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It Feels So Stupid

Last night, I was curled into a ball crying in my partner’s arms because everything about school is hard. It’s not necessarily the material or the course load, it’s that Laney isn’t designed and has no support structure for visibly/non-passing trans students to exist in. Let alone the ones who are out and openly existing outside of the binary with no hope or intention of passing.

I eat and drink just what I need to get through the day without passing out. I am essentially starving and dehydrating myself because the labeled single stall, all gender bathrooms are in the tower or across campus in the bistro (nowhere near where I am machining all day). I’ve been called out for using the “wrong” restroom in multiple places on campus already.

I am behind in all of my classes, and on the verge of failing welding because of this.

It’s just peeing.

It feels so stupid.

It feels like I’m making it up.

It’s ridiculous that the most basic need of my meatcage is something that creates anxiety that interferes with my ability to be fully present on campus (where I operate heavy machinery and open flames on the reg).

I went to Cal State East Bay Queer Con today and got to vent about that a lot. It was really helpful to be listened to by people who also understand what this feels like. And be understood (or at least seen) by people who don’t have that experience.

I am worried every time I’m on campus, every time I enter a bathroom, that someone is going to lose their shit and report me for harassment for peeing in the “wrong” place. I choose the danger I know, so I use the women’s room. I still get she’d half the time on campus and the men’s rooms are in more of a state of disrepair and have very little privacy (sometimes the doors don’t even shut), so I don’t usually even dare with that. I choose the danger I know.

And I get that I have glorious facial hair and look super masc especially when I’m wearing my safety glasses or skullcap, but I still have to pee. somewhere.

It feels stupid that this one simple thing is holding me back so much. It’s devastating my health and school performance. I’ve talked to the queer faculty about it and they are on board with All Gender Bathrooms and support infrastructure being things that exist. But all of the progress there is just stuck in some kind of ether and I can’t seem to make it move. No one seems to have spoons to do the work needed to get shit off the ground and I’m losing stamina.

I don’t know how much more I need to literally be destroying my body and ruining my ability to focus and study and shouting it from the rooftops before something changes. I don’t know if it will change before I become too overwhelmed by trying to hold being a student (which Laney somehow expects to exist outside of my trans experience) and existing that I decide the physical, mental, and emotional toll is too much of a price to pay and drop out.

I can’t keep this up for ever.

I’m fighting as hard as I can, but I’m really tired, and really lonely.

But if any faculty or staff member asks me how school is going for the remainder of a semester, they are getting an earful of school while trans issues dumped on them, because if I have to hold this and am expected to somehow put it aside and get good grades, they at least get to know the fucking overhead they’re not helping me carry.

 

All of the advice that I’ve been given today, by people who’ve started clubs or are faculty is all stuff that I have already done. I don’t know what else to do.

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Just T Things: 15 Months HRT

I realized it would probably be helpful to me and other people if I started documenting what HRT is like for me somewhere more findable than twitter.

It’s been almost 15 months now, but I haven’t detailed a lot here so I’m going to attempt to categorize the various points of change.

Weight Changes:

When I started Testosterone in Dec 2016 I weighed ~140lbs. I weighed ~120 in May 2017 and have been hovering around 110 since July 2017. I lost ~30lbs in 7 months and it was (is) really disorienting. Since then my body has also been losing all of its curves, and machining has eaten whatever fat reserves I had and converted it to muscle. I wasn’t expecting to lose so much weight so quickly, and since fall my body has really fucking hated this.

I can’t retain heat, and the sudden loss of fat has seemed to make raynauds worse and is probably something I should talk to my Doctor about because I keep forgetting. Cold has become agony, and I think in no small part due to suddenly not having anything between my muscle and skin to keep me warm. ūüôĀ

Sense Changes:

My hands are rougher now, so soft things feel exponentially softer than they used to. My plush bathrobe is fucking heaven. My hearing has changed? I’ve noticed it change. But I went to get my hearing checked and my ears are great, however we noticed one place where my ears diverged on what they heard on which side, and my guess is that maybe that’s the change I noticed happening.

The men on my dad’s side of the family are hard of hearing, so I don’t know if it’s a testosterone thing, or an I’m-in-my-late-20s-thing.

I no longer hate all melons??? My tolerance for spicy things has stayed about the same, but suddenly cantaloupe are fine. It feels almost blasphemous. I also need a lot more protein whenever my dose changes, so I will become a carnivore for about a month until my body goes back to not being a fan.

My tolerance for things like alcohol has gone up a lot.

My smell has changed. There’s more musk to it (I’ve been told) than there used to be. Less sweet, more bitter. I shower with shea butter body wash that smells like flowers, so I always smell like flowers, citrus, and boy, and I’m a fan of this.

