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Three and a half years!

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Fishing vessel at sunset

Fishing vessel at sunset

Wow, it’s hard to believe all this time has passed by and here I am, a woman, living next to the ocean in beautiful Oregon.  Just now, watching a gorgeous sunset, strips of thin clouds floating across the ocean from the north, fishing vessel out in front and I occasionally hear a sea lion barking!  It’s starting to get dim so my living room lights just came on.  Perhaps I’ll light a fire tonight.

I’ll cover some recent events and then talk about transition:

I had a chance to go back to Maui.  I was excited but also a little, well, scared.  I was worried about being in and among all the memories and places Lisa and I enjoyed and then the vary hard and sad years that I was there after she passed away.  It’s still very hard when I write about this.

Sifan Anniversary

Anniversary Remembrance

The people that owned the ohana where Lisa and I lived for seven years (an ohana is  a small house on the same property as the main house – meant for mother-in-laws – but usually rented out).  They asked me to house sit for them as they went on a three week vacation.  So, basically, I was right above the house where Lisa and I lived – all those memories…

It was hard.  But also beautiful and a celebration of the love we have.  When I had time, I visited a long list of places that were very special to both of us and places that hold special significance for me.

And – well, I worked almost 60 hours each week I was there, it rained all the time except for perhaps 2 days (got down to the beach on one of those days!) and the heat and humidity conspired to keep me awake most of the nights!  Wow, I don’t think I ever had this bad of weather the 8 years I lived there!

I came back with an appreciation for Oregon and where I now live.  This confirmed for me that I had indeed made the right decision.  I love Maui and it will always be in my heart, as well as the people and culture there.  I feel that it is a huge part of me and I feel as I’m a part of there.  It was interesting being and feeling both as a tourist and as a kama’aina (local)!  More than anywhere else that I have lived, Maui feels more like that was home, like the home where one grew up.

Lately, I’ve been spending a lot of time building out a remote observatory.  I have been creating instruments to control the telescope, automate tracking, acquisition and camera, plus dome control and environmental monitoring.  Lots of fun actually.  This brings together a lot of skills and talents I’ve honed throughout my entire life.  I will be using this for teaching and for astronomy clubs in this area.  And, of course, for my enjoyment.

And at last, friends from Maui are starting to take trips out this way and have stopped in to see me.  I’m always overjoyed to have them over.  This is a beautiful place and I love sharing it and showing people around this awesome area!

I’m not sure if I had mentioned this before – I’m at the end of a cul-d-sac and the houses on each side of me are owned by single women.  Together we’ll go out to events, have each other over, cook special treats for each other and help one another with projects  or whatever.  For me, this is part of what it means to be a woman.  This is not at all the same for men.

A while ago, I started a post about ‘The Secret Women’s Club” or perhaps “The Secret Smile”.  I never finished it, but perhaps I could put the just of it here as that last paragraph really touches on that:

This probably has a lot more to do with our patriarchal society than anything else.  As a woman, when I first came out (or more precisely, when I ‘passed’ well enough…), I would notice that other woman would smile at me.  Mind you, it is dangerous and misleading if as a woman you smiled at a random man passing by…  But I’ve notice that most women will do this with other women – all the time.  I think there are at least of couple of reasons for this.  One is, of course, there is a level of safety when one women smiles at another.  But there is also a sort of  we’re in the together type of thing, or “I understand and am with you”.

There is ‘gifting’.  We will make little things for each other.  No strings attached (unless they are tied in a bow of course)!  Or cook or bake and bring a piece over to our women friends to share.  There is no expectation of reciprocity either.  I have received tops, blouses, skirts, jewelry, pies, cakes, meals, little presents and on and on.  And I have given the same as well (just made a German chocolate cake with lots of icing and distributed that around my neighbors…).

A while ago, I was reading a book written by another transitioned MtF that also mentioned this.  I was elated to see someone else had noticed this as well.  She also mentioned the levels of friendship women have.  She mentioned three levels, the casual, the good friend and the one or two girlfriends that you can call at 3am when you need to!

Then there is ‘girl’ talk!  I’ve been trying hard to stay away from comparisons but in this case I have to:  men will discuss sports, or other competitive adventures, tell stories, each ‘upping’ the other for best/worst/most dangerous/most stupid etc.  If one sits back and listens, you can see the one ups’men’ship at play – always competitive.  Now, yes, of course, this is a generalization – women do this too.  But much more often, women have deeper, serious and ‘level’ conversations and about topics that concern us, as women (that includes style, shopping etc).  No wonder we always group together apart from the men!  I have to chuckle each time a women friend has told her husband or male friend to:  a) go get a drink, b) how’s the game doing, c)  aren’t the guys calling you or when all else fails d) please go back in and leave us alone!!

