being transgender all add up to some serious mental health obstacles. This ranges from dysphoria, CPTSD, Oppositional Defiance Disorder,  crippling lack of self-worth, suicidal ideation (2 attempts as a teen), the inability to keep jobs (before I graduated at the age of 36 from college I had held 60 jobs), and just absolute anxiety and depression (don’t worry I am sure you will all get to read about all of these things multiple times).

I never liked talking or admitting my family had problems growing up. It was even more extreme for talking about my own problems. So I just tried to keep myself going. I just pictured myself as a knight in armor whose only job was to make sure those I loved survived.

I lucked out in finding my husband, he has helped me a lot even though he hadn’t heard most of the details of my childhood and teen years beyond some basic broad strokes. Without him I would have ended up in some very very bad places and I doubt sincerely I would be alive past the age of 25.

Within a few years of being married to my husband I thought most of the problems had gone away. I didn’t wake up with nightmares, I didn’t hear voices sometimes and I felt my life had a purpose.

What I hadn’t realized is that the mental health problems were still there, but had become so bad that I had become so depressed and disassociated that I was numb. I was like that for more than 20 years. I didn’t have the positive and negative emotional surges and it had just become a grey cloud I walked around in. I kept large insurance payout on myself and just sort of wished I would disappear. I think the one reason I am still around is because I was worried about taking care of my husband and my parents.

Coming out and transitioning has been a godsend. I have found a great therapist and the depression has lifted. The problem I have come to discover is the depression is what kept my moods at a fairly stable level. A depressed foggy level that I was so depressed and numb that everything was grey.

Now at the age of 48, for the first time in my life and the first time the husband has ever witnessed, I cry sometimes. Not to alarm you and let you think it is only bad emotions I have, I also have a lot of good reactions as well, the crying though didn’t even happen at the deaths of both of my parents. I had this feeling inside I couldn’t let that emotion out or show that kind of weakness at any time in my life.

All of my mental health issues are still here, but now I am not depressed on top of it and I can feel really good about myself and my life. Sometimes I look at a picture of myself and for the first time I think I look cute, or at the very least look closer to who I am supposed to be. I hated my image in every picture I have taken since I was 15 or older up until the last year or so. Even when I was skinny and not unattractive I hated them.

I am fortunate that both my husband (who was a mental health nurse for over a decade) and my therapist, warned me that the depression lifting didn’t mean that my other issues faded away. It prepared me for the rollercoaster I am on now. Sometimes incredibly happy, sometimes incredibly dark in my head. I can show emotion now though, or at least real emotion, and that makes me feel more like a human and less like a robot or an empty suit of armor meant to protect someone else.

It is a new world for me to explore, the ups and downs. I still sometimes get ideas of suicide or self-hatred. I also get times now that I am so incredibly happy with my life in general and my husband and my new self specifically that I feel like my heart is going to burst. On top of this my HRT isn’t settled yet so I am like a hormonal teenage girl and that is sometimes obvious to my husband.

Even with the rollercoaster up and downs of emotions, I am having right now, I wouldn’t trade it. I like the way I look, I love my husband and I like my life. The lifting of the grey clouds of depression might reveal the negative, but it also gave me a life back inside and made me for the first time in my life since I was a child to live and find a way to be happy.

 

Don’t mess around with razors

Lately my hormones have been coming more in line. The HRT has been causing the feminizing changes such as larger boobs, hips and butt shifting, lightening hair (except on face) and most especially making skin softer.

The skin softer has also made it a lot more sensitive. This is mostly good, except for when it comes to shaving.

For more than 30 years I shaved without really caring about the razor. I was more interested in saving money then a “good razor”. My skin was fairly resilient and it wasn’t painful. Then I transitioned, my skin is soft and sensitive and HOLY FUCKING SHIT BAD RAZORS HURT.

I even tried “women’s razors’ and to be honest those are a complete joke. They are on the level of bad razors, but more expensive. Just because they are pink and say “for sensitive skin” they LIE!!!

Today I finally got to use one of the good ones from Costco and it felt so much nicer. I cannot tell everyone enough, if someone has sensitive skin, buy them the damn nice razors. Trust me guys, you have no idea how much more it hurts with estrogen ridden sensitive skin. Don’t cheap out on that person.

Definitely worth the extra 20% cost.

