April 2007

Overview of plans — I was thinking in bed a couple of nights ago about whether I’m moving too fast or too slow, and I laid my changes into a monthly grid and it certainly seemed to me that I’m implementing something big every month, so that’s one answer for you.

Early fall, 2006, crisis sets in
October begin dieting
December hit bottom, seek therapy
January begin therapy
February tell Mary
March tell doctor
April begin HRT
May begin laser beard removal
June get new smile
July get new hair on top of head (Bosley)

It’s not nothing. I’ve lost 40 pounds, fixed all my teeth (root canal, etc), have new teeth scheduled for the next few weeks, scheduled my first laser session this week, have made contact with Bosley and need to fly to Dallas for a consultation. I also joined many discussion boards and have familiarized myself with all the issues and have recognized myself in many postings. I told my Second Life friends about this and have their support. I also sent pictures to England for virtual facial feminization surgery, which is absolutely fascinating to me. More about that later.

OK — so it’s actually pretty fast, about a 6 month 180-degree turnaround. I can see where Mary (and others, even if they don’t know about GID) would perceive something is different and be concerned.

What more might hang on the monthly grid? It’s going to be impossible (and not really desirable) to introduce a new “begin X” in every month, because those “begin’s” need months (or years of follow up). If beard laser seems effective this week on the dark hairs, then I’ll probably want to pursue it every 6-8 weeks, in order to catch dormant follicles when they re-emerge. Anticipating 5 or 6 sessions minimum, that would put me into a May, July, Sept, Nov, Jan, March schedule, leading to electrolysis for the grey hairs after that point. If I like what I see, I might see about getting the dark hairs on my arm lasered — perhaps killing off half the follicles in order to get a lighter arm-hair profile. (most websites say that after a period of time on HRT, one can expect trunk and limb hair to diminish anywhere from entirely to somewhat, so I don’t see any reason to spend a lot of time on lasering what will already be diminished–possibly. I guess the thing to do might be to just watch the hair and see if it switches to vellus-type gradually and not worry too much about it right now).

If Bosley wants to do a multiple-step transplant (if it’s even possible to fix my hair), then that will have to hang on the grid, too. I would think that summer would be good for hair, but I really just need to meet with them to find out.

One month into HRT. I continue to be torn between desperately wanting to move faster and thinking that keeping it slow is still bringing about things awfully fast. I don’t really know how to reconcile those two things, other than to say I recognize them both and I’ve talked about them and felt them for some time now, and I think that’s just my existence right now. I think slowing down because I’m afraid is unrealistic because I’ll end up hating myself for not taking action. Speeding up because the excited part of me wants to get deeper into a transition of sorts is going to speed up alienation and hasten a crisis of sorts. There’s a sweet spot in between the two time scales, and I think that finding it and sticking with it is really the only reasonable thing to do right now.

I’m taking 100 mg. spironolactone split in the morning and evening and I really can’t tell if it has cut out my testosterone. My erections are fewer, so I know it’s working, but I don’t know how effectively. I’ve sort of set a goal of 90 days HRT to ask Dr. F for a blood test to see what my serum testosterone levels are — that ought to be ample time for the drugs to be effective — it’s actually probably too conservative, but I think that’s just fine. So my plan is if, in 60 more days, we find I need to double the dose in order to knock T down to normal female levels, then that would be warranted. Then we can test again in 90 more days.

Another test of whether spiro is working is whether estrogen seems to be working unopposed, since Spiro blocks T from hormone receptors, allowing E to attach, instead. It certainly seems to me that the 1 month of estrodiol, low dose of 1 mg, has worked pretty effectively, so maybe Spiro is doing a great job. In any case, I read online that 4-6 weeks into HRT, breasts become tender and there will be a nodule forming behind the nipple. I started getting this feeling at about 2 weeks, mostly tenderness, but the past 2 weeks have been a steady acceleration of that feeling to the point where, this last 5 days or so, I’m quite sensitive and would really hate to get bumped into.

