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Transition: Mental and Physical

I just had an incredible experience: Dr. Suporn’s clinic staff make daily rounds between 10am and noon. I’m not going to mention her name because what I’m going to say applies to all of them.

This was her last time she was going to see me (as they take rotations and I’m leaving on Monday). So she took extra time to sit and talk.

This was unexpected – she thanked me for my positive attitude and optimism. I can only imagine the range of people and personal issues they have to deal with and this is what I want to share with everyone: this staff goes so far beyond just simple care, they truly are amazing. To me, this was a high complement – it’s also means that I really did touch others here – I hope I was able to make my trans-sisters more comfortable but also the staff and everyone else.

Yes, everyone has different experiences – but think about what the staff has to do (and what they have to put up with). And they do it with love and a smile!

You know – it’s sort of like my last post about being able to tolerate pain having a down side. Dr. Suporn’s surgery is (for a lot of us) almost pain free – it’s like little has happened. We get back to the hotel feeling so good and ready to party on the town, not fully taking into account the 7 hour surgery, 7 days in a hospital, etc. And then those that do, get in trouble.

I remember Dr. Suporn’s words about mentally relaxing and not worrying etc. that a lot of this has to do with the inside aspects of ourselves. And that brings up another huge issue: this is both MENTAL and PHYSICAL. You have to ‘solve’ both of these for yourself. His surgery solves the physical – if you are not mentally ready – after surgery you are now going to have to deal with the other half.

I was fortunate. I had a great therapist and worked on the mental aspects of this for more than 10 years. This surgery was the icing on the cake as they say. The night before surgery is when the final pieces of the physical aspects came into sharp focus. See “Why have Surgery” for more on that.

That was the big message the person from the clinic and I came to this morning – being prepared both mentally and physically for this.

And I really do hope that I shed cheer and happiness to those around me – to me, that is an important aspect of my life.

With much aloha,

Sifan
“Hoku Wahine” (literally: star woman, eg female astronomer)

Why have Surgery

This is something that happened the night before surgery.  I never doubted or questioned what I was doing.  I knew this must be done.  But there was a piece of the puzzle that was missing.  Now I know why.

The night before surgery, it all came to me.  I had spent so much time on the mental aspects and removing the layers of learned male behavior some of which disgusted me (the testosterone fog).  The piece that was missing was physical part.  “Why would surgery matter if you are already living as a woman?” type of question.

But the night before, my early childhood came back to me.  The memories of something wrong – it was supposed to be smooth down there, I was not supposed to have this thing sticking out.  This was long before I know anything of the sexes – I just knew it was supposed to be smooth.  In fact, I remember wondering how I could possibly urinate if it was smooth!  Then my sister was born and for the first time I figured out what ‘smooth’ was supposed to be.

Fast forward to the night before surgery and my discussion with the psychiatrist, my mind had pushed that out of the way so completely, yet the extreme dissonance remained all my life and caused just as much grief as the mental aspects.  But, just like the mental aspects, there were many layers of this physical part that also had to be removed – and that night before surgery it became clear.

After surgery I have to use a mirror when I do my ‘maintenance’ and the feeling of not only completeness but of wholeness is almost overwhelming.  It’s like being back to what I was (even though I never was this way) but that is the feeling – being correct and true and just ‘me’.  It is so wonderful, so incredibly ‘natural’ – I’m running out of words to describe this.

I’ve mentioned before about a body map, a part of the brain that sort of knows what you are, what you have, and where and what these parts are doing.  The example often given is of an amputee who not only still feels their arm but can tell you exactly where it is in relation to their body.  This body map for me is what tells me I’m female, both in the physical and the mental aspects.  The memory from my childhood shows this clearly – I didn’t know what I was supposed to have down there, only that this didn’t match what my body map had.  This is the HUGE relief I have now, when I do my dilation, etc. having to use a mirror and in contact with ‘me’.  It is what was missing, it is what inside me says is supposed to be there.  Now it is!!!!