I’m sure there’s many other examples, these are the ones I had in my draft post.  Ah, now I can remove that draft!

For me this is wonderful, as this expresses who I am, what I feel and before transition had wished that I could express myself as.  I suppose in one way, this is yet another affirmation of who I am and that progressing through transition was exactly the best thing I ever did (apart from being with Lisa of course!).

(Interjection:  wheeee, the house just shook – a huge ‘sneaker’ wave just crashed into the shore… wow!)

Enough of my current situation and thoughts – on with transition and ‘where I am’/’what’s going on lately’ type of thing…   Once again, this could be TMI and is personal.  I’m putting this here for those that follow so you can see at least one person’s journey.  Like they say:  your mileage may vary …

As mentioned previously, everything has pretty much stabilized, probably around 1.5 to 2 years after surgery, physiologically.  For those of you that are within those two years – trust me – it actually does get better (that is so hard to believe when you are going through those first years).  Physiologically, we are equivalent to a woman that has had a hysterectomy: we need to take estrogen, etc.  After about 1.5 years, your body just falls right into that rhythm – it is absolutely amazing what hormones do and the effect they have on a body.  They really do switch the body over, and not just external features, but a lot more.

I never thought my male face would ever come close to passing – this was a huge concern of mine and was a cause of a lot of dysphoria for me (one of many …).  I’ve had years of electrolysis (there are less hairs on my face than most women have!).  This helped, of course, but it was the estrogen that built up a (hate to say this) ‘fat’ layer under the skin.  This makes the face, arms, legs (everything) much softer and more feminine.  I can’t believe the before pictures of me compared to how I look now.  I also can’t believe how soft my skin is now – and omg, after a massage and spa treatment – wheeee!!

Just after my transition, there was a lot of talk among our group of sisters (those that went through surgery at the same time), about cycles, being moist and where sensations were located.  You have to remember, these were new bodies for us and we were in a leaning curve!  At the same time estrogen was reacting with our new parts and making itself at home.  So things were changing over time.  That’s one reason they say this takes a year or two for everything to settle down.  That’s pretty amazing considering it takes a natal women (or man) roughly 14 years to do that same …

I had just switched doctors to one that was much closer to where I live.  She believes in connections and cycles and nature – and I’m grateful to have found her.  But I was still surprised when she recommended that I get a ‘period tracker’ app for my phone!  I had been noticing that periodically I will put on (extra) weight for half a week or so (bloating actually), then suddenly one day I’m sitting urinating almost every 45 mins – and we’re talking a lot of volume each time.  This is through the night as well – ugh.  Well when I was at the doctors this last time, I had to use the restroom twice and I explained to her that this happens every so often, repeating slightly less than a months time.  So she suggested the tracker.  After a few months I’ll report what I find.  I know some other sisters have experienced this too but I’m not sure how prevalent this is.

Something else we had talked about back then within that 1 year post transition time – some sisters would be moist there.  Now, natal women are naturally moist there (mostly), this is a way it has of keeping itself clean and it’s environment stable.  But we don’t have those same glans.  Yet a number of sisters report that they are moist.  Well, I wasn’t then but am now.  I wear liners all  the time.  It’s not much but it’s there.  My own thoughts on this are that is takes time for estrogen to ‘link up’ with what ever we have that is available it to and it does it’s job like it is supposed to.

Perhaps this is why my endocrinologist wants me to stay on a higher dose of estrogen.  There are probably a number of other things that takes time to re-align and a high dose facilitates that.  My previous doctor reduced my dosage due to a high level from one of the blood tests.  Back on Maui, when I had a high level and was concerned, my endo said not to worry, it spikes and will level out.  Well, now with my new doctor, I’m back on my normal dose.  Which is good, because I was starting to have hot flashes etc.  Now things are back to my normal!  We are all different, but I’m at .2mg/day using estradiol patches.  My levels of estrogen are around 250 for comparison.

One of the hard parts for me is weight – ugh.  So easy to put on and as a woman – sooooo very hard to take off.  I’ve been struggling to lose weight for almost a year and instead I’ve gained about 10 pounds.  I’m eating ok, but I need to get out and do a lot more exercise.  Wow, it is a lot harder to lose weight as a female!

Well, that’s the physiological side of things, now the sociological and psychological aspects.