Nodules: I feel the nodules pretty clearly — they form a painful (or sensitive, more properly) area directly behind the nipples, and if you push on them, it hurts. I think heat makes it feel better, but I haven’t really done a good test yet.
Nipples: I had also read that the nipples (the skin itself) can be sore or sensitive, and that also describes me right now. I don’t think it’s anything even moderately noteworthy yet, but I’ve been putting lotion on them in case they get more sensitive.
Fat: it seems to me that fat has begun redistributing around the breasts, but the tape doesn’t back me up. And even if it has begun, it’s only 30 days and unless I pull my t-shirt really tight, there’s absolutely no sign that breasts are forming. Unofficially, however, I don’t think there’s any doubt that the boobs are fatter than they were a month ago, especially the left one.

So it seems like, even though I mentally complain about going too slow, a lot has happened in 30 short days. I’m going to stick to my 90-day evaluation and do nothing until then, but I am sort of anticipating doing two things at that point: upping spiro if the bloodwork says I’m not in female levels and doubling estrogen from 1 mg. to 2 mg, perhaps twice a day, as well.

Why? I feel that this is really the right direction to take. I don’t feel desperate and out of control of my life, like I did in the fall. And while it’s too early to do a serious evaluation of the HRT, I’m mindful of the various websites that all say something like this:

Do a trial test of hormones for 3-6 months. Changes won’t be permanent (i.e. you can stop spiro and get your erections back, etc) until 6-9 months, so while you’re flirting with going too long, this window gives you a pretty firm glimpse of what a possible future as a hormonally female body is like. If you love how you feel, think, and are, then this is the right course for you. If you are uncomfortable with how you feel, think, and are, then you have learned that this is probably not going to solve your gender issues.

Right now I feel great. I don’t think I’m feeling (mentally, emotionally) any different, but I really need to check with others on that because it’s probably not something I’m going to feel that intensely (although others report feeling different emotions rather quickly — I’m wondering if that’s not either placebo or the release from a lifetime of repressing things). Physically, I’m comfortable in my skin. And it’s hard for me to imagine that in 6 months I’m going to feel any different — I anticipate deciding one of two courses in 6 months: speed up and decide to transition or stay the course, making steady changes, and eventually decide to transition later.

In other words, while it’s not a burning desire in me, when I visualize the second half of my life, and especially what I am likely to have to do in the next 3 years, I picture transitioning. Maybe that won’t happen. Maybe I’ll assume a very happy middle, androgyne existence where I’m kind of half man half woman who presents as male (sort of), thereby avoiding the formal, legal, and social shift that comes with telling everyone you’re having a sex change, adopting a new name, bringing on massive change in your family, etc.

Chuck said that I am incredibly lucky in all of this, and that my intelligence probably helps. Instead of presenting to Dr. Clinton in the hairy, inarticulate body of a Neanderthal, I bring him research, and I articulate what I’m feeling and thinking.

I have been told by Gila and Violet, along with Chuck multiple times, that I need to be writing about this stuff, not really memoirs, but something analytical or creative.

I have fully expected to have to fight everyone I encountered about my desires. I did tons of research, tons of introspection, in preparation for these confrontations.

But I’m either lucky or have good karma, but I am still waiting for a roadblock. In fact, I find it either frustrating or perplexing that I haven’t had a problem. I was certain I would find no therapist in Bedford Falls, but ran into Chuck thanks to some old information online. I was certain he would try to talk me out of my self-diagnosis, but he appears to be completely on-board. When he said he agreed I have GID and that he’s write a letter to Dr. Clinton, I think that was a huge moment for me, the confrontation that never happened.

It precipitated a decision as to whether this is a real condition or something I’m just playing with, and while it was unbelievably empowering, it was also terribly frightening. The visit to Dr. Clinton was terribly stressful, but instead of throwing me out of his office, he said he didn’t know much, but would learn. I had already steeled myself to the probability that he’s say no, so I was pretty surprised.

