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Month 5 Summary

Sifan 20131021Just got the automated call that tells me to pick up my next month’s supply of hormones from the pharmacy – must be the start of month 6 !

This last month saw a settling in, a becoming more comfortable and some ‘internal’ changes.

My inclination is to say “wow, five months already” and that is a true feeling.  I also vividly remember five months ago and how much anticipation I had and the amount of anxiety I had in starting this journey.  It’s strange how looking forward it seemed like forever and looking back it seems like it just happened, except that so much is packed into the ‘just happened’ space …  Here I am now, having those same feelings of anticipation and anxiety plus the feelings of how far I’ve come and how much has been accomplished.

I’ve had some clarification on the whole ‘gender/natal sex/internal sex’ conundrum.  I had used the term ‘body map’ to describe this previously.  I just read “Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity” by Julia Serano where she describes this as ‘subconscious sex’ which is very much where I was going.  Well, this is the subject of another post, see:  “Body Map“.

Comfort is a subjective thing of course.  In a lot of ways I’m more comfortable in public – exposure being out as a woman and time being in public help immensely.  That’s not to say I don’t get those moments when I still feel awkward or times I just do not want to go into a certain store (for example the car parts place…).  Which is a bit strange considering there are opposite situations as well – a couple cases in point from this last month:

We had the Maui Pride (LGBTQ) day this last month.  This was my first attendance.  My partner and I went and had a great time.  It was special for me of course.  I identify as both the ‘T’ (transgender) and the ‘L’ (lesbian).  It was wonderful to be accepted and we both felt it to be very freeing and loving.  We held hands and had arms around each other most of the time – we even kissed (in public!) under the gate as we left.

Last month I had purchased a halter swim suit top to ‘solve’ my beach ‘issues’.  Well, this month I purchased the matching bottoms!  So I now have a bikini !!  Now, timing in transition is everything – I would not have attempted this before (and well, I’m probably on the edge as far as doing this now).  But with my flatter tummy, budding breasts, slight curves, fuller hair (although not anywhere the length I would like yet) I am passable.  So, I did it.  The first time I went to the beach by myself (my partner was not feeling good that day).  The second time, my partner came with me.  She watched everyone else as I took off my beach dress, exposing myself in my bikini and sauntered down into the water – no one stared.  She noted that I probably look better than 20% of the woman on a Maui beach (tourists feel that being here on a beach is their one chance to wear a bikini – something they would not do back home).  She said I definitely ‘passed’ (yayayayayayay) and she felt good holding hands with another woman who was in a bikini as we strolled down the beach !

Wow, talk about getting more confident in public …. (and no, I’m not going to post those pictures).

Ok, changes this month:

I think my breasts look smaller (ack) !  There has been a lot of soreness.  It seems that they have shrunk but at the same time they are much more firm and solid.  On further inspection they seem to have also grown laterally, a larger circumference, but not outwardly.  I wear a support bra that ‘brings ’em in’ and gives me a nice profile, but without that I look flatter than I was before (from the side, from the front they have additional size – sideways).  The doctor had also recommended taking an over the counter progesterone that I might think about.  It’s suppose to ease some of the soreness as well.

My skin is softer – one of the effects is the generation of a subcutaneous fatty layer just under the skin.  Both my partner and I have now noticed that.  Along with that the hair on the rest of my body (not the face however) is starting to change:  softer, lighter and in some places not as much.  I am shaving my arms and legs about once a week, tummy and chest about once every two days, back about once a month.

I had my last facial hair laser treatment this month.  There was a different technician this time and she did a lot more and used a higher strength.  It was more effective but was a bit harder on me.  Still it was not beyond me – I would rate it a 3 or 4 on the scale of 10 for pain.  I could get away with shaving my face once every two days (and do sometimes) but depending on what I’m doing that day (like work) I’ll shave – this usually turns out meaning I shave everyday during the week but skipping a day on the weekend.  I checked out a hair electrolysis  place and will start that soon.  Most of the facial hair that is left is white – so only electrolysis will work.  This was my original intent – use laser to get rid of as much hair as possible and then ‘clean-up’ with electrolysis.

Ok, as usual, the largest perceived change for last – internal changes:

I read about this, others I know have talked about this – so I was ‘on the alert’ so to speak.  It sort of crept up on me slowly – imperceptibly.  I had mentioned before that others had noted I was moody at times now (and this is different than I was before).  Now I’m noticing other things:

I drove home from work and smelled someone cooking outdoors – a pleasant smell, nothing unusual.  Except that as I traveled the smell got a bit stronger – not much.  In total, I had noticed the smell almost 3 blocks before and about 2 blocks after.  I’ve never had a sensitive nose before.  By the way, it was not intense or out of the ordinary in any way.

