I find that I can't open a map on a streetcorner without someone stopping to give me directions. I credit thi this to Boston's friendly attitude.

But [livejournal.com profile] vuge  tells me that I need to get a bra.

Background:

I've been tweaking my estradiol and progesterone levels for a few months now. Normally, you take a given dose of E and P and test your blood for their levels. But instead, the doctor I'm seeing recommends adjusting them until your pituitary emits levels of follicular stimulating hormone and lutenizing hormone in line with cissexed women. The idea is that your pituitary is lying back in a warm endocrinal bath and sighing ahhh... just right. Now let's ovulate.

There's no ovulation, but there is better mood and sleep. The clinic I was going to in Vancouver modeled their trans care after their previous specality: harm reduction for injection drug-users. While tehy're nice folks all-around, they prescribed as little as possible (post-op 50ug patch or 2mg pill of E; no P).

I think I'm sleeping better on the new dose. But my body seems to be completing the puberty that it stalled out on. So I go to goodwill to donate the pants that are too small on my hips and bum, and I buy new ones that fit.


And a bra may be in order. At least if I'm going to go running (ouch!) or to a job interview.

Behind me, vuge says, "no, you should wear a bra all the time."

I'm not sure about this.

"You see those striations on your shirt? That washboard effect running from nipple to nipple?" Vuge asks. "I last saw that in anime."

I don't know how I feel about this. I don't like the idea that I have to cover myself with an extra layer of fabric. An extra layer to wash by hand. An extra layer to shop and spend for, difficult normally, but even moreso due to my insistance on ethical sourcing.

I could cut down my dosage and see if they shrink back, but I'm not sure that's best for my body, my mood.

I like the fact that my body is finishing puberty; that it hasn't stalled out halfway; that it's doing what it should. I'm alarmed and annoyed at how my prior doctor thought this was the end of the line; that no more was to occur; that I should slow down and stop. And since I have trouble remembering that I've changed sex, accidentally knocking one breast with my upper arm now and then serves as a good reminder.

I don't particularly like the extra attention from men. Or rather, I don't like that this sexual expectation, or that it's contingent on the shape of my chest.

I wore a button down shirt to visit vuge in the hospital. When I left, she overheard the nurses respectfully discussing whether I was a boy or a girl. Given this, given how people associate "btuch " with "dyke," the men who cross the street to give me directions that I don't need, then strike up a conversation that ends with "I wish we could spend more time together." would figure I'm gay.

"Yeah." says vuge. "But they're probably thinking, hitting on her is probably not going to work. But if it did? .... Yeah. It's worth a shot."

I'm thinking: sports bra.
I've had the flu this week, and it sucked.

Perhaps this sounds obvious to you. But to me it was not.

Last year, I was lying on the couch hacking up phlegm and thinking "My. This is unpleasant. I would like for this to be over."

Then I realized that this was unprecidented. In the past, as long as there was no pain, I'd never objected to being sick. I just acquiesced.

I am one of many people who've dealt with living in the wrong gender and body by staying in a state of partial dissasociation for most of my life. One where you don't put together ideas like "having the flu is no fun," "being cold is unpleasant" or "wow that hurts, maybe I should see a doctor."

When you and your body don't talk, the flu becomes an interesting cascade of altered body functions, no better or worse than the default operating state. I had the flu a couple years before changing my sex and I remember thinking was hhhhow currrriiouss, I seeem to be shhhakking tooooo haardd to   tyypppe nnooormmalllly. II cooould bareeely siiit uupp eeaarlier..  Thiis iis unnnusuallly bbad. Iiif ittt ggetssss woorse, II suppppose I should telll soommeonnne.



I've heard transition described as "not male-to-female or female-to-male, but robot-to-human." Getting accustomed to a full spectrum of human experiences really is like watching Mr. Data on Star Trek getting his emotion chip installed.

When I don't see people I know and like, I get lonely - new

I am happier when I go outside now and then - new

My body seems to prefer healthy food over unhealthy food - new


Transsexuals aren't the only one to break the link between wearing a body and being in it. You can see similar behaviour, and similar pleasant surprise in learning to overcome it, in many people who've had some sort of bodily trauma that they stop or process, be it acute or prolonged
I go for "assessment" at ten tomorrow morning. This involves getting interview by two psychiatrists at once. They form an opinion as to whether Sexual Reassignment Surgery is warranted in my case.
Whatever you call it, I'm very happy that I will be going for it at some point soon.Some aspects of this still annoy and intimidate me
But there are things that make this easier

Results:
Some people see me and, in surprise exclaim "Wow. You look really different." or even "Yeah - you look good."