After blood work, we met and he had read a bunch of stuff that I had given him, and his attitude was very progressive, very open. He said he had learned a lot and that he was open to the hormone therapies mentioned in the literature, as they did not pose a threat to my body. He asked if I was ready to start estrogen, and I was afraid to bring it up, so when he dove in and asked, it was another anticipated roadblock that never happened. I figured he’d want to go slow and argue for 3-6 months of sprionolactone instead of 2 weeks. I jumped at it, of course, and then he said that the pace and direction of my therapy was entirely in my hands — he would be happy to support the hormones I myself decide I need.

So, like Chuck, Dr. Clinton has said that my direction, my fate, are entirely in my hands — and that freedom is frustrating. I think I had hoped (not intellectually, but emotionally) for someone to say, “oh, yes, I recognize this problem and here’s the specific answer to help you.” But since GID is not something observable outside, then there’s nothing to test to tell how you feel.

Mary is the same way. I know she is frightened by this, as am I, but I think she recognizes that I’m on a course that I have to be on. As long as we keep talking, I think we’ll be just fine. Even yesterday or today, we were lying in bed and she asked, perfectly normally, if the hormones would make me have blood clots, since that’s something she’s worried about for herself. I said I was taking aspirin and have been for a couple of years, so I wasn’t worried. I said I thought it was ironic and kind of funny that she has to stop taking estrogen and I have started. Maybe we’ll become each other?

But she has not thrown up a roadblock — I think she’s imagining various sorts of futures, from the absurd to the realistic, and trying to figure out where she fits in all of this. As long as I don’t become some sort of monster, I think she’ll be supportive. She mentioned at the coffeehouse the other day that she was afraid I’d become some sort of femmy queen, and that’s something she doesn’t really relate to. I said the same thing, that I really don’t want to turn into a girly-girl airhead, but really just a happier version of me.

Mary and I spoke at length yesterday while the kids were at a Yu-gi-oh tournament. We were sitting over at a coffee house, planning what to do with a new SUV, and I knew I really needed to break the ice, so I said I absolutely had to talk about my issues. We got a ton of stuff out on the table, and I think the main source of pain and energy was formless fears — we talked about what frightens us and then tried to give it form and look at each thing as an actual event instead of a nightmare.

She said she was afraid that she’d come home one day to find George was gone and Joyce had replaced him. I said I was afraid she would quit loving me. We laid out a whole lot on the table, and when we were finished, it felt like an enormous weight lifted from my shoulders and I could tell that Mary felt a lot better, too. We talked about hormones, about what are little symbolic actions and what are bigger, real actions. I laid out my idea that the range of options is much bigger than I initially thought.

Well-meaning people will jump to help you flip the binary switch from male to female, or vice-versa, but that mindset is severely limited. It’s understandable, of course, but a transsexual and his/her friends and family need to think bigger than that. Take me, for example. I’m not really starting out 100% male as in John Wayne, but more like 80% or 70% new age guy. And I don’t want to flip a switch and be Barbee, but perhaps a 60% female. When you recognize that a great deal of this isn’t binary, it’s helpful.

Now, there’s no kidding ourselves that hormones push our bodies and minds down the spectrum towards the other pole, so there is clearly a direction, but it’s better to think of it as a journey instead of a switch. It’s a trajectory and an inclination to keep the arrow pointing down a certain direction rather than the “wrong” direction or a stuck position on the spectrum.

I think being stuck, for me, is the hardest feeling of all. I’m a shark — gotta keep moving or I die. Moving towards what, I don’t know. I don’t know if I have a mission or if I’m just a wanderer.

I’ve been on estrogen for about a week, and I feel calm, peaceful, generally optimistic. I don’t know if that’s because I’m just doing something or if the lack of T and the presence of E is affecting my mind. I believe I feel tenderness in my breasts, but I’m not entirely sure.