Mental & Emotional Health Changes:

I have somehow grown the level of confidence of a teenage boy. I think it’s because I feel more at home in my body. Taking testosterone has stopped that constant internal war with myself where my body didn’t feel like it should have. It’s hard to describe…you know when you pull something out of socket? you can still move and function and stuff, it just hurts and it feels like it’s just fundamentally incorrect as it relates to you?

My internal existence and relationship with my body was like that, constantly. My body just felt incorrect in a way I couldn’t put a finger on, until suddenly it had the hormones it actually needed and I felt normal. I didn’t know how much that was eating at my existence until suddenly it wasn’t there anymore.

I am able to see things coming and roll with them, I can face hard things better. I can be depressed and upset and still know that I can get out of this and be okay, and that I will be okay in the end. I can actually handle and identify my own feelings and get less absorbed by everyone else’s. Testosterone has made it easier for me feel things, and make sense of my head. Feelings used to be chaos before, and now they have names and things.

Anger is new. I feel it in my veins, it surges, I become more assertive and I push back. There’s a lot of strength in it if I channel it right, otherwise it can be really overwhelming. I don’t become yelly or violent, I mostly silent scream into pillows or vent, but my words are sharp and cutting. I get really wordsy. If I’m in a city council meeting where my anger is extremely useful though, I give amazing speeches that make people feel things.

Angst is a lot, but not much different. It feels more present in my body but that might just be because I disassociate less.

I feel right, and myself in my brain, I’m not repressed anymore.

Puberty Changes:

My body thinks it’s literally a teenage boy. So. Puberty. All of it. Growing pains, constant horniness, voice dropping and cracking, acne, hair literally everywhere.

Hair

No really, my body is extremely excited about this hair shit. I have become a thicket. You could brush my leg hairs with a comb and tbh I probably should. My beard is coming in beautifully, I have a full on happy trail, my arms and legs are trying to go for the werewolf aesthetic, and my chest is full of hair. The butt hairs though. THERE ARE LINES. So I need to replace my electric razor and become a contortionist. I suspect that by this time next year I will be indistinguishable from Beast or at least Wolverine.

Also, I discovered aftershave, and my mustache got itchy.

Muscles

I get a lot of leg cramps so I try to eat all of the bananas all the time. Sometimes for a few days after a shot it feels like I’m too big for my skeleton and if someone could just like pull me, for a bit, that’d help. It reminds me of growing pains. I just need some skelegrow, because if I could be even 3 inches taller, it would make using the mills so much easier.

All of the muscles in my body have rearranged themselves. The first couple months I was on T my back hurt a lot because there was just, always a new muscle. It’s settled down a bit now, and most of my muscles seem to have been moved to their new places. Mostly packed ridiculously onto my back, shoulders, and arms. I have muscles for days instead of curves now, I suppose. I really like it. I like this new shape.

Junk

I really miss having tits some days, and not having hips anymore is still hella disorienting because I don’t know how to carry shit without them.

Oh yeah, my tits! They have been eaten. I don’t know what the fuck happened or where the fuck they ran off to, but I went from being 34DD in Dec 2016, to…I don’t think my tits have been this small since I was just starting to grow them? They’re mostly just a weird pudgy skin flap now, covered in hair. My ass also has the same problem, it’s just……so small and square, and fuzzy. IDK. But I can be shirtless now?

In addition to my tits and ass vanishing, my body realized it could grow that dick its always wanted and I’m so here for it. Sex makes sense now. It makes SO MUCH SENSE. Sex when you have the right hormones is great. A+ do rec.

In fun dick related adventures, over the last year I learned:

  • I could sit on it while biking
  • it gets caught and twisted in fabric (wtf)
  • EVERYTHING IS STIMULATING OH MY GOD WHY ARE THERE SO MANY NERVE ENDINGS
  • If it does not get enough pets my uterus will decide to cramp which is disorienting and not helpful
  • If I lose 5 vials of blood, I’m out of boners for a week
Voice

My voice has dropped a lot since I started testosterone. I didn’t know what voice dysphoria was until I didn’t have it anymore. It’s largely stopped cracking now. It’s deep and booming, but gravely. Whenever I project in class or make a public comment I literally surprise myself for a second because I didn’t expect my voice to be that deep. It’s not as deep, I feel, when I’m having a conversation as it is when I’m projecting. OR, if I’m in a room with another dude who’s voice is also low and booming, then somehow my body is like now WE have to be low and booming too! Then my voice just progressively lowers and it’s this weird subconscious thing and I have to stop myself.

