Friday, March 12, 2010
And so, here's the first installment of my soon-to-be popular new segment... Ask a Tranny
Your skin looks unbelievable. Can you give me any advice on how you got it that way? I realize it wasn't an overnight thing, but I'm really struggling to improve my skin texture, even with the effects of hormones.
- A reader from South Africa
In most of my photos, I'm wearing makeup, but yes, my skin has gotten remarkably smoother and softer. Pre-transition, I did not have any sort of skin-care regimen. As a kid and a young adult, I loathed sunblock, and I would often get far too much sun. My skin was not horrible, but I was not taking good care of it.
Here's my new routine, which I've been following for close to three years:
- Eat relatively healthy and stay active. Lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, lots of cardio. Good skin starts on the inside.
- No soap on my face, ever. I have facial cleanser and makeup-removal wipes.
- Wash and moisturize nightly before bed. I vary the nighttime moisturizer between anti-wrinkle cream (with Retin A - this is the only stuff conclusively proven to prevent wrinkles, I think) and olive oil with a few drops of lavendar oil (for scent).
- Moisturize every morning with an SPF 15 moisturizer. I tried several until I found one I liked for my skin. I almost always also wear liquid foundation with SPF 20.
- Minimize time spent in direct sunlight.
- Exfoliate with a gentle scrub and/or clay mask at least once a week (more in the winter)
As for products, I've read that moisturizers and cleansers from big cosmetic companies are generally best, because they have loads to spend on research. I personally like Neutrogena's foaming cleanser and nighttime anti-wrinkle cream, and Olay complete moisturizer with SPF 15. All drugstore brands.
Hormones definitely helped, too, but all changes were very gradual. I do like my skin now. Clearing the beard hair also made a huge difference in how smooth my face looks and feels, too.
u r nuts
- J. O. (a guy who went to high school with, but who I did not know, who later found out I was trans in an alumni message board)
You raise an interesting point, J.O. No doubt you are referring to the current practice of classifying "gender identity disorder" (GID) as a mental disorder. As you probably know, that's a point of much controversy within the trans community and the medical community as well. Did you know that homosexuality was also classified as a mental disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) until 1973?
As I'm sure you're aware, J.O., there has been lots of talk recently about how GID will be redefined in the yet-to-be-released DSM-V. The latest wording seems to be "gender incongruence", but I think "gender dysphoria" was also proposed as the new term. Anything they call it and any way they classify it, having this condition included as a mental disorder is bound to bother many trans people and trans advocates.
I'm not sure where I stand on this, honestly. On the one hand, I am somewhat bothered by the idea that transsexualism is considered a "mental" disorder, and yet I think there's some validity to that idea. From the gist of your letter, I gather that you also see this as the case, too, J.O. Let's explore this further.
My mind and body were, in some sense, out of sync. To say this is a problem of the mind is just as valid as that it is a problem of the body, or indeed a problem of both. I have corrected my physical self to allow me to live in a way that fixes the incongruity. But whether we consider the underlying issue to be one of the mind or the body is somewhat immaterial, because either way, the only known effective treatment for the condition is to do what I've done, and change the way I live.
I can attest that (so far, knock on wood) this is a very effective treatment for me. I no longer feel like I have a disorder at all. Any problems I have now are primarily how others see me (a point you also raise very succinctly within the subtext of your comment -- thanks for that), which is neither a physical nor a mental disorder, but a social issue.
The same sorts of social issues exist for homosexuals as well, but being homosexual is not in any sense a "disorder"; it is a normal variation on sexual preference that occurs in humans and other species. There's no cure for homosexuality (nor one needed, nor in most cases desired), but there is an effective treatment for transsexuality. I think I'm probably okay with calling gender dysphoria a "disorder", and to me it doesn't really matter whether we call it a mental or a physical disorder, or both. There is, of course, a stigma that goes with the idea of having a mental condition, but maybe there shouldn't be. Why do physical conditions deserve our sympathy while mental conditions deserve our contempt? We could do a whole paper on this, or several papers, even, J.O.
Thank you for your nuanced letter. I only wish I had gotten to know you better (or at all) in high school. With you as my friend, maybe I'd have had the courage to come out back then, but for some strange reason, I thought my peers would ostracize, taunt, bully, and otherwise torment me. People like you who are not afraid to ask the tough questions foster the kind of open dialogue we so desperately need around these issues.
Thanks for the good questions this week. If you have any others, feel free to write me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Put "Ask a Tranny" in the subject line if you like.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
I haven't watched it, myself, but here's what the critics are saying so far:
"You look like you just want attention and are an autogynephiic (sic)." - Fieldofaware
"She looks very nervous. Too much pacing and prancing even spinning ..." - HoustonTxLiLy
"... she is acting all effeminate and queeny!" - Fieldofaware (again)
So, yeah, rave reviews, pretty much.
Well, a lot of the kids at my college seemed to really enjoy it. I wasn't all that nervous, but I did pace a lot. I don't have all that much experience with public speaking.
At the time, I thought it went well, anyway. I guess I was wrong, according to the internets, so feel free to mock and pick apart my mediocre presentation skills, if you like.
Saturday, March 6, 2010
Anyway, I shouldn't have said the things I said about vlogs being big, unwatchable piles of video crap (or whatever I said -- it had to be something along those lines). I haven't actually given them a fair shake at all, really. I actually have one friend whose vlog looks very interesting, even though I've only watched bits of two of her 80+ entries, and I was mostly just watching them to give her my opinion of her voice. She's recorded herself through her entire transition, which I think is amazingly bold of her, and her transformation has been amazing, so it's fascinating at least to watch her metamorphosis before your eyes. You can watch it yourself here, if you like. I couldn't have recorded myself early on, let alone had the courage to put it up for the world to see. Pretty cool.
I did keep this blog, of course, and I didn't exactly hold back a lot in the early days, but it was actually pretty anonymous for the first few months at least. Still, I suppose putting this stuff up here was brave in a way, and maybe some of it's useful to others. I hope so.
I concluded a long time ago that pretty much every trans woman has a blog, and although I used to follow several, and still occasionally check in on a few, I find most of them a bit tedious after a while. Mine has been useful to me, and I'm glad to read about others with similar experiences, but most trans blogs are too familiar to really hold my attention. I don't go back on my own entries too often, either, but I'm sometimes glad they're there, to remind me. The whole transition itself is already fading away like a distant memory.
I don't feel like I really have anything much more to work through or document here, but I do plan to still occasionally post something. Don't expect a lot of soul-baring going forward, and don't expect a whole lot of political commentary. No need for the former, and the latter is done to death already. So I'll probably just post whatever I feel like, when I feel like it, and if people want to read it, cool. If not, I'll stop.
But so far my little experiment with making money as a professional writer is paying off. 26 cents in ad revenues in the first day! At this rate, I might make as much as almost $100 this year. Okay, I better get more interesting if I'm gonna quit my regular job for this (note: I'm not), and it looks like stirring up controversy doesn't work as well for me as for, say, Rush Limbaugh.
Sorry for that.
But the stuff I said about not letting transgender people use the bathroom, I do not apologize for. Creeps me out, sorry.
Thursday, March 4, 2010
I think that's an argument that kind of makes itself, really.
I made a chart, showing the amount of homosexuality in the world, the average global temperature, and the number of SUVs, all since the early 1900s, but trying to embed it here, I couldn't get it to be very readable. It was very convincing, since I just drew the lines based on my gut feeling of these things, and the correlation between homosexuality and global warming was pretty much undeniable (and SUVs were clearly not the problem, holding at a steady pace of zero through most of the 20th century, so take that, environmentalists!). But let's throw it in here, anyway because people seem to like pictures:
Okay, sure. I've probably got you convinced, or possibly angered, or more likely confused. But why is that the topic of this post? One word: controversy. Another two words: ad revenue.
I've taken the advice of some friends and decided to monetize my efforts here, by allowing Google to put ads on the site. Maybe if I can generate more traffic, I'll make a little money. And if I know the internet, then people love to read outrageous claims without actual facts to back those claims up.
Next up for me, something I've been meaning to do for a while. I'll be trying my hand at making some videos. Not vlogging -- god, no -- here's my impersonation of every* single vlog out there: "hi, it's me again... um... I know I haven't made a video in a while, ... well... um, I guess I don't have much to update you about, but I'll talk for five minutes anyway..." -- no, I won't be doing that.
I used to run a voice support group online, and people told me they got something out of my explanations for different techniques I learned and practiced to feminize my voice. I'll probably put a series of videos up on the YouTubes, and since people like pictures more than words, I expect I'll get more hits there and maybe make a tiny bit of ad money in the deal. I'm not really doing it to try to make money, but if Google wants to send me a check for $10 a year or something, I'll cash it.
