This last month saw a settling in, a becoming more comfortable and some ‘internal’ changes.
My inclination is to say “wow, five months already” and that is a true feeling. I also vividly remember five months ago and how much anticipation I had and the amount of anxiety I had in starting this journey. It’s strange how looking forward it seemed like forever and looking back it seems like it just happened, except that so much is packed into the ‘just happened’ space … Here I am now, having those same feelings of anticipation and anxiety plus the feelings of how far I’ve come and how much has been accomplished.
I’ve had some clarification on the whole ‘gender/natal sex/internal sex’ conundrum. I had used the term ‘body map’ to describe this previously. I just read “Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity” by Julia Serano where she describes this as ‘subconscious sex’ which is very much where I was going. Well, this is the subject of another post, see: “Body Map“.
Comfort is a subjective thing of course. In a lot of ways I’m more comfortable in public – exposure being out as a woman and time being in public help immensely. That’s not to say I don’t get those moments when I still feel awkward or times I just do not want to go into a certain store (for example the car parts place…). Which is a bit strange considering there are opposite situations as well – a couple cases in point from this last month:
We had the Maui Pride (LGBTQ) day this last month. This was my first attendance. My partner and I went and had a great time. It was special for me of course. I identify as both the ‘T’ (transgender) and the ‘L’ (lesbian). It was wonderful to be accepted and we both felt it to be very freeing and loving. We held hands and had arms around each other most of the time – we even kissed (in public!) under the gate as we left.
Last month I had purchased a halter swim suit top to ‘solve’ my beach ‘issues’. Well, this month I purchased the matching bottoms! So I now have a bikini !! Now, timing in transition is everything – I would not have attempted this before (and well, I’m probably on the edge as far as doing this now). But with my flatter tummy, budding breasts, slight curves, fuller hair (although not anywhere the length I would like yet) I am passable. So, I did it. The first time I went to the beach by myself (my partner was not feeling good that day). The second time, my partner came with me. She watched everyone else as I took off my beach dress, exposing myself in my bikini and sauntered down into the water – no one stared. She noted that I probably look better than 20% of the woman on a Maui beach (tourists feel that being here on a beach is their one chance to wear a bikini – something they would not do back home). She said I definitely ‘passed’ (yayayayayayay) and she felt good holding hands with another woman who was in a bikini as we strolled down the beach !
Wow, talk about getting more confident in public …. (and no, I’m not going to post those pictures).
Ok, changes this month:
I think my breasts look smaller (ack) ! There has been a lot of soreness. It seems that they have shrunk but at the same time they are much more firm and solid. On further inspection they seem to have also grown laterally, a larger circumference, but not outwardly. I wear a support bra that ‘brings ’em in’ and gives me a nice profile, but without that I look flatter than I was before (from the side, from the front they have additional size – sideways). The doctor had also recommended taking an over the counter progesterone that I might think about. It’s suppose to ease some of the soreness as well.
My skin is softer – one of the effects is the generation of a subcutaneous fatty layer just under the skin. Both my partner and I have now noticed that. Along with that the hair on the rest of my body (not the face however) is starting to change: softer, lighter and in some places not as much. I am shaving my arms and legs about once a week, tummy and chest about once every two days, back about once a month.
I had my last facial hair laser treatment this month. There was a different technician this time and she did a lot more and used a higher strength. It was more effective but was a bit harder on me. Still it was not beyond me – I would rate it a 3 or 4 on the scale of 10 for pain. I could get away with shaving my face once every two days (and do sometimes) but depending on what I’m doing that day (like work) I’ll shave – this usually turns out meaning I shave everyday during the week but skipping a day on the weekend. I checked out a hair electrolysis place and will start that soon. Most of the facial hair that is left is white – so only electrolysis will work. This was my original intent – use laser to get rid of as much hair as possible and then ‘clean-up’ with electrolysis.
Ok, as usual, the largest perceived change for last – internal changes:
I read about this, others I know have talked about this – so I was ‘on the alert’ so to speak. It sort of crept up on me slowly – imperceptibly. I had mentioned before that others had noted I was moody at times now (and this is different than I was before). Now I’m noticing other things:
I drove home from work and smelled someone cooking outdoors – a pleasant smell, nothing unusual. Except that as I traveled the smell got a bit stronger – not much. In total, I had noticed the smell almost 3 blocks before and about 2 blocks after. I’ve never had a sensitive nose before. By the way, it was not intense or out of the ordinary in any way.
About 3 weeks ago I started to notice the scent of the women’s restroom – ‘not’ a restroom smell but a female scent. I notice this every time I use one now. Unfortunately I can not compare this to a men’s restroom because I did not have this sense of smell then, so there is no way of comparing and I’m ‘not’ ever going back into one either!
The most lovely new ‘scent’ experience is the smell of my partners neck ! How wonderful it is to have this type of additional connection to the one I love.
My partner and I were at our therapists, I was talking about some of these latest internal changes and mentioning an increase in wanting to feeling textures when I caught myself running my fingers along the bottom hem of the blouse I was wearing ! I guess subconsciously I was proving my point, I always appreciated color and texture but now I have this want or need to hold or touch things and feel their texture.
Before transition, I had mentioned (complained) that I felt I was behind a curtain that allowed maybe 1/10 of the surrounding sensations (some people call this ‘energy’) to come through. In some ways it was like my former male self was protecting me from the rawness of the environment. It’s hard to describe how I knew this – it’s like there were a number of clues that there was a lot more there that I was not able to receive or that what I was feeling/receiving was muted.
Well, ya – it was. This is another one of these internal changes that came on slowly, imperceptibly – one that perhaps only hindsight sees clearly. This now manifests in a number of ways. One is being more sensitive and being effected by things that never bothered me before or that I just would not have paid any attention to. Another is being a bit more critical of things or actions. I would have either never noticed before or if I did, I would have instantaneously ‘written them off’ and not be bothered at all by them. Now, I notice and I have to consciously deal with it – whether I still ignore them or not – I now have to make that decision.
Whether all of these are effects of the hormones or not, I don’t know. From my perspective it sure seems like it is. One thing stands out very very clearly – hormones are very powerful – one really needs to be under the watchful eye of endocrinologists, therapists, and gp’s.
My perception of men has changed too. I suppose it’s better to say that this transition has explained for me what influences I had been under and explains a lot of my behavior, feelings and actions before my transition. Switching genders gives a person a huge perception into not only gender, but sexuality, society, politics and the list goes on. Suffice it to say that I look at men differently now, with more understanding and acceptance actually.
Well, it’s been said many times that a transsexual really does not know how much they are what they are until they get a ways into their transition. It’s at this time that we start to pull everything together and our lives become congruent – our ‘subconscious sex’, gender expression and societies acceptance of gender – start to match up. Only then do we start to see and understand the depth of our previous disconnection and finally now be able to understand, to feel ‘right’, ‘connected’, happy and possibly the only word that comes close: comfortable (again, I do not like that word because it has a connotation of ‘not something essential or necessary for life’ – in this case it is very essential – just look at the suicide rate for transsexuals).
For me, this is re-affirming of who I am and that I have finally solved a life long struggle.
With so much aloha,