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11 Month Summary

With the wedding happening in 11 days and how busy we are getting ready, you would think I’d be late on my 11 month posting, especially since I was late on the previous ones ….  Who knows how these things work – certainly not me!

If you are reading this before May 5th (2014), check back after then – I am waiting till then to post a picture from our wedding here.

Where to start ….  I’m on my second dress for the wedding (wrote about this in previous posts).  The first one was hand tailored but the material turned out to be way more “champagne” than ivory and from the weight I lost, was now too large.  In the last post I mentioned the white holoku (Hawaiian) style dress I purchased instead.  The problem with this dress is that I was still to ‘large’ ….  So I’ve been eating less and eating right plus walking around the block at work 2 to 4 times each night (we are on a mountain – a block here is has an elevation gain/loss of over 60 feet).

I talked with my doctor about losing weight as well, since I will need to lose tonnage before surgery later this fall too.  I told her about how losing weight had changed since HRT.  A lot of  ‘weight’ (fat actually …) has moved around as I went from a typical male distribution to female – but none went ‘away’ – ack.  There are the obvious ones:  stomach went down to the buttocks and up to the breasts, arm muscle mass reduced (not by much – they had me lifting heavy systems at work – side note here:  I was helping one of the guys here lift an extremely heavy (probably over 300 #) disk array unit back into the rack.  He got very red in the face and almost could not make it.  At one point I was holding the majority of the weight as he tried to get a better position.  The next day I find out he blew out his knee and pulled an arm muscle doing that.  For me, it was heavy, but do’able.  I don’t exactly want to be known for this and I think the guys are a bit embarrassed ….

There was also a weight shift I didn’t expect:  stomach ‘plumpness’ moved up!  Below the belly-button I’m fairly flat now – it has moved up to just above the belly-button to just below the rib cage.  And of course in losing weight, this is the ‘last’ place that seems to go away.  Everything else loses weight first – like my breasts – grrrrrrr.  So after all these months getting to an ‘ok’ size, now they are shrinking -ack.  My doctor said:  “welcome to womanhood”!

Just in case my efforts at losing weight before the wedding do not pan out (especially now that I have this beautiful dress) – I bought a corset.  Oh boy.  Well, the dress fits perfectly now and the other good news is that I actually can still breathe (sort of).  I have found that it enforces the rules of posture quite well indeed!  I can still put on my wedding sandals as well as the rest of my clothes – but I do have to be mindful of how I’m moving – wheeeee!  And yes, as Lisa pulled tightly on the strings in back, I had to hang on to something to keep from being pulled over.  Ahhh, the joys of being a woman…

The other big news is that not only have I decided on a date for my GRS surgery but the clinic has accepted me.  I will be having my surgery in mid September with Dr. Suporn in Thailand.   It has taken me a long time and a lot of research to come to this point.  I wrote an entire post just on how I chose him (Choosing a Surgeon).

Summarizing my transition at 11 months:  other than weight moving around and losing bust-line, everything is ‘normal’ – exactly what and how I want to feel – normal – but as a woman!  I had described this in a previous post (Ah – ‘Nothing’ at last …).

My partner noted a couple other changes recently as well.  She says my face has changed yet again – more feminine.  Also my waist is coming in giving me more of the appearance of curves.

At this point in my transition, my ideas surrounding being ‘passable’ are changing.  I’m along the lines of “that is their assumption – no biggie”.  This turned out to be a much larger topic than I thought, so I cut this out and created yet another post (On Being Passable).

Well, now to go back to dreaming of my wedding, the gown, the flowers and leis, the beach and most of all, my Kealoha (beloved) ….

With much Aloha,

Sifan

 

On Being Passable

As I started this transition, a lot of time and energy (and worry) went into being “passable” as a woman.  I’ve read and heard a lot of debate on this, mostly about being yourself and what others think does not matter.  And while that is true, when one is on the beginning part of transition looking forward this is a huge concern.  It has only been after HRT’s effects have had time to take hold, that I was able to be comfortable enough to be able to let down my guard and be able to perhaps see the larger picture where these statements are true.

It’s only in the last couple of months, where coincidentally I’m ‘passable’ enough, that now ‘passing’ is not that important and I can say things like “it does not matter what others think” or “what/who is important is you”.  Perhaps the better way of putting this is: “what is important is what you think”.  This changes as you go through a transition, this means wanting to be passable at the start is just as valid as seeing that it does not matter after you are through.

Lately (I’m starting month 12 as I write this), most of the places I go, people I see or ‘massively public’ areas I’m in, I am not noticing any side looks, comments or raised eyebrows.  Now, I have had to be ‘up in front’ at public events a number of times recently, giving a talk on astronomy, manning a booth at the astronomy open house (1500 people came through), teaching astronomy at a local school (320 students), etc., and have never experienced problems or issues.

At this point in my transition, my ideas surrounding being ‘passable’ are changing.  I’m now along the lines of “that is their assumption – no biggie”.  Yes, I am who I am and I’m the happiest I have ever been in my life.  Everything matches, especially my gender and my gender expression.  And for the most part, that is reflected back to me from society.  Now, I do not believe that I am fully ‘passable’ – not by a long shot.  But enough of the ‘clues’ are present that people seem to assume I’m female and treat me as such.  Even those that hear me first (my voice has a long way to go) and use the wrong pronoun usually will look a bit embarrassed once they see me.