About 3 weeks ago I started to notice the scent of the women’s restroom – ‘not’ a restroom smell but a female scent.  I notice this every time I use one now.  Unfortunately I can not compare this to a men’s restroom because I did not have this sense of smell then, so there is no way of comparing and I’m ‘not’ ever going back into one either!

The most lovely new ‘scent’ experience is the smell of my partners neck !  How wonderful it is to have this type of additional connection to the one I love.

My partner and I were at our therapists, I was talking about some of these latest internal changes and mentioning an increase in wanting to feeling textures when I caught myself running my fingers along the bottom hem of the blouse I was wearing !  I guess subconsciously I was proving my point,  I always appreciated color and texture but now I have this want or need to hold or touch things and feel their texture.

Before transition, I had mentioned (complained) that I felt I was behind a curtain that allowed maybe 1/10 of the surrounding sensations (some people call this ‘energy’) to come through.  In some ways it was like my former male self was protecting me from the rawness of the environment.  It’s hard to describe how I knew this – it’s like there were a number of clues that there was a lot more there that I was not able to receive or that what I was feeling/receiving was muted.

Well, ya – it was.  This is another one of these internal changes that came on slowly, imperceptibly – one that perhaps only hindsight sees clearly.   This now manifests in a number of ways.  One is being more sensitive and being effected by things that never bothered me before or that I just would not have paid any attention to.  Another is being a bit more critical of things or actions.  I would have either never noticed before or if I did, I would have instantaneously ‘written them off’ and not be bothered at all by them.  Now, I notice and I have to consciously  deal with it – whether I still ignore them or not – I now have to make that decision.

Whether all of these are effects of the hormones or not, I don’t know.  From my perspective it sure seems like it is.  One thing stands out very very clearly – hormones are very powerful – one really needs to be under the watchful eye of endocrinologists, therapists, and gp’s.

My perception of men has changed too.  I suppose it’s better to say that this transition has explained for me what influences I had been under and explains a lot of my behavior, feelings and actions before my transition.  Switching genders gives a person a huge perception into not only gender, but sexuality, society, politics and the list goes on.  Suffice it to say that I look at men differently now, with more understanding and acceptance actually.

Well, it’s been said many times that a transsexual really does not know how much they are what they are until they get a ways into their transition.  It’s at this time that we start to pull everything together and our lives become congruent – our ‘subconscious sex’, gender expression and societies acceptance of gender – start to match up.  Only then do we start to see and understand the depth of our previous disconnection and finally now be able to understand, to feel ‘right’, ‘connected’, happy and possibly the only word that comes close:  comfortable (again, I do not like that word because it has a connotation of ‘not something essential or necessary for life’ – in this case it is very essential – just look at the suicide rate for transsexuals).

For me, this is re-affirming of who I am and that I have finally solved a life long struggle.

With so much aloha,

Sifan

Month 4 Summary

Sifan 20130912Wow, starting my 5th month already, it seems to be going faster and picking up speed …  I’m even reminiscing with my partner about how hesitant and timid I was when I first started.  How difficult it was for me in public and how I worried about everything and everyone.  Not that I’m completely over that now, but I have come a very long way.

One turning point was when I suddenly realized that I looked more like a woman that has ‘manly’ features than a man trying to be a woman.  This mostly came about as there were a number of times when a sales clerk would look at me sympathetically.  There were other situations as well.  All in all, mentally, for myself, it put me much more at ease knowing this.  Since then I have been much more comfortable and secure in public.  I have been shopping and walking and just being in public more often and without my security blanket (my partner).

I have started noticing guys, watching them a bit and realizing what they are doing or responding to and how they are.  And I realize: I never was one.  I also see and understand clearly the facade I was putting on and the how hard I was acting in order to pass as a man back then.  But more importantly I am so happy to not have to do that anymore.  Plus it also reconfirms who I am and that I’m finally on the path to be ‘me’.  I feel so relieved, such a weight lifted – I can now just express myself freely – not afraid to giggle when I need to giggle!  I’ll write a post detailing what I mean by maleness or at least what facade I see that I was wearing – if I can figure out how to express that in words (I need to translate my feelings at those times into words, for this, it might be difficult).