With much aloha,

Sifan

14 Month Summary

Everything is now focused on next month:  SRS.  Because I’m ‘older’ they wanted a cardiac stress test.  Now, I’m in pretty good shape and that, for a stress test, is bad news.  It means they keep you on the treadmill longer, faster and at a higher incline (and keep increasing until you start pumping harder).  The good doctor brought me up to heart rate required for the stress test, looked at me and said, “want to see what you can do?”.  You know, I must be slow in the uptake or maybe I was just not completely taking in what he just said.  Well, from my perspective, all hell broke loose – not supposed to run just walk fast, the darn thing was now a ramp to the ceiling – but, like a fool, I did it.  Then he asked me again – I think my muffled huffing response sounded like a yes.  Right after they had me lay down and they took sonograms of my heart – asking me to ‘hold my breath’ – I was like “WHAT” – that’s not fair and it’s impossible!!  They actually can measure the thicknesses of the different walls, measure blood velocities, etc.  Very impressive.  Well, I passed – however – about three days later my entire upper chest was sore and I had what seems to be a muscle strained under my arm.  It took me a few more days to finally connect this to the stress test.  I was using my upper body – hands on the front bar of the treadmill – to do a lot of work.  When I hike in the mountains I use hiking sticks that basically do the same.  My legs are in the best shape because of the walking/hiking I do, but my upper body was not used to that.  It’s now almost a week later and at last I’m slowly recovering.  Wow – mental note – don’t accept a ‘dare’ from a doctor doing a stress test on you!  Unfortunately, I had to work up at the summit the rest of that week – this really zapped me.

I was sent an invitation to a private FaceBook group for those that have surgery with Dr. S. in Thailand – and for those that have been accepted for surgery.  It’s turning out to be a great resource.  Everyone is helping everyone, lots of good advice, worries, complications, things around town and the clinic and doctors weigh in as well.  So good sound advice.  One person said they just arrived – about 20 others replied with where they are meeting for breakfast, who to see and what to do before hand.  I joined the fray and said I would be arriving next month and already I have 4 other gals (two from here in Hawaii) that will be there the same time – we’ll be getting together!  By far the best is to go back about 1 year and read all the questions and answers, issues real and those easily fixed, what to expect and how everyone else has fared.  I have lots of good advice and perhaps an even better idea for what to expect almost each and every day I am there (one month).


 

One of the purposes of my blog site here is to help others, especially those that are older, to get the information they need to understand and know what this is all about.  To that end, I plan on making as many posts from Thailand as I am able to.  Some might be a bit detailed but I’ll warn you right up front – continue to read at your own …. whatever ….  I’ll probably write the first one tomorrow – about planning and pre-travel.


 

On a different note:

I had a conversation with Lisa a while back.  I was telling her about catching myself in unconscious automatic behaviors, feminine behaviors, behaviors that were not learned or made automatic by rote – how could they be.

We went out to eat at a restaurant in an outdoor mall (most of our malls in Hawaii have open air promenades).  We had a wonderful meal and had strolled down the open air mall talking and admiring clothes and nick knacks in the store windows.  On the way back to the car I mentioned that I had just noticed how I instinctively held my skirt down before a gust of wind suddenly blew and then smoothed it out.  Then it struck me that there are many other instinctive automatic things I do as well – feminine actions that I did not learn and was unconscious of doing.

What is intriguing is the recognition that these behaviors or actions were unconscious and very normal – what I would describe as just being me.  This is in contrast to before when I was presenting as a male – most of that had to be leaned and was deployed  ‘consciously’.   Having had to do this for the majority of my life, it sometimes baffles me to realize that most people have never had to consciously ‘be’ what society says is their gender.  That for most people, suddenly realizing that they are acting authentically, is simply never seen or experienced.

