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Monthly Archives: January 2017

Back in Touch …

sifan-in-snow-by-coos-bay

Snow on the Coast

Oh boy it’s been a long time since I posted and a lot has happened.  I’ll attempt to fill in the gaps and then cover updates to my transition.

In December I moved from Maui to my new home on the Oregon coast.  I’m semi-retired, working remotely from here.  I spent half of December packing up a shipping container and the other half traveling over but also spending time with my family in Minnesota.  The first part of January was spent moving the contents of the container to my home on the coast and then starting the process of unpacking.  My ex-spouse (1st marriage) came over to Maui to help and is staying here for a number of weeks helping me sort through and setup my home here.  She is also giving me moral support in this very difficult time.

big-waves-out-front-window

Big waves take out the living room window

My kealoha Lisa, passed away 22 months ago and I am still in very deep grief.  Leaving Maui was difficult but leaving all the places and memories of the life we have spent together was infinitely more painful.   As they say, severe grief comes in waves – that is very true.  The more intense the love shared – the greater the grief experienced.  The worst thing one can do is try to suppress or try to ‘get over it’.  There is no such thing as getting over it – it’s for the rest of one’s life.  All that can be done is to learn how to live with this new reality.

I’ve eluded to this in past posts, I feel Lisa’s presence strongly.  She has always ‘been there’ for me when I needed her or called to her for help.  One example was when I was out to eat with her brother and his wife.  There were these beautiful flowers on the table, ones that Lisa knew and had on our lanai.  But I couldn’t remember it’s name.  I asked Lisa for help and within seconds the flower’s name came to me.  This has happened many times since.  There are also times when I felt a physical presence, tap on shoulder, bed depressing behind me as she would sit down on the side of the bed, and the list goes on.

I have documented a lot of these and have promised to write a post here about those.  That is yet to come.  Lisa wrote a book on spiritual awakening which is now ready for publishing.  More on that in another post.

I am very fortunate that my ex-spouse and I are on such wonderful terms.  As she puts it, now that I’m a woman, she sees me as one of her best girl friends.  At first she could not understand what had happened to us or during that time how different and changed I was.  At that time – nether did I.  Back then, I did not know that I was beginning the process of peeling back the layers and the woman inside me was struggling to get out as the testosterone in me fought to keep in control.  The result was messy and led to our divorce.  It wasn’t until nearly 4 years later that I even knew what transgender was and that I was one.  My ex-spouse (and myself) were very confused by this change that seemingly came out of nowhere.

When I finally figured out what/who I was, she and many others questioned  this, as they had not seen any signs of this in all my years with them.  Now, most everyone sees my gender in my past years.  My ex now realizes (as did Lisa) that they had fallen in love with me precisely because of my female gender – I was not (as they both have said) a ‘regular’ male – I was more sensitive, caring and ‘not chauvinistic’ like all the other men.

But at that time, when the internal wars began, this was not obvious.  Lisa had terrible trauma when she was a very young child.  This lasted her entire life time and it was only in the last year or so of her life that she was able to recognize this and to understand the great influence this had on her life and the great grief she carried.  Lisa was the first to point out that I too had something deeply buried.  And indeed, I had.

The greater the trauma, the deeper it is buried and the greater the internal protections become in order for one to both cope with similar situations but also to avoid those situations entirely.  In my case that created a powerful male layer that denied my gender in all ways possible, my true identity.  When I was very young, I knew I was a woman.  After this trauma, all that was deeply buried.  That layer then sought out to ‘prove’ in all ways possible, my maleness – like climbing, being a leader, getting married and having children and the list goes on.  Yes, I know that climbing, being a leader, starting a company etc. are not related to gender – however, 50 to 60 years ago – it was.

Being a woman and also being ‘under the influence’ of testosterone led to some very difficult situations in my past years, pre-transition.  But it really started to come to a head in the last years with my ex, before I met Lisa.  It takes a lot to  break a lifetime of testosterone based ‘protection’.  There was so much disphoria: the internal conflict between hormone directed actions and my feminine being.  This is all in hindsight – and was very confusing at that time.

Lisa was awesome in her acceptance of me and in her guidance and help.  She had difficulties with this.  She wrote about this in a previous post.  But despite that, she was a great ally and gave total support.  This is yet another reason I miss her so very much.

Update to my transition:

I was taking Divigel, which is a topological drug – daily I would empty two packets of this gel on my upper legs and rub that in.  The drug plan that I was on, changed their formulary, making this very expense (it went from $17/mo to about $75/mo).  Worse, for medicare plans, this was almost $250/mo!  I talked with my endocrinologist and was changed over to the Estrogen patch instead.  This costs me $11 for three months worth!!  What a difference.  I had blood tests done after I was on the patches for a bit and my levels have stayed about the same.  Even better, I put two patches on, twice a week.  So there is no longer a nightly routine of applying Divigel.  All I do now is change patches on Monday and Thursday.  So much better and easier.  I have yet to find a doctor here – I have 2 months of patches left, so that gives me a little time to find the right doctor.  But having to find someone who is trans* friendly is a bit daunting.

