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Being ‘me’

man-womanJust today, my partner wanted to talk – she felt conflicted.  She felt that she had to ‘be a man’ for me – to allow me to feel more like a woman.  But that this was depriving her of feeling like a woman.  I think this really underscores the importance of open communications and checking one’s assumptions – often.

I explained that I am not looking for, nor want a man or the influence of a man.  If one has to use a label, then I would be dead center lesbian – I don’t want a man or someone being ‘manly’.  Plus, I am in love with her – all of her – ‘her’ traits – emotions – body/soul – everything.  I don’t want nor expect her to change, especially for me to feel more as a woman.  I want to feel – like ‘me’ – no facade – free to express myself and act myself.  That just happens to match what society calls or labels as a ‘woman’.

I think we need to just drop the male/female labels and not get hung up that being a certain way or having a certain trait means we are more masculine or feminine because of it.  Helen Boyd’s “She’s not the man I married” goes into this in exquisite depth.  Forget about labels – there are far more exceptions then any cohesiveness to them.  Going through a transition, especially before starting one, we want to be everything female, somewhat blinding ourselves to our own reality.

I think this is necessary:  old Chinese proverb:  “the student must reject the mentor in order to excel and move forward”.  I think we first have to reject maleness and embrace what we see as total femininity to make those first steps, to clearly define what is and what is not.  This allows us to break the life long facade we held up and to identify it as such and see it clearly.

However,  this is an extreme – the pendulum is far over to one side, opposite of where is was – the extreme other side.  At some point it is imperative to center it, to center ourselves, to become not some idealized non-existent reality that no natal woman can even achieve, but to come back to ourselves – to explore and find who we are and then be that.

After all, that is what started this journey: we were not who we authentically ‘are’ and needed to change.   Now, if that means you are good at and enjoy car mechanics before, then do that now!  That was part of you.  Forget the labels, forget that’s a ‘masculine’ trait – its just a trait, a capability.  (By the way, one of the best mechanics here on this island is a natal woman ….. )

So, my partner and I have come to an agreement and understanding – we both just want to be ourselves – so let’s just do that.  She was missing the male that I used to be, but upon further exploration, she saw that those traits and capabilities were still there.  She wants to be the woman she is – and that is exactly who I fell in love with and need the most especially as I go through this transition and also through the rest of my life.

So, this journey is about being the authentic ‘me’ – not the facade I put on before.  Society best describes the summation of ‘me’ as a woman – and that is what I am.  But more than that or any labels – I am simply ….. me !!

With much Aloha,


Month 3 Summary

This was my most significant month so far as changes go.  So much occurred this last month!

Sifan 20130816

The largest change was starting my RLE (Real Life Experience) – living full time, everywhere as a woman.  The event that triggered this was picking up my partner when she returned home (see my post “A daring surprise for my partner“).  Having my eye brows shaped and my hair styled not only allowed me to more clearly see how I have evolved physically and could finally ‘see’ the woman in me starting to bloom on the outside, but it also gave me the confidence to go full time.

This coupled with the sensitivity training at work (see “The Girl Card” where I was asked to explain transgender terms to our entire staff) gave me the opportunity to fully come out to the rest of the people at work.  This of course led to the “Use the woman’s restrooms” post.  Another major ordeal was “getting legal“.  I’ve been busy posting this month too!

I had planned to start my RLE in November as that would have been 6 months HRT and from the research I had done, that seemed like the proper time for a lot of the physical changes to have occurred and theory was I would be more passable.

However, I did not count on these changes happening sooner.  So much so that I had somewhat the opposite problem:  I could not hide the changes that were occurring!  My hair is longer, my breasts are larger (they show even if I bind them) and my face and body shape are changing as well.   When I had my brows shaped and my hair styled – poof – I was over the edge.

Granted – I do not consider myself ‘passing’:  my hair has a long way to go, my face is better – very little black hair left because of laser (but now I can see the little white hairs) and I have a long way to go with voice training.  I am getting a lot of hugs and well wishes, as I mentioned in the “getting legal” post.

So, I’m 100% living as myself – a woman.  The change in my day to day feelings and my interactions with others, especially at work, are wonderful.  I’m able to let go of the male facade and just be.  It might seem silly, especially to someone that does not have gender issues and it’s hard to explain, but the type of freedom and exuberance I feel is so great.  It has to do both with me internally, but also with society and how I’m seen and for the most part accepted.  To authentically be one’s self and to be seen and treated as such (and in a number of my relations – to be admired for taking these step) is an awesome thing.  I am very happy and content that I undertook this and have come this far with so many wonderful people around me.