Meanwhile, I'll try to stir up more hits on this site by making more outrageous claims. Feel free to start flame wars in the comments section. I think that's good for traffic. I'll leave you with this closing thought, then:
Transsexuals should NEVER EVER be allowed to use the bathroom, because that's just an invitation for CHILD MOLESTORS to kidnap YOUR CHILDREN. Do I need to spell that one out for you? I didn't think so.
* Note: if you have a vlog, I'm sure it's really, really good, and I don't mean your vlog. I mean everyone else's vlog.
Friday, January 1, 2010
Plus, I have to wade through a sea of semi-literate instant message popups every time I want to do anything. I'm getting better at weeding out the assholes and idiots, though, by assuming that anyone who thinks that IMing me out of the blue as an introduction is either an idiot or an asshole, or both. So far, so good on that methodology.
Here's a typical exchange. "MasterFckr99" (not his real screen name) IMed me several times before I finally replied:
MasterFckr99: ur hot mamacita
SuzanneC: I know. I own a mirror.
SuzanneC: So what of it?
MasterFckr99: I have 7 dick
SuzanneC: that's way too many.
SuzanneC: I know a doctor who can help you with that
MasterFckr99: I like it rough lol
SuzanneC: why is that funny?
MasterFckr99: I can handle 2 girls at same time i cango for hour of hard core
SuzanneC: I'm sure you can
SuzanneC: I'm glad you're proud of that. it's good to feel good about yourself
MasterFckr99: I know I can Ill love that
MasterFckr99: what do think why you so quiet
SuzanneC: I'm... um... speechless, I guess
MasterFckr99: tell me I waiting
SuzanneC: but you have me convinced. yes, let's get together for some rough sex. absolutely
SuzanneC: sounds simply divine
MasterFckr99: dont be speech less
SuzanneC: where shall we meet? motel someplace?
MasterFckr99: Im master fucker
MasterFckr99: real rough
SuzanneC: you do know that I'm fucking with you, right?
SuzanneC: I mean there's no way in hell I'm having sex with you
MasterFckr99: but you want it I know
SuzanneC: but I do enjoy our little conversations
MasterFckr99: well fine
MasterFckr99: you know you will get your ass spank some day
MasterFckr99: lol that day youwill call me master
SuzanneC: only if I get to dress up like Jeanie from "I Dream of Jeanie"
SuzanneC: I did always want to be her when I was growing up
MasterFckr99: I let you be Jeany for a minute
MasterFckr99: ok Jeany whats up?
MasterFckr99: tell me some Jeany
MasterFckr99: what you got?
SuzanneC: what, are we roleplaying now?
SuzanneC: sorry, I was busy chatting with another guy over here on the left part of my screen
SuzanneC: I only logged in to write an email. kinda hard to do with guys IMing me all the time
MasterFckr99: send me a picture dressed as Jeany at my yahoo at ********@yahoo.com
SuzanneC: you think I have a genie costume just lying around?
MasterFckr99: Ill spank your butt I dont like that
MasterFckr99: yes go and getit Im demanding
MasterFckr99: do it bad girl
SuzanneC: let's see... tell you what, you make a wish and then I'll screw it up and you'll end up with an elephant in your living room just as your boss is coming over for dinner
SuzanneC: that's how Jeanie used to do it
MasterFckr99: this is your masters command
MasterFckr99: I want you to get naked Jeany is my command
MasterFckr99: send me a pic at *********@yahoo.com now
MasterFckr99: Im not playing
SuzanneC: you know, I wonder why Major Nelson never wished for that
MasterFckr99: he was dumb
MasterFckr99: a dork
MasterFckr99: cold bitch
SuzanneC: I think he was kind of a dork, now that you mention it
MasterFckr99: he was not macho enogh like you Master
SuzanneC: I guess if he hadn't been such a dork, the show wouldn't have much comedic fodder, though, huh?
MasterFckr99: he dint have a hard dick like me
SuzanneC: maybe he did, but he liked that little guy Roger Healey
SuzanneC: yeah, definitely. it all makes sense now. you were smart to figure that out.
MasterFckr99: he was quir
SuzanneC: hey, who isn't these days? am I right?
MasterFckr99: Im macho
SuzanneC: you've had a little fun with the boys, haven't you?
MasterFckr99: yes you are right
SuzanneC: well, it's the 2010s now. anything goes
MasterFckr99: not for 2 girl go for me
SuzanneC: beg pardon?
MasterFckr99: thats what I want 2 mamis
MasterFckr99: what do you think?
MasterFckr99: say some
SuzanneC: you want two mamis? I don't really follow you
MasterFckr99: text me at (202)xxxxxxx I want bad girls at the same time thats my number text me Ill brb
MasterFckr99: your Master has to go for now ok be good Ill spank you later by for now
MasterFckr99: Imgoing to the strip join
SuzanneC: I shall be counting the hours
MasterFckr99: I tell you when
MasterFckr99: text me
MasterFckr99: Im incommand Ill tell what from now on
SuzanneC: definitely count on it. that's so going to happen, the me texting you thing
SuzanneC: except, only, whoops -- I just lost my phone
MasterFckr99: ok bs I dont want to hearthat bs
MasterFckr99: send a yahoo mail ok
SuzanneC: you mean an internet mail?
SuzanneC: I don't know how to do those
MasterFckr99: I want to see thatJeany naked
SuzanneC: I'm Pennsylvania Dutch. Amish. We don't have computers
MasterFckr99: find a way
MasterFckr99: stop bsing
MasterFckr99: stop bsing
SuzanneC: you can count on it
Saturday, December 12, 2009
I think that this could have been a chance to open up a dialogue about society's role in the definition of gender and also a chance to educate gay people on what being transgender is really about.
Instead, because of the incindiary nature of the original post and because this is, after all, the world wide internets, it became an opportunity to send a nice old man (who did not understand our perspective) down in flames. Kudos to us for that.
For my part, I did have some nice things to say about Gold's article, even though I first rattled off a rebuttal of his erroneous conclusions and didn't get a chance to get to those. The thing I think he was really trying to get at (in his way) is that in an ideal world where everyone is free to express themselves any way they like without judgment, people wouldn't have to feel like their physical body is "wrong" or out of line with their internal sense of self.
At its heart, that's a very accepting and tollerant notion, but it's still (I think) not quite right. I don't know why it's not quite right, but that's something I've pondered myself, because I do feel like expressing my true inner self is the most important thing in transitioning, and I don't really understand why the rest of it is so important to me. Why couldn't I be happy being the person I was on the outside, but still acting like I feel on the inside? Society's expectation of me has some role in that, and yet I think there's also something deeper.
I posed that same question to my therapist once, asking her why do I have to feel like my percieved gender (to others) matters so much. She answered basically that it just does. She's right. It does matter. I don't need to know why it matters to know that it does, either. I wouldn't be satisfied being a man who is free to act as feminine as he feels. It wouldn't feel right.
And yet, I'm sure to many people who are not transgender, that concept is very hard to grasp. It's not hard for me to grasp, but it is hard for me to explain or understand.
I hope that in the future, people won't be so quick to question the motives of an article like that one. I don't know that Mr. Gold's piece should have been printed in the first place (it was pretty misguided), but I think I understand why The Bilerico Project thought it could foster discussion. Unfortunately, it hit a nerve (with me, too -- my first reaction was certainly to tear down his argument), but I think it should have also given us "T"s a chance to educate our "LGB" bretheren on what we're really about.
Instead, we sent Mr. Gold running with his tail between his legs. I am sorry for my part in that. It was certainly not the intention of my rebuttal.
Friday, December 11, 2009
The original post is here:
'No' to the notion of transgender
And my rebuttal is here:
'Yes' to the reality of transgender
I actually think that Ronald Gold raises some interesting points on things that I have thought quite a bit about myself. Unfortunately, he wraps those in a rather inflammatory and misguided take on what it is to be transsexual.
Anyway, for now, I'll leave this at providing the links and later I'll expand on this, because I do have some kinder, gentler thoughts on Mr. Gold's post. For now, though, I've got a date. It is Friday night and all.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Things I'm thankful for (in a very particular order):
I'm thankful to the boy I used to be, for having the courage, recklessness and stupidity to go forward with something that should have seemed impossible.
I'm thankful that I had the means to do everything I felt like I needed to do without driving myself into debt (still woulda been worth it if I had).
I'm thankful that I live in a society that pretty much accepts me for who I am, even if it doesn't always understand.
I'm thankful that I can go out looking like a complete mess and without makeup, and still get called "ma'am" by everyone.
I'm thankful that I barely even notice the quizzical stares anymore, mostly because they so rarely happen anymore.
