Wow, starting my 5th month already, it seems to be going faster and picking up speed … I’m even reminiscing with my partner about how hesitant and timid I was when I first started. How difficult it was for me in public and how I worried about everything and everyone. Not that I’m completely over that now, but I have come a very long way.
One turning point was when I suddenly realized that I looked more like a woman that has ‘manly’ features than a man trying to be a woman. This mostly came about as there were a number of times when a sales clerk would look at me sympathetically. There were other situations as well. All in all, mentally, for myself, it put me much more at ease knowing this. Since then I have been much more comfortable and secure in public. I have been shopping and walking and just being in public more often and without my security blanket (my partner).
I have started noticing guys, watching them a bit and realizing what they are doing or responding to and how they are. And I realize: I never was one. I also see and understand clearly the facade I was putting on and the how hard I was acting in order to pass as a man back then. But more importantly I am so happy to not have to do that anymore. Plus it also reconfirms who I am and that I’m finally on the path to be ‘me’. I feel so relieved, such a weight lifted – I can now just express myself freely – not afraid to giggle when I need to giggle! I’ll write a post detailing what I mean by maleness or at least what facade I see that I was wearing – if I can figure out how to express that in words (I need to translate my feelings at those times into words, for this, it might be difficult).
The first huge event this last month was flying to southern California to visit my partner’s brother. The airline tickets were purchased long before I had my name changed and getting that resolved was interesting and wonderful. I had to go into the airport to the counter for that airline to present my documents. But because they are only open when a flight is departing, I had come back a few times. When I did, I was helped by one of the managers. At first, she was going to charge me for the name change and since it’s a different name I was also going to be charged for a flight change (didn’t quite get the logic of that)! A number of calls to their HQ and finally she got the tickets changed to my new name plus their records changed to my new gender as well. Finally after we finished (she could see how stressed I was with all of this), she congratulated me on my change and wished me well, but then came over the counter and gave me a hug (and she did not charge me at all)!
Going through security at the gate was no problem. After being scanned I was waved over to an inspector (a female!) and she said “you are good to go ma’mm, have a great flight” – I was beaming ear to ear with the ma’mm! Once in California, we met up with my partner’s two brothers and one sister in law (wife of one of the brothers). They all accepted me from the start (we knew each other for a long time already, but they have not seen me since I started transition). It was ‘classic’: they held doors open for me, let me go in first, the guys talked to each other and we women talked among ourselves. They would tell stories and try to top each others stories – typical. I had no inclination to tell any stories or join in on their manly pursuits. More interestingly, as I said above, I recognized these ‘traits’ and I felt so good not to have to join, or be expected to be a part of that ‘maleness’ – instead, it felt so natural to be in a group of women and expressing myself openly and freely and being accepted.
The Institute for Astronomy where I work was planning for their annual open house. We all volunteer. At the planning meeting one of the women in my department told about a wonderful presentation I had put together and basically ‘volunteered’ me to give one of the talks. Ummm ….. I’ve been on HRT for 3.5 months, went 100% femme just 2 months ago, had not really practiced my voice that much yet ….. this was both daunting and a challenge. The coordinator came up to me afterwards (he knew this was going to be a challenge for me) and asked if I really wanted to do this. I told him this would be a good goal for me to attempt. Oh girl —- it was challenging…..
I had researched voice lessons and had downloaded a few and tried them. But the one I finally settled on (it cost about US$ 130) was: http://30daycrashcourse.com/ It has excellent instructions and guide/practice videos. It steps through one week at a time. Its uses a spectrogram (can download free ones for your computer) that allow you to visually see your tones and resonance. It is also structured to bring your voice along at a pace that will both be comfortable (and prevent you from stressing) and also to train and retain the ‘muscle’ memory of speaking with the proper tone and resonance. Now, I still have a ways to go, but this really helped.
The big day finally arrived – I was so nervous and stressed. The people at work expected that and helped me both physically and supported me emotionally. My Maui-sista (a woman I work with that has taken me under her wing as a sister) was selected to do all the introductions for the talks. It was so comforting to have her up there introducing me and being there as I started. We had about 50 people from the area show up for the talk. It was also broadcast to the web where about 100 people from around the world had tuned in. I gave a talk on what/how the observers use the telescope. I used a 3D simulated model of the observatory in a virtual world where I took my avatar and walked them through a tour of the facility, then went through all of the actions the observers do.
It went great! This was my first time ‘massively’ in public and speaking as well. A number of the professors came up after and congratulated me both on the talk but also on achieving this milestone. I also heard from a number of people that watched this on the web. Here is a link to the video.
After the open house, three college students came back to where I was and sort of milled around a bit, not really saying anything but just hanging around. Once everyone else left, one of them asked “so what made you change”? I was not sure where this was going and everyone else had left … I had met one of the guys before and knew him to be a nice person, so I answered. Turns out, all three identify themselves as ‘gender questioning’. One was definitely square in the gender middle, the other two more transsexual like myself. Later I noticed that the guy I knew from before had toe nail polish on! Wish I would have seen that to begin with – it was have eased my anxiety a tad … We had a wonderful talk – I was about 1.5 hours late getting home that night. It was wonderful, for all four of us, to have met and had this conversation and possibly future support. You just never know … perhaps I’m now a role model !
As for physical changes: My breasts are continuing to blossom … about every other day I get sore and they fill out a little bit more each time. I’m noticing some of my hairs are white and soft – not enough though and I still have to shave ‘everything’. The laser treatment on my face has helped a lot – I have to shave about every other day and if I forget, it’s not really that bad. My partner noticed that my cheekbones are getting more prominent and my face is starting to change. My bottom is getting a bit more rounded but the measurements don’t really show anything except my breasts.
I finally got my ears pierced – they did both at the same time – two women, one on each ear – 1, 2, 3, pop and it was over. I would not describe it as painful at all. Of course I was promised chocolate truffles after and I do admit that had a major effect on ‘pain management’. My partner is doing my hair every morning – she loves my hair and wishes hers was fine and manageable like mine. She also does my eye brows, shaping and coloring them.
I’ve pretty much filled out my wardrobe. I have plenty of options for work, around the house and for going out – both casual and more up scale. Now I need some ‘dirty’ clothes: ones for working in the yard, on the car, or when I have to go up to the summit and work at the observatory.
This next month we are eagerly awaiting the results of a special legislative session to address marriage equality here in Hawaii. We are hoping it will pass as we are planning on being married next May. It is so exciting to be a bride!
With much Aloha,