when top surgery goes wrong

From an online fundraiser here: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/damien-leggett-surgery-fund–2

“On Oct 31st, 2013 Damien Leggett 34, was given a bilateral mastectomy performed at Pan Am Clinic in Winnipeg.  The drains were removed Nov 4th.  Damien should have been on the road to recovery within two weeks but within a week of the surgery it was very clear something was not right.

On Nov 10 he was admitted to St Boniface Hospital but transferred to Health Sciences Centre where he had an ultrasound and fluid was drained. This happened several times.

Damien’s condition deteriorated at home to the point that I called an ambulance as he had a high fever. His teeth were chattering and he was barely lucid. Early in the morn of Nov 17th he was admitted to HSC after the paramedics took a temp at his home of 39.5. He was very ill.

Read the rest of this entry »

dirty-words

from a F2T transgender forum:

Before I properly realised I was trans I knew I liked girls, yet the term lesbian didn’t seem right. I couldn’t stand the word. Read the rest of this entry »

New docudrama of the Angelo Heddington case. Graphic.

Downtown_Mesa_Arizona

Downtown Mesa

A sixteen year-old Arizona girl was arrested Thursday morning for posting detailed plans for committing mass murder of fellow students at the Maricopa County Red Mountain High School that she attended, to be followed by her suicide. She posted the plot on the YouTube video of a transgender Vancouver community group. The channel owner reported the threats to Vancouver police who tracked them down to the Mesa AZ region and contacted area police Wednesday night.

From ABCNews:

Part of the post reportedly said the following: “I now literally have a plan of seriously hurting… killing… murdering people in my high school. And a playlist to do it.”

 According to [police Sgt.] Jones, the post went on to say, “I WORK at the high school as a student teacher basically… which is why no one can find out about me somewhat accidentally planning to blow up the school. (and yes… it would be super easy…)”

The teen has reportedly admitted making the posts.

Sherriff Joe Arpaio said in an online news conference that the teen has been arrested as a juvenile for one count of threatening and intimidating and one count of computer tampering but that the investigation was ongoing and more charges were possible. He stated that the teen’s motive was not yet clear but that there were not yet any indications of bullying. She is being held in a Juvenile facility.

From the Maricopa Sherrif’s Dept press release [PDF]:

“ …the 16 year old is a student teacher at the high school and in her interview with Sheriff’s detectives said she was scared because she thinks she may really carry out the plans detailed in the post, and “ f@#king kill everyone”.

 The 16 year-old also admitted to Sheriff’s detectives that she had thought about the killings for a while, planning to “cut the wires to the security carts” on campus so as to slow down the response during an explosion, and shoot people from the other side of a fence.

 When Sheriff’s detectives entered the home this morning, they found three handguns including a semi-automatic .40 caliber, a .357 revolver, and a .22 revolver and seized two computers in the home to process for further evidence. The weapons were not seized but released to the girl’s father for safe keeping.

 In the interview by Sheriff’s detectives of the girl’s parents both said their daughter has a history of mental health issues, has been seen by a psychiatrist, and had recently been inquiring about where the guns were being kept in the house. The father said he was alarmed by his daughter’s comments and took the additional safety precautions of placing trigger locks on each gun and safeguarding them in a gun safe.”

From KPHO News:

“A neighbor who’s known the teen for years said she’s a gifted musician and she never showed any violent tendencies.

“She’s really nice once you get to know her,” said Braydon Barlow. “But, other than that, that’s nothing like her. I’ve never seen her act like that.”

A longtime friend who played with her in a band says she recently came out as transgendered.

“I’m shocked. Totally surprised. I’ve known her forever, since like third grade and I just can’t believe it’s her,” said Red Mountain junior Jacob Stowasser.

Another friend, Jake Betts, told CBS 5 she was a member of the school’s Gay Straight Alliance club, or GSA, but that she dropped out at the urging of her parents.

“Just recently she’s had a lot of problems. Like personal problems with family and stuff,” said Stowasser, without providing details.”

Students were sent home early Thursday. The school will have increased security on Friday and will close early.