I'm thankful that I get to see the world from the perspective of both genders. That's something you can't get any other way, I'm pretty sure.
I'm thankful for the great work of Drs. Christine McGinn and Jeffrey Speigel, whose results I am enjoying on a daily basis.
I'm thankful that being transgender no longer feels like the focus of my existence, at least when I feel like getting away from it for a while.
I'm thankful for all the love and support I've received since deciding to transition, from new friends and old, family and strangers.
I'm thankful to all the girls and boys who have broken my heart along the way.
I'm thankful for all the years I have left to live the life I always wanted, however many there are.
Today I'm thankful for who I am and that I'm no longer who I was. Because this is better in almost every conceivable way.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
1) I didn't have any bone work done. I think my experiences are pretty different (read as: easier) from what most people undergo when they talk about FFS. My diary wouldn't be of much use, I'm afraid.
2) The nose job was the thing that was the most uncomfortable about it, and really it wasn't all that bad. The scalp advance and lip lift were nothing compared to the nose for discomfort, and that's pretty routine stuff.
3) Really, the pictures say it all for this one. I'm building a set on Flickr, here.
Here's my summary, though: compared to my "bottom surgery", this was a breeze. I was blind for the first couple of days from the swelling around my eyes, but I felt fine. Even in the hospital, I was only asking for Tylenol, because I just felt like I had been punched in the nose and had a headache. Dr. Spiegel was great. Healing was fast and easy. I'm really starting to love the results, now that the swelling and bruising are clearing up. I especially like my new profile. My nose is starting to look really cute.
That really says it all for me. I'm extremely happy with my choice of procedures and my choice of surgeons. I wasn't expecting to like the way I looked this soon after surgery.
I think I got exactly what I wanted out of this.
Monday, November 9, 2009
I guess I'm not really a big planner. I've always been inclined to focus on something that I want and just work (at times obsessively) towards it, without really giving a lot of thought to the overall plan. I make things up as I go. I don't always need to know or even want to know what the next hurdle is going to be -- I just focus on the next thing. I suppose that's my nature, and it's always served me pretty well. I don't believe you can really know how things are going to come out, and overplanning is usually just setting yourself up for disappointment. General Patton once said, "no battle plan survives contact with the enemy." I'm with him. I like to be prepared for anything, but plan things as they come.
Having cosmetic surgery was the last big physical change I had to decide on, and now that's done as of four days ago, thanks to Dr. Spiegel. I kind of rushed into it once I had decided on what I wanted to do. I had moments of doubt and worry leading up to my surgery date. I started noticing a lot of attractive women who didn't have what I'd call conventionally beautiful features, which made me wonder if I wasn't making a mistake. I suppose some people think my nose was pretty the way it was. But I'd have never been totally happy with it. I know that. This was the right choice for me.
Facial Feminization Surgery (FFS) was something I used to think I'd absolutely need to be "passable" (I'm starting to hate that term, and so is the trans community at large), but now it's just something I feel like I wanted, to make myself more attractive. My friend Jessica likes to point out that if you look at the majority of women out there, most of them "need" FFS too, regardless of whether they're trans or not. She's right, too. I didn't really need FFS any more than an average woman. I was okay with my face, generally. Nobody looked at me funny even when I was not wearing makeup. I blended in already.
Still, there were things about my face that I decided I didn't like, and if cosmetic surgery can make me like my face better, I'm all for it. Mostly I didn't like the more masculine aspects of it, like my nose, because those were reminders of a person I used to think I was, but don't feel like I am anymore. I still don't know exactly how this is all going to look, but I think it will be good, and I think I'll feel prettier. If it's not, and I end up hating it, then I'll deal with that then. But so far, I'm happy with the results I can see a few days after surgery.
A little over two years ago when I started this little adventure of mine, I had no clue what was in store or even where I was going. I just knew I had to do something, and to explore the possibilities that were out there. Now I'm at the end of one phase of this project of mine: the transformational part. The rest of the project will be living my life as a woman, and dealing with whatever comes my way, but I'm feeling like I'm getting pretty close to being done with trying to change myself. From here on, I just get to be myself, although I bet that's going to come with its own set of challenges, too.
I liked myself before I started on this journey. I like myself even more now. I'm happy with who I've become and who I'm becoming. I think this new face is going to go well with the next phase of my life. I'm glad I did this.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
The not-so-veiled salacious promises of our pre-date text messages were never realized, however. Scotti got cold feet sometime before I invited him in for "coffee or something" at the end of the evening. When I coaxed him to come over closer to me on the couch and kiss me, well ... yeah, I thought he seemed a little weirded out at dinner and in the movie. I told him it was okay, but I don't think Scotti's going to call me again. He was trying to be cool about all of this, but he can't handle it. He was definitely keeping me at arm's length at our next softball game.
Guys see you differently once they know. Some guys, at least. This makes me want to push the boundary on when I tell a guy, so maybe he's a little more invested first. Tell them too soon, and it can scare them off. Tell them too late, and well...
My friend Aida asked me why I have to tell a guy at all. What difference does it make? Well, for one thing, I could get killed. "Oh, yeah" -- Aida is cisgender (i.e. not trans), so I guess this part wasn't obvious to her. For another thing, the longer you wait the more you risk them finding out on their own, which could make them think you're trying to deceive them. Finally, I won't have sex with someone without telling them first (see reason #1), and, well, I'm not going out with these guys just for their sparkling conversational skills. The first reason was enough for Aida. For me, too.
It feels bad to be rejected just because you're transgender, and to know that's what it was. In retrospect, though, I made too much of a big deal of it. If I were doing it over, I'd tell Scotti on date 4 or 5, ideally, and drop the whole part where I told him I had a secret I wasn't ready to share. Aida was half right. It's not that I don't need to tell them, it's just that I shouldn't act like it's some big thing. It's not, and if I don't treat it like it is, maybe they won't see it as a huge issue either. It's a part of me that I accept and am not ashamed of, and it's also something that I don't tell people unless there's some reason I think they should know it. I can hold out for a few dates without bringing this up.
The next guy I go out with gets to see a more prudish side of Suzanne, because I won't sleep with him before I tell him and I won't tell him until I think he's ready. And if he Googles me and finds this blog or any of the other things out there that reveal that I'm trans, well, congratulations mister internet detective -- now you may as well fess up that you know, because I bet I can read you like a book. And I won't apologize for not telling you before you found out my "secret", because there's nothing to apologize for and it's not a secret.
Live and learn. Try not to get beat up or killed. I'll get the hang of this, with a little more practice. Piece of cake.
Monday, October 12, 2009
I had told Scotti I was going to tell him my secret after the game. We decided to go out for a burger. For me, a bacon cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, grilled onions, mushrooms, jalapeno peppers and mayo. I needed it. I made sure to get a hug in there, too. Partly because I needed one, and partly because I wanted to see if there was a difference between the pre- and post-revelation hugs.
If there's a downside to blending in as a woman, it's this: people don't see it coming at all when you eventually have to tell them you're transgender (and you will). This can make things awkward as hell. Scotti didn't even really know what to ask me or what to say. He was totally flustered, just like I had been all night up until I told him. At least I felt like a load had been lifted off me, but I hadn't gotten rid of it; I just shifted it over onto him.
I told him to take some time to digest it and see how he feels about dating a trans girl. He might come around, but my guess right now is no. The trans thing's in the way now and it will probably stay in the way. It sure wasn't the same after I told him. He kissed me goodnight, but it was a pretty non-committal, nervous kiss. Not nervous like he was on our first date, either -- a very different kind of nervous.
Funny, but both kisses seemed to be asking, "what do I do now?", but in completely different ways. I guess we'll see.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
I'm going to keep the changes subtle. I know I'm okay already. I know this because...
I don't have a lot of experience dating boys. I've had sex with guys since my surgery, but I wouldn't call what we did "dating" in any real sense. I've dated a lot lately, though -- both guys and girls. I had a nice date with a guy who plays on my new coed softball team last night. I think it was the first date I've ever gotten through without the trans thing entering into the picture.
Scotti (I know -- girl name, but no, I checked and he's not) played with us for the first time two weeks ago. He's a good player, super skinny and very cute. He plays shortstop and I usually play 3rd. I was teasing him about his hitting whenever he made an out. Boys like it when you tease them and then get pouty if they tease you back. I could tell straight away that he liked me. I've had enough guys flirt with me to know when they're interested. I thought he was going to ask me out after that first game. I sure as hell gave him plenty of opportunity and signals, but he was shy and he's a boy, so he's generally pretty clueless about when a girl's giving him clear signs that she's interested back. I told him, "well, I'll see you next week then?" and he told me he works 'til 11 pm usually (he's a cop), so no, probably not. "Okay, well I'm sure I'll see you again, anyway."