The first huge event this last month was flying to southern California to visit my partner’s brother.  The airline tickets were purchased long before I had my name changed and getting that resolved was interesting and wonderful.  I had to go into the airport to the counter for that airline to present my documents.  But because they are only open when a flight is departing, I had come back a few times.  When I did, I was helped by one of the managers.  At first, she was going to charge me for the name change and since it’s a different name I was also going to be charged for a flight change (didn’t quite get the logic of that)!  A number of calls to their HQ and finally she got the tickets changed to my new name plus their records changed to my new gender as well.  Finally after we finished (she could see how stressed I was with all of this), she congratulated me on my change and wished me well, but then came over the counter and gave me a hug (and she did not charge me at all)!

Going through security at the gate was no problem.  After being scanned I was waved over to an inspector (a female!) and she said “you are good to go ma’mm, have a great flight” – I was beaming ear to ear with the ma’mm!  Once in California, we met up with my partner’s two brothers and one sister in law (wife of one of the brothers).  They all accepted me from the start (we knew each other for a long time already, but they have not seen me since I started transition).  It was ‘classic’:  they held doors open for me, let me go in first, the guys talked to each other and we women talked among ourselves.  They would tell stories and try to top each others stories – typical.  I had no inclination to tell any stories or join in on their manly pursuits.  More interestingly, as I said above, I recognized these ‘traits’ and I felt so good not to have to join, or be expected to be a part of that ‘maleness’ – instead, it felt so natural to be in a group of women and expressing myself openly and freely and being accepted.

The Institute for Astronomy where I work was planning for their annual open house.  We all volunteer.  At the planning meeting one of the women in my department told about a wonderful presentation I had put together and basically ‘volunteered’ me to give one of the talks.  Ummm ….. I’ve been on HRT for 3.5 months, went 100% femme just 2 months ago, had not really practiced my voice that much yet …..  this was both daunting and a challenge.  The coordinator came up to me afterwards (he knew this was going to be a challenge for me) and asked if I really wanted to do this.  I told him this would be a good goal for me to attempt.  Oh girl —- it was challenging…..

I had researched voice lessons and had downloaded a few and tried them.  But the one I finally settled on (it cost about US$ 130) was:  http://30daycrashcourse.com/  It has excellent instructions and guide/practice videos.  It steps through one week at a time.  Its uses a spectrogram (can download free ones for your computer) that allow you to visually see your tones and resonance.  It is also structured to bring your voice along at a pace that will both be comfortable (and prevent you from stressing) and also to train and retain the ‘muscle’ memory of speaking with the proper tone and resonance.  Now, I still have a ways to go, but this really helped.

The big day finally arrived – I was so nervous and stressed.  The people at work expected that and helped me both physically and supported me emotionally.  My Maui-sista (a woman I work with that has taken me under her wing as a sister) was selected to do all the introductions for the talks.  It was so comforting to have her up there introducing me and being there as I started.  We had about 50 people from the area show up for the talk.  It was also broadcast to the web where about 100 people from around the world had tuned in.  I gave a talk on what/how the observers use the telescope.  I used a 3D simulated model of the observatory in a virtual world where I took my avatar and walked them through a tour of the facility, then went through all of the actions the observers do.

It went great!  This was my first time ‘massively’ in public and speaking as well.  A number of the professors came up after and congratulated me both on the talk but also on achieving this milestone.  I also heard from a number of people that watched this on the web.  Here is a link to the video.

After the open house, three college students came back to where I was and sort of milled around a bit, not really saying anything but just hanging around.  Once everyone else left, one of them asked “so what made you change”?  I was not sure where this was going and everyone else had left …  I had met one of the guys before and knew him to be a nice person, so I answered.  Turns out, all three identify themselves as ‘gender questioning’.  One was definitely square in the gender middle, the other two more transsexual like myself.  Later I noticed that the guy I knew from before had toe nail polish on!  Wish I would have seen that to begin with – it was have eased my anxiety a tad …  We had a wonderful talk – I was about 1.5 hours late getting home that night.  It was wonderful, for all four of us, to have met and had this conversation and possibly future support.  You just never know … perhaps I’m now a role model !

As for physical changes:  My breasts are continuing to blossom … about every other day I get sore and they fill out a little bit more each time.  I’m noticing some of my hairs are white and soft – not enough though and I still have to shave ‘everything’.  The laser treatment on my face has helped a lot – I have to shave about every other day and if I forget, it’s not really that bad.  My partner noticed that my cheekbones are getting more prominent and my face is starting to change.  My bottom is getting a bit more rounded but the measurements don’t really show anything except my breasts.