I learned quickly at a very young age.  I saw what happened to others, the harassment and bullying they endured and I was blessed with a quick intellect that allowed me to quickly assimilate their examples into a workable model for my own existence.  I learned to keep my truth inside – not hiding from myself – but to present what was expected.  It’s sort of like the cliches “pick your battles” or “work from within the system” or “know your truth and pick the right timing”.

The other fascinating aspect of this, was that I had a detached presence as I watched these behaviors unfold.  That was what prompted the conversation with Lisa.


 

And, I thought I would include a response I wrote to an article questioning why a ‘man’ would ever ‘want’ to change into a woman, considering all the disadvantage:

I’m a transwoman, let me see if I can make some sense here – I can only speak for myself. I was born this way, this is not a choice or something I ‘want’. It’s who I am. The issue becomes how do I deal with this – not about which gender has it easiest. There are a lot of false stereotypes and beliefs surrounding this – that compounded the issue for me as well. As a result it took me until I was older to sort out what and who I am. Just like everyone else, I had to sort out what was real – then I had to accept who I am and then despite all of that plus, as you stated “the disadvantages of being a woman in today’s society” – to proceed and become true to who I am. The fact that there is so much against this should speak for itself.  It has nothing to do with advantages/disadvantages, etc.  For many trans* it is life or death (or even a living death) – makes the disadvantages seem moot huh. To have your core being at odds is very disconcerting. Ask yourself if you really know what it feels like to be a woman (or man) – I mean, do you really know? On a personal level the only way to know is to actually know the opposite. For a trans* person this is a daily and deep question: who am I – not what do I want to be or the relative merits of one gender vs the other. This was one of the reasons it took me so long to come to terms with and accept who I am. The mind does a wonderful job of trying to protect and therefore deny or explain away things it thinks will be harmful – especially in this case. I am glad that trans* issues are becoming better known and slowly things are getting better – especially for the younger trans*. I hope they don’t have to go through what I and many others have.  My hope is that society will understand this better and drop all these pre-conceptions, stereotypes and false beliefs.

With aloha,

Sifan

 

13 Month Summary

Posted on

It20140706_192518 feels good to be past the one year mark.  From what I hear from my trans friends that are going through or have been through transition, most of the emotional changes and a majority of the physical ones are now over and things stabilize.  That’s how I feel right now too.  Of course time will tell – I’ll have to revisit this one year from now …

The biggest challenge I have yet is my weight.  I’ve lost about 30 pounds since I’ve started.  I have to lose another 6 but I would like to lose 11 more pounds.  That gives me a leeway for the surgery requirement.  It’s very strange that when I was 30 pounds heavier, I did not feel fat at all and it was sooo easy to lose weight.  Now, I feel fat, I have a little belly,  even though I’m 30 pounds less.  I do have a smaller frame.  It is now very hard to lose pounds – I no longer care that I’m losing weight in the wrong places (my breasts are getting smaller etc.), I just want those pounds gone!

The countdown is on!  Today is 60 days away from GRS (surgery).  Like I’ve responded to those who have been asking recently – I’m ‘not’ looking forward to the surgery – I’m looking forward to about 3 weeks ‘after’ the surgery  when I’m recovered enough to start my new life in earnest.  Even then I won’t be at anything near running speed.  But at least I hope to have my head above the water by then.

One of the women at work caught me in the kitchen and asked me a couple of questions today. First she complimented me on how much I have changed and that I actually look much younger! She asked me what it feels like now. I told her ‘normal’ and that before and for most of my life I felt like I had to conform to what was expected of a male and that I could not just be me. I said that now it’s mostly a feeling of freedom – I can just be myself. I also said that I’m in a unique position to be able to experience the differences between male and female and it is huge. But we didn’t have time to go into that much further.  Maybe I’ll enter a post just on that sometime in the future.