Scotti showed up for this week's game anyway, and I knew right away that he was there because of me. Our team is 0-8. The team got moved up 3 divisions from where they were last season for reasons that aren't really clear. We're totally getting crushed in this new division. You don't go out of your way to come to a game because you really want to get slaughtered, you do it to flirt with the cute 3rd basewoman you were too shy to ask out after last week's game. Someone else mentioned that Scotti had taken the whole day off. Yeah, I know what that means. I gave him my number after the game, as he was walking me to my car. He finally got the hint.
Any uncertainty about whether people on my team know I'm trans are gone. They don't know. They can't tell. Guys can't tell, and some of them think I'm cute, and not because I'm trans (some guys do like that, you know). This is literally a dream come true, and it makes me question my desire for cosmetic surgery again, because clearly I blend in fine already and some people find me attractive, even without surgery. So I'll go ahead with my appointment in Boston, but keep the changes subtle. Spiegel's good at that, which is why I chose him.
I've said before that I'm not interested in going "stealth". I'm still not. I do like it if I can go out with someone without my date figuring out I'm trans, and without my having to bring it up. I'm still fretting over when's the right time to tell someone. This new guy, this guy who's a cop with access to background checks and stuff like that, could find out easily enough. Also, I won't have sex with anyone without disclosing first. That's for safety and also out of a sense of obligation -- if it might matter to a guy (or girl for that matter), I think I owe it to him to be upfront. If he's gotten to know me a bit first, I think it will go smoother, but the longer I wait, the more likely it is that he finds out on his own.
It would have been really easy to tell if Scotti had Googled my name or done a check on me. I think I'd have known if he had any suspicion even that I am transgender. But just to be sure, I suggested we play a game where we take turns asking each other questions, and we each have to answer honestly. He only got to the fact that I'm bisexual from my asking him if he'd ever kissed a guy ("no"). I found I could lead him to the questions I wanted him to ask me easily enough with my questions, and deflect anything that might get him to details about my past that I don't want him to know yet. I'm clever that way. I did make occasional obscure references to my former self, referring to him as my "worse half" who is "no longer with us". I added that I didn't really want to talk about "him", but no we were never married and yes I'm totally over him now (all true). And I inherited all of his stuff, like that pool table you saw in my living room when you picked me up. I didn't lie, but I definitely omitted details I didn't want to share. He knows I have a big secret, but that I don't want to tell him yet. He definitely would not guess what the secret is. He's going to be very shocked next date.
When he dropped me back home I decided to let Scotti kiss me, even though I'm a little wary of what that could mean to him later. He said he'd been wanting to kiss me all night. I know. I saw your face when you showed up and I opened the door. I saw how nervous you were with me until I put you at ease with the little Q&A game. Boys are really easy to figure out. Girls are more mysterious. Some, even more than others.
Monday, September 28, 2009
I'm never one to miss a chance to party with a bunch of my awesome transgender friends, but mainly I went down to Atlanta to consult with experts in facial feminization surgery (FFS) on what they'd recommend for me. I am well aware that I'm asking people who stand to make a lot of money off me if I have surgery. But they're also experts in their field. I've seen a lot of very good results and a few less good results that range from a little off-putting to downright scary. I have a healthy amount of fear about rearranging my (perfectly good, I know) face. I figured it still doesn't hurt to hear them out.
I attended four surgeons' seminars at the conference and consulted with three of them. I brought my good friend Jessica along for the consultations. Jessica is awesome and is the sort of friend who's likely to tell me that I don't need any work done, not because she wants to stroke my ego, but because she believes it. Jessica says (and she's right) that by the standards of beauty society wants to impose on us, most women need FFS. I wanted her opinion in there too, before I went and let someone break all the bones in my head and rearrange them. Because I've heard it's painful, and I kind of like my face most of the time, besides.
My first seminar was with Dr. Zukowski, a well-respected (these surgeons are all well-respected, mind you, but I'm about to trash the guy, so I'm putting that in there so as not to offend his fans*) surgeon whose office happens to be walking distance from where I grew up. I'd seen Dr. Z's work researching FFS surgeons. He's had some good results, but overall I was not all that impressed. I'd already ruled him out, really. I think his view of beauty and mine are not on the same plane.
Sleazy. That's how I'd describe him. Like a used car salesman. A lot of his seminar seemed to be him defending himself from other surgeons who were trashing him. I didn't know they trashed him before his seminar, but I definitely got that sense from the way he talked.
I wouldn't care if the guy's the biggest douche in the universe, frankly, but I didn't like his work. He'd want to make me look like Barbie. I don't want to be Barbie. Her car is made of plastic, and she can't even stand up in the bedroom in her own dream home. You have to bend her legs to get her in there, and they don't even bend at the knees.
So no thanks, and I didn't schedule a consultation with Dr. Z. I did go to his party, though. Hey, free booze. Also, I wanted to see all the "Z-Girls" (yes, he calls them that and yes, they call themselves that) lined up together. Some of them are, well, really really hot. None of them are what I really want to be, I don't think.
Dr. Ousterhaut is a pioneer in the field of facial feminization surgery. Probably the best in the business for craniofacial recombobulation or whatever it is they call it when they saw your whole forehead and jaw apart and grind it all up and reconstruct it on you with wires and putty or whatever. This is the painful and complicated FFS stuff. This stuff scares me, as it should. Anyway, Dr. O is pretty amazing at that. His work is definitely impressive. I don't often use the word "genius" to describe people, but I will make an exception to say this about him: Dr. O's probably not a genius, but he does strike me as a bit of an egomaniac and a control freak.
My main problem is my nose. Dr. O's reconstructed noses all look pretty much the same to me. It's a nice nose, but wouldn't work on my face. I also found it somewhat unnerving that I saw two or three other women at the conference that looked at a glance like my SRS surgeon, Dr. McGinn. Dr. McGinn is absolutely gorgeous. It's still weird seeing someone else whose face reminds me so much of hers. I guess that's a minor problem except when hanging around other Dr. O patients, though. Not a huge deal to have some semi-identical twins out there.
Dr. O also has a reputation for telling everyone they need "the works". He's an artist, your face is Dr. O's canvas, and he wants to start with a blank canvas. He wants to demolish everything and start over, making you as close to his very specific standards of beauty as he can. I'm not saying he's wrong about what makes a face appear feminine; I'm just saying that I mostly like my face already. I blend in fine. If I didn't, sure I'd love to have him tear me apart and start over, but I do okay already, so I'm not sure I want to scrap what I've got.
My consultation with Dr. O was unsurprising. I need the works, it turns out. My brow is that of a caveman, same as everyone else's. Gonna have to rip that off and grind it up. He did say (I believe this is verbatim) that he "wouldn't be upset if I decided to leave my chin and jawline alone for now". He definitely added "for now", and despite this minor concession to my unmasculineness, he recommended grinding down my jawbone and also maybe doing something to get rid of some muscle in there, too. Jessica mostly rolled her eyes during the Dr. O consult. She says people once sent an attractive non-transgender woman to consult with Dr. O, posing as a trans woman, and he told her she'd need lots of bone work. The works, in fact.
Anyway, I took his opinions into consideration. He's a very talented surgeon and his results are generally very good. Dr. O says he could make me "stunning" for $43,000. I'm sure he could, but as I said, I kind of like my face mostly the way it is. And what would I achieve to gain beauty and lose my identity, anyway?
Dr. O is a "no", I think.
Dr. Spiegel is probably the second most popular surgeon for FFS in the U.S. I was warned by my friend Sharon that his presentation was less than impressive. I have to disagree with Sharon on this. Spiegel's seminar was the most impressive one by far. It was low-key for sure. No videos of slightly plastic-looking women singing his praises or before/after combinations where the "after" part is heavy on the makeup and with better lighting, but his results were, well, impressive as hell.
Spiegel spent a good bit of time in his talk trashing Dr. Z, which I found very amusing, and I guess explains the defensiveness of Dr. Z's presentation. Anyway, Spiegel is more into subtle changes, and a natural look that fits with what I want. His noses were, in my opinion, the best I've seen. Rhinoplasty is the one procedure I'm sure I'll get. It's important to me that I get someone who's good with noses for that. Spiegel's noses looked very good to me. They seemed to fit people's faces. Definitely not a cookie-cutter approach.
The worst part of Spiegel's presentation was when he mentioned he was married. There went my dreams of becoming a doctor's wife. Oh well. Aside from that, the presentation was great.