Rumors of potential threats swept across the U.S. causing hundreds of school closures this week in the wake of the devastating mass murder of women and children at the Sandy Hook CT Elementary School. Dozens of teens have been arrested nationwide for making threats against their schoolmates via social media, phone calls, and notes.

“I hope that I haven’t influenced any non-binary people to take testosterone when it wasn’t truly right for them. I’m not sure how I feel about testosterone anymore or the process of taking hormones, I can’t say for sure whether it’s a good thing or not, because I’m probably not someone who should be putting their opinion out there! I’m not sure if I regret taking t or not, even though I said I didn’t in the video. I’m pretty sure I would have taken it no matter what… But I just hope I haven’t influenced people with my videos in the past, that is all.”

[Note to MeepMarmoset: Please post more on this or at least set your "Transgender Regret and some Melancholy I need to get off my chest" video to public so others going through the same thing can view it. Thanks. Also, I again direct folks coming off T and/or experiencing regret to this site where you can connect with others and get support: http://atlasstrawberries.tumblr.com/ -GM]

“I’m trying to just get off of it at this point. And my reason for that is because I am not wanting any more changes than I’ve already had. I think the changes that I did have snuck up on me pretty quickly and I hadn’t really thought about what it meant to pass at that point. And now I do pass. And I’m still at a crossroads with that in terms of it being something that I am comfortable with, and it being something that sort of negates an old identity that I am comfortable with that I still feel like I am. Like I still very much feel like a dyke. And so it’s hard being read as a straight white male. It’s got its privileges but it’s also- it’s been hard for me to relate to people just because – I look a little different now. And I think a lot of that was because I had insecurity about being butch enough in the queer scene and also I feel like a lot of people were taking T and I was- I wanted to fit in, so I took T too.”

Medusa. Bermini.

Syd writes:

 So, I’ve been reading this blog for a little while now, and I kind of wanted to ask the author (or anyone) for some advice. If I go to a therapist, or a support group, they’d all tell me it’s okay to be trans and they’d want me to just live as a man, but I feel like that would be betraying an aspect of my born body. I’m also sorta of the mind that one shouldn’t treat a mental condition with physical changes. I’ve brought this up at a few meetings I’ve been to on ‘gender norms’ and the leader of the group, who identified as a ‘lesbian transgender woman’ (ie. heterosexual male?) just seemed to shrug it off as nonsense.


Thing is, I still feel uncomfortable being labeled as a woman. It doesn’t happen to me very often nowadays, because for whatever reason without hormones or any interventions other than haircuts and clothing, I ‘pass’, but when it does happen, I kind of cringe.
I don’t hold anything against women. I love women; I love masculine women, I love feminine women, I love women big and small. I just don’t enjoy being one.
I’m uncomfortable in my female body, and I’m uncomfortable in groups of females. The gender role freaks me out to such a degree that I want no part of it. I feel like if I don’t grow my hair out, shave my legs, and dress a certain way, then I’m failing to be a normal woman, so therefore being a man is easier. Other women seem to fall so easily into being women, but I seem to be failing.


Essentially, I want to know how to overcome these feelings.
Also, it should be mentioned that I enjoy both men and women, and I’m currently in a heterosexual relationship with a man who’s had relationships with both genders, so I don’t even fulfill the role as a dyke woman past a superficial definition.
Honestly I think I would rather live in a world where genders didn’t have any pretenses, where everyone could use any bathroom, dress however they felt and nobody would cared what their partner’s genitals were or who made more money, but seeing as that’s not the world we live in, I’m having trouble coping with my implied societal failure as a woman. I’d rather not end up taking hormones just to fit in with a gender role only because I meet their criteria better.
Also therapy for this seems to be nonexistent. Therapists seem more focused on getting me looking and acting and taking up roles as my preferred gender, but that’s not what I want.

I don’t want to pretend to be a man just because it’s easier, I want to know how to accept myself as a woman.
Does anyone have any suggestions for this? Do I just need to hit a pinnacle of enlightenment and hope that eventually the self-loathing will end?

 ——————————————————————————

 Sister you are not alone.