Ok, now for the details on what has changed in this last month – I’ll break this down into external and internal this time:

Externally there have been a number of significant changes.  Most obvious are my breasts.  One of the signs they are growing is that the tube dress I like (has optional straps) I can wear without the straps now – it stays up just fine.  But they are hurting as they grow (ummm more like soreness – not a really bad kind of hurting).  I will get spots that become sore and a day later I’m larger there.  I started on the outsides, then they grew above the nipples, then on the insides (I have cleavage now), and then on the bottoms.  Then they were very sore directly under the nipples.  Each starts with a hardness, almost a lump (got me worried – but my doctor said it was ok and expected) that was sore and that slowly softened over a few hours and by the next day I was larger in that area.  Right now I have this hardness deep under each nipple and this is the sorest I’ve been so far.

Another big change regarding my breasts are their – ummm, how to say this politely …., they are ‘stimulatable’ … as my partner aptly proved one day – I darn near levitated ….  I had no sensations there before, so this is a big and obvious change (obvious to me…).

I’ve been losing weight and that plus the effects of hormones are having an effect.  My tummy is flatter and my bottom is ever so slightly filling out resulting in the appearance of some small but noticeable curves.  My woman’s jeans and pants are fitting very nicely now and some tops are able to emphasize those curves!

My face is starting to change as well.  I can just notice a difference from before.  It is losing its hard masculine features and everything is getting much softer.

Shaving:  legs and arms I shave about once a week, tummy and chest about every two day and I shave my face about every two days as well – more often depending on what I’m doing that day.

I’m not using cosmetics except for filling in my eye brows, coloring the slight grey/silver hair in two small spots by my ears and sometimes I’ll wear lipstick.  Daily I will blow dry my hair in such a way to give it lift, style it a bit and set it with hair spray.

Internally this is the first month where I have noticed any changes and ummmm, others have too.  I was always over reactingautomatically accommodating – to a fault.  Since my problems coming out to my oldest son, I have eased up on that quite a bit.  I no longer accommodate but now will openly question situations.  My partner used the word ‘bitchy’ at one point and ‘your hormones are acting up’, but then explaining that I’m being more sensitive and at some times ‘touchy’, reacting more strongly than the situation would seem to warrant – and then she added: “like a woman having her period”!    Others at work have been more diplomatic but basically said that more often I’m discussing things, being more assertive, questioning more and not being overly accommodating as I used to be.

The other internal change is harder to quantify.  Before I could sense when I felt ‘male’ or did a ‘male’ type of thing.  That has completely gone away.  I suppose it’s one of those things that are best seen – perhaps only seen – with hind sight.  All I can say is that testosterone, like estrogen, is a very very powerful agent.  I’m not sure which of these or all of these internal changes are due to what, but I can definitely say it is such a huge relief being done with testosterone (more accurately:  being on a low to normal female level).  I’m having a hard time trying to find the words to describe this.  It’s like there is no longer this need or drive to be alpha, to know everything, to solve everything or to be the one everyone looks to.  I now feel like I can rest in my true nature – a supporter, a friend, a confidant and a nurturer.  I love being protected, being taken care of, having someone hold the door open for me and just the smiles and hugs of companionship with other women.  In one way, it is so much a load off my shoulders and in another it is just so wonderful to be accepted for who I am – my real authentic self.

With much aloha,


The ‘Girl’ Card

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vector-card-girl8A lot of people going through transition will at some point experience what has been called “getting the ‘girl’ card” (MtF).  This is that magic moment when the friends around you (usually women) display some sort of public acknowledgement and acceptance of you as a woman.   This happens more than just once of course, but it’s that first time that is very special and memorable.

This happened in a big way for me today:  we had an all hands meeting where the lawyers from UH came to give us training in sexual harassment and work place violence.  About half a year ago I had requested they include something about transsexualism and was asked to write a couple of slides (Click this tab to see those slides).  But because this training was to address problems in the workplace they decided keep the focus to the current issues.

Just before we started, the presenter that I had been in correspondence with, recognized me and we had a huge hug!  She then quickly showed me that she did incorporate some points from my slides into her presentation.  About 1/4 of the way through the training, she purposefully asked the ‘audience’ if anyone knew the difference between birth sex and gender and what gender presentation and expression meant.  She told me later she had asked that just so I could answer!  Wow!

