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Month 7 Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

External changes:

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

Internal changes:

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

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

Sifan

Ah – ‘Nothing’ at last …

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

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

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

full closet - nothing to wear

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

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

With much aloha,
Sifan

Month 6 Summary

20131128_170026

Steph!! THE BIG SIX !!

Before starting my transition, I had heard that most of the ‘major’ changes would occur by the end of six months.  My original plan was to wait for this milestone and then come out full time as a woman.  My thoughts at the time were that this would give me the best, least embarrassing and most comfortable way to do this, as I would look more authentic and be able to pass (as a woman) so much better.

Unfortunately I was focused on looking like a woman and trying to pass as one and in the process forgot that in the meantime I would have had to look and pass as a man. At three months I was ‘budding’ enough, plus other changes, that I could not present as a man any longer and started my RLE – full time “real life experience” (eg. full time out as a woman).

The good part of this is that I’m now three months closer to GRS (gender re-assignment surgery) than I would have been if I waited.  GRS is a good name for it as most everything is re-used (it’s not chopped as some transphobes like to proclaim).  As for timing to start a RLE:  you just have to do it when it seems right.  There are pros and cons regardless of when it’s done.  No matter what, there is still the ‘ugly duckling’ phase where you are not able to present as a man nor are you able to present as a woman.  Not that I’m past that yet – but it sure is better than it was.

A caution here:  I’m a transsexual – I’m ‘binary’ in that my gender is female – opposite my birth sex.  I’m not gender fluid or someplace in the middle as other transgender people are.  I’m fully on the opposite side.  Therefore when I talk about an ugly duckling phase, I’m speaking from my experience of the difficult phase of changing from one extreme of the gender scale to the other.  Others are perfectly happy someplace in the middle.  And as many have pointed out (me included), we all are someplace ‘within’ this scale – probably never on the extreme ends (binary), although society blindly asserts that we all are.

So much for an intro!  I’ve read that the changes from here on out are slower but continue for up to 2 years – stay tuned …

This last month saw a number of what I would call ‘massively public’ events.  Events where there were a lot of people and I had some public role, like giving a tour, holding ‘mock’ interviews so students could practice and get experience, hosting or giving presentations.  In each of these cases there were a lot of people I did not know (20 to 50 people) and I had to be ‘up in front’ of everyone and had to either present or hold open discussions where I had to fully participate.  These were still scary but this is good experience for me.  I am getting more comfortable – not quite back to where I was when I was a professional instructor – but starting to get there.

Another notable recurring situations are compliments:   I’m starting to get them on how I’m looking, on my choice of clothes or colors or on my hair styling and even how my face looks.  These are from people at work, friends and also people that have not seen me in a while.  Three people that I unexpectedly met after having not seen each other for, well definitely since I transitioned, had dropped their jaws and grabbed me in huge hugs!  One was an older fella whom I had not told of my transition after he had left the islands.  I wasn’t sure how he would take it.  As we walked down the hall together talking – he put his arm around me …. what a sweet guy!  Another person, host of our TG support group, was amazed at how much I had changed (we both had been busy for a couple of months and had not seen each other).  At the library, I ran across a woman I knew but haven’t seen for a while.  She knew about my transition (sort of knew about that before I ever said anything).  When she saw me, she ‘attacked’ me with a hug and an “oh my – you are gorgeous”!

On the other side of the coin:  this is the first time I was ‘clocked’ (it’s also called ‘being read’).  This is when someone in a public space persistently calls us by the ‘wrong’ pronouns – in my case calling me ‘sir’.  Of course this is something ‘we’ (transgender/transsexuals) are sensitive to, watch for, do everything everyday to avoid (by the way we dress, carry ourselves, talk, act, etc).  It’s also something ‘we’ mentally and emotionally prepare for.  Mentally I share the same philosophy as the ‘old hats’ (post-transition): this is my life, not theirs, what they think or say is their own issue.  But when it happens – feelings are still hurt, it smarts.