I don’t say that to comfort you, or to dismiss your genuine experience with a feel-good trope, or to make you feel “less alone”.  I mean it literally. You are not alone. Your experiences are not personal or unique to you. This is an important thing to recognize in the process of “accepting yourself” personally. This is a really important point I think. What you are experiencing is not unique, and not personal.

When feminists said “the personal is political” they did not mean “our individual actions can impact the political sphere”, or “our speshul individual internal lives are important” (not implying that you, Syd are saying that here). They meant: the things we deal with personally, in isolation and silence, the things that feel like internal personal issues, are actually not. The war against woman is conducted against us individually. Daily. Personally. Picking us off one by one. Rooting us out with each misstep. With each transgression. Or for no transgression at all. She was raped because _____  (fill in the blank) specific individual singular particular personal speshul reason. Women are not raped because men are conducting sexual torture and war crimes against women en masse. She was raped because she neglected to lock her window. Because she met a guy from online three weeks before. Because she hadn’t heard news reports of a serial rapist in her neighborhood. Because she happened to live in that neighborhood. Because she was pretty/ugly black/white rich/poor old/young etc.

It is always personal. It is always singular. It is always unique. Speshul circumstance. And the system is designed to individualize, to single out, to personalize.

But you are not alone. And what you experience has nothing to do with you personally.

From your comments here I can tell you recognize that important truth on some level, intuitively if not consciously. This is a very important thing for women to realize and is the core of healing personally and individually from the mass assault against female humanity and liberation. A personal situation requires singular individualized INTERNALIZED and self-directed reflection and analysis of the personal specific singular factors involved. That is NOT what we are dealing with here. We are dealing with IMPERSONAL EXTERNALIZED FACTORS. We are dealing with a WAR against those humans born with (or assumed to be in possession of) the biological capacity of being impregnated, by those humans who lack that capacity.

Syd, my sister, what is informing your personal malaise with an impersonal war is the specifics of your experience of it. Let’s go there.

Like myself, you have tasted the forbidden fruit. When we “pass” as male, or are assumed to be male, we experience something most women will never experience: being treated as fully human. As humans, our fellow humans give our input due regard, our experience due respect, our overlord status as the ruling class due note. Both men and women defer, refer, and relate to us based on our expressed competence (as adjusted for our perceived racial and class status). Few women have ever experienced humanity. They experience the lack of it, and witness it vicariously, but they have never had the experience of humanity.

The experience of women like us is profound. Breathtaking. Like soaking in warm honey-tinged milk. My god.

Every woman on the planet would inject testosterone (or whatever the fuck) into their right eye to experience the day to day existence of being treated as a regular human that you and I have experienced conditionally, and fleetingly. What people call “male privilege” is actually the experience as being treated as a default human. A regular, normal, baseline human.

There is no male privilege. There is no white privilege. There is no class privilege. There is only the experience of being treated as fully human. Everyone should experience the “privilege” of being treated as simply themselves. As simply human. And what a wonderful experience that is for those of us consigned for a lifetime in the subhuman caste who can “pass” themselves into it. What a breath of fresh air. What liberation! What a delicious honey-tinged milk-bath of humanity. Where one is judged on one’s merits. Where what we say is taken to mean… exactly what we say. Yanno. Just normal fucking humanity.

You wonder why the elements (female biology) that impede your humanity cause your revulsion? Oh honey. You are sane, that is all. You hate the whole woman thing because you are burdened with sanity. You have personally experienced being treated as human. Something few women ever have.

You don’t have discomfort in groups of females. You have discomfort in groups of subhumans who have never experienced humanity. In a group of females who have tasted the forbidden fruit of normalcy you would feel quite normal and at ease I am sure.

Experiencing humanity is something reserved for males (and those who are assumed to be male). For now. Lets fight, and fight and fight and make that not so. Lets not individualize and internalize and personalize (and medicalize) the experience of those of us who have tasted the ambrosia of being treated as fully human. Reflect and work outward, not inward.

Medusa. Harryhausen.