Others say "You had surgery? I can't see any difference."

I am getting more reactions from strangers that indicate that they see me as female

All this is fine and welcome, but what is important is that I can see a difference. Moreover, I can feel it.

I look in the mirror and see a subtly different face, but, as I hoped, my mind quickly integrates the image as "that's me." I'd even go so far as to say that there's less surprise than before.

Only when I think about it - that this is not the same reflection that I am used to, do I get a moment of weird.
And I'm back. It's all done. The sutures are out, leaving little blood-dotted tracks across my forehead like a map to I don't know where. Flakes of hair shed around the suture line. Hope that stops soon. A shallow grove runs under my nose. In my mouth, tangles of dissolvable/edible sutures slowly recede across two streak-like lesions.

This knocked me on my ass. I can walk, and run short distances, but I get tired easily. No heavy exertion for one month. No contact sports (or other roughhousing?) for four. The restrictions are not due to fatique, but rather due to the potential fragility of the sutures.

I clean the sutures once a day with hydrogen peroxide, trying to break up any scabs or flakes. I give them neosporin twice per day. I sleep on my back, with my head elevated. I bind my jaw with an ace bandage, Jack and Jill style. Anesthetic mouthwash.

I'm healing quickly. My cheeks are less swollen each day. Thisis good. First it relieves the surprising strain my neck bore by carrying them around. Second it makes it easier, or just possible, to eat. Third, it makes me look less like a guy - my swollen jowls gave me a kind of "sleazy landlord" look. My skin is still tight and sneezing on coughing pulls across it to draw on sharp sutures. But I can see that there has been a change for the better.

My jaw, or at least the bone, feels in place now. I touch it and think, yeah, that's about right. Ocular ridge lines up. The distances are right. The bone is right.

This also means that I no longer have to take special measures in bright light, or have to manage my hair to avoid the bald streaks.

This is good.

Yes, I am glad I did this.

FFS +5 Days

May. 5th, 2008 10:02 pm
Progress.

Small children stare at me. Men offer me their seats.

Today (Monday), I can now eat my food, rather than mushing it. I still can't chew much, so  bread has to be soaked in soup. My lower face has de-swollen enough that I can use my voice - the one that sounds like me: it could be female or unisex or maybe like a T-Boi who just shot a little T, depending on who you ask, but it sounds right. I didn't realize how good it would be to have that back, or how hard it would be to use it.


The nerves in my scalp and lower lip are re-connecting.
It's hard to tell right now what the final results will be. I can feel that the bone has changed, but trying to find my face amidst the swelling is not easy.
Swelling has narrowed my vision to a tear-streaked La-Forge-esque strip.

Indeed.It feels like I have taken a small muppet, stretched it and shoved my head up its ass until it fits like a belaclava.

Fortunately, I'm not having trouble sleeping on my back. I am having trouble with stress/narcotic-induced repetitive dreams that gradually turn sour and more baffling over the course of the night. I've been up for a coule hours, hoping to shake them.

Also, slight tinglings in numb places herald diminished swelling and the return of nervous sensation. Good.




So I get to be done surgery (or at least this round of it) and there's some sort of substantial bodily improvement thrown in for free? Wow! That would explain why I agreed to this in the first place.

My only concern now is that they will do a good job.


- less than 36 hours to go -
Anxious about surgery.

Concentrate on the good parts, not the bad. Or at least remember the good parts.
In cognitive behavioural therapy, this is called "modifying self-talk"


What if something goes wrong while I'm out.
          I'm not getting heart surgery; they're not going to crack my ribcage.
          They're barely opening me up. This isn't actually that invasive.
          If screwups happened a lot, surgeons would be poor. They aren't.
         Would I rather be conscious and powerless? AKA "a passenger in a car."

                   Other than sleep, I've never been unconscious before. This could be interesting.
                   I fixed the CFS thing, so if I do die, the timing is good. Maybe we can claim I was assassinated?
                   I should try to remember everything so I can write it down later.