But the real difference is that I no longer mind.  The ‘sting’ is gone.  I’ve had women tell me that they have been called ‘sir’.  I’m sort of at the point I guess – people make mistakes in this area – but more important I know who I am and this does not challenge that, nor does it in any way negate it.

Transitioning is a scary and potentially dangerous thing to do.  It is fraught with high stress and anxiety, especially when starting.  Being concerned with passing when you start is not only ok – it could be necessary.  Yes, some transsexuals will never be able to pass.  Taken at a ‘healthy’ level, this fear can be helpful and prevent potentially dangerous situations.

This is a long winded way of trying to say it’s ok to want to be able to pass.  Perhaps, like me, that was a phase (not completely through it  – maybe at some level I’ll never be).

As the months pass and I settle into my true being, more and more of these things that back then were paramount are now starting to seem trivial.  They are not – it’s just that my journey is now a bit more “down the road”.

With much Aloha,

Sifan

Choosing a Surgeon

I have finally chosen the doctor and clinic for my GRS  (gender re-affirmation surgery).  I will have my surgery in mid September.

In order to qualify for GRS (some call it ‘bottom’ surgery), a transsexual person needs to have:

  • Signed letter by a therapist stating you are indeed a transsexual and that surgery is required, plus that you do not have any other psychological disorders that would prohibit or complicate this
  • Documentation showing that you have lived at least one year totally and completely in the chosen gender (this is called the RLE – real life experience)
  • Medical documentation that you are fit and can ‘live’ through a 7 hour procedure.

It has been difficult to choose a surgeon/clinic for my GRS.

Basically, from everyone I have talked to, emailed, read blogs, etc. that have personally been through GRS plus reading many different clinic web sites and information – it came down to three:  Dr. Bassard in Canada, Dr Bowers in California and Dr. Suporn in Thailand.  Anyone that had been to any of these three had raving reviews for their doctor and would go to them again.  Everything put these three at being precisely equal as well.  This made the decision all that much harder.

Dr Suporn’s method is not the standard method for GRS.  It is not the ‘inversion’ method and it results in most everything being ‘reused’.  This results in most of the same areas being sensate that a natal female has.  One of the women I talked to stated that this was a very high importance to her and Dr. Suporn came through.  She stated that other doctors would not guarantee the result would be orgasmic, however Dr. Suporn did (however she would have to pay the airfare to come back for corrective surgery – but he would guarantee it and the corrective surgery would be paid by him).

Two other factors also helped in choosing Dr. Suporn.  As my GP doctor stated:  “go with who has the most experience” and that is Dr. Suporn by a long shot.  His fees are lower as well.  I’ll be able to get both the GRS and a breast augmentation for the same price as the GRS alone here in the states (and that includes the travel expenses and the hotels).  They also keep you longer.  I will be staying in Thailand for 30 days, verses the two weeks with the others.

Dr. Bowers is herself a transsexual, having had the surgery from one of the pioneering doctors in this field and going on to study from him and eventually take over his clinic when he retired.   It was hard not to choose her.

I’ve had glowing reviews from people I know that went to Dr. Bassard’s clinic in Montreal.  My sons and grandsons live in Minnesota and I would have been able to stop over on my way back, breaking up the journey and being able to recuperate closer to the clinic.

But in the end, it was a letter from a friend that went to Dr. Suporn that finally allowed me to decide.  The different technique, the additional sensate tissues and layers, the more ‘normal’ appearance and the additional comfort that Thailand affords, all added up to make it the winning ticket!

Of course there are other things that I now have to take care of:

  • Airline tickets that cross the international date line (the flight is 21 hours, plus crossing the date line – so exactly which day do I actually land?  The tickets give the time of landing but not the date – ack)
  • Getting my passport updated, in time.  I already had turned this in only to have it returned stating that I used the wrong form and please attach a letter from my doctor, which I had and they did not return!
  • Getting a visitor visa for Thailand.  Their consulate here is on a different island, so I may have to fly over there just to get this.
  • Transferring a large amount of money overseas – governments don’t like that – smells of terrorism.  So lots of red tape plus a lot of intermediate banks that all want to charge a fee.
  • Cardiac stress tests (like why do I want to stress that?  Does not sound nice at all) and other medical tests.
  • My partner (will be my spouse a week from now) is coming with and will have to deal with all the name changing and especially passport and visa issues.

I’ll keep posting as this progresses.

With much Aloha,

Sifan

10 Month Summary

sifan 2Once again I’m late posting ….

We traveled to southern California again.  This time for the memorial and ash scattering ceremony.  Met some of the friends we made before – was great to see them again and made new friends too.  We also took a road trip up to Oregon and visited her family on the way back.  So much driving and it rained almost the entire time!  The house is coming along: new windows, doors, ready for painting, kitchen is looking great, etc.  It should be ready to be listed next month, so we might be going back again.

We chose the Kahuna for our wedding, chose the beach location and visited the florist to pick out our haku (head lei), kupe’e (wrist and ankle lei) and neck lei.  We had fun putting our ceremony together and designing our announcements (we took a picture of a flower in our yard as the background), printing and sending them out.  I bought a Hawaiian style wedding dress, white with white embossed flowers.  My sandals and some of my undergarments have arrived as well.  It’s exciting – only 5 weeks away!