All the women from my department (plus a few others) sat all around me (they did that on purpose – they knew I had submitted those slides for this presentation).  So after I had answered her questions – suddenly there were 4 or 5 people all patting me (on my back, my arms) – just absolutely awesome.  What support and caring – not just for patting me but for purposefully sitting all around me.  Afterwords, the presenter mentioned the awesome support she witnessed by those around me.

Then later in the training, the woman behind me was picking something off my back (a hair or something).  When I turned around and smiled and thanked her – the other woman next to her said “oh, we were just snapping your bra” (this was in the crowded training room)!!  Both are woman I work closely with (one is my ‘sister’ that helps me with womanly issues that I face while transitioning).  Afterwords, I told another woman that I work closely with about the bra snapping and she said “oh, turn around let me see” – and then ‘she’ snapped my bra too!!

That – is what I call being given ‘the girl card’ …..

And:  the ‘alpha’ male in our group came up to me and politely asked which personal pronouns I would prefer and that he would try hard and please forgive any lapse he might make.

Plus:  the overall manager in charge of everyone on this site came up to me just before this meeting and asked what name I should now be called.

Ecstatically in tears,


Explaining MtF for the Cis-Female

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urlJust listened to a great interview with Lieutenant Colonel Cate McGregor on the Australian show One Plus One, in which she describes coming out as a transgender female.

In the quote below (link is below as well – this piece is at 14:50), she explains being a transsexual woman to the host.  She addresses one of the conundrums a natal woman has with understanding this.  This is something I have struggled to explain properly to many of my woman friends that I have come out to and is something I addressed in previous posts here on my blog site as well – although not nearly as eloquently as Cate does.

Umm, a quick refresher: “natal female” refers to someone who’s birth sex is female, “cis-female” refers to someone who is both a natal female and has a gender of female.  I am a transsexual: I’m a natal male with a gender of female – I’m not cis, I’m trans.

I hope this will help a cis-woman understand and grasp a transgender woman. For me the main point is the congruence of having one’s self being consistent:  mind/body/soul.

Cate’s outlook does resonate strongly with me.  Making it through mid-life (well for me a ‘wee’ bit past that), “before the intense need to live authentically.”  It’s great to hear someone else in the same situation but who has a wonderful tack for expressing this.

Cate’s addressing of authenticity of course riles some of the transsexual community:  “I don’t consider myself a woman, I’m transgendered”.  But in coming out to a fair number of the cis-women in my life, this was one of the issues almost always raised.  I like how Cate addressed this – “of course I do not have nor will have all the experiences of a natal woman” – but the main point is – that is ‘not’ the point!  The point is that she is congruent  – mind/soul/physical body, as she said “transition brought the reward of feeling that I was me at last”.

As my partner so aptly stated, for a cis-female, this addresses and I think answers or perhaps makes clear a basic conundrum, as it most certainly has for my cis-female partner.  As she puts it, being a woman is like a rainbow, there are all types – you can not tell where the red ends and the orange begins …  She does not think womanhood is divvied up into separate groups.

To say that you are natal/cis/trans is just a description, not a division, we are all women.  Like I stated in my other posts here – it’s equivalent to having red hair, it’s a description of part of the broad range of the human experience.  I’ve heard religious zealots declare a woman is someone who can give birth – excuse me – so females that are postmenopausal are not women?  Time for reality.

This is Cate’s quote from One Plus One: Lieutenant Colonel Cate McGregor:

“The grammar for transgendered feelings just does not exist. It’s incredibly difficult to explain what it feels like to be boiling over with the sense of being trapped in the wrong body and identity.

“There is a feeling that you are in a straight jacket, an unfolding nightmare.  I was sleepless for months on end, I was experiencing nightly panic attacks. I couldn’t see a way forward that offered any level of contentment.  It was a nightmare and ya, at some point I wondered how much more of it I could have endured frankly. It seems like a dimm memory now, it’s really interesting that once I actually surrendered to this and decided that I would do what I’m doing, I felt a real calm.  And as I’ve transitioned and been able to express myself as female, I have felt a baseline level of contentment that nothing can rob me of.

“I also need to put a caveat on this too, that I don’t consider myself a woman, I’m transgendered.  I’m living as a woman and that’s a capital AS, upper case AS.  I have to express myself as female – I have no other way of existing that feels authentic to me.  I haven’t been gendered the way other women have been gendered.   I’ve not lived with the constant threat of physical violence, I can’t bear children and there are women who can’t as well.  There is a whole range of experiences that I shall never have.  But, as a trans male to female woman I’m in a highly delineated group, so I don’t consider myself a woman in the sense you are.  But for me, it’s an expressive aspect that I need to live as female and I guess that is a long winded way of saying the transition brought the reward of feeling that I was me at last – whatever form that is.”