Lisa and I took a beautiful ride on the sw shore of Maui around to Kaupo today. I felt ‘extra’ feminine for some reason. Was a great day to be a woman. Lisa had to go pretty bad so when we got to the top of our favorite hill back there, we parked and walked up and just down the other side – enough so that no one would see. She went first – I gave her some napkins to clean up. Then it was my turn – she asked if I wanted some napkins before she remembered I still had boy parts down there. We laughed about it. She said she had forgotten that I wasn’t physically a woman down there yet and said she actually had visualized me having a vagina! I guess she is truly seeing me as a woman now!

A very good friend of mine from back in my college days got back in touch with me recently.  He had some very good questions and I thought I would share my responses.  These are questions I get asked now and then and perhaps this will help others understand trans* people better.

The first was a comment about memories and the person I was.  For some people, they morn the loss of the ‘former’ me.  My response:

That was a great time we had back then, I also have many wonderful memories.  Those memories along with all of my past don’t and should not go away – they are a part of me.  It took my ex-wife a while to understand that as well.  This does not negate nor dismiss those.  It can be hard to understand, but I was ‘this’ person I am now – back then – and all through my life.  What and who you knew ‘as’ me – the ‘me’ of today – was all along.  What is changing is ‘presentation’.  The latest science on this (both medical and psychological) define these as completely separate: birth sex, gender, presentation and preference (as in partner).  A person can be any combination within these – one does not pre-dispose any other (trans* people have the same ratios of hetro, gay, bi, etc. as the normative cis population).  Of those, latest research shows that only presentation is societal – the rest a person is born with (there is a lot of false beliefs out there claiming nonsense).

I was ‘trained’ to be a man – I think I did a pretty good job of it.  Society back then did not allow for anyone like me – it was just an impossibility back then.  Like so many things in my youth, I learned to adjust and to live with it.  Like many other trans*, I over reached in order to prove I was who society said I was supposed to be.  Don’t get me wrong here – I am very grateful for what was, including being married and fathering two wonderful men.

It took a long time to unravel from all of that.  I started almost 10 years ago.  But it actually started even longer ago when I became a professional instructor and then director of the international technical training for the corporation I worked for back then.  I was much more effective than both genders in that trade.  My style and philosophy of training matched that of a female.  That was 20 some years ago and laid the groundwork – the crack in the dam.

Can you imagine your entire life – knowing something is different, that you do not match who everyone (parents, school, friends – everyone) says you are and not knowing why.  I knew I didn’t fit in and was not quite like the other guys.  I also knew I matched more closely to the girls I knew.  But I also knew that physically I was a boy.  There was life long confusion and dysphoria.

This is such a relief now – it explains so much for me and as they say – it hits the nail right on the head.  I am very happy now – this is a huge load off the shoulders.  This may sound strange, but one of the largest dysphoric situations was being addressed/treated/spoken to as a male – especially in public situations.  To be mistaken like that was hard.  That’s not who I am.  By changing my gender presentation to be consistent with who I am, makes all the difference.  The standard explanation (which is totally wrong however, but it does put this into perspective) is to image you wake up in the morning as female but with all your memories, responses, actions, beliefs etc. remaining male – and worse – no one believes you.  You are relegated to live your life from this point on as a woman.  Well, reverse that and that is me – only without the explicit knowledge of what underlies this until recently.  So, ya – like 1000 times better now!  Not just happiness but quality of life, spirituality, knowing and accepting myself – and the list goes on.

A lot of people have mentioned that my ex-wife and myself had one of the most wonderful marriages and they just can not understand how this could have ended:

Hummm, how can I say this ….. I’ve had a lot of people say the same thing about my ex-wife and my relationship.  It was a wonderful and great period of my life.  I’m very grateful and celebrate what we had.  Like all relationships there were wrinkles and cracks under the surface that were not visible to anyone else.  Perhaps the saying “the bigger they are the harder they fall” has some bearing here – not sure.  Two things I can say:  there’s a lot more to the story and we are both in a better place today then if we tried to stay together.  In no way does this negate my ex-wife’s and my life together – I cherish those times and memories and am very glad I was given that time and experience.