I chose the surgeon that I will go to for my operations.  It will be in Thailand.  The requirements are the same as here – everyone follows the Harry Benjamin WPATH rules.  I sent in all my letters and materials and have been accepted.  The next step is to send a portion of the fee to reserve a date.  I’m hoping for sometime this fall.  One last thing I have to accomplish is to lose another 20 pounds (which I should do for the wedding anyway)!

Changes this month seem small compared to all the other months.  Breasts are still sore, bottom is a bit larger (more curvy) but now it’s soft compared to before.  I hope that when I lose the rest of the weight that my curves will show more.

Lately there seems to be a lot more in the national news about transgender.  More and more professionals, athletes and personalities are coming out very publicly.  More states are adding transgender to their protected lists.  Today was the Transgender Day of Visibility – worldwide.  Geena Rocero (famous model) chose today to come out.  I love this quote from her TED talk:  “I was not born a boy, I was assigned boy at birth. Understanding the difference between the two is crucial to our culture and society moving forward in the way we treat — and talk about — transgender individuals.”  She is talking about being assigned a ‘boy’ gender along with a natal sex of male (boy/man/girl/woman=gender, male/female=natal sex).  The difference she is referring to is the difference between natal sex and gender and that they are separate.  There are those of us where natal sex and gender do not match.  It’s great to see all this in the media.  I hope people are listening and will start to understand.  This is ‘not’ a choice (who would ever chose something this painful) – we are born this way and have to deal with it every moment of our lives.

With much aloha,

Sifan

 

9 Month Summary

Posted on

sifan with skirt…. I think I’ve given birth to something! (What?  Don’t you think that’s a good way to start off the 9 month summary?)  I’m a bit late in posting this – it’s now almost 1/2 way through the 10th month.  So I’ll bring you up to date (the 10 month summary might be shorter)

Engaged!  This is my biggest news!  It was more a matter of ordering and waiting for the engagement rings and then finding the right circumstances.  We both ordered rings for each other but because of the uncertainty of when each would arrive and therefore when to officially propose, it was a bit awkward to know when to propose to each other.  My partner solved that problem.  She unexpected asked if I would like to go out to eat at this restaurant we had talked about but never tried.  We do not go out to eat that often and this surprised me (usually I’m the one twisting her arm to go out).  Well, she drove right past the place with the excuse that we were a bit early for our reservation and suggested we sit at a bench at one of the beaches close by.  We sat on a hill overlooking Polo beach.  We were just talking when I felt something being pushed against my leg.  I was almost going to complain to her about poking me when I looked down and noticed she was pushing a present to me!  It was a cloth clutch for carrying jewelry on trips (separate compartments to keep everything from tangling horribly).  I had been looking for one, so this was a nice surprise.  But then she said “open it and look inside” – there in a pouch was an engagement ring!  I had wondered if I would cry when she proposed to me – now I know – I did!  It was so beautiful and in such a perfect place and setting.  Then it was my turn:  so in one graceful motion, I pulled out her engagement ring, slid off the bench onto one knee and proposed to her.  It’s now official – we are engaged.  Oh, the restaurant – it was wonderful – shared the best wine – Greek cuisine – and had heart shaped chocolates from the shop next door!

The wedding day has been confirmed: May 4th, 2014.  I’m excited to be doing the wedding planning.  I have the officiate confirmed (Rev Kimo), it will be a Hawaiian ceremony.  We have decided on our flowers, the main outline of our ceremony (on the beach of course) and have formally submitted our marriage applications to the State.  I bought another dress – the other one was just a bit too much for a beach wedding.  My ‘sista’ at work sews and will tailor this if needed.  So far, with a little more weight loss, it should fit fine.  This one is a beautiful white dress with embossed white flowers.  It is a type of Hawaiian holoku dress.  It is prefect for Hawaii and for the beach.  I’ll be wearing a haku (head crown) and kupe’e (wrist and ankle) leis and a neck lei all of baby white orchids and Hawaiian ferns.  I found some white satin sandals that I have yet to buy.  I still have to decide on earrings, necklace and a cascading bouquet.  We are making our own invitations and will be printing and sending them out shortly.

We traveled back to southern California again – cleaning up and getting that house ready for market.  My partner had a number of ‘estate executor’ duties – lot’s of people to see and business to take care of.  We rented a large dumpster and before we left, we had it 1/2 filled.  Lots of moving furniture and hauling things around – just like when I helped move the data center here – lifting all that weight is building up the wrong muscles … don’t exactly want large upper arms!  Like our plane trip before, I’m getting used to being ‘massively’ out in public, I have a lot more confidence and am much more at ease in public, in airports, on the plane or just traveling in general.  I can look back and see how scared and uneasy I was before.  We’ll laugh about how it was at first (easy to do now – but oh boy, back then).

I’ve been expanding my wardrobe again (but of course, this woman loves to shop!).  I bought more shoes: very nice sandals, wedges and white comfortable flats.  My partner, my therapist, my ‘sista’ at work plus a number of others have been admiring my legs and twisting my arm to get shorts – short shorts, short skirts, etc.  Very seldom have I worn shorts before.  So I gave in – I bought short short jeans and also a skirt.  My partner loved the jeans and insisted I get a couple more – so I bought an even shorter one.  I do admit, I look better that I thought I would.  I also found this beautiful white print tank top.  It has a matching shorts and a hoodie.  I’m wearing the skirt, the tank top and my new sandals in the picture above.  Oh and just today my swimsuit bottoms came in: black skirted/ruched bikini bottoms.  I can’t wait to get to the beach this weekend – we are going to check out White Rock beach where we are going to have our wedding.