My consultation with Spiegel was also very good. He told me I look great, and I don't need any bone work. He seemed to agree that I was already fine as I am, but that my nose is my least feminine feature. If I want other procedures that will make me more attractive/feminine besides rhinoplasty, I could do a scalp advance, cheek implants and a lip lift. Total for all that would be $22k, and this would be outpatient stuff.
I'll definitely consider his recommendation, and him as a surgeon. I liked him. I liked his work. I agree with his assessment, especially the part where he said I look good already.
Dr. Leis is (I think) a less well known surgeon than these others, who works out of the same hospital outside Philadelphia where I went for my SRS in March. I hadn't come across his name in my initial research about a year ago. Jessica's good friends with him. We went to the tail end of his seminar, and did a private consultation right then and there, where he walked me through his presentation and did an evaluation.
Leis basically agreed with Spiegel on the main points. I don't need any bone work. I'm already very feminine and attractive. If I want to do some things, I could do any or all of his recommended procedures, which include rhinoplasty, scalp advance, and a chin implant. Leis said I didn't need the lip lift. He didn't mention the cheeks, I don't think. Anyway, about $15k for those things. Outpatient stuff. Hang around Philly for another week and then I'm unbandaged and back at work.
Leis was very charming and nice. His work looked very good to me. I'm still thinking I liked Spiegel's noses better, but I'll have to look again closer before choosing a surgeon. Spiegel's prices were slightly lower, too, but I'm not trying to bargain shop on these things, so I'm considering the end result far more than the cost.
I'm not going to rush into any decisions. Two years ago, I was fairly certain I was going to go with the works. Nowadays, my penchant for cosmetic surgery varies with how I feel about myself. I'm scared of messing up something that looks pretty good already. I'm scared of complications and what plastic surgery might look like 10 years from now.
I'd be interested in people's comments on the subject, honestly. I was going to do a poll and let the internet help me decide what, if any, procedures to have. Then I decided that would be a really stupid thing to do. But that's my take on the subject today, and that's my face up in the upper righthand corner of the blog, and pretty soon I'll probably make a decision on this stuff (like in the next month or so).
So weigh in if you'd like. All opinions are welcome, especially the ones that start by telling me how beautiful I am already. I'll agree with at least half of what you say if you preface your actual opinion with that.
* Oh, and don't read that parenthetical comment if you're a fan of Dr. Zukowski, please, I guess.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
I can see how to some people, the comments and stares would be annoying reminders that they don't blend in. On Friday, for the first time in I don't know how many months, a waiter called me "sir" -- harmlessly, since he seemed genuinely confused about the gender identity of people in our party and seemed to think that was the polite way to address us all. On Saturday night, a drunken guy on the street called a gathering I was a part of a "beautiful group of men-women". I shrugged off that first comment, and laughed at the second.
For some, those reminders that they don't blend in are enough to make them distance themselves from the trans community. Especially post-op, having your gender openly questioned or challenged can be an awkward thing. It's not as if that bulge in the front of your pants was ever your biggest impediment to passability, but once you've had it removed, you want people to see you as genuine -- as genuine as you, yourself, feel. Avoiding other transpeople is a way to avoid some of that.
For me, at least for now, I don't see it that way. I don't want people to know I'm transsexual just by looking at me, but I don't care if something gives me away. I'm not trying to hide who I am, but I'm not trying to advertise it, either. A funny look when I'm out running errands or a rude comment on the street when I'm out jogging would bother the hell out of me. A drunken remark in a gay nightclub when I'm out with a half a dozen other trans girls is nothing, though. Fortunately, these days I get only the latter and none of the former.
Not to brag, but I could probably go stealth if I wanted to. At 5'6", I'm average height for a woman. My voice is very passable. I look more female than male even without makeup these days. I don't get clocked when I'm on my own. I don't get stared at much at all.
Going stealth, though, means removing yourself from all things transgender, and dropping out of a community that I've gotten a lot out of and still get a lot out of. Yes, there are days I'd like not to be reminded about this. Yes, I get tired of talking about it sometimes. But if I were actively hiding it, I'd have to worry about those situations where I'm hanging out with my trans friends. Or someone who knows saying the wrong thing. Or someone who doesn't know doing a Google search on my name and finding this blog or my photos or whatever else is out there. I don't want that. Definitely not.
I really like being able to blend in as a woman, but I hope I'm never ashamed that I'm trans. When I'm out with a group of trans people, we're all "out", but we're usually having fun with it.
Sunday, August 2, 2009
I am hypercritical of myself, yes, and especially when it comes to my appearance. Superficial, sure, but the image that I project to the world is a big part of my transition. I don't know how I could have let the person I was inside out without focusing a good bit on the external. Going into this transition, I fully expected to get facial feminization surgery. I was not blessed with a pretty face. Handsome, maybe, but not pretty.
In my early teens, I'd often dress as a girl and admire myself in the mirror. Some days, I thought I looked really good. Once, I took some pictures of myself with a Polaroid and they all came out horrible. I burned those photos. It was always in the back of my mind when I thought about transitioning. I didn't want to look like that person I saw in those pictures. If I had thought I'd end up pretty instead of homely, I could have talked myself into doing this at 17.
I talked with Jani about the newspaper article. She agrees it's not a good photo of me, and knows I was oversensitive about that since it's so public. As usual, Jani's also trying to talk me into doing as much cosmetic work as I can afford, not because she doesn't think I look good, but just because she thinks every bit helps. She's planning the same for herself. I'm still on the fence. I really don't like way it looks when people have too much cosmetic surgery. Then again, there are some procedures that might make a big difference for me. I'll probably consult some professionals and get their opinion.
Procedures I thought I was pretty well decided against are back on the table. Jaw and chin recontouring, scalp advance, and lip lift are real possibilities. Rhinoplasty was always in my future. Breast augmentation is still probably a no-go. I don't particularly want fake boobs. Small boobs are fine.
Diet and exercise, I've been pretty good about all along, but I can do better. I've gained a few pounds since my surgery, but I thought maybe it would help the hormones redistribute fat if there's a some fat to work with. I'm in good shape right now, but I can definitely get skinnier. It's just a matter of denying myself everything I enjoy eating and doing more exercise. That's easy.
At some point, I'm going to stop being so concerned with my appearance and grow old gracefully, though. I have a feeling Jani will be riding the cosmetic surgery train all the way through middle age and beyond, but I'm getting off in a few more stops for sure.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
I think I came across okay in the story, but I really don't like the photo that goes with it. I'd much rather I had sounded like a total idiot but it had been a really great photo of me. I know I'm oversensitive about my appearance, but, well, I think it's the least flattering photo of me I've seen in a long time. I'm squinting and making a weird face and I just look generally awful. To me, this belies everything I said in that article about not wanting to always be in the state of chasing the next cosmetic procedure that will finally make me feel happy with myself. I look at that photo and suddenly I've changed my mind and now I want every procedure they've got. Fix me. Now.
I spent the entire afternoon at work taking pictures of myself and deleting them, until my cell phone battery finally gave out. When I'm in this state of mind, every new photograph of me is awful. Every photo I used to think I looked pretty good in is now filled with flaws I couldn't see before.
I look in the mirror and I think I look okay. I don't look like that. I take a picture, and -- fuck! -- there it is again. I look horrid. Is that me? Is that what people see when they look at me?
Nobody tells you you look ugly if you look ugly. They tell you you look great. Beautiful, even. If you're actually beautiful and someone takes a really horrible picture of you where you look bad, people agree with you that the picture looks bad. If you're actually ugly, people tell you the photo looks good and you look great. I showed my friend Aida the photo from the news story and she said she thought I looked good. She liked it. It was about that time I had to leave for the day, not because it was time to leave, but just because.
To me, that photo looks like someone pasted a guy's face on a picture of a woman. If it's a good photo of me, then that means that's what I look like to people all the time. People who tell me I look pretty. And I'm not stupid; I know the people who tell me my photos up on Flickr are beautiful are interested in me in the first place because I'm transgender. But I still figured I looked okay, despite being trans. Maybe I was even getting to a point where I thought I looked pretty good for a girl instead of just pretty good as a girl. Now, I don't know what to think anymore.
I have a lot of my self-esteem tied up in my appearance. Maybe I shouldn't, but I do. I was talking with another trans girl online last night, advising her to seek help for her anorexia. As I was telling her how dangerous it is and how bad it is for her health, in the back of my mind I was jealous that she was 2 inches taller than me and weighed 117 lbs. I was 130 at my lowest point, which now I feel like I need to get back down to, or maybe even below that.
The irony is that when I gave that interview, I genuinely meant it when I said felt like I was getting to a point where I'm happy with myself. Now, because of the interview, I'm not.
