My father in the mirror

I never really thought about what I looked like when I stared at myself in the mirror. I generally would just groom and move on. It is just a station to stop at and fix up as best I can what I see in the mirror.

It is strange now that I have lost more than 105lbs, I am under 200lbs for the first time since I was 18. That combined with the fact that I am growing my beard out for electrolysis and causing a huge influx of dysphoria (which I will talk about more later) and the final touch realizing that most of the brown in my beard is gone due to laser hair removal means it is mostly a glint of silvery white.

Combine that with my longer thinner face and my hair is still brown means I am looking at myself in the mirror and realize I once again look vaguely like my father around this age. Especially when I catch it in the corner of my eyes, it catches me off guard. Not in a bad way, he wasn’t an unattractive man. I don’t hate the sight of him.  I loved him dearly even with the alcoholism and other issues. It just wasn’t something I expected to see again.

Dad, 4 or 5 years older than I am now.

When I was 18-19 and I first started dating the hubby I looked similar to now (just 30 years younger of course). I had more than one occasion where I would walk the hubby down the street (he was a tiny, very very attractive punk rock girl at the time, since this was 24 years before his transition) and people would comment back to my mom that they saw “John” down on Railroad (the local bar road) with a younger girl.

Hubby and I a few years after the incident but before transition. As if you couldn’t tell looking back we were headed somewhere different.

It got my dad in trouble a couple of times for stuff he hadn’t done, and I never understood it. I never really thought we looked alike (although looking at a photo album I can see what people were saying). We even had one person step out of a bar and start calling my dad’s name when I had walked by with my hand around Wolsey’s waist. Of course when they got outside and got closer they realized I was his older kid and apologized, but it was funny now (and I was a bit horrified back then).

Me, about 2 years later, a little heavier

I grew older and within a couple of years I had put on a lot of weight. I still think I looked hot (well, I didn’t, but W always thought I did) and I looked a lot more like my mother’s side of the family, the viking norseman bloodline was a lot more evident and similarities to my father disappeared under my bulk.

A little younger 40ish, hated it but it was expected.

Now that thirty years have gone by and I have recently lost all that weight I look different and my body has morphed closer to my father (except far taller, my dad was always shorter than me) and my grandfather on my mom’s side similarity has receded.

So now sometimes, with the beard coming out and the silver white coloring glinting in the light of the bathroom mirror I see memories of my dad. Part of it makes me smile, I loved him dearly. Part of me misses him terribly. I haven’t yet really talked about the horror of him passing away and the total fucked up situation my siblings put the whole thing through.  Maybe I am at a point I can do that.

Then part of me panics for a moment. Shame that I might “destroy” what is left looking like him living here in the world. It is a stupid thought. A fear that I am going to fuck something up. I realize this is more about fear of the unknown when it comes to the FFS, but that is how it comes out. That I might destroy the last remnants of my father that still live and look like him.

The worst part is that is quickly overridden by the gut sick feeling I see of myself when I see that facial hair coming through. I never understood up until coming out and transitioning what it meant that I hated facial hair. I tried it a lot, I come from biker stock and it is part of the uniform, especially the mutton chops. I think a lot of the time it looked really good on me, better than without it. It didn’t matter though, I always hated it.

A little older 46ish, really hated how I looked

I hate it more now that I know FFS is coming up and there it is mocking me while I wait for the electrolysis to make it go away forever over a very long period of time. That however doesn’t stop the weird guilt and shame I feel over intentionally changing my bone structure and removing that beard forever. Don’t worry, that guilt and shame only last momentarily and then my desire for my true self to come out is stronger, but its there.

I know part of it is I just miss my dad a lot. He had a lot of problems, way more than most dads. In other ways he showed love a lot stronger than any dad I have met. It is complicated thing, but I think the transition is forcing me to deal with feelings. The fact that I see parts of him when I look in the mirror has made it harder. It doesn’t help we are coming up to the anniversary of his passing and I think with the anxiety of the surgery.

Sometimes I can’t even clearly define why I am upset about it, I am still working on it, trying to understand. I don’t know if all this will be is random emotions about my history, my life and experiences and complicated relationships, but that is why I write it down. Maybe in 20 years when I am closing in on 70 it will make more sense why I felt this way… or maybe I will still have no clue.

For now it brings out some sadness, a lot of dysphoria, but also a little smile when I catch my father in the mirror.