Working on the ‘Inside’

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reflectingOne of the things my psychologist had commented on about me was that I was ‘working’ on the inside first and that now I was coming to the point where I was ready to work on the outside. I have seen a few (very few) others that were like me in this regard.

My partner and I were just talking about my situation.  I explained that my memory of school, where innocent questions were met with brutal force (Catholic school nuns), was a really huge event that modified me greatly – and that this was not a single event but 8 years of school.  That affects people in different ways: some take it that something is wrong with them, others just blindly give in, some fight it and are constantly in trouble, or there is me – I saw and recognized the ‘game’, how to play it and what the rules were.

I also knew that to survive, I not only had to play this game but that I had to keep ‘me’, my true beliefs and my being, private.  Anything that was being told or taught, I had to be sure to critically analyze and make sure it fit in with ‘my’ views or the world – eg. it had to make simple sense.  Life in an ultra conservative northern town in the 1950’s did not allow for even the possibility of a transsexual existence – let alone gay or lesbian. These concepts were not even known – at least to the general public of that time. Somebody that was strange or different (in just about any way) was simply queer – that term was not a gay term then – it just meant different – but the stigma was horrendous. The effect for me was like the school:  play the game but understand your own truth.

However, what was my ‘truth’?  There was nothing in that society or environment that even hinted at a self-identity that did not match ones birth sex – or anything that was transgender or gay/lesbian. Those things were censored from all news outlets – remember back then all channels were local, even TV when that finally came – same with the libraries. I was different, I fit in with the girls but I sure looked like a boy. So in my wee little mind the ‘game’ I learned in school applied to this situation worked its way like this: I was a boy but I had these ‘extra’ capabilities that allowed me to feel, understand (and be understood) and be part of the girls – actually part of both sexes.

This had the effect of layering on all these masculine traits and habits (testosterone did its share…) as I ‘played’ the game of being a boy/man. But inside I carried all my feminine traits, buried, but like school, these were kept inside as my own ‘truth’.  They were not labeled as such – because I did not have exposure to the full truth – to me they were just these added abilities/feelings/senses that no other boy seemed to have.

So, coming full circle, here I am:  these layers are peeling off and we are discussing internal and external transitions. I’m about 3 weeks away from starting HRT and reading/pondering these autobiographies of post transitioned women who are now dealing with being a woman internally – thinking, feeling, responding to the environment as a female.

Where am I?  Well, of course only time and transition will tell, but especially within the last year, I can tell when I did something ‘male-ish’.  Usually at the moment it’s happening I can tell.  I have told my partner and my psychologist a lot of times that I was definitely a women (I say I was very Si today or I had a Sifan day).  I don’t say that much any more because the majority of the time I am now coming from my womanhood.

I do agree with my psychologist (her statement above that I started out working from my internals).  From my childhood I learned to be appropriate and to that extent when I’m presenting as a male – I use those mannerisms.  I really enjoy when I am presenting as a woman, as for me it is natural and I can just allow myself to be ….. free.

Some of this understanding came from Second Life – a virtual world where as my avatar I can immerse in a world (and a society) fully as a woman.  Once I found a voice modulator that would change my masculine voice to a feminine one – it really opened my eyes!  Suddenly, there was my full range of expression, the giggles, the highs and lows, the intonation that was hidden in the male voice.  It was ‘me’, it was the me that I knew was there, it was freeing.

THAT is what transitioning means for me – allowing the real me, my truth, to come out, to be seen and heard. Allowing me to interact with the world (and vice versa) the way I want to, to express my ideas and thoughts and feelings with the full impact how internally I try to, but becomes so buried in the masculine persona as to be muted and unnoticed. It’s like living inside a box, voice muted, plain features, muted expressions, on and on.

Since I have come out to the people I work with, I’m more able to be myself.  However,  because I’m pre-HRT and still presenting as a male in public, I’m careful to stay within those bounds.  But I do push the boundaries slowly and within what I believe is their comfort levels.  For example, I carry a purse and wear a bracelet.   Each month before I actually transition at work (about 6 months from now), I plan to ‘up the ante’ – still presenting as a male.  For example, getting my ears pierced, shaving legs and arms, wear more androgynous clothes, changing style of flippers/sandals, etc.

All of this allows me to be more of myself and allows me to shed more and more of the male persona that I had built up over my lifetime.

Working on the inside …….