Regarding societies stereotypes:

As you can imagine, this is a very difficult and highly personal thing.  I too had to overcome a lifetime of misconceptions and stereotypes and then to embrace who I am knowing that the majority of the world still carries those.  Not exactly the cup of tea I needed … but we are dealt a hand and are committed to play it.  If nothing else, this should attest to the seriousness of this and speak for the determination to transition.  Even in spite of these, it is that important and necessary!

Lisa came along at the right time and not only accepted who I was but embraced it.  This is difficult for her as she does not see herself as lesbian, however, society now does.  You can imagine the confusion  However – one nice thing about being older (and hopefully wiser) – one sees through that and instead embraces their true selves.  After all, is she really a lesbian?  Her preference is for males, her love is for me, regardless of gender.  And does this make my ex-wife a lesbian?  After all I was born this way, therefore I was a woman all along ……  You can see the difficulty with our current language and the assumptions inherent within !  As a society, we need to start transcending this transphobic misogyny and get real.

Keeping pictures of the ‘former’ me from the past:

As for pictures of Steph (I admit – even I talk about Steph in the 3rd person) – I’m glad you are keeping those – that is so nice!  Let me re-emphasize:  who I am now – I always was: as Steph and now as Sifan.  I’m proud of my life and celebrate ‘all’ of it.  I’m not out to deny any of it – it all goes into the ‘me’ that is here and now.  That is the one part of that analogy that is so wrong (“imagine tomorrow you woke up as a woman”) – this is not a bad thing – nor something I regret – nor was living my life as a man all those years.  It just simple ‘is’ and it is my life’s story.  Would I have rather been born cis (same birth sex as gender) – of course!  Given that I’m trans – would I have rather transitioned back then – of course!  But this is my life and even with this, it is a wonderful life.  Now, it’s just that much more wonderful !

I’m hoping this helps others (trans* and friends of trans) understand just a bit better.

With much Aloha,

Sifan

1 Year Summary !

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And what a year this has been!

So much happened just this last month.  Lisa and I got married (or here in Maui we say we just got Maui’d) and my GRS surgery is scheduled and paid for.

I have just added a separate post including pictures and a transcript of our ceremony.  It was a fantastic Hawaiian beach wedding.  As you can see in this picture of Lisa and me – we are soooo happy!  It was the perfect day, we had 12 guests, beautiful morning at the beach, wonderful spot and we had brunch at the Grand Wailea.  The hula band even played a special song so the two of us could have our wedding dance!  The Hawaiian ceremony was full of symbolism and meaning.  I have always dreamed of being the bride at a wedding (well, one of the brides …).  So this was very special for me.

We were wearing so many flowers – I’m barely visible from under them!  Both of us had haku leis (crown lei on our heads) and we wore two leis around our necks (one for our outfit the other to exchange during the ceremony).  I also wore a kupu’u lei on my wrist and one on my ankle.  To top it all off I had a cascading bouquet that I carried (which my friend from work almost continuously had to hold for me during the ceremony – I hope ‘he’ didn’t mind!).

The other major event this month was getting the surgery date confirmed.  We sent in the full amount to pay for the surgery, the hotel and spending money as we live there for one month.  We have our plane reserved too.  Lisa got us in first class on JAL on the way home.  I’ll need that as sitting for that length of time is going to be hard.  The extra room and comfort will be very welcome right about then.  I’m glad that this surgeon keeps his GRS patients for a month.  I will feet better and  be more able to survive that trip home from Thailand!  Plus, if there are any problems, they will more than likely show up before then and they will be able to take care of me.

GRS Surgery Schedule “SK” is confirmed! (Red means confirmed)

We just received the official wedding certificate, so Lisa was able to change her name on her drivers license and social security.  Next we will be going to the passport office and getting that changed for both of us (I had not changed mine yet).