I finally got my ears pierced  – they did both at the same time – two women, one on each ear – 1, 2, 3, pop and it was over.  I would not describe it as painful at all.  Of course I was promised chocolate truffles after and I do admit that had a major effect on ‘pain management’.  My partner is doing my hair every morning – she loves my hair and wishes hers was fine and manageable like mine.  She also does my eye brows, shaping and coloring them.

I’ve pretty much filled out my wardrobe.  I have plenty of options for work, around the house and for  going out – both casual and more up scale.  Now I need some ‘dirty’ clothes:  ones for working in the yard, on the car, or when I have to go up to the summit and work at the observatory.

This next month we are eagerly awaiting the results of a special legislative session to address marriage equality here in Hawaii.  We are hoping it will pass as we are planning on being married next May.  It is so exciting to be a bride!

With much Aloha,

Sifan

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,

Sifan

One Month HRT

Posted on

metamorphosis_II_by_julmendOne month already!  I knew it was here because my prescriptions were out!  So this is sort of a summary of what its like after 30 days on hormones.

Executive summary:  Estradiol is working great, good results.  But Spirol (he was worried about low blood pressure and only put me on 1/4 the dosage) seems to be having only a marginal effect.

Estradiol:  I have already noticed four effects – some just marginally, in fact so small that I’m not sure and others, although still small, are noticeable (well notable at least).

Before my breasts were chest muscles and probably fat.  They have actually ‘shrunk’ – ack!   However, the texture and resiliency are very different.  The areola and nipples are the same size but now have ‘sensitivity’.  At times there were small lumps in the areola and on and off they were more firm.  I have also noticed that my sports bras are a bit more snug feeling and that I’m feeling my shirt or blouse more when I walk.  More than a few times when taking a shower or drying off I noticed that when my arms were out in front of me, that they were bumping or rubbing against the sides of my breasts or the front and I felt that!  My side profile has changed too – whereas before that tissue more or less was flat, now my breasts have a small but definite profile.

My buttocks seem to have a defined shape as well.  Placing my hands on my hips, thumb forward and fingers wrapped around behind, I noticed that I’m a bit more curvy there than before.  I have some woman’s slacks that before was a little baggy in the back that now fit much better.

I have been shaving my legs, stomach and chest and have noticed that my skin seems a bit smoother as well.  Especially noticeable is my forehead (which is not shaved or anything so therefore serves as a good benchmark).

And the last thing I have noticed is my body.  Others have described in their transition as feeling more feminine.  That didn’t quite explain it for me.  Yes, it’s a more feminine feeling day-to-day but I think the really big internal change is that the body is catching up to the ‘me’ that is inside it (mind and spirit or what ever you want to call that).  The body and the internal gender are starting to match – congruence.  It’s a wonderful feeling of having everything together, of everything starting to be ….. ‘me’!

Spiro: well here is where I’m not as satisfied, granted this is only 1 month.  About the only thing I can use as a measure here would be penile functioning and attendant physiology.  An oft reported effect is the lack of both the responsiveness and frequency.  Before I thought I had a problem with ‘frequency’ only to find out I was quite normal for a male.  Non-the-less this was something I did not want and couldn’t wait for it to abate.  Well, it has abated but not as much as I would wish.  I am still quit able there, it takes a bit long and is getting hard to accomplish.  So there is progress on that front.

I do see changes related to this as well. For example, before a bikini clad well shaped and sexy woman on the beach would arouse me. Now, I’m noticing whether that style of bikini suits her figure, would I wear those colors or that style and how is she wearing her hair. I also find myself comparing her figure with what I think I’ll have and then try to imagine what I could wear.

My orientation is to women – that has not changed, only now I would be considered a lesbian. I find that instead of a masculine arousal, I have a different kind of internal arousal. It’s still too new to describe. I feel more attracted to my partner then ever before. I want to please her and make love to her – but not in a masculine way at all, but more of a sensual giving manner. I also enjoy when she comes up behind me and hugs/caresses me, especially my budding form!

And I do have to admit, for the first time I find some men – ummm – interesting. I do not think anything more of this other then I can understand what other woman ‘see’ and ‘want’ in men. I can feel this now from a feminine point of view. Like I said, my orientation is to women, I am a lesbian, but I can understand (feel) the ‘stirrings’ a hetro-woman has.