What’s up you sexy bunch of Funchers!
A few weeks ago I gave my Facebook friends the opportunity to ASK ME ANYTHING about being trans. I got some great questions, and hopefully you find the responses both enjoyable and informative.
I will apologise in advance for the blocks of text…I don’t really have any images to go with what I’ve written…so please bear with me.
As per every other post, if you have a question of your own, please feel free to ask below and I’ll update the post with answers sporadically.
I would also like to note that, whilst other trans people may experience some of the below, the answers given are my experience, and do not reflect the community as a whole.
So without further ado, let’s go!
Was there a particular event that helped you realize your physical sex and gender did not match?
To be honest, there was no one thing that brought me to this realisation, it was more an issue of language than anything else. Growing up, I always had a feeling that there was something wrong, but I couldn’t quite explain it.
I remember dressing up as a child, and hiding clothes around the house to wear when I was alone, but coming from a family with 5 sisters and 3 brothers, that wasn’t very often.
I remember seeing an advert in a newspaper for a service that gave men the opportunity to experience what it was like to look female. That’s when I realised that it wasn’t just me, and I saw a little ray of hope.
Then came the age of the internet, which we got access to when I was about 13-14. That helped me to research what I was experiencing, and educate myself on the subject.
Hell, it turns out that my mum knew before I did. She told me a story from when I was around 4 years old, coming from a catholic background, she didn’t address the subject with me, she simply hoped it would be a passing phase. Which it wasn’t, obviously.
How does someone know that they are transgender?
I would say that it’s an innate feeling. It’s not something that you just wake up one day and think, “You know what. I’m tired of being a boy/girl/man/woman, I’m going to be a boy/girl/man/woman instead”.
It’s something that plays on your mind, a feeling that something isn’t right, that is until you actually figure out what that “not right” feeling is, it then evolves into a gradually growing urge to address it.
However, everyone experiences dysphoria differently and to differing degrees, and the only way you can really know anything for certain is through experimentation and inward reflection in my experience. That’s how I confirmed that I was transgender to myself at least.
How did you go about telling people close to you that you were transitioning?
There was actually around 6 years between me first telling someone about my being transgender, and telling the second person. There were a lot of reasons for this, the main one being that I felt I had a handle on how I felt…But I was young and naive
I wanted to make sure I told people individually, as it was a very personal conversation to have with the people closest to me. At the same time, however, I was too scared to do it face to face with anyone. So my friends and family all received text messages with the information, which was great as it offered them the platform to not have to be visibly disturbed or taken aback with the news, and afforded me the opportunity to not look as awkward and scared of their response as I actually was.
I would tell a couple of people at a time, and deal with the fall out as and when it came really. That lasted around 2/3 months. Then, after I’d been living in my preferred gender for about 6 months, I issued a statement on my old Facebook Profile to notify everyone else in my life.
What was it like coming out to friends and family?
Utterly terrifying. More so coming out tomy family than anyone else really. I think I could have stood to lose friends or colleagues in coming out, but losing members of my family would have hurt me a lot.
I was very fortunate that pretty much every member of my family, and all my friends for that matter, were actually pretty awesome about the whole thing. But I still vividly remember the fear and anxiety experienced before messaging each and every one of them, the anticipation in waiting for their responses, and the wishing that when I saw them next, things wouldn’t be super weird, which it was with some people, but not overly.
More a case of, “I now know this thing, I don’t know how this changes things, what do we do?” weird than “Oh my god! Now that you’re a freak, what do we even have in common?” kind of weird.
What are your daily requirements to maintain your body, hormones etc? Does this have any adverse effects on other areas of your health?
At present, I take 4mg of Oestrogen daily, and have an anti-androgen injection once every 3 months in my belly.
There are some health related issues caused by the treatment, for instance I’m now more at risk of deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolisms due to the oestrogen’s pro-thrombotic effects.
My metabolism has changed a lot, I gain weight a lot faster now, and it’s more difficult to shift, which sucks, it also means I don’t have as much energy as I used to, and I’m a lot more sensitive to hot and cold weather also.
As someone who never used to feel the cold that much, I can tell you this is the most difficult change to deal with, personally.
Prior to receiving my anti-androgen via injection, I was taking a hormone called “Spironolactone”. That was a dangerous drug.
Traditionally, the drug is prescribed as a diuretic or to boost Aldosterone, which is a hormone produced by your adrenal glands to help regulate the salt and water balance in your body. Suppressing Testosterone in the body is a side effect really, and works through shrinking the prostate, forcing it to produce less testosterone.