Dad and I

FFS Surgery Consult

Back on December 4, 2018 the hubby and I went down to Phoenix to see Dr. Ley for a Facial Feminization Surgery Consult. We have been through this type of thing two other times. The first for hubby’s top surgery then for his metoidioplasty, that last was with Dr. Ley and Meltzer so we were familiar with how it would go.

She was polite, and a good surgeon with the hubby. Her bedside manner was a bit abrupt (as it was also during his surgery as well). That being said we knew we would at least get a straight estimate. We had gone to a local Seattle doctor and he had quoted more then $60,000 for procedures that didn’t include as much bone work as I wanted (he is more of a specialist in soft FFS, such as muscles, not so much on the bone).

We went in having already done that 15 minute consult last August and assumed 20k minimum. After the quote from the Seattle doc I was expecting more like 50+k because Dr. Ley had mentioned doing a lot more invasive stuff, I was prepared to not be able to get enough credit to get it all.

We arrived and got the facial/cranial x-rays which was a lot easier than expected. The people at that dental office that did the x-rays evidently do it for a lot of transgender patients and they were completely professional and friendly enough.

Then we arrived at the appointment and only had to wait a little while, it was nice compared to last time.

Once we went back the first thing we noticed was that Dr. Ley was incredibly friendly with us. She was open and warmed up the room verbally before going into the questions. She had no problem interacting with me physically, touching my face and giving me a very intense look over and comparing what she saw, to what the x-rays showed.

The first thing I noticed is she said unless I absolutely wanted it, she wouldn’t recommend a rhinoplasty (nose job). She showed me the x-rays and evidently my nose is already at a feminine angle (angling up slightly). She was clear that for a face to be seen as feminine has a very broad spectrum and my nose was already comfortably in that place. This was a relief as my experience at other consults pushed a nose job. It meant she wasn’t in this just for money.

She went over the rest of me and it came out mostly like I expected. She is going to try and lower my hairline slightly. She was honest, she doesn’t think it will go more than half an inch (maybe a little bit more if she can push it). I have a good hairline, but contrary to what other docs say, she was clear it would help, but wouldn’t be as far forward as some try to quote.

The next part was raising my brows. She can do that easily at least half an inch, that will also help with the lower hairline because between the two my forehead will be at least an inch less than it is now.

Also dealing with my forehead is she will be doing some work on my brow ridge, basically sanding it down to be less masculine, while basically filling and shaping the forehead so it doesn’t just become flat. Her experience as a facial/cranial plastic surgeon with infants reassured me she has the skills.

In addition she will be adjust the orbital area of my eyes (I believe this is the facial cranialplasty level 3, intense but it should open my eyes up a lot. It will make them look bigger, and give me more real estate to use makeup on above my eye. She thinks this will also be a big help with feminizing my face.

We got down to my cheeks and recommended cheek implants. I wasn’t so sure on this, we hadn’t considered it but she was right. My 100lb+ of weight loss has gotten rid of any cheeks, they have sunken in a bit and implants wouldn’t go away, they would give a feminine cast. I talked with hubby and we decided that is good. So it is now going to be more surgery then expected so the cost went up.

Then she went to my jaw and surprisingly enough she recommended that she doesn’t shave it down. The angle is good, it isn’t super masculine or thick and unless I really wanted it she would leave it alone. I was surprised, and happy that once again she recommended against a procedure she could charge a lot of money for.

Then we got to my lips, I wanted a lip implant to lift my lip from its typically flat masculine look to a feminine look. She said that is easy and while she was there she could reduce the space between my lip and my nose giving it even more feminine look. The hours added on to the rest of the surgery (including chin below) was too much for one day so she recommended I do that as a second trip down. That would be an ‘in office’ procedure and I could go home the next day. We agreed, I am getting it, but probably not until three months after rest of surgery.

Finally we got down to my chin, and she fully agreed that it needs to be reduced (thinned/shaved down). She goes in through the mouth for that part so it won’t leave a scar on my neck. She was skeptical of plastic surgeons who would go up and under the neck, leaving a big scar since you didn’t need to do that. This is nice, considering when they due the brow ridge they will have to pull the skin back from my skull and do the bone work underneath, at least it won’t be pulling skin off my full face, just my upper half… ya that is a gross image.