FTM Fight

August 31, 2012

“the worst part is, nobody in the community knows who I am anymore, so when I speak my mind and they yell at me, they just say, you don’t know, you’re cis you couldn’t possibly know.

but I know. I know too much and I wish I didn’t.

-anon”

“I’ve spent the last couple of years obsessing over the idea of medically transitioning. For the past few months I’ve spent more and more time analyzing why I felt those things, and I’ve spent a hell of lot less time absolutely hating myself. It’s still a struggle because I’m not completely comfortable with my body, but at least I’m not lying to myself about feeling like a man anymore.

-anon”

“They always say “there’s somebody out there for everybody!’

I have a hard time believing it. At least when I was calling myself a lesbian in the trans community there was this expectation that you could be a bit different, socially speaking. Now, I dunno. I realize now that I’m a heterosexual male. Straight women always want me to be more masculine, more like a real man. It’s not going to happen.

I don’t know, this maybe isn’t all that coherent, it’s just irrational thoughts maybe.

-anon”

“There’s something brutally funny about, hormonally speaking at least, basically being on my third puberty. In all seriousness though, I need my natural hormone production to level out again. Mid twenties is just too damn old for this shit.

-anon”

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So Blessed To Be XX

August 17, 2012

This is a REPOST of a blog entry from THIS blog: http://ataulfomangos.tumblr.com/

*THIS IS A GENDERIST/TRANS SITE THAT IS GENDER-CRITICAL*

SO BLESSED TO BE XX

I’ve seen the argument that females have privilege over males in trans* politics. That due to political positionality, trans men will invariably be privileged over trans women.

If you’re talking about people that blend seamlessly with people who aren’t trans, we can talk conditionally. However, most of the trans men I know will never know the male privilege that their trans sisters knew growing up, and here’s why. Their bodies will never conform to the expectations of society. Once their history is known (even within trans circles), it’s all misogyny from there.

Take this “female privilege” argument. I was on T. Some of my closest friends are still on T. Yet, every doctor’s appointment was an exercise in being called hysterical. Our menstrual and pelvic pain are “psychosomatic” as opposed to terrifically unusual and perhaps warranting investigation. Our visits for testosterone aren’t prefaced with discussions about cervical and endometrial cancer risks. Why? Because we have vaginas, and we don’t matter shit to the medical institution. Once they have our copays, they could care less what happens after the fact.

Let’s even look at trans politics for a minute, shall we? Trans women say that trans men should shut up in political circles. That their position is privileged and that mere identification alone (barring whether they are transitioning or even fucking blend) somehow lands them in some upper echelon of society. This is patently ridiculous, and is indicative of a politics that devalues the opinions and lived experiences of female-bodied people. This is just another way to make female-bodied people feel bad about having a fucking opinion. It is another silencing tactic, pure and simple.

On an interpersonal level, I and other people with transmasculine experience have been talked over countless times in political discussions with our so-called sisters. We’ve had our opinions diminished. If the conversation gets especially nasty, our sisters usually feel it relevant and polite to comment upon our bodies — that they wished they had X or Y feature of yours, and isn’t it all just so unfairSurely, you get it.

In other words, another plea to our socialized emotional responses.

While I’m sure a lot of the genderqueer/gender-variant/gender non-conforming boom has a lot to do with escapism from rigid gender roles, I cannot help but wonder if it is also born out of a desperate desire to have some form of political leverage in an ever increasingly male-made political landscape. If you aren’t in a female-only space, it is nearly impossible to get a word in as a female in a feminist arena in 2012.

I’m not privileged to be female. The trans men in my life are not either. Not when they, like me, have to worry about somebody kicking in a bathroom door and taking advantage of their physiology. They’re just that much closer to people who typically commit such heinous crimes. Listen to your brothers. You might learn a lot from them.

This particular brand of horseshit leaks into other areas of feminist thought, and is a clownish reversal of the things radical feminism calls for. Oppression and social dynamics cannot be boiled down to a mere equation. Transfeminists who claim that trans peoples’ power balances are somehow reversed in transition are again losing the greater picture by completely eradicating the category of sex from both lived experience and political analysis.