For valentines day I went around the house taking pictures of flowers, a Buddha statue, etc., then came up with romantic sayings for each one, printed these out (about 1/2 dozen) and then ‘hid’ them around the house for my partner to find (under her keyboard, in the fridge, next to her pillow, inside her book at the page she was reading …).  We had little ‘squeals’ all day long!  I had saved one for when we went out and snuck it into her menu.  Valentines day is my favorite of all the celebrations in a year.

I record and webcast our monthly astronomy talks.  At last months talk, a good friend of mine (he runs the local amateur astronomy club) came up as usual to say hi and chat.  We usually hug, but this time he turned and kissed me on the cheek!!!  He is awesome and I guess I’ve come a long way.  But I do understand why women complain about men having stubbly 5 o’clock shadows…..  Also the director of astronomy made a special trip to the back of the room where I was with the equipment just to give me a huge hug and make sure I was doing ok.  He has helped immensely in making my work transition go smoothly. What a guy, wow!

Each year at the end of May, I go down to Lihikai grade school for one day to teach basic astronomy to 8 classes of 3rd graders totaling about 250 children.  I was asked to do it again this year but felt I had better tell them about my transition and keep everything above board.  I offered to find them someone else who was enthusiastic and would do a great job.  This is the reply: “Good Morning! Thank you for giving me the heads up about this matter. Spoke to my principal this morning about your email. He is fine with it. We know that you are a professional and will carry yourself in a professional manner in the classroom. We have no problem with you coming! 🙂 The love that you have for astronomy is so special and valuable in educating the young minds of our students. We are looking forward to seeing you again in May! I will send more information about the day as they become available. Hope the rest of your week is great! Take care! Sincerely,”

I have started electrolysis at last.  I go once a week for one hour. I have heard so many people talk about their experiences, some very scary, some ok.  My laser treatment did take out some of the hair – but mostly it turned the rest white, which of course laser can not help (my hair was quite dark).  So I had no choice but to have electrolysis on the rest.  One good thing from the laser treatment is that the white hair is hardly noticeable and I can go without shaving for a couple of days.  So, in hindsight, if I would have known this, would I still have had the laser treatment – hummm – too close to call but I think so.  It is very important to have a good technician for electrolysis however.  I see a technician that is independent – not connected to a large organization.  I have heard lots about how organizations set policies on how much, how fast etc and this usually translates to either having hair grow back or having scars.  The person I go to will adjust the settings for the different skin areas and sensitivities.  She is well trained and good.  Mostly it feels like someone is ‘pulling’ on my face hairs (some describe it as a mild bee sting – it does not feel even that bad).  She uses a topical medication to numb the area – so no injections.  I barely feel the electrolysis needle going in, then a bit of a pull sensation as the current is applied and I usually do not feel anything when she pulls the follicle out.  For me, the hardest (and most sensitive) area is just under the nose.  She will only do a few at a time up there, then pull somewhere else, then come back … etc.  Now everyone is different, but perhaps if you were thinking of electrolysis this might help you.

My breasts are growing again, still have growing pains/tenderness now and then.  They are very firm now.  My partner even noticed the growth and said something to me.  They are also ‘bouncing’ a lot more – she commented on that too.  My only concern is that they are wide apart (wide cleavage).  I read this one web site where they had a questionnaire about your bra fitting and issues you had, then recommended the style and size of bra you should wear.  So, I need ‘side’ control: bras with wide side panels that contour and shape my breasts back to the front.

Other physical changes of note include my face changing again (it’s not as round), more noticeable curves (finally getting a waist and my bottom is a bit larger…).  My hair is longer, I love the little flip down by my shoulders.  I’ve had three stylings now and my hair is slowly taking shape.  My partner is jealous of my hair – it’s fine, straight and behaves well when styled.

Internally I have a lot more confidence in myself.  People that have known me before have made comments on pictures I’ve shared, about how much more relaxed and comfortable I seem, that I have a glow now.  I agree – life for me is very different than before.  I am at ease with everything.  Everything is what it is supposed to be for me now.  My day to day feelings, wishes, thoughts, conversations, the way I communicate and the way others see and treat me, are all how they are supposed to be.  Everything matches: my emotions, sensitivities, view of myself, perceptions of others and of myself – all congruent with who I am.  I’m slowly getting to the point where it doesn’t matter what others think – I’m getting my own confidence and liking how my body is starting to look.  I’m starting to accept.  Yes, there are things I want to change – but I see that what I would like is possible and within grasp.  It’s not a dream any more – it is real and becoming better each day.  Every now and then I see an old picture of myself.  He was a handsome guy.  But, I feel as if I never knew him or, that he was someone I knew long ago.  It’s very strange.  I am so different than that person.  Yes, I was inside that person but the layers that were worn in order to present as him are now very foreign to me.  It is very freeing to have this reaction …

Oh, and there have also been comments made about me being a bit emotional or too sensitive – comments about my estrogen levels.  Of course I don’t know what they are talking about …!