Plane leaves tomorrow.
In a week, I will be waking up with some pretty scary-looking bruises, cuts, and stitches, but happier for it. I hope.

But until then, I need to do something with all this tension. So  I write.

In July of 2006, I had not yet sorted out my issues, but was thinking of taking female hormones (as in hormones: "yes;" transition: "huh? wuzzat?"). Skimming through whatever I could find on the topic took me throguh transgender webpages and eventually I wound up here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Facial_feminization_surgery, or maybe it was another page that's no longer online.

And my eyebrows go up.

So it's possible to change the shape of your face?

I filed this in the back of my head.

It's been two weeks since I started cutting down on both the right hormones as well as the blockers for the wrong hormones. And one week since I stopped. I was wondering if I would be able to feel the effects of testosterone. And I can. And I don't like them.

Question 9: Rerdanging into your gender identity, do you ever wonder/fear/think you'll get to a point where you just want to say "Fuck it", discontinue (if even for a brief tme) anything you are doing to maintain your chosen gender appearance/biology, and just exist as you are (or have come to be)?

Funny you should mention it. I will actually be discontinuing hormones for a short time. Starting in... ten days; lasting for eighteen to twenty -two. I'm not exactly looking forward to it, but because of how I indentify, and how strongly I identify, it doesn't bother me as much as it used to. But I'm only doing it because there's something greater to be had.




Q10. Also, I really liked what you had to say about religion/spirituality in your previous post. Were you raised with religion in your life? Do you have any personal issues/experiences with rejection of or from major relgion (either you reject them, or they reject you)?


1. "Axum" is a new Ethiopian restaurant near the Northeast corner of Clark and Hastings. It has 9 vegan options, 7 of which were available when I was there. You can get any 3 with injera for $10. It's tasty. There's an Ethiopian place near 12th too. It's good as well.

2. I am finding success in getting over my habit of conserving useful consumables. Example: as a child, I wouldn't eat my halloween candy, I'd just save it until it went stale. I don't understand where this comes from. Was there some kind of environmental trigger? I never went hungry. Maybe it's instinctual.

3. I am finding that it's easier to tie together polyhedral (as in "many surfaces") information. I've heard people accredit this to hormones, but by ts timing, I think that it has something to do with not being depressed.

4. I am finding that I actually enjoy embodied activities now, when before there I was a lot more ambivolent. I really enjoyed lifting weights at the gym.

5. I am seriously looking forward to getting on to the next stage of Stuff I Want to Do. I won't be working full time at the union, so I'll be able to do more stuff. The prospect of idleness still scares me though.

Thinglets.

Dec. 10th, 2007 11:52 pm
1. I am now mostly done my post-bachelor's. I'm taking a grad course next semester, and then any two upper division or grad classes.

2. There's a wallpaper store just West of the Astoria on hastings. It has a giant neon sign that reads "PAINT" on both sides. The "T" on one side is busted.

3. Speaking of the above, some worthwhile things require pain and sacrifice. While blend electrolysis stings like a bitch and drains my wallet, the real loss is this: I will never again be able to even try to grow a goatee. This will remain a dim memory - and a blurry photo. Except when the inflammation from electrolysis forms into a musketeer-beard-shaped rash.

4. Journal mostly locked down until CFS shit is over

5. Results of the experiment with inducing menses are as follows
- feels right - cycling hormones linked to feelings of embodiment and self-comfort (yay!)
- breasts no longer hurt all the time (yay again!)
- PMS sucks (expected)

6. Healthier psychological stage reached. Capable of retrospect without anger. Feel strong need for community.

7. Will not be running for another Executive term at Student Society. May run for part-time at-large position. I will avoid full-time work plus part-time classes or vice-versa in the future.

8. You know what's tasty and easy to make? Potatoes boiled in coconut milk and a bit of yellow curry. What's easy and healthy? Aloo gobi made with canned mashed spinach and potatoes not boiled in yellow curry and coconut milk, plus a little mustard. You know what's a cheap fast-food snack? Veggie "French" sandwiches at either Ba Le Vietnamese Deli (around 700 main and 120 Kingsway). You know where's a good place to go for a meal? The Cafeteria at the downtown campus of Vancouver Community College.

9. Losing your passport and then your citizenship card sucks. I cannot leave the country - and getting a new passport requires a citizenship card. Dammit. Forms printed out.