This feeling will probably pass. I'll make some change that makes me feel like I'm attractive again, and go back to my delusional state of liking what I see in the mirror. Then maybe I'll just stop letting people photograph me. It's too risky.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Transforming yourself from male to female once used to be a small taste of what could be, and it was like taking a step into a new and thrilling world. Now that you're immersed in that world all the time, it's not new anymore. Hiding your vestigial masculinity becomes a chore. The thrill is gone, and you're left with an obsession over the things you wish you could change about yourself. If only...
I've grown a bit tired of this being the central focus of my life. Transgender is a thing that I am. I'm proud of myself for accepting this about myself. I'm happy with who I am now. I was actually pretty happy with who I was before, too, but I'm even happier with the new me. But being transgender doesn't define me completely. It doesn't even come close.
I don't try to hide it. I don't want to hide it. I also don't want to hide behind it, like this is all that I am.
Last night at softball, my teammate's daughters cheered me on with chants of "go miss Suzanne!" These adorable little tykes will never know me as anything but Suzanne, as a woman. They don't know there was ever another me.
It makes me feel really good sometimes, just little moments where I'm not thinking about the transition or being transgender. I'm just me. And I looked in the mirror this morning as I was getting ready to leave for work, and I thought, "hey, you look cute today." And maybe I don't get a thrill from dressing as a woman or wearing makeup, but I still like it. And I wasn't scrutinizing every little thing about myself that needs to be fixed or changed, because I'm pretty happy with how I am today.
I hope it lasts. I could feel this way forever and never get bored with it.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
In Phase 1, I tore apart my life and reinvented myself. I feel mostly settled in that now. Everything I'm doing now -- everything that I am now -- feels more or less natural and routine, and even though I can't pretend that being transsexual makes my life any easier, there's nothing particularly noteworthy I have to say about it that I haven't already said three or four times already. This is just me, and I don't have much in the way of internal conflict about who I am or who I want to be anymore. Or external conflict either, for that matter. I feel pretty well accepted in society.
So maybe I'm just taking a break before starting on Phase 2: getting my life in order. I've said it before that as I made this transition, somehow my whole world has managed to come crashing down around me. The things that I'm not satisfied with now are more to do with my career and my love life (and, I suppose, my advancing age and the state of the world economy, but there's not much I can do about those) than who I am.
I'm not making any promises about whether I'll keep going with this blog with any regularity or not. Frankly, it was important for me to get some things out there early in my transition. Posting it in a public forum was, I suppose, some kind of way of forcing myself to come out to the world. Now it feels more just like exhibitionism. My private life should probably be more private. I've held back remarkably little in the past two years, which may have made this blog interesting, but my life is for me to live, not for others to find fascination in.
So, I'll probably be changing gears some here. I'm not exactly sure how, but I know some of the things I won't be doing:
- Posting mundane details of what I'm doing from day to day. There's a whole service (Twitter) devoted to that, if you want to see how dull people's lives really are.
- Posting links to trans-related news stories and other things. God, there's a million people doing that already, too. The world doesn't need another.
- Posting just for the sake of posting something, since I haven't done it in a while (this post excepted, naturally).
Aside from that, I guess I'll just see what I feel like writing about, if anything. Maybe people will want to read it, and maybe they won't. Either way.
Anyhow, the vicodin I popped 20 minutes ago is about to start kicking in, so I'm going to finish my glass of red wine then epilate my legs. Hey, did you happen to see that news story about the DJs who said those awful things about transgender kids? I'll find the link and post it here for you in my nightly update later on...
Thursday, May 7, 2009
I saw Alison for the first time since she broke it off with me. I guess that was just under three weeks ago, but it seems like a lot longer. I'm not over her. I didn't go in to this kidding myself that I was, or that I would get through seeing her without crying. All I promised her in my email was that I wouldn't cry as much as the last time she saw me. It went pretty much according to plan. I cried a lot less than last time.
We got together for drinks after work at a gay bar we both like in DC. It was nice to see her. I caught her up on the depressing chaos that is my life these past few weeks. How I have no real idea what I want to do anymore, career-wise. Not this, whatever it is I'm doing now -- I've got it narrowed down by that much, anyway. How I quit my support group. How I'm slowly getting my legs back into shape with the jogging. How I'm getting ready to start dating again, looking for other jobs, and so forth. Alison told me about her mother having rotator cuff surgery, and how she's applying for other jobs, and she's doing her activism stuff. And she's not seeing anyone new yet, but she's chatting with a couple of girls on OkCupid.
I didn't talk about how I cried for three days straight after she dumped me. I didn't tell her how I still pile the extra pillows up behind me when I go to bed every night and pretend she's spooning with me. Or how that usually still makes me cry.
I still don't get exactly what wasn't working for her. She says she didn't want to be in a serious relationship. Okay. In my mind, I can't help but append that with the qualifier "with you", but okay. I guess that's just another way of saying, "I didn't love you". Nothing new there. I've been through this before, and I'll get through it again. The only things I'm still mourning are things that were never there at all in the first place.
I'll be fine. Soon enough, I won't even miss her anymore. One day, I'll be able to think about her without my eyes welling up with tears. Eventually, I'll find someone new who makes me feel as happy or hopefully even happier. And I hope that Alison finds someone she loves who loves her as much as I did, or more. I hope that she and I will stay good friends, and we'll be able to get together for drinks without either of us (mostly me) crying at all.
I'm not there yet, but I'm at least to the point where I want to be over her. I just want to move past this lonely, miserable part and on with my life.
Still, I'm going to need those extra pillows again tonight.
Saturday, May 2, 2009
I don't have any regrets about the surgery. The timing of it, my choice of Dr. McGinn, everything going back to whenever it was that I finally decided I was going to live as a woman -- it was all the right decision. At the same time, right now my life feels pretty fucked up, and a lot of it has to do with having had the operation, or the timing of it anyway.
Being demoted back to where I was 10 years ago in my career while still working on the same team is somewhat humiliating. I'm looking to people I used to manage to mentor me as I start over with programming in a language I've never used before. I went from being good at my job and receiving mostly excellent performance reviews to suddenly being well aware that I wouldn't hire myself for the position I'm in now, and for good reason. I'm talented, but lacking in any expertise. Motivationally, they've put me in a position where if I were to do outstanding work, it reinforces the idea that demoting me was a good idea. I have no desire at all to try to work my way back up the corporate ladder anymore. I wouldn't want my old spot back if they wanted to give it to me. Mostly, I hate the thought that these people who used to respect me as their manager now feel sorry for me.
I had a session with Dr. Payne this afternoon. She said it sounds like they're trying to force me to quit because they feel like they can't fire me without it being discriminatory. It's probably a good strategy if that's the case, but I haven't gotten the sense that that's what this is. It feels more like they just didn't have a spot for me since I was taking off two months right as the company was going through a big reorganization and a wave of layoffs. Maybe if I hadn't had the surgery, I'd have kept a management position in the new organizational structure, or maybe they'd have fired me because they didn't have a place for me. I don't really know. Maybe this new position is a very clumsy attempt at charity. Maybe it's a clever way to get rid of me. Maybe it's just a really misguided attempt at strategic realignment. I guess it doesn't matter to me. The result is the same.
Objectively and rationally, I can deal with my current situation just fine. I'm past most of my major expenses for this transition. Despite suffering catastrophic losses on my investments in the past year, I have plenty of money left over, and I still have a paycheck coming in. I'm smart. I learn fast. I work hard. I make friends easily. I'm honest and loyal. I should have plenty of good options, and a bright future ahead of me.
Emotionally, I'm having trouble dealing with things as they are right now. At work, in relationships, and socially, I just don't feel like I have a lot of energy or a lot to offer. I don't really know what I want to do and everything I might do seems daunting.
I'll work through this. I break down sometimes, but I always pick myself up after. I sometimes don't feel like doing anything at all, but I always do what needs to be done. I manage to keep up with my dilation schedule, and I get out for a run every day, and I go out with friends and try to cheer up.
I'm not giving up. Not even close.
Friday, April 24, 2009
This time around, I had Jani with me again, which was nice. I also had to dilate 6x per day while in Dallas, since I'm still in the initial recovery period from my gender confirmation surgery. Dilating that often is hard to do when you're travelling. To make a long story short, I dilated whenever and wherever I could, like in the airport bathroom on the way back (I found one of those unisex ones that's private and locks. I sat on the floor, on a sterile pad).