The final result, about $39,000 quote. It is a good chunk more than I originally thought, but still more than $20,000 less than Seattle with more of the procedures I want. Here is the breakdown:

Procedure                                       Fee    
FSCP w/ Brow Burring (6.5 hours)
Genioplasty (2 hours)
Malar Aug with Implants (1.5 hours)
Lip Lift w/implants 7025 (in office)
2 Nights Hospital                                     
$19,878.00
8,319.00
6,038.00
3,500.00
1,248.00                                    
Total $38,983.00 (still 20k less than Seattle)

I am very fortunate, we cannot afford to pay this but my credit is good enough to cover this with Care Credit and regular Visa. It means we are deferring student loans as we can, and we are going to be “going to school” broke but we can make the payments if necessary.

I am even more fortunate that my husband loves me enough to do this. When I saw the bill, even at 20k less than the other doc my initial response was to not do it. I didn’t want to tank his finances. He made it very clear he wants this for me, it is something that is going to help me in the future. I don’t care about passing in theory, but it will be easier to get the level of jobs I have the education for if I am not stuck in the middle according to society. So we are going to do it. Surgery is April 26, 2019 and the lip portion will be probably by August of 2019 depending on how my face will heal.

I will have a lot of future posts about this going into a lot more detail of the procedures and what we are going to do. I just wanted to get this out there as the basic what happened and how much. I will post examples of the procedures later as well.

Consult Trip to Phoenix (event)

We did it, we finally went down to Phoenix to see Dr. Ley for my FFS surgery. I will go into it’s own post on everything she is going to do, this rather is to just give a brief rundown of the trip itself.

We got to the airport later in the day. This is the first time we haven’t had pre-check in four years. Our first flights no longer working for the DoD. We were fortunate, the lines were really fast and not much wait… however then came the body scans.

The hubby went through without a problem. I stepped through and was scanned by the MRI machine. The hubby said he saw the light go off around my groin area. They immediately pulled me to the side and as he was about to pat me down I stopped him and warned him I am transgender and that I have boobs if he runs his hands up my chest.

That boy froze so hard. He looked like he was going to faint. He then touched me on the hip, on the side and walked off saying I was good. Absolutely no looking in the region that set off the alarm as well. So the hubby kept making fun of my groin after that until we got onto the plane.

The plane trip was easy, we just flew for a little over two hours, bored. The service both down and back sucked though. One passthrough with water and then both times the stewards disappeared into their little shack and we didn’t see them at all.

We landed, got our car and found our hotel room. Hubby wrestled with the air conditioner after we had some Red Robin then we went to bed and slept like crap. Waking up the next morning we went and got my jaw/face/head x-rays and went to the consult.

On the way back from the consult we had a great lunch at the “Old Mission” a really good, if a bit expensive mexican food place (upscale). The tacos were fantastic and the guacamole was decent, but a bit too expensive.

We then got to the airport and once again I got pulled by TSA, my groin lit up their MRI machine. I have no piercings down there, nothing in my pocket. This time I decided to not say anything about being trans and they guy did a pretty thorough background… EXCEPT HE NEVER CHECKED MY GROIN. He even swabbed me, but not my groin. I could see my groin lit up like a Christmas tree on the machine, but evidently he was scared enough of my dick that he didn’t go near it.

They then pulled my bag and my bag also had set off the scanners, this time it was the trail mix in it… Good job TSA, way to protect our borders… from my terrorist trail mix.

We then got there and waited SIX HOURS!!!! We had to turn the car in so we were stuck. We had only been away from the airport itself 14 hours total… There we sat (and hubby slept) until the plane came. We flew home, but that wasn’t all, we spent almost an hour on the tarmac in Seattle waiting because an Alaska Air plane had problems and couldn’t leave the gate.

Overall, I loved being with my husband, I loved getting my FFS consult, but the trip itself was too exhausting with no real stories to tell… other than my groin is disliked by the MRI machine. Hopefully details of my FFS consult after I have slept some.

 

Transition Consult Stuff

Lately I have had a deluge of things happening, the biggest thing was my first Facial Feminization Surgery consult. It was with a well known/renowned Seattle surgeon and it went fairly well.

This is me in the consult room, I am trying to train myself that I don’t look bad so you are all stuck with lots of pictures for me.