- anon

[Okeefe image added by me- GM]

F2T Trans Activist Ira Dalton Gray ‘splains to Lesbians how rejecting the peen is damaging and discriminatory to males.

TLDW: Start at 2:55

Ira conducts “Consent Workshops” for LGBT youth.

More on Ira Gray here: http://www.iradaltongray.com/post/24671437049/on-rape-allegations

Guest Post by Violet Irene.

To those who are looking for this information because you are wondering if you made a mistake starting “T” and are looking for guidance: know that you are NOT alone. Even if the people on the FTM forums say it’s incredibly rare and basically no one does this, that is NOT TRUE. I personally know a TON of women who took T and then for a variety of reasons changed their minds and went back to living as women. Some identify as lesbians, some are bi, some are straight. Some look butch, some look androgynous, some look completely “average” for their community and assimilated. Personally I identify as a bi-dyke and while no one is ever surprised to learn the “dyke” part, because it’s who I am and I don’t try to hide it, I also pass for just a matronly sensible feminist mom type too and no one would ever know I had spent time IDing as FTM unless I told them. If you want to stay more androgynous more power to you, but if that is NOT what you want, don’t feel like you have to! It was hard emotionally figuring everything out but pretty much as soon as I wanted people to see me as a woman again, it didn’t take much to get that.

I just want you to know you are NOT ALONE and you do NOT have to hate or blame yourself or feel like a freak or an outcast. You still have options. You still have a future. The rest of your life is waiting for you, there is ALWAYS hope. I thought I had ruined my life but now I have a beautiful family and amazing friends and a happy life and things DID get better. Hang in there—you’re strong and BRAVE—it takes so much courage to face yourself with the idea “I made a big mistake”–and you can make it through this terrifying moment.

And a disclaimer: I took testosterone for less than a year, so if you took it a lot longer, the effects may take longer to reverse for you. On the other hand, they might not take that much longer at all. Every body is different, some respond really strongly to female hormones or male hormones or both, etc. All the advice and experience here is just about what I lived through, I don’t claim to represent a universal or scientifically validated “what to expect.” Take it for what it’s worth because there’s not a lot out there. I hope others who have been through this will feel emboldened to come forward, too, with their unique experience. Also, I did not have any surgeries. I got pregnant less than a year after quitting T, and that I am sure had some influence over how the physical changes went for me, too. I quit T seven years ago as of today, spring 2012 (so I quit in 2005).

So physically, about three weeks after my last dose of T (I had been taking injections at the standard dose every 2 weeks) I started to feel hormonally weird, like a really strong PMS. This intensified over about the next month, as my ovaries got back into gear and produced I am sure a lot more hormones than usual to try to balance me back out. I felt every symptom you can think of associated with both PMS and menopause—hot flashes, sweats, crying jags, nausea, itchy skin, cramps, and migraine headaches. This was the really rough part because I was also struggling a lot with the emotional implications of what was going on. About 2 months after the last shot, I had a period. I then had another regular period the next month, and in general things started to even out at that point.

Let me warn you about that first couple of periods—they were really, really painful and intense. I think this has to do with the fact that your body has to overproduce the female hormones to bring things back into alignment, but I don’t know. I got a prescription strength NSAID from my doctor and that helped a lot. After that, my periods were like they have always been—bad but not horror show worthy.

About the time I got my period, my breasts started to look more like they used to. “T” had made them kind of deflated and floppy. At this point, they started to plump back up and eventually went completely back to normal. The facial and body hair that I had gotten on “T” stayed put, but the growth noticeably slowed down within about 5 months of quitting. I still grow hair in places I didn’t before (ie some patches on my wrists and thighs) but within a year-ish it was no longer coming in dark and coarse like male hair, but had changed to fine and light like the body hair I have everywhere else. My “beard” ditto—it changed over to that downy, fine stuff most women grow especially as we get older, with the odd darker, wiry hair. Because I prefer not to be scrutinized for it, I shave it off with an electric razor about every couple of weeks.