Last big bit of news is that I’ve finally made a decision as to which doctor/clinic I will have my SRS at.  I have chosen Dr. Suporn in Thailand.  My therapist has signed my letter authorizing my surgery and I’ll will be submitting that plus the medical questionnaire to his office later this week.  I’m look at scheduling this around late Sept. this year.

With much aloha,

Sifan

8 Month Summary

Sifan 20131213cLots happening – I’ve been very busy the last month.

My partner’s brother died a week or so after we got back home.  He had a rough night and then a peaceful 40 hours or so before he died.  He was asleep for most of those 40 hours.  My partner is the estate executor so she became very busy.  He had a business and it was a bit messy taking care of  that.  One of the employees quit, necessitating that we sell off the business right away.  Turns out the other employee (and the one my partner’s brother wanted to give the business to) wanted it (with the help of his relative).  We then found out that the employee that quit  was trying to steal the customers!  What a mess.  All that is settled now.  We will be going back to California next week to continue her executor duties.

Most of this month I have been working very hard at that secure Air Force computing facility.  We are now moving a 15 rack cluster to another building a couple of blocks up the street.  There’s one guy and three of us women lifting 100 pound systems out of the rack, into boxes, onto a truck then out of the truck, out of the boxes and back into the rack in the new location.  With anywhere from 8 to 20 in a rack – do the math – this is a lot of work.  They had estimated two days per rack.  We are doing 2 racks a day – 4 times faster then the estimate.  Of course I kid them that this is doing the opposite of what I wanted to do at this point in my transition – building arm muscles!!  At one point we were transporting a computer rack in a pickup truck.  We had it laying down (barely enough room) and three of us were sitting in the truck bed holding onto it.  I was in the back corner with one leg along the bottom and the other along the side of the rack (my legs were 90 deg apart) when suddenly the rack moved directly at me.  We all laughed and joked that this could save me the cost of my ‘operation’ ….. (these are close friends and we can have fun this way).  I am looking forward to our trip to California for a number of reasons – one of which is to have a breather from this heavy work.

I had my third hair styling with Karen.  She is great.  This time she also waxed my eye brows, plucked them and colored them.  She says I’m over the hump as far as the hair growing in and it will be easier now to keep a style as my hair fills out.  I am happy with my hair at last, but still can’t wait until it’s long enough to put in a pony tail or have other options.  I love my bangs.

I belong to a netgroup of older transgenders – mostly woman.  One of them started a thread discussing effects of being on HRT.  One of those effects was  that they no longer had this huge urgency to convert to a woman.  And it suddenly dawned on me – they are right – I don’t have the urgency and the angst that was there before.  Now, how much of this is due to being on HRT or to the fact that I’m living as a woman and being accepted as one.  After all, that was one of the most important aspects of this – to be able to be myself and have other accept me as myself.  Imagine that you have to put on an act – that people will not give you notice unless you do – you have to act and behave a certain way just to be able to live and get along.  But this is not who you are – you just want to be your self and have people accept you for that.  You want your natural tendencies of expression, emotion, body language, etc. to just come out, not to have to suppress them.  That’s what it was like.  And now, it’s beautiful – I am free to express, emote and be who I naturally am!

The pressure is not off completely …  For example, this does not mean I do not need bottom surgery (GRS).  One might ask “well, now that you are passing, you are a woman for all purposes, why do you need surgery – no one will know if you do or don’t”?  That is true, however it misses a very important point.  While being accepted by others as who I am is important, it is only 1/2 of the situation of being a transsexual.  I have written a lot on this blog about the external/sociological aspects of transsexualism and hardly anything at all about the internal/physiological aspects. I suppose partly because in my experience dealing with others, it is the sociological aspects that are always questioned or that are easier for others to understand and perhaps accept.

Me – I am a  woman – I was born with something that does not belong there.  My body was flooded by hormones that distorted me both physically, mentally and emotionally.  What is between my legs does not belong there, I never liked it:  I did not like what it did to me.  From my earliest memories as a child it did not ‘look’ right.  It was when my sister was born that I had my first real inkling of what I should have been.  This is the other 1/2 of being transsexual – me – my body – it is not what it is supposed to be.

Now please understand – I do not hate men – I do not hate ‘down there’ on men or myself.  That has nothing to do with this.  In fact, as a man I think I looked pretty darn good!  It’s just – that is ‘not’ who I am – that is not me.  Men are awesome (so are women), I’m just not a male.

So, the planning for gender affirmation surgery is in full swing.  Both my partner and myself are excited and are looking forward to … after I recover ….  I have narrowed it down to three surgeons: Montreal, San Francisco, and Bankok.  Lots of pro’s for each and very little cons for any.  Everyone I talk to that has had GRS with any of these three, all have glowing recommendations.  That makes this choice even more difficult!  I talked with GP doctor and she is willing to review them for me and give me her opinion – I’m grateful for that.  So I will be seeing her again next month to discuss this and  the pre-surgery requirements and tests.

I met with my endocrinologist this month too.  All my hormone levels are where they belong – mid-range typical woman.  I thought my testosterone levels were a bit high and wanted to increase my spiro dosage – but he pointed out that my levels are well within the norm for a woman and also, with surgery coming up – I won’t be taking spiro anymore!