My final doctors visit on Maui turned out great, but sad.  I will miss them a lot.  Those were wonderful people.  I had a thorough exam: she said “wow, you have a good looking vagina”!  Everything ‘down there’ is looking good and in proper order.  Basically at the hormone levels that I’m at, I’m equivalent to a pre-menopausal woman that has had a hysterectomy.  I need to take estrogen for the rest of my life.  If I don’t or if I lapse, I will go into menopause (hot flashes and all) until I get back on and stabilize.  Menopause for the rest of my life is not a good thing…  I had a taste of that before my SRS – I had to go off all medications for a month before.

I still wear liners.  I find that, like many pre-menopausal woman, I have a slight discharge from the upper area.  Wearing liners just keeps things cleaner (and less washing…).  I do ‘get wet’ there when aroused.  From what  I understand from the doctors and research, SRS does not put reconstruct the female glans that allow for those discharges.  However, many of the trans*women that I know, also secret normally during the month but especially if aroused.  I’m happy I’m one of them!

My breasts are perhaps a tab larger than before, so even 3 and 1/2 years after starting estrogen, they are still growing, although just slightly.  Lately they are very firm as well.

And oh yes – once a female, if you put on weight, it is very very difficult to get off.  Even with all this moving and exercise and not eating much (well until the holidays came around) I hardly lost any weight.  Since the holidays, I’ve gained about 6 pounds which I’m now trying to lose.  I have a long way to go to get back to my SRS weight, but that is my goal.

Large hands and feet, broad shoulders, muscular arms etc. do not bother me – no disphoria there.  However, my face is another story.   I’m not sure what to do about it.  I have a high hair line and I wear bangs.  But I have to comb hair from past the middle of the top forward in order to cover it.  When it’s blowing etc, this tends to move the hair of the bangs to one side exposing a very high hairline on the other side.  Having a good trim and style is very important.  Since the move, I have not been able to get one – but I’m scheduled for next week.  I’m hoping that will help with this.

And as for that other very important aspect of being trans* – getting ‘clocked’.  So far nothing obvious has happened.  No one has mis-gendered me.  However, there were some places where I just felt very uneasy.  Whether or not people were looking or mis-gendering me, I had these feelings.  I have learned, now that I have transitioned, to respect these feelings.  So in these situations, I will graciously extract myself.

I just finished writing another post, this one talking about what are we post transition: woman or trans-woman.  Have a look.

Now that I’m starting to settle in this new life, I’m hoping to post here more often.  Mahalo to everyone that is following these posts.

With much Aloha,

Sifan

 

Post transition: Woman or Trans-Woman

transgenderWhen is one finished transitioning?  Or for a more controversial topic – when is one a ‘woman’ and no longer a ‘trans-woman’?  This is a difficult question, one with heated disagreement on both sides of the answer.  First off, for me, I do not consider myself a transgender.  That term is very broad and in my opinion describes persons that are non-binary, somewhere in the middle between man and woman.  I’m a transsexual, someone who ‘is’ binary, just the opposite from the obvious birth characteristics.

There are problems with all of this.  For example, no one is completely a man or a woman, everyone has a bit of both.  Technically there is no binary gender system at all:  everyone is transgender!  Second, the word ‘transsexual’ has a lot of bad connotations to it – mostly because of the word ‘sex’ in it.  However, this is the noun ‘sex’ not the verb – something lost on most people … (eg noun as in what ‘gender’ you are, not verb as in having sex).  Because of this, I’m very hesitant to use that word and will use transgender when I’m discussing this with someone.

For a transsexual then, most of us (but not everyone) are driven to correct our situation (SRS surgery, hormones, etc).  Our goal is to become or actualize our correct gender, which is opposite (binary) from our designated birth ‘sex’.  (I’m very carefully stating this:  I was always a woman, but was ‘designated’ male, by someone ‘else’ when I was born).  None the less, having the wrong external sex characteristics and wrong hormones coursing in my veins caused great internal stress (disphoria).  So for me (and others) it was very important to become or actualize who we really are.

Here’s the dilemma:  as a transsexual, once I am past transition, I’m a woman – that’s what this transition was all about.  At the same time, I’m part of the ‘transgender’ community and today especially, it’s very important to not only stay connected but also to support and further that cause.

That’s the crux of the matter:  a lot of people have very strong opinions both ways:  one is always trans* and once transitioned, one is now fully their target sex (they were always their target gender).

And yes, for the cis-women in the world – I/we will never be that.  I don’t have the same life experiences as you.  However, do not discount that too quickly.  I grew up as a woman inside.  As a result I suffered very similar social injustice and prejudices and as a child suffered severe trauma.  Not the same, but a similar very rocky road.  Additionally, I had many confusing situations where I was either completely misunderstood or could not believe how the other boys/men around me acted.  In other times, I could not believe what my testosterone driven body was doing or feeling – which was completely opposite of what and who I was.  This is disphoria.

For me personally, I’m someplace in the middle.  I am a woman, I have been since before I was born.  I consider myself fully transitioned – I am now a female (sex) woman (gender).  At the same time, I am trans*:  I went through my transition and am here to support and help others.

However, I will not expose or openly declare my trans* status.  It is too risky in this day and age (still) and it can be deadly.  Also, I am a woman and want to fully engage in society as such.  In a trusted environment, in appropriate places, I will engage openly as a trans*woman.

Others are fighters, willing to push the frontiers.  We all need to respect each others limits and capabilities.

With much Aloha,

Sifan