The trip was nice. I visited with my friends in Dallas and had fun with Jani, who still won't leave the hotel with what she thinks is stubble, even though nobody else can see it. Jani's one full clearing in Dallas ahead of me, plus she says she had something like 100 hours of electrolysis before coming to E3000 (a good argument for doing it this way, with full clearings, in my opinion). So Jani's facial hair is pretty much invisible. Mine's visible, but you gotta look close. The guy who was hitting on me all the way on the flight to Dallas didn't seem to notice mine, even though he was putting his face about 10 inches from my stubble when he leaned over to talk to me. Based on the mildly homophobic comments he was making about the gentleman sitting next to us on the aisle, I feel certain he never saw my beard shadow. Anyway, at this point I feel pretty comfortable going out with 3 days' growth, but Jani's just paranoid. Nothing new there.
It took 6.5 hours for Sabrina to clear me this time. I was doped up pretty good the whole time, and mostly in a haze. I took a bunch of stuff (valium, vicodin, motrin). Except for the lidocaine shots, it was fine. Not fun, but given that my face took about 20 hours to clear that first time, we're making great progress. I'm scheduled again in June, and once this gets down to only a few hours, I'll definitely have to reevaluate the travel expenses and whether it's worth it to fly down to Dallas. Still, I can't argue with the results so far.
Another clearing done. We're definitely getting there.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
But that's not right. I didn't opt for surgery just because it makes things easier or lets me live in society with the gender marker of my preference; that's part of it, but really, I did it for myself. It feels right. I hope so, anyway. But not having a penis anymore does make some things less tricky and dangerous, society-wise.
Today was kind of a big day for me. I met my new softball team for our first practice. I haven't been on a team in about 14 years I guess, and the last time I played was a company picnic 10 years ago. I wasn't worried that I couldn't play, though. I used to be pretty good, and I could always hit decently. And I'm fast.
What I was worried about was that I signed up for this team without telling them anything about myself except that I'm female and I've played 3rd base and several spots in the outfield. I didn't mention the trans thing. Frankly, I wouldn't really mind if there were some parts of my life where people don't know I'm trans. I guess I don't care if they find out at some point, but I don't want it to be how they see me straight away. I'd rather they get to know Suzanne the woman before they know that I used to fit in pretty well in the men's league. Maybe they'd be mad if they found out (I doubt it), but I don't know that I'm obligated to wear a sign around my neck. If they ask me about it, I won't lie. If I suspect they know and it's making things uncomfortable, I'll tell them. Otherwise, I just want to play softball and make some friends, but I'm not eager to tell them about how I was born male just yet. I'd rather they don't know.
So, even though this is softball, where the point is to get dirty and sweaty, I spent a good bit of time on my appearance this morning, wondering how much makeup I could get away with. I decided a little foundation wouldn't hurt (and it has SPF 15) and some clear mascara. Curled my lashes, a little brow powder, a hint of blush, hair back in a ponytail, and voila: yeah, I look like a girl. I am a girl. I should look like one.
Oh, and I wore the silicon boob enhancers -- the ones I almost never ever wear and now I'm going to wear them for sports? -- under my sports bra. That was a risky move. If one comes out or shifts around, now it looks like I'm being deceptive. But whatever. They make it look like I have boobs. The sports bra makes me look totally flat, which I pretty much am.
Practice was fun. I ran around. I dove on a couple of plays in the infield, and got dirty. I was rusty as hell on the fielding, but I can still hit. I felt like I was really clobbering the ball. I hit a couple of shots that one-hopped the fence. That felt good. Funny, 'cause I never had any power before ... oh, yeah... I forgot we use a littler ball here than I'm used to. Women's league and all. Okay, I might be dangerous with some more practice then.
Practice included men and women, since the same people also play on two different co-ed teams. I had told them I was mostly interested in the women's team, but by the end of practice, they were asking if I'd mind subbing in in the co-ed games, I guess if they're short-handed. Yeah, okay, I can probably play some on Sundays, too. Then they were fighting over which co-ed team gets me. It's nice to be wanted.
If anyone suspected there was something wrong with me, they sure didn't let on. They seemed to be just happy to have another woman on the team who can play. If they did suspect I was transgender, would they have said anything? Probably not, but I think they'd have been weird about it. I'm pretty good at picking up stuff like that. I think they didn't know, and that's just fine with me.
Not everything in my life has to revolve around being trans. Passing gives you options to get away from some of this stuff once in a while, so it doesn't feel like the focus of everything you do all the time. Frankly, that's just what I needed right now.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Me from two days ago would look at the person I am today and hate her. Pre-breakup Suzanne wasn't stupid or naive enough to think that she had found a perfect love that could never be replaced, but she was in love and she wasn't picky enough to think that it has to be perfect, either. She wasn't ready to let that go just yet, and somehow it seemed like a terrible injustice to put Alison up on the shelf in my mind of girls I've dated and broken up with and gotten past. Bittersweet memories. It should have come down to more than that, shouldn't it?
Today's me is moving on, not because she particularly wants to, but because she has to. I'm realistic. I know things will be better soon. I accept that Alison and I probably wouldn't have worked out in the long run. I'm glad for the memories. I'm not unemotional, but I am becoming more and more rational about it. Somehow, it seemed better to be able to embrace my misery and hold onto it, however much I knew I couldn't do that forever. Maybe reality is just the thing that destroys our feelings, and leaves us numb.
Time heals all wounds. It also leaves you a little bit bitter and jaded. Accepting that is accepting your own death, albeit slowly.
Time to move on. I have things to do. I have to dilate again, then I'll go for a run, and I'll go from there. It's a beautiful day out and the sun is shining and the birds are singing and I hate myself.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Wake up. Cry. Dilate. Laundry (running clothes). Cry. Dilate. Go for a run, and break down crying about five times along the way. Dilate. Curl up on the floor of the shower crying for about half an hour. Write a letter to Alison, which I may never mail. Dilate. Do my taxes. Dilate. Eat some raw cauliflour (if you want to complain, stomach -- here, digest this. That's about 10 calories and you're going to have to work for them, too. No reason you should be happy when the rest of me is miserable) while sitting in the dark crying. Write a blog entry (this). That's my day. I've lost count of how many times I've broken down in tears today. Well over 30, I'd guess.
At least I only have to dilate one more time before bed. And I filed my taxes. And I got out for a run in the pissing, cold, miserable rain that's supposed to keep up for two more days without letup. About as productive as any day, really. Also about as depressing a day as I've ever had. Maybe not the worst day of my life, but probably the most miserable. The weather definitely cooperated with that.
I don't know why this breakup has me so emotionally crippled. I've never felt this bad after being dumped the last three or four times. Maybe it caught me at a time when I wasn't prepared to deal with it. Maybe I stupidly thought that I had found someone I could be happy with for a long, long time. Maybe my new hormone levels are messing with my brain and need to be adjusted. I had been feeling a little depressed already before this and was thinking about going on antidepressants. Better living through chemistry. It's starting to sound good.
Or maybe I'm just tired of people telling me how wonderful I am when they don't want to be with me. Yeah, I guess I'm so fucking wonderful that nobody can stand me. That must be it. I'll just enjoy my own company for the next 50 years then. I'm looking forward to it.
I watched an episode of "House" the other day. The supermodel who was dying from a mysterious ailment was, in the end, diagnosed to be (spoiler alert) intersex. She had XY chromosomes, but complete androgen insensitivity syndrome, meaning that to all the world she appeared to be 100% female. Until House diagnosed her, of course, at which point he started referring to her as "he" and "him" and said that the cure was to "cut off his balls". Plus, he helpfully added that this also solved the little incest problem she had with her father, since "now it would just be gross". Because she's a dude.
Nice one, House. Way to bring me down.
But I love that show, and House was only saying what most of the world is thinking. I was mad at him for a couple of days, but he's echoing the sentiments of millions of people out there. Those are the same millions of people that make me depressed about my prospects for a relationship with anyone who's not "like me". And if I do date another transgender person, it doesn't work out because at least one of us doesn't know what she wants right now. And so I end up alone.
I remember whining like this before, about 6 months ago. That was right before I met Alison. And for a while, when she held me in her arms at night, I didn't feel lonely and everything felt like it could work.
And now it feels like it can't again, and I'm more miserable than before. It's time to cry some more then dilate then maybe sleep. I'm exhausted. I can't take much more of this.
Monday, April 13, 2009
"It's not you." "You're beautiful and smart and fun and I don't deserve you." "I just can't be in a relationship right now."
I picked up bits and pieces, but I was paralyzed. Everything sounded far away and muffled. All I could feel were the tears streaming down my face. I knew this was coming, too. From the way Alison had cancelled plans with me yesterday, to the fact that tonight she wanted to meet somewhere in the middle between our places, to the way she didn't want to talk about plans for this coming weekend at all. Well, except for the part about how she was going to roller derby on Saturday, without asking me if I'd want to go. The signs were all there, and I'd seen them but I didn't want to admit it. But I still knew. I've known since that dream; I was just hoping I was wrong.