The first pro is I think he knows what he is doing. He has the typical smarmy “I know it all” that almost all surgeons have, but he comes across trying to be friendly. His office is gorgeous when you walk in, very high class, and he is very well known for soft work (muscles, fat, hair, etc). He talked about some of the facial bone stuff I need, and agreed to do stuff for me. He would do it in 2 surgeries to minimize how much it hurts.

Unlike the quick review I got by Ley, the local doctor focused more on my fat placement and face lift use as opposed to bone work (Ley wants to do a jaw shave, and more in depth brow work). I know it can be done multiple ways so that didn’t bother me.

The first con is his price. I got a partial consult back in May from Dr. Ley/Meltzer and it was super quick. The “quick” assessment was about $20k in a single surgery (plus 9 days recovering down there). This Dr’s price was almost three times that, close to $60k. That is about what I owe on my student loans. I think this doc is a little more money orientated, no shame in that, but the first thing he did was try and sell me on a nose job, whereas Ley/Meltzer both dismissed the idea of a nose job as a waste and mine was great.

I figured it was going to be more expensive because of locality costs and the fact that this local doctor likes to show off the famous people he works on. I assumed closer to 30k… but the almost 60k was a shock. There was no cut deal for combining several procedures together (Dr. Ley/Meltzer’s was a lot cheaper because they were already there working on me and the other procedures were just “time on the table”). He quoted me the same total price as if I did each procedure separately.

That slowed my roll immediately and right now I am not sure if I would do it. He does great work, however he is not quite the bone experience that Dr. Ley is (she was a cranial/facial reconstruction expert for children before doing this) and she was very informed about my bone structure. The local doctor mistook my forehead for muscle not bone (Ley knew it on sight) plus I have heard he doesn’t do much bone work, and he really pushed a lot of soft tissue/face lift instead.

However, I do need to say he does excellent breast implants. He also stated he could do them with my insurance coverage. He had me try on some implant prosthesis and I found it looks like 650cc boobs is great, but not overly huge on my chest.

 

I may very well go to him for my breast augmentation when my year has passed and insurance will pay. However, not so sure about the FFS. I am still withholding judgment until I see Dr. Ley/Meltzer for a complete/in-depth consult on December 3rd. They are wonderful surgeons and unless they stick me with another 60k bill I suspect they will be the winner. However, we will have to see.

Money and Job Worries

I woke up this morning terrified from a dream I can’t remember, anxiety about things coming up, and obviously some self dislike at the least.

As I talked about earlier I am hoping this week to give notice to my current employer. If things work out I might just mic drop and walk out of the job since it will never appear on any sort of linked in, resume, etc. I have only been here 8-10 weeks in the end, so it isn’t something I am going to use for future job growth.

That being said, we can absolutely afford me taking a couple of weeks off before starting my new job, but I woke up anxious about my pay from the new job. I woke up terrified I was screwing us. It isn’t necessarily the wage I am making more than an adequate job to live, but a large drop in what I make now, about $20,000 a year less then my current job. To be honest even with almost $140k in student loans we can make the payments and have a really good life, even if we would rather go back to working at a coffee shop/book store.

The cost of my FFS is what is freaking me out. A very rough estimate is in itself $20,000 for the surgeries I want, plus up to two weeks in a hotel, two flights down to Arizona and back and anything sundry. I am worried I am making my husband work at a job he is not fond of to be our primary support. We both make about the same, but there are multiple other surgeries coming up that makes my work erratic (orchiectomy, breast implants, probably a tummy tuck from my extreme weight loss and even a thing on my neck/chin – close to a face lift). All of these combined is more than my student loan.

Let’s not even combine the fact that I am on the higher end of 40s. Not like I have 40 years to pay this shit off… well hopefully I do but that means retirement sucks.

I logically know we are doing a good thing. The funny thing is, if this was for the hubby I wouldn’t even blink. I would be down for it and insisting he do all the surgeries he needs to be who he was and never feel bad for a single moment. It is because it is for me that I feel that way. Even knowing this logically it makes my stomach hurt and me terrified I am fucking up things for us. Especially that I might be fucking him over.

I realize I am going to have to get over it, there are other more real issues such as dealing with the public now that I am almost to the point I will be public. I just can’t get over shackling my husband with “golden chains” for my needs. He deserves so much more than that. That is what I woke up terrified about, that I was going to hurt my husband.