Contrary to what I have written lately, I am happy

I realize a lot of my posts have been negative lately. The grief of the anniversary of my father’s death, the stresses of family, the transphobia on a regular basis. This might make it seem like everything is just doom and gloom. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I am happier now then I have been since I was seventeen. To be honest I am much happier than even then. This morning I was in the shower and I saw in our little hanging shower mirror the girl I am. It only lasted until it steamed up again, but I caught a glimpse, something I never saw my entire life before my transition.

In other mirrors I sometimes catch it, or maybe just in the way sometimes people react. Sometimes I even feel it inside, sometimes for a brief moment I forget all the stresses and I just feel like me. It is the greatest thing ever.

I definitely see it a lot in the eyes of my husband. That is where I see myself the most, and the most often I feel whole. Not specifically that I wouldn’t be whole without him, but I see the confirmation of who I am. Not just as a transgender girl, but my creativity, my intelligence, and emotional capacity. There is a validation there.

I just wanted to clarify to everyone that while a lot of hard things are happening, I have never been happier before, and so unhappy as well, evidently when the depression leaves, I don’t get access to the ability to numb the bad parts, but that is ok it means I feel the good parts too.

I just can’t tell my friends and family enough how much I love them for their support in allowing me to be who I am. I especially can’t tell my husband enough how much he means to me.

Things are great in my head, I promise!!!

Workout Weirdness

In the last couple of weeks, I have started working out at Planet Fitness again. I have surgery coming up in 7 weeks and when the surgery is over I will have significantly larger breasts, meaning possible back concerns.

So I have started weight training (mostly focused on core, legs and back, just to handle the changes and to be a little healthier) plus bicycling. I want my 22-year-old bicycling butt again, in a girl’s body, it will be awesome.

So last week I went to the gym three times, A Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday, all at 4am or earlier (might as well do something with my insomnia). The place was empty. Fast forward to today, I went in on my first Monday and it was packed with guys.

Me in the car

Here I am leaving the gym.

I was a little uncomfortable, I hadn’t shaved or put makeup on and my boobs are noticeable now. I figured what the hell though, my face looked dirtier then unshaven and why would they bother? By the end of the workout, I realized how much male privilege I had before my transition.

No one would look at me back then, no one cared. During my 45 minutes in the gym today, all four guys hovered around the machines I was using, instead of the same exact machines that were open.

I would catch them staring at my boobs in the mirror, and after a short while, they started trying to look at my face (my hair was in front of it a lot). I think they were all confused for a while, the boobs were obvious, but I don’t pass so the confusion was there. Also, my hips and butt are starting to feminize pretty nicely.

So I spent the workout uncomfortable, being stared at by 4 guys and trying to not have them notice that I noticed. I bailed on the bicycle today. I think I can’t go into the gym without makeup now, I realize it doesn’t really help but it does help me mentally put a barrier up. I also won’t be doing Mondays again.

I mean the whole point of working out at 4am is to not be looked at. If they are going to look at me I will probably just go in the afternoon. At least then I will already have makeup on and be shaven.

The hubby explained even if I pass I will get stared at like that, and I cannot apologize enough to the women of the world. It never dawned on me as a guy that everything is inspected. I have to admit I am sure I checked out every woman in the gym when I worked out as a boy. I don’t remember doing so, but it was natural as a guy, and I never considered how the women might have felt… agghh I hate learning I was doing asshole things after the fact.

Blood Bank Shit Show

I had wanted this week to write about the stresses of the passing of my parents. I also wanted to talk about music. Instead, I went to a blood bank drive put on by my work (through a third party) and instead had one of the worst at work experiences for my transition. Continue reading

Acknowledging my privilege

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.

Breast Augmentation Consult

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.

Wearing an 800cc sizer to see how my new breasts will sit.

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)

This was from my testing at Dr. Sajan in November 2018, it isn’t bad, but the 800cc at Mangubat seems better feeling to me.

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.

I wouldn’t ever change Dr. Ley having done my FFS although it hurt a lot (April 2019).

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.

The hubby went through hell, but his results were really good (this is him post FTM top surgery)

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).

I am super excited about this!

2020 – Looking ahead

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.

RESOLUTIONS

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.

NON-MEDICAL GOALS

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.

 

Current News

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 ;).

Electrolysis Trip #2 – Day 2 and 3

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).

 

Hubby was happy for real food

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