However, this drug is very heavy on the liver and kidneys, and very high in potassium. As such, I drank 3 litres of water a day to ensure that my organs were constantly flushed, and didn’t eat a banana for almost 3 years.
As with everything, sacrifices need to be made in order to make yourself right. Happiness isn’t just handed out, it has to be earned. The cost for some is a little higher than others, but that’s the price of happiness.
Has hormone replacement medication affected your moods or emotions?
Well…yes. I was an emotional person prior to transition, but I would definitely say that my emotions have changed, and for the better. I have more access to my emotions now, and I cry at almost EVERYTHING I watch.
A lot of that comes from the fact that I’m a really empathetic person. I tend to find characters that relate to my own life, place myself in their shoes, and am then crushed internally when they’re fraught with conflict and adversity.
A vicious cycle I put myself through almost daily.
That being said, the emotional changes have actually been of great benefit to me. When I started, I remember after a few weeks of taking my testosterone blocker that I felt calm. Something that I hadn’t really experienced until that point, and is one of the reasons I’m pretty much chill all the time now, so that’s awesome.
I used to be a bit highly strung, letting small things get to me, now I find it easier to let go of things. But this means that when things get to me, they REALLY get to me. My lows have become a little lower, but conversely, my highs are a lot higher too.
Swings and roundabouts really.
How did your body change with HRT?
Pretty much in the ways most people expect:
The first thing that happened is my skin softened, followed shortly by increased sensitivity.
My face got a little chubbier, smoothing out some harsh lines, which was cool. Breast tissue developed, and my fat redistributed from being focused solely on my belly, to well, I didn’t experience a lot of redistribution…I did gain more fat though.
My arms and legs lost muscle density and definition, a lot of physical strength along with it. Also, hair pretty much stopped growing on my chest and belly. I still get the patch on my belly button trail, but it grows very slowly, so I shave it down once every other week or so.
What else?..I’m 2 inches shorter than I used to be. That one was weird o find out, as I didn’t know it was possible. But, apparently, where the fat is redistributed, the spine needs to adjust to account for the shift in centre of gravity. Fun times!
Those are all the things I can figure of note really.
Do you feel weaker as compared to your pre-trans self?
As per the previous question, yes. Substantially.
I hadn’t really noticed until I came to move home from Southampton to Liverpool. Just two years before I pretty much moved everything from my old house to my new one on my own. I had no issues carrying anything, but that time I was taking one box at a time, where I’d previously taken two or three with ease.
Not to mention the fact that my twin brother is now stronger than me…something that’s never happened before. But I train Jiu Jitsu now, so I’m still winning if we fight.
Does your beard grow?
Whilst hormone replacement works quite well on body hair, it has little effect on facial hair.
Thus far, I have suffered through 18 months of Electrolysis, and 8 sessions of laser on my face, and still the little fuckbags come through.
I have to shave every 3 days or so, it’s never overly noticeable, its more the fact that I can feel it, and I don’t like it. Also, if I’m rolling with a partner at Jiu Jitsu, I get very self-conscious about being all furry…#SadFace
Do you have to fake a voice or do you just speak normally? How does that work?
Another thing that hormones has no effect on. I get complimented on my voice a fair amount, though I don’t know why. I trained my voice for about three months, through singing (that’s right, I sing mothafuckas!) and measuring the pitch and tone with a tuner.
I went through some tutorials, and found out that my voice should register around and E, so I found that note, and started speaking. I was working from home at the time, so I simply read all of my emails and documents out loud to practice.
One thing I noted was that the key in which I was speaking, didn’t fit my appearance (very “Valley Girl”), so I’ve since brought it down a bit, making it nicer for me to hear, and makes it more authentic for me as a person. Well, that’s how I feel at least.
It’s not something I put much thought into these days, as it has become my natural register. However, I can still go low if I want, it just hurts.
And that’s the story of me and my voice.
Will you have the op?
Assuming this means Gender Confirmation Surgery, as it almost always does, yes. This year.
When did you first feel like you were a woman?
I assumed that this was a different question to the “when did you know you were female” questions, and is more about the first time I felt like I was who I am supposed to be.
That was when I transitioned at work, on my first day.
I got into work at 6am. I wasn’t wearing anything crazy, just a blue vest top, a black cardigan, black trousers, and black pumps.
The photo below is the exact moment I felt right.
Makes me teary when I see it.
Have you ever faced any hostility regarding using women’s bathrooms or changing rooms?
Not in the environments mentioned in the question, no. Quite the opposite.