I feel stupid. I knew this was going to happen. I cried about it on the phone with Jani last night, a full day before Alison broke up with me. I spent all last night thinking how hard this recovery period is going to be on both of us and our relationship, and how lonely it would be without her. I thought about how nice the past five months has been with her. Not perfect, but nice. In the shower this morning, I thought that even if we don't make it through this period, it's still been a nice relationship. Not every relationship has to last forever to be a success. Ours was, as far as I'm concerned.
But she wasn't in love with me. And I guess that's that.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
It was a college-age kid working door-to-door sales. He called me "ma'am" right off the bat, and didn't seem put off by my appearance or the least bit confused about my gender presentation. Hormones, electrolysis and voice training work. It was a nice feeling. It could have been really awkward and embarrassing, but in the end I was only embarrassed that here it's almost 2 in the afternoon and I haven't even gotten dressed. There was a time when I thought that would never happen without cosmetic surgery.
I still have reservations about going out without makeup and/or dressing like a slob. It feels silly picking out an outfit to go to the Home Depot to buy painting tape, or putting on makeup just to run out to Whole Foods for soy milk and bananas. Passing as a woman at all times is important to me, even if I don't always feel like putting in an effort. I don't mind looking androgynous as long as people can tell I'm female. I don't like the feeling that I've got to be constantly working at it to maintain a female identity, like I'm putting on an act. It's getting less and less like an act, and more like just me.
"Passable" can be a sensitive buzzword in the trans community. A transperson who's not passable is every bit as transgendered as I am. Someone whose gender presentation causes people around her to react with gawking stares is not any more or less "successfully" (another sensitive term, by the way) transitioned than someone who is accepted readily and completely by society. But not being passable means being in for a harder time generally and being at greater risk for discrimination and/or violence. Passability goes a long way towards acceptance. To me, it was probably a dealbreaker on this whole transition. Not that I'm (quite) that vain, but if my overall presentation couldn't be female, then I'd have probably stuck with living as male or ambiguously-gendered. Transitioning's about expressing who you really want to be, but it creates a pressure to be convincing in the role you define for yourself.
Having had my new vagina installed (it's looking and working great, by the way) ups the stakes for me on the whole passing issue. Before, if I didn't feel like parts of me looked female, not only could I blame the penis for that, but it was also my ticket back into the male world if this got too difficult. Now, what am I if not female? If passing was important to me before, now it feels absolutely essential. The surgery doesn't help me to pass except for in very rare and specific circumstances, such as a locker room or the beach, and these are the very places where I'm still not going to feel totally comfortable with my body. I find myself scrutinizing it more, and whereas before I was pretty okay with the things that don't appear female, now I'm more critical.
It's hard work being yourself. Or, I guess I should say it can be hard work depending on who you decide to be. Really, we all invent ourselves, as some compromise between who we are and who we want to be, between who we are on the inside and who we are on the outside. Both concepts are flexible to an extent. Successfully transitioning is accepting what's on the inside and being satisfied with what's on the outside. Being passable only helps other people to accept you, but if that didn't matter, we wouldn't care at all who we are on the outside.
I'm sure it's a lot easier being a stand-up comedian if the audience laughs at your jokes. Transitioning's a lot like getting up on stage, except now you're hoping the audience doesn't laugh.
Monday, April 6, 2009
I'm dilating six times a day, at about 40 minutes per session. It takes a lot of time. It means I can't get out of the house as much as I'd like, or for much other than short trips. Getting out for even a few hours means spending the rest of the day in what feels like a nonstop cycle of dilating or getting ready to dilate again. On the other hand, it's working. I'm showing better progress than I'd expected, both for depth and girth. I've moved up two dilator sizes, including ordering a larger size online than Dr. McGinn gave me after surgery (based on her recommendation), and even that one's getting fairly easy to insert. It's a real pain, but it's not painful. The discomfort has been very manageable since the first couple of weeks. It's depressing in a lot of ways, but I'm getting through it and next week I can start running again.
Now some specifics:
Frequency: Dr. McGinn prescribes 6x per day for the first 8 weeks (I'm halfway through that) followed by 4x per day for 16 weeks. That's a lot of dilation. Some surgeons recommend less. I don't know of any that recommend more. I don't know that more would be even feasible for many people. As with pre-surgical electrolysis, there may be differences in opinion on this. Some surgeons may think too much dilation carries a risk for complication. I don't know. I'm not sure I really care. Like most people, I'm going with my surgeon's recommendation.
Based on my experiences, I think she's probably right on this point, or at least it's working out well for me. If you're going to stretch yourself out post surgery, this is the time to do it. Going in, I wasn't sure if gaining significant depth was possible or just based on apocryphal stories. I've heard of transwomen losing depth, and it not being uncommon or the result of too little dilation. As your skin heals inside you, it contracts as scar tissue forms. It gets less flexible. I was expecting to be able to maintain depth, but not really increase it. Instead, I've gained a full inch. Better than I'd expected, and I'll be happy to maintain that from here on. If I lose a little depth from here as it heals further, it's also no big deal.
Setup: I dilate in my tub (dry, no water), which is one of those big jacuzzi things with plenty of shelf space around it. I have a board running across the top acting as a desk. I sit on a rubber donut and towels. Cleanup is easy. My laptop and phone are handy. I can watch TV, surf the internet or whatever while I dilate. I can easily adjust the angle I'm sitting at by sliding up or down the back of the tub. I don't have to worry about making a mess. This works well for me, and is the same setup I've been using since the hotel in Bensalem, PA.
Schedule: I try to space the sessions out as evenly as I can. About once every 3 hours when I'm awake. The first and last sessions are always the hardest, motivation-wise. First thing in the morning, it's the last thing I want to be doing. Late at night, I'm often falling asleep already, and I'm tempted to skip it. I don't. Yes, it gets depressing sometimes, but I just do it, whether I feel like it or not. Six times a day, every day. Every goddamned day.
If I need to block out some time to go out, say to get together with Alison for a few hours, I can do as many as 3 sessions in a 5-hour window, but that's pretty much all I'm doing. Dilate, watch an episode of House downstairs, dilate again, etc. I'm convinced "House" is a great show to watch when you're dilating. He's always so miserable, so by comparison you're kind of having fun.
Lubricants: I use mileral oil gel (aka baby oil gel) exclusively. Again, my doctor's recommendation. If I had gone to a different surgeon, I'd probably be using KY. I'm sure it would be fine. Mineral oil gel works fine and is better than pure mineral oil, since it sticks to the dilator instead of running right off it. Less messy.
Technique: I am very wary of causing complications, but now at 5 weeks post-op, things have healed a great deal, and I am not as worried about causing tears. I spend as much time as necessary getting the dilator to depth comfortably, using steady pressure while trying to relax my legs and abdominal muscles. Sometimes I twist the dilator back and forth slightly, but usually this isn't needed until it's very close to maximum depth. Then I push with about as much force as I can exert with one or two fingers and hold it there for 20 minutes. Sometimes I push a little harder and twist the dilator back and forth some more to try to stretch the skin out some more. That seems to work well. I figure if it doesn't really hurt too much, it's good. But I am careful not to push so hard as to tear something. As I see it, tearing things that are inside you is a bad thing. I learned that by watching "House", too.
I'm currently using two different sizes of dilators, since I can get the smaller one in deeper, and I do that for 20-25 minutes before moving on to the bigger one for 10-15 minutes. When I was only using the blue one, it took me less time per session, but now that I'm doing blue and green, it takes longer. The same thing happened when I moved from pink (smallest) to blue. I used both pink and blue until I could get them both to the same depth, then stopped using the smaller one.
Pain/Discomfort: The first week was the worst. There's a muscle that, as a result of surgery, now has a tear in it. Through that tear, I'm inserting things that it doesn't particularly like having pushed through it. At first, keeping the pink dilator in for even 20 minutes was agony. Now, it's getting much more stretchy, and I could sit there with the green one (two sizes bigger) in me for an hour if I wanted to.
Pushing fairly hard, even at maximum depth, is not all that painful. Uncomfortable, yes, but not painful. Pretty much what I'd heard from other people going into this. Dilating is hardest in the morning, when things have had a chance to tighten up, and gets progressively easier fast. Moving up a size in dilators hurts, but that gets better fast, too. There's one size up from the one I'm on now, but I'm not sure if it's worth doing. I know I could do it, I just don't know if I want to.
Overall: Like everything in this transition, it's hard but it's worth it. It's a lot better than the pain of the first two weeks post-op, but it is kind of monotonous and at times it feels like my whole life is on hold until I get done with this. I find ways to entertain myself and take my mind off it. The rest is just finding the time and having the discipline to see it through.