I don’t think it’s humanly possible for a trans*person to not think about passing.  Lots of advice about be yourself, it is you that matters not what others think, and on and on.  Heck, we say  this to each other and to ourselves.  And try hard to not think about it or let it bother us.  Who are we kidding ….  Nice as a pep talk but then there is that good ‘ol reality thingie sitting right up in front!  Ok, obsessing is bad, agree.  Letting it get to you is not good ether.

Humm, right about here I should explain my thoughts regarding transgender vs transsexual:  I still make a difference between those two even though no one uses or likes the term ‘transsexual’ anymore because of it’s past connotations.  This has a baring on passing.

The term transgender, is a very broad term encompassing many things – but basically it’s anyone who is ‘in the middle’ gender-wise.  Passing doesn’t matter, most don’t want to pass, they are who they are – some a mixture, some neither, some nothing and some definitely not male nor female – a huge spectrum!

Transsexual (note, the bad press this gets is due to the three letter word in the middle, most taking that as the ‘verb’ – but it’s actually the noun – as in what sex are you) – does not really fit inside the broad strokes of transgender – transsexual is someone born one sex but is the complete opposite – not middle by a long shot.  We are the ones that need and go through surgery.  I don’t see myself as a mixture of male and female, one day maybe more of one than the other, any more than most natal male/females do.  I’m female, not androgenous nor male.  Passing matters!

Obsessing and letting it get to you are bad – agree.  But, you know, dressing right, posture correct, voice check, hair put up nicely – for me these are important.  To a lot of women, it is also routine (well maybe not the voice check…).  This is the sociological aspect, I want to be seen and accepted as who I am – a woman.  When I carry out conversations, I want those to be interpreted as coming from a woman and responded to in kind.  (I think I wrote an entire post about this already – having spent time in a virtual world as a female avatar before starting this long road to transition, I had noticed this huge difference in how we converse – this showed me my natural way of conversing and set me on my path – or more correct – showed me my path).

One other thing to mention:  I will sometimes get this certain feeling when I’m in a store or restaurant or group of people, I’ll be concerned whether I’m ‘passing’ or not, or perhaps just an un-comfortableness.  I will usually excuse myself and leave.  Just recently someone was badly beaten up in Portland.  Then another incident down south in the Willamette valley.  To a certain extent, I think it’s important to be concerned about how we look and ‘passing’.  I think there is a healthy side to this.  This is similar to what a lot of natal women experience as well, regarding how they dress and how they are seen.

Ouch, this was longer than expected.  My apologies.

With much aloha,

Sifan

 

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About sifankahale

Aloha ! This is a difficult (very personal and scary) thing for me to share. I have seen and read many other accounts of people who have transitioned – those have helped me immensely. But we are all unique, and my journey does not seem to fit others. So, in hopes of helping others as well as documenting my journey – I’ve created this blog. I am a transsexual woman; my gender is female and my birth sex is male (this is the official medical definition and its in my medical record). This is not a choice, nor is it a lifestyle or even a preference. It took many years, with professional help, to find who I am and to finally merge all of my life’s descriptiveness, talents, sensitivities and general outlook on life into a deep understanding of self. As that phase progressed, it was my maleness that started to fall away, like layers of an onion. Rather than becoming a woman, I realized I am a woman. This is my diary of my journey through transition. With kindness and Aloha, Sifan

2 responses »

  1. Sifan, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the sharing of your “journey.” It always makes me think after I’ve read it and I always go back for at least a second read. Today you have me considering the middle ground of gender identity. I had someone tell me once that she considered “butch lesbians” to be a third gender. At the time, I didn’t quite get it. Being fairly butch, albeit a pretty “soft “ one, I have never felt like I quite fit into a female or male identify but was instead sort of “other,” whatever that meant. I have never really wanted to be male whereas I never felt particularly female and am actually a bit repulsed by some things like clothing that make me seem more female. A puzzle. I am not uncomfortable with it. I just never quite had words or anything like that to use to describe it. Indeed, there is much “other” out there and the world, which only understand extremes and polar opposites, is quite busy trying to stamp it all out. Certainly nothing new. But I so appreciate your words. Much to consider. I miss you and am glad you are doing well. Hele on, sistah woman!

    With much love, Cris

    Reply
  2. Mahalo Chris! So wonderful to hear from you. It is difficult to attempt to describe this, I don’t really think we have the words for this area yet. So much can be interpreted or read into statements and that makes it hard to bring these ideas out. I think there are a lot of people that are ‘other’ – but are afraid of that and turn that into rage against those that visibly are. It’s so messy.

    So glad I gave you pause to consider! I think that is always a good thing.

    Missing you and Barbara – so very grateful to have crossed paths.

    Much love sistah !!!

    Reply

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