My voice was lower on T but I think not as low as it would have gotten. For a long time after quitting, I was stuck with a kind of awkward register, with a break in it so I had trouble singing. I couldn’t sing high, I couldn’t sing low, I had to cough and clear my throat to cover for some pretty awkward sounds when singing. When talking I just had to watch that I stayed in my mid-register for a while, going higher or lower would make me sound like a teenage boy. They SAY that never changes back, and maybe it doesn’t always. For me, though, while I don’t have the same voice I had before T, it sounds a lot higher and more decidedly female now than it did right after I quit. And the break went away. Because I love music, I kind of nurtured my singing voice until I got a normal low-alto that doesn’t break or crack anymore. Lower than average but not unheard of for a woman. I still sometimes get misgendered on the phone when I am trying to sound serious (so talking very low and authoritative) but I just correct them and try not to dwell on it.

When I was on T I had a lot of problems with my sinuses and blood pressure going up when I was stressed. The sinus problem cleared within two weeks of quitting. The blood pressure thing took longer.

If you’re hoping to have a baby, this is my experience on that. I got pregnant about 5 months after stopping T, after three normal periods. I “charted” my cycle to know when I was ovulating but that’s it. Stopping T can actually make you REALLY fertile as your body cranks out extra estrogen to compensate, so if you are active with men and don’t want to be pregnant, be REALLY careful. I chose not to tell my midwives about what I had been through. It was just too hard. If you want to disclose, please be careful and have outside support, because a lot of medical professionals WILL treat you differently or like you are crazy. It sucks but that’s reality. I learned the hard way, with a counselor and a doctor. You can seek out professionals who work in the lesbian community and sometimes, but not always, they will be more sensitive. Or you can keep it secret, because once your system has cleared the hormones it’s hard to say if there’s any lingering effect they need to know about. I had a normal pregnancy and a natural delivery. We had one unusual kind of complication happen, it wasn’t of consequence long term and we are fine now, but it is one that women with PCOS are at higher risk for so I did wonder if it had anything to do with the androgens that had been in my system before I conceived. I tortured myself about that, but since my child is fine now I have to just put it in the column of “if I had known differently, I would have done differently” and forgive myself. I didn’t have that problem with my next pregnancy. I was able to breastfeed normally and breastfed my baby exclusively for many months.

The hair on my head took a long time to get back to normal, oddly enough. I had a crewcut when I was trying to pass as male, and when I decided to quit it was important to me to start growing it out right away. It took a long time. I’ve had short cuts since then, while on my natural hormones, and before that, and they all grew out a lot faster. On T my hairline had started to recede just slightly, yes even after less than a year. So it grew back really, really slowly. If I’d thought about it back then, I would have tried taking some vitamins and using jojoba oil shampoo—those can both help a lot to bump along the female pattern hairgrowth as it comes in.

People say that when you quit “T” your sex drive will shrivel, but I didn’t find that to be the case. Once my female hormones were up and running I felt just fine, and still do. Everything went back to the way it was before as far as my personal odor and my vulva and so forth, too. Some sources claim it will be harder to orgasm when you quit T but I didn’t find that to be an issue at all.

My face softened up again within a couple of months, and my hips padded back out too. I may have lost muscle mass but if I did, it wasn’t noticeable, I stayed active and that was good enough.

I hypothesize that a lot of why things went back quickly for me was my cycles started up, so I was getting bathed in the normal levels of female hormones right away. If you have trouble getting your cycles back, I would advise that you see an endocrinologist or gyn about it because that’s going to help a lot. Maybe birth control pills could help, if nothing else.

7 years down the line the only evidence I ever took T is stuff only I would notice, like some body hair that wasn’t there before but which has lightened and softened up, a little extra soft facial down, and a slightly lower vocal range.

Social, emotional, and practical thoughts:

This part is where your mileage may really vary from mine. I’m not telling you what to do, just what worked for me.

It was important to me to immediately stop being seen as a guy or a trans person. I wanted to know that I COULD go back to how I was before, I was terrified that I had ruined parts of myself that were really important to me. I feared that I was locked out of “women” forever. I went through the seven stages of grief, for what it’s worth, and still to this day have feelings of essentially having survived a loss and a trauma. This is a big deal, so be kind and gentle to yourself.