Physically, I’ve added an inch to my bust line, my waist has reduced a bit and my bottom padded out a bit, giving me a bit more curves.  I still have soreness in my breasts, but perhaps not like before.  I started taking progesterone but stopped.  I’m not sure of it’s effect but I suppose I have not really tried it long enough.  I may start taking it again and see if it helps with breast soreness.  My endocrinologist was 50/50 as far as benefits of using it and totally left it up to me.  I bought something called “Happy PMS” that has the correct dosage of progesterone.

So here it is, end of January 2014.  It’s a year ago that transition suddenly became a critical life goal – the hair cut incident in my post about my history.  It is 6 months until my GRS and 3 months until our marriage.  Oh, I have to lose so much weight !!

With much Aloha,

Sifan

Month 7 Summary

Sifan 20131213bI’m a bit late posting this, so Mele Kalikimaka and Hau’oli Makahiki Hou!

There are a number of miscellaneous things that happened this month:

I had to work at a secure military site – we had to pack up and move about 6 tons of computer gear (our equipment).  This was the first time I had been there as a woman, so passing the security check with my new name was ‘daunting’ to say the least – especially because I had to show the before and after paperwork plus the supporting documents.  This resulted in the guards calling me ‘sir’ – but the next time I was in they got it right.  Because this was a secure site, we were under constant guard  We had an escort and we all had to stay together – even when we went to the restrooms!   It was hard work and hot (even though it was in an air conditioned computer room).  I had to take off my shirt (wore a tank top under it) and I caught the guards checking me out!  Our ‘team’ included two other women and one guy.  This was the first time I was in the woman’s restroom with others from my work.   When my partner and I use the public restroom we talk etc. but this was the first time with others where we carried on conversations and stood around fixing our hair, etc. – it was quite refreshing actually!

Just before Christmas my partner and I went out dress shopping.  I mostly wear jeans and tank tops (sometimes with shirts) both to work and around town, so I didn’t have very many dresses and I guess I wasn’t in any hurry to buy any.  Well, given this sale and the resulting prices and the wonderful selection …. ya, bought seven dresses including one long red dress and also a red top and red skirt, both for dressing up for Christmas.  A number of the other dresses are boho – and I’m starting to really love that style.  While we were in southern California, I wore a number of these dresses.  That seems to be a change for me:  before I would only wear a dress if it was a special occasion.  Now I’m starting to ‘want’ to wear a dress when going out, more often.

My partners’ brother is in the final phases of cancer.  He came down with a bad infection so we flew over to southern California to be with him over Christmas.  It was a time for me to be caring and nurturing both to her brother but especially to my partner.  We celebrated Christmas in his bed room.  He has recovered from the infection, so we are now back home.  (Update: he died today Jan 12 – we will be going back soon – my partner is the estate executor).

It’s a little colder in southern California than it is in Maui (ya, we are spoiled). All I brought with were flippa’s – my feet were freezing! So I went out and bought my first pair of stylish above ankle boots. Nice and comfy and ‘warm’ (good thing my jeans are boot cut).  But, as long as I was there … (giggles, you know where this is going):  well, they had this awesome pair of 3″ heels (my size) on sale – yup, my first pair of 3″ heels!  I needed something to go with my red Christmas dress.   Before buying them, I walked all over the store, back and forth in front of mirrors – making sure I could do handle these.  So far I’m doing ok – haven’t killed myself – not even a bruise yet. Only problem is I’m getting nose bleeds from this high altitude!   Lisa wanted to take a walk – so I did – went about a block – up/down stairs, over curbs, uneven pavements, dashed out of the way of a truck ….. feet are a just a little sore but the heels (and me) are working out great !  After we got back home to Maui we went out to a fancy restaurant and I had another change to wear my heels.

Opening the ton of mail after we got back home I found a Christmas card from my ex.  In it she wrote “how does it feel, your first Christmas as a woman?”  Wow, that was very nice of her.

I’ve been noticing an interesting occurrence:  a sweet type of smile from other women – store clerks, waitresses, in the mall or on the street or beach.  I’ve first noticed this when I started coming out as a woman in public.  But it happens a lot more now.  This ‘never’ happened when I was a male.  At first I thought nothing of it, they were just being friendly – and I’m always friendly.  But the more it happens the more I realize it’s something else.  Then I read this book where the transgender author also noticed this and called it “the secret smile”.  So I had a discussion with my partner about it and yes – there is such a thing as a secret smile a woman gives to another women – a sort of acknowledgement of being in this together.  I watch for it all the time now and make sure I return it.  As I progress in my transition I am noticing the secret smile more and more.

Friendships are another area where woman are very different from men.  There is an extra ‘level’ – what could be called the ‘3am friend’.  This is a friend that you can call or they can call you at 3am and talk – just because.  You can’t have very many of these – I count three in my life now and feel very grateful for them.

There was a huge surprise in the stack of mail when we returned home.  A package!  I couldn’t wait to open it and try it on – it was my special order wedding dress!!  And – it fit perfectly!  I’m so happy – now on to shoes, leis/haku/kupe’e, jewelry ……  Less than four months away – wheeeee!!