10. Speaking of healthier states and embodiment, I feel much more comfortable doing exertion now. I enjoyed my time in the weight room. And I want to go dancing - especially somewhere sly* (a Firefly term meaning "Queer"), or maybe kinky, or even better, anywhere with music that's actually to my tastes. I'm not that picky.

11. If you have not done so, register for Phamacare, preferably online. If you were on the lower end of the income scale to years ago, and have spent over $300 on medication, the BC government-people will send you a cheque next Spring - but only if you register before January. You can do this online. All you need is your care-card (which I have not lost) and your taxable income from two years past (which I did, but I phoned in and they were helpful).

12. Dating is now more awkward, as you can imagine. But it's easier now too. Better to get shot down than never know.

13. It's hard to isolate the source of heat-loss in one's apartment.

That is all
Coming back from the Fed conference (which not only keep getting easier, but strangely always give me some sort of sociological insight and gendery resolution) and the surgical consultation, I feel that, when it comes to transition, I've hit the halfway mark.

Now, if I were to describe my body as a chart, most would now have reached a dim blue, like the "good" colour in headache commercials. It is in-line; well. I am pleased. Most of it. Most of my face and all of my genitals remain an uncomfortably bright white space. Some parts of the white fade into a light blue: they're near where they should be; others glow an angry red.

They are blank. Not present.
They are bright, glaring. Too present.

I am looking at mending these discontinuities. In my last entry, when I said I spoke to a surgeon, I was not talking about genital surgery, but facial surgery. This is something that I've been thinking about for a awhile but on which I have kept uncharacteristically quiet.

I've had a few questions about the cycle plan, so I've posted it below.

WILL
Some people may remember that last year I was "taking gender studies and calculus?" Sounded like an odd combination, didn't it?

Hah! Not anymore!

You see, I have just combined women's health resources, BC biomedical blood-work, transgender information pamphlets, and, of course, calculus, to chart out a planned progesterone regimen that should see my P levels rise, fall a bit, rise again, and fall again over the course of the wax and wane of the moon. I just ran it by my doctor today.

:D
I've been finding that, occasionally and unexpectedly, a sense of gratification, harmony or rightness surrounds me. This feeling of being happily embodied is new, and it tells me that I'm doing the right thing - whether that's "the right thing" is whatever I'm doing in the moment, or transition in general (probably both). This occurs most frequently at moments of genuine and often kinesthetic expression, unchecked by second-guessing; through movement, exertion, crying, creating art. It never occurs when looking in the mirror, nor has it come while pacing at a bus stop.

In tandem with this state, I usually perceive a semi-conscious image of me-now; a visual flicker in my mind as if I'm seeing myself viewed from elsewhere. It is a harmonious image; squaring with how my body feels, but seeing myself from outside carries a measure of disassociation with it, and I wonder what that means.

I would like to make these moments more frequent, as they seem to point to "yes, what you're doing is right for you." I am not sure how to do this.

Exercise seems to set it off. It can be climbing a steep hill, or using all limbs to scale a pile of concrete road-markers, or even carrying heavy groceries. In all cases, it's oddly gratifying, drawing me into present awareness.

I need to do some kind of a sport, I guess. The rec centre strike is over. Maybe I should see what's available? Something that doesn't involve a lot of running (i.e. no Soccer) on account of my knee, but which still require exertion. Suggestions? Locations?

Oh, right, I was thinking of taking up paintball.
I suppose the seeds were planted when I went off of antidepressants, and it sprouted when I reexamined my career interests and identified and put the nails to mental health problems.
About nine months back, I started dealing with all my physical medical shit. I worked on fixing my knee, fixed my sleep schedule, saw a doctor about changing my sex, starting eating less sugar, more veggies... and so on and so on.... It was years of backlogged physical medical issues all piled up together. It's still in progress.

Now I am dealing with the emotional aspect. First I was just feeling it - being in an occupational and embodied place and now a home where I am closer to how I really should be living my life removes my need to try to ignore my emotions, which gives the subjective impression of turning up the volume on them (abetted undoubtably by a second round of puberty).

The catch/advantage is this: the more clearly I feel , the more able I am to to identity and resolve issues. The more I resolve issues, the more clearly I feel. A cycle.

The intimidating issue in both cases is that there's a huge backlog to deal with.

I suppose that this is what you twenties are for.

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