This had the effect of calling into question any and all of the progress of my transition so far (putting it in the classification of ‘probable progress’).  Was everyone just being nice to me all this time?  Was I really starting to be able to ‘pass’ as a woman?  Usually I wear a tank top, sometimes with an open shirt over it, but that day I just wore a shirt, buttoned of course.  So I was probably a lot more androgynous or even masculine looking than normal (my assets were, ummm, less noticeable).  Another way of looking at this is that I’ve been out 3 months already and this is the first time that had happened.  I hear from the ‘old hats’ that even after 20 years some of them will get clocked occasionally.  This is the subject of my next post.

Ok, physical changes during month six:  oh are my breasts sore …. ya, they are still growing (yay).  I seem to have gotten back some of the size from before – only now they are very firm – and ummm, sensitive.  All my skin is much softer.  Even my lips are a bit fuller (let me put it this way – I now ‘have’ lips …)  My bottom is filling out, my waist is shrinking and my shoulders and upper arms are losing a bit of size (no where near enough for me though).  Some weight is definitely redistributing.  A number of people have noticed and mentioned the changes in my face.  And even I have noticed (and oh am I critical ….).  There is a bit more definition of the cheek bones and my face is not so ‘square’ as it was.  Still a ways to go, but I can see progress.  So, I now have some ‘curves’!

I’m finally able to change my earrings without going through the roof.  I did learn my lesson:  I had left them off one night.  The next day my partner had to, well, it felt like she had to ‘drill’ one of them back in ….  Of course every time I change I have that memory in the back of my mind.  But at last, I can now change them and only have a tiny bit of feeling.  I have learned my lesson however and I keep my original studs in over night and anytime I’m not wearing hooks.

Even after laser hair treatment on my face, I’m still shaving daily.  It’s not that noticeable in that most of the hairs are white now, but from the side you can tell.  Even after a close shave, my skin is not smooth – or smooth enough.  This next month I’m planning on starting electrolysis.  That should make a big difference.

I am also still shaving the rest of my body:  legs and arms about once a week, torso almost every day (sometimes every day, mostly every two days).  One of the changes expected from hormones is to change the body hair to more of a peach fuzz. My partner has been after me to stop shaving to see what results.  But I can’t stand to see any hair there – at least for now.  I’ll let you know the results once I get brave enough to experiment and let it grow (eeeeeek).

I’m doing daily walks now too.  I walk around this large block where I work.  It has about a 60 foot difference in elevation, so it’s a good exercise.  I have started to notice that the way I walk has now changed.  There is a definite bounce and a bit of a wiggle in my step now.  I think it has to do with ‘filling out’ ….

Finally, I have spent more time with the speech lessons (about time actually).  From a number of different courses and online material I’ve read, there is a lot of discussion about constricting your throat, pinching your thorax, lifting your adams apple and speaking from your mouth, not your chest.  This was all mumbo jumbo and somewhat senseless at first – how can you even know from where you actually speak?  How could a person pinch their thorax?  For me the best course I’ve found is the 30 day Crash Course.  With guided help and exercises I finally figured out all of these.  For me, just thinking about talking from the mouth will accomplish all the others automatically.  Once it clicks, it clicks!

I have a long ways to go yet, but I have surprised my self after a couple of public speaking engagements when I listened to the audio/video of myself.  One time I was setting up for an outreach public astronomy talk – I was testing the links from the remote mic to room speakers to the broadcasting equipment and finally to the feedback from the web.  There is a built in delay for censoring (about 6 seconds).  So I could speak, then 6 sec. later hear myself in the headphones.  I couldn’t believe what I was hearing – I absolutely had a female voice!  It was awesome!  So, my advice to others – practice, practice, practice – it is possible (I’m definitely still in the practice phase).

Oh, and a biggie just today …. I ordered my wedding dress!  We are soooo excited.  Also, make sure you read the excellent post my partner wrote here regarding her experiences being the SO (significant other) of someone transitioning.

Wishes (or to work towards):  more hair on my head, less ‘no’ hair anywhere else, better voice, more defined curves and electrolysis and …. of course …. GRS!

I guess I would summarize this month as gaining more confidence (despite being clocked), physically filling out more, redistributing weight, defining curves and starting to get compliments.  If you are just starting your transition – ya, six months is magical.

With much aloha,

Sifan

Beach Bodies: a view of perception

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With aloha,

Sifan

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

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,

Sifan

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 …….