External changes:

I have noticed in comparing my face from before to now that it has changed to oval.  This one ‘snuck’ up on me!  My hair is growing out a lot more – I’ll be getting my third styling soon.  I’m wearing earrings everyday now, but I still put my studs back in at night for sleeping.  I have curves: 46-40-44 which also says I need to lose some serious weight.  My breasts are still growing (still having pains).  My partner told me she saw them ‘bouncing’ …

Internal changes:

I am starting to have the feeling of being over the hump – the secret smiles, the 3am girlfriends, more comfortable in public, so much more at ease and feeling of not being afraid of letting the real me out.  There was even a time when a waiter called me sir and I didn’t even care or get upset.  I am me and I know who I am and it just does not matter if they see me differently.  It’s not going to change how I feel.  I’m more confident of myself and of being a woman.  I’m getting so much affirmation – not just here in Hawaii (which is more open and accepting) but also on the mainland.  There is still a long way to go, but I have a feeling of having accomplished so much and am therefore much more at ease.

Ke mana’olana nei au e hau’oli wale no ‘oe (wishing everyone happiness),

Sifan

Ah – ‘Nothing’ at last …

when a woman says nothing to wearIn my youth I had figured out that a person is responsible for their own happiness – it is not something that is just out there or that anyone else can make for you.  It starts with a simple decision in each moment as to how you chose to interpret life or events and goes from there.  That simple knowledge ‘saved’ me back then and has been a foundation for me ever since.

Today I am seeking to be myself, to be able to interact with society and be understood as who I really am – to not having to put on this male facade any longer.  Since I started my RLE (Real Life Experience – one has to live a year as a female before you can have surgery), I’m seeing profound changes, especially with interactions at work and I am starting to taste and relax into just being me.  As some of my colleagues had commented:  they saw who I was long before I had said anything and it was easy for them to both accept and treat me as who I am.

There is an ‘alpha’ male at work – the only person I was worried about – that now treats me like a sister, helping and protecting me.  He is a staunch Christian and this is hard for him to understand but he has asked for material and keeps the dialog open (asking good questions) – a very good sign.  As in so many cases, it’s easy to demonize if you have never personally known someone like this.  Being that I am ‘educated’ (college degree), was the CEO of a corporation and am in a professional position – this presented a bit of a challenge to him.  I did not match any of the stereotypes!  He had to contemplate that perhaps, yes, this was just another facet of being human – just like having red hair or being short or tall.  He is still perplexed but at least he is more open-minded than before.

full closet - nothing to wear

Years ago my therapist had asked me what do I expect to feel like after everything is said and done – what will be different or changed?  My answer then is my answer now:  “nothing” – in the sense of finally being ‘normal’ to myself.  By that I mean that with congruence I will settle into a life where I am happy and being ‘me’ is the norm – the mirror on the wall shows the correct me (but its so much more than just an external vision ….).  It’s the same kind of ‘nothing’ that you experience having a right arm —– it’s just there.  Most people never have to even question this – they ‘just are’.  Well, that is what I mean by “nothing” – the nothing of not having to deal with a dichotomy.  As my therapist had mentioned, I have put in a lot of years working on the ‘internal’ transition – now it’s time for the external to catch up.  And my experience now, living full time as a woman is giving me the contentment and joy of just that – being myself!

These two transitions (internal and external) have to come together successfully.  From what I see, some people transition externally first and have issues afterwords, until they settle the internal as well.  By the way:  by internal I do not mean the “was always a women” type of thing – I mean dealing with all of life’s daily expectations in actually manifesting as your self, again this is something most people never experience or even question.

With much aloha,
Sifan

I am Sifan’s Sweetheart: A Significant Other Speaks

What follows is a guest post from my kealoha (my beloved):

LKH 2I am Sifan’s Sweetheart. No big thing to almost anyone but us. What makes it newsworthy (if it is) is that Sifan was born female with a male body, and it is that male body that I met and thought was part and parcel of the entire package when we fell in love. I was wrong. Sifan is transsexual. The male body is disappearing and will eventually be surgically corrected into the female body that she so wants to have.

I am female physically, emotionally, psychically. I am heterosexual and I will be marrying Sifan, who considers herself to be lesbian, in the spring. We will both be wearing dresses, hers probably a tad more flouncy than mine as I am a big fan of simplicity in clothing. She will still have parts of the male body present; corrective surgery is not scheduled until next summer or fall. I care not a bit. Here’s why:

I fell in love with a human being whose name used to be Stephen and, while I knew there was a lot of what I called at the time “female traits”, was someone I considered to be fully male in all the ways that counted. I thought of Stephen as a man and was happy in that.

Imagine the surprise when Sifan explained last January that there was no longer a way to continue presenting in life as a man when in fact she was, in all the ways that matter other than the body, a woman. This news was explosive. I was angry, confused, hurt and fearful. And I did not know if I could get past it.

The biggest issue: could I stay with this person? Could I live with a male body that would transition via hormone therapy and eventual surgical correction of the genitals? And later with the female-in-every-way person? Could I still love this person? How? How long? How deeply? It was an extremely challenging time as I wrestled with these huge questions. In the end it was simplicity itself that triggered resolution.

I saw that there was really only a single fork in the road. I had to decide if I wanted to live with or without my beloved, for Sifan was exactly that. I also saw that she was not going to be able to move forward living the lie of being masculine. This situation would not change. As I stared for weeks at these- live with, live without- the truth of my love for this human being slowly solidified. I loved her regardless of body gender, physical appearance, genital configurations, voice frequency, length of hair and style of clothing. In short, I loved a human being, not a man, not a woman. A real live wonderful amazing person named Sifan. I could never willingly give her up.