As I mentioned, I train and compete in Jiu Jitsu, so using changing facilities and bathrooms occurs regularly, and I pretty much just go about my business like everyone else.
I have faced hostility, like I was sexually assaulted a month or so after I transitioned socially. It was shit. But it was also the reason I started Jiu Jitsu, so I’ve made my peace with that part of my history, and I know it’s not likely to happen again, unless they’re hoping to get choked the fuck out!
Do people treat you differently?
Yes. Definitely. But why is more difficult to pinpoint.
Since coming out, I’m a much happier person in general, more approachable and willing to participate in social events. Jiu Jitsu has given me a great deal of confidence, so I can speak passionately about the things I love, without the fear of being judged or mocked.
For these reasons, I believe that I’m treated well.
Some new things have happened since transitioning, like I have doors held open for me, I have people calling me “Treacle”, “Love”, “Hen”, and “Gorgeous”.
They take some getting used to.
What are the noticeable differences when meeting new people as a woman versus when people perceived you as a man?
If you’ve ever had to suffer through having me in a meeting, or on a project etc, you will already know that regardless of the situation, I am unashamedly myself, and I speak my mind.
Like I said before, I’m treated differently, yes. But it’s not just down to the fact that I’m female, more that I’m confident and approachable.
That being said. When I meet new people, they’re always interested in finding out more about me. Especially my female friends. I find it easier to make friends with women in general, as I don’t really have a great deal in common with men, and unless they were something pretty special, I wouldn’t want anything else from them other than being social.
One thing that’s changed though, I have found myself being talked over in meetings before. Not so much where I work now, but in my previous role it happened. A frustrating thing to happen.
How do you approach discussing your Trans identity in new social situations, such as dating or a new job?
It all depends on the situation. Unless you REALLY need to know, I tend not to bring it up myself, but am more than happy to discuss it if it’s brought up.
If it’s around dating, I advertise myself as trans. It’s not a label I’m ashamed of, so I have no need to hide it.
It came up when I was interviewing for my current job, but only because I have surgery on the horizon, and it will result in 10 weeks off work. So that’s not something I want to drop on anyone. But after that, I’ll have no need to disclose it unless asked if I’m honest.
What are some of the things that people do or say about transgender people that bother you and how do you deal with them?
There are very few things that really get my feckles up really (Points if you get the reference). I don’t like the current push to discredit and devalue the trans community by some media publications, and some of the “investigatory” pieces put together for the BBC.
Stories like “Trans people want nurses to stop calling women ‘Mothers’ after giving birth”, and “Sex-Swap Ex-Squaddie Targeted by Bullies Would Reverse Op to Escape Living Hell.”, or “Transgender Kids: Who Knows Best?”
These stories and documentaries are designed to perpetuate stereotypes, spread misinformation, and inspire outrage in a public that are more than happy to believe what they’re told by most of the media.
The harshest point of which being that there’s nothing I can do to stop a national paper from printing a story, just as I cannot do anything to stop a trans person going to a newspaper to sell their story.
When this bullshit happens, yes, it annoys the shit outta me. But at the same time, I use it as an opportunity to educate people who believe it. That being said, you can only educate someone open to learning or being challenged. So it’s not always successful.
It’s the weirdest feeling, having people in the world who literally hate you for no reason. People who don’t know me, people who have never met me, hate me. I have NO impact on their lives, but my existence makes them uncomfortable, so automatically, they hate me.
Oh well. Their loss. I’m an amazing person to know.
What do you wish people understood about you?
We’re no different to anyone else. All I want is to be comfortable, happy, confident, to be loved, and be a millionaire.
That just because they don’t understand what I’m going through, or what I’ve been through, that it doesn’t mean it’s not happening, or that my experiences are invalid.
The whole point of life is the experience. How do you expect to get the most out of that experience if you close yourself off from people who could widen your understanding of the world, and cause you to reflect on your own experience by challenging your current perceived world view with a contrary one?
How can I support my friend who is transitioning?
That’s easy. Be yourself, be respectful, engage with them as a person, and try to take the emphasis away from transition.
One of the most difficult things to get over when you start your transition is the feeling of not fitting in, or being a freak. Treat your friend as you always have.
They’re still the same person, nothing has changed, nothing apart from their outward appearance in most cases, well, that and their being more comfortable as a person.
WAHOOO FOR BEING COMFORTABLE!
Hardest Part of it all so far, for you?
Losing my wife.
That sucked major ass.
That’s it for this post. What did you think? Do you have any questions that weren’t addressed above? Drop a comment and I’ll be sure to respond to all questions asked!
Stay cool Funchers!