The one last BIG thing I need to do – is lose weight – like 15 pounds – by Sept.  I was talking about this at work and the women all agreed – it’s so much easier for men to lose weight.  All they have to do is skip desert and they are 5 pounds lighter the next day.  For me (and judging by the other women at work – this is the same for all woman) not only is it hard to lose any weight what so ever, but when we do lose weight it’s where we want to keep it (like the breasts)!  The other day I had one egg and a piece of celery for breakfast, a small bowl of noddle soup for lunch and one egg and a piece of toast bread for supper.  I lost, oh, maybe, a whomping .1 of a pound!  Before my transition (well first of all I would have been on my death bed with only that to eat) I would have lost 2 or 4 pounds doing something like that.  One of the woman at work remarked:  “Ya, you ‘are’ a woman.   See, see what’s it like!!”

Who would have guessed – a hair dryer is ‘not’ for drying your hair – silly men:  I added a few more entries in my differences page.

Last month I posted about being passable and my comfort level in being out in public.  This was the first time my family (brother and sister and significant others) have seen me since I started transition.  I was worried how I would be accepted.  I was happy with the warm reception I received from my sister and her friend when I picked them up from the airport.  The hardest time is when I met them at their resort to go swimming.  I wore a two piece, the bottom being a swim skirt.  Because of my shape, a two piece is the only way I can get everything to fit properly.  I think this might have been a bit much for them at first.  As the day wore on, everyone seemed to be more comfortable.  The last day my brother and wife were here we went out to what is probably the best most Hawaiian restaurant here on Maui.  I wore my long black dress – the one I wore way back when I surprised Lisa when she returned home.

My sister and her friend stayed for an extra week.  For me, one of the highlights of their visit was taking them out snorkeling and then going out shopping for clothes.  This was the first time I ever went shopping with my sister – as her sister!  It was precious!  Something I will remember.  We would find clothes for each other, critic, advise and just had fun.

Every trans* person knows that kids (being uninhibited) will be the ones to challenge you.  On our wedding day, Lisa and I took the elevator to get to the brunch.  A mother and her two little girls were in the elevator and rode down to our floor.  Just as the door opened and Lisa and I were getting out, the little girl asks if I’m a woman.  Without batting an eye I answered I was.  She seemed to accept that and continued to chat away!  I impressed myself by the fact that this didn’t bother me in the least.

But, you can imagine my trepidation a week ago when I had to teach astronomy to around 210 3rd graders.  Only one student sort of kind of asked in a roundabout way if I was a women.  Other than that I had a couple of strange looks and heads tipped to the side as they first sat down.  To teach 3rd graders, I put together a high energy talk with lots of enthusiasm and great pictures that illustrate events from stellar births in the Orion Nebula to massive supper novas and the mighty explosions in space.  Once I start, gender is the furthest thing in their minds.  Success to me is measured in how many hugs and high fives I get.  By that measure, this year was awesome – even though this was my first time as a woman teaching this class.  I even had one student from a different class come back during break to ask me additional questions.

Changes this month:  except for a few confirmations of being a woman (see above “see, see what’s it like!”) not too much has changed.  Lisa and others told me my face has changed some more and people have noticed I have curves.  I’ve had a few comments on my weight loss progress too.  My breasts have not been sore for a while, but just these last two night a bit of soreness has come back.

Oh, breaking news ….. there is a military coup in Thailand.  We’ll watch that closely.  For now things still look do’able.  We are changing our return flight to a bit earlier however.

Now to gt back to concentrating on losing weight ….

With Aloha,

Sifan

Our Maui Wedding

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On May 4, 2014, Lisa and I were married at Palauea Beach, Makena, Maui.  I included some pictures and the wording from our wedding which also includes explanations and meanings of the various ceremonies that were a part of our wonderful day.  Enjoy !   Here I am, all ready and waiting for Lisa before we […]

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