Once seen, this decision was easy and stress-free. I made my choice, have not looked back and cannot even imagine its revocation. I feel blessed and honored to be in lifelong partnership and love with this courageous and beautiful one. I am shocked, sometimes, to realize that not everyone in the world envies me this relationship, as I feel so much gratitude and appreciation for it. She truly is my beloved. In the early days of our relationship I was unable to control my heart. Now I am unwilling.

Some who are aware of these changes have felt uncomfortable or even rejecting of them and of us. Some are very open and supportive. Yet I care not what anyone thinks of this, be it pro or con. I am clear that this is nothing if not an intensely personal decision made by the two of us and fundamentally involves no one but ourselves. Like it, hate it or be somewhere in between. Not my business what you think.

I see now that to imagine that there are but two classifications for gender is unconscious ignorance. I have come to understand that we are none of us wholly female or male; we are a soup of qualities, we are gender goulash.

I have looked closely and find that there are no inherent female traits nor male ones. What exists are simply traits; characteristics, qualities, behaviors, sensations, thoughts and feelings that are evaluated in relation to the gender of the body and then called masculine or feminine. To call my love of balancing the budget and planning a financial future a masculine quality is absurd. To say that my tender response to a hurt animal or my willingness to feel and express my emotions is more female than male is ludicrous. I like beer, hate to cook, don’t want to ever wear high heels and have never been a follower. I also love lipstick, plucking my eyebrows just so and admiring male and female bodies alike. These things are human, they are me, they are gender neutral. They just appear as I walk around in my daily life. So it is for us all.

Only when a label is applied might it seem that the particular and specific ways we show up belong in one category or another. A more focused look reveals that these behaviors and interior workings are only what they are and that the labels are what they are not. If I am considered a woman because of my genitals and breasts, curves and hormone levels then it is but my body that is such. Were my psyche male I would be something other than what that body seems to dictate. So would we all.

This to me is a cause for celebration for it opens the door to removing many of the barriers that bind us within and without. We are tremendously more free and diverse and deep than we ever knew. Hallelujah! Life is just wide open.

I continue to walk happily down the street holding Sifan’s hand and feeling nothing other than rightness and contentment. We are deeply connected and are constantly aware of that fact. Bodily and hormone changes cannot possibly endanger this. We are blessed.

We are love, as is everyone.

Beach Bodies: a view of perception

Cancun-Beach-CoupleYou know how sometimes when you wake up in the morning, and you have time and don’t have to get out of bed right away – sometimes you start thinking about ….. something.  Living in Maui, of course I think about the beach and swimming and just laying out sunning or reading or chatting with my partner.

But I noticed a big change since before I transitioned.  It’s another one of these ‘internal’ changes that has happened.  And because this seems to be something that was driven by the hormone therapy that I’m taking (HRT – transition), this was a very slow change or at least was not noticeable until now – as hindsight.

Now, a disclaimer …  This is ‘me’.  I have lots of evidence (first hand) of many of my friends both male and female (cis) that also support this, but in no way is this a generalization – it’s documentation of something that happened to me.

As a male, seeing a ‘hot’ bodied female (say in a bikini) on the beach, my first thoughts were ‘wow’, in a sexual way – as in ‘focused on the body’.  This response was automatic as is the tendency of ones eyes to follow her down the beach.  However, seeing a ‘hot’ male body on the beach, the response was something like “oh, he must work out” – and nothing more.

But now, as a woman, having been on hormones for more then 5 months, the first thing the I think of when I see a ‘hot’ woman in a bikini on the beach is:  1) nice body (but not in a sexual way), 2) what is she wearing, 3) humm, nope, I could not wear that, 4) nope, I’ll NEVER be able to wear that, 5) I wonder what her personality is like.

When a see a ‘hot’ bodied male on the beach my initial reaction is: 1) nice body (again, not in a sexual way) and 2) I wonder what his personality is like.

Now, the only thing that has changed with me is a very low testosterone level and an elevated estrogen level (compared to a cis-female) – in other-words hormones.   I’ve heard others talk about the ‘testosterone fog’ of which this is just one aspect.  Even back then, I would describe having a ‘male’ shield around me that only let in a portion of the energies of the outside world – almost like it was protecting the woman (me) inside.  But a fog not only obscures, it changes the perspective, the ‘light’ if you will and therefore influences the perception of the world outside.

And, like when the fog lifts, everything is much clearer and that is where I am right now.  Looking back, yes, I agree with so many other transsexuals regarding this ‘testosterone fog’.

I always looked at people in a ‘holistic’ way – a person is both body and personality, body and soul.  But before transition I had this conflict:  a female ‘hot’ body elicited this initial sexual attitude with a holistic view coming secondarily – the ‘fog’ ….

Now, understand this change in me, I will sometimes ‘experiment’ and try to see a person ‘sexually’ only to find that does not exist for me anymore.  What I see is the person – I am not attracted to a hot body now – only if the ‘package’ is complete and compelling would I be interested in meeting them – and then I would never take the initiative – they would have to say hello!  I still recognize a hot body – it’s just that is not a sexual response anymore.

And yes, I have always heard the female response described this way, or sort of this way.  As I said, in a way, my former testosterone fogged being had that deep down inside (and was conflicted).  I suppose it’s like the difference between ‘knowing’ something versus knowing about it experientially.

With aloha,

Sifan