In the “bargaining” and denial phase one thing I said to myself and others was “I don’t really care what I am seen as, I’m neither male nor female, call me whatever you want.” You might go through a stage like this too. It’s ok to then move on and say “no, really, I DO care.” You’re not “selling out.” You’re coming to terms.

I went and bought some really fancy, padded, push-up bras. For me, this was really helpful while my breasts were still really flaccid. It gave me the shape I was used to seeing before, and helped people realize that despite some androgynous traits, I am a woman. If you have had surgery or have very small breasts, you might consider going to a lingerie shop that helps women who have had breast surgery or masectomy, if you think this might help you.

I found it was helpful to immediately purge some clothing and accessories that I especially associated with “trying to pass as male,” like double-reinforced sports bras, baseball caps, etc. It’s not that those are male clothes—clothes are just clothes—but it was about what they meant to me. Getting rid of them and replacing them helped me feel more confident that I was really going to be able to come home. I do find that a lot of FTMs rely heavily on things like baseball caps to help them pass as male, too, so taking off the hat can help people see you better too.

It was helpful to me to dress more “feminine” than I otherwise might have, for a while, to get some confidence that I was going to still be “allowed” to be a woman in society. After a while, I felt assured enough I could wear more casual clothes like I usually do again, but that phase was helpful to get me out of despair. Once my hair grew out I kind of ended up using it as my crutch, to the point where I surprised myself by completely emotionally freaking out the next time I got it cropped short for the summer. Just something to prepare for, if you might be like me. That and a few other things are basically trauma triggers for me, if I am confronted with unexpected reminders of that phase of my life, I can have an emotional reaction that is rather overwhelming. No one warned me to expect this, but it seems pretty logical to me now that I think about it.

Another thing that helped me feel more “in control” of the kind of chaotic situation was learning to recognize the hormonal patterns in my body using fertility charting (aka natural family planning or fertility awareness method.) You can find books or web info on this.

I don’t feel like I can advise on handling the social aspects because I don’t know that I handled it well. I just survived through pure stubbornness. I told my mom and we cried together. She had always felt it was wrong and disturbing, my dad had always been all for it and relished bragging how he had a “son.” He pretty much wouldn’t speak to me after I went back. Other than that, I didn’t announce anything except to friends who I chatted with online. I just changed my name back, changed my presentation back, and basically gave off “FU” vibes that made it clear no one should dare to give me shit about it or ask any questions. I know a lot of people in my family decided at that point I was truly crazy, disgusting, depraved, and have treated me like garbage ever since—not surprising since a lot of the same folks were homophobes to start with. My really good friends I was able, eventually, to really talk to, and they stood by me. Pretty much all my other friends ESPECIALLY those from the genderqueer and queer political circles—I lost them. Slowly, painfully. They weren’t interested in me, they were interested in The Trans Show and once it was over, they were out.

I was called some horrible names and yes, threatened and told that I was an evil person, that I should kill myself, that I was a menace. Not by fundamentalists…by “queer radicals.” And some people claiming to be feminists. I don’t talk about this much unless I can be anonymous, as a result.

It was hard going from being essentially invisible in a good way, passing as a male, to being seen as a woman again, dealing with street harassment, having guys basically try to shoulder and elbow their way through me, having to fight to get my whole seat on the train, etc. I do still feel some grief, pain, and a lot of anger, about the freedom I lost and the fact that women are not yet free.

I haven’t really gotten into why I started T or why I went back, maybe we can talk about that another time. But this is a sample of what the experience was like, for one person. If you are looking for advice, please just listen to this: no matter what the specifics of your situation are, you can survive this. This is going to be a strange, scary rebirth. But you will make it. A day will come where you don’t think about it everyday anymore, every time you look in the mirror or sign a check. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other, and if a day is too much to take at a time, take it an hour at a time. Make a list of things to do and get the little rush from crossing out each item on the list. Write a rant and post it online. Pet a dog or a cat. My dog saved me, again and again, because she didn’t see the clothes or the labels, she just loved me. Eventually it WILL get easier, and before you know it, you will be OK.

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