Here’s a good example of before and two months ago:

 

Perception Changes:

People started seeing me as a dude most of the time¬†around October. That’s been a weird adjustment. It’s still not consistent enough that I assume everyone thinks I’m a cis boy yet, but I’m aware of it enough that going to the bathroom on campus feels increasingly complicated. I’ve gone back to getting more people confused about placing me since I put my earrings back in though. My body changed so quickly that while school was going on I didn’t have time to notice it and then over break I was really disoriented by how masculine I was being perceived as, so I put my earrings in and it’s helped my brain adjust to my new face/body/etc.

People listen when I speak, and I get talked over less now. Which is hugely disorienting since I’ve spent my life having to speak up over people to get heard. I find myself inadvertently speaking up over other people because I’m not used to not having people constantly talking over me. This has been a bit of a mindfuck actually.

I don’t have automatic solidarity with afab people in cis dude dominated spaces anymore which is also a weird thing to adjust to, as a transmasc machine student. I don’t look like a girl anymore really, so unless you knew….you wouldn’t know.

I feel like I have a much wider understanding of existence now – being perceived one way, and then another, countless times in the same day will do that to you. It’s jarring.

I don’t know if I see myself differently, so much as I see myself wholly? Before when I would be introspective, I would see all the things I felt I couldn’t be, that I wasn’t, that I was somehow unable to become, and now…now I see all of those things, and they’re all growing and I am evolving into that better version of myself. I feel like I am different only in that I am finally able to be all of myself, instead of a shell.

Personality Changes:

I’ve become more confident and assertive, more sure of myself. I’m at ease with myself in my body most of the time and I feel like that translates out.

I can be aggressive when I want to be and use it as a tool. I’ve realized that I don’t have to be timid out of safety anymore because I look and carry myself differently, people make different assumptions. This is something I’m learning how to navigate.

I take up space, and don’t try to shrink into myself as much.

I feel like I am generally more emotionally stable.

Dosage Changes:

I started taking 50mg of Testosterone Cypionate every two weeks for a month, then 100mg every two weeks for 3 months, then 200mg every two weeks until October, then I started doing 175mg every week.

175mg/wk worked alright for a few months but then it felt like it was too much. I was anxious all the time and grumpy and my uterus started writhing weirdly. When my labs came in my T was extremely high, so in January I started altering my dose to slowly bring it back to 100mg/wk which is the equivalent of the last dose I was on. It’s been solidly that for a month now and my body already feels better, and I haven’t dreamt of bleeding in a few weeks.

Injection Changes:

After a year of self-injecting perfectly fine, I developed a trauma response to it. I don’t know why, and I’ve tried everything to calm myself and be able to do it again, but I get 1/8″ away from my thigh and suddenly my body nopes out and I freeze. I sit there and I cannot will myself to move. So I have had to make accommodations around that which involves friends who will be my backups and asking if it’s alright to go into my clinic and have a nurse do it. This is what I’ll be doing for the rest of the semester and hopefully I’ll be able to self inject again. I’m not sure.

Another development was that due to the loss of weight and fat the 1″ needles that I’d been using to do intramuscular injections became too long (less fat to go through so it goes in way too deep) and painful. I kept pinching nerves and my leg would ache for three days after. So I talked to my doctor about shorter needles and they suggested SubCu which is supposed to go into the fat. I tried that the first week and we were too shallow on the injection so what I wound up with was 3 days of feeling like I was having an allergic reaction on the inside of my thigh.

Which is what brought me to asking if I could just go into my clinic to have a professional do it. I have yet to actually make it into the clinic because I will be waiting in triage for idk how long and I had no spoons. But knowing it’s an available possibility has helped.

In the meantime, the injection solution we’ve come up with has been to just not go in the whole inch.

Tips:

  • The faster you inject the less it hurts
  • Do not inject while standing
  • Eat all the food all the time
  • Do things to stretch out your muscles
  • Use a foam roller on your injection sites
  • Always carry a snack with you
  • Skin Care routine is your friend
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One Year Post Burn

It’s been almost exactly a year since returning from Burning Man. I learned a lot about myself in Black Rock City. I learned that I’m strong, capable, and so very very very trans.

I had felt reserved about being more masculine for some time before becoming one with the playa last summer. I had been actively repressing those pieces of me that wanted to escape and when I watched the temple burn I set them free.

While Victoria and I drove back from Reno in the rental car with the AC on high, dancing to chip tunes and The Black Keys, I wrote a list of things I wanted to do post-burn.

On that list was:

  • Switch off Lexapro
  • Start T
  • Remove Implant

I forgot about this list for several months, and rediscovered it shortly after starting T and tapering off Lexapro. Three weeks ago I got my implant removed because it was reacting with the testosterone and I was having hot-flashes constantly bookending my shot days.

This morning, the Sunday before labor day….or the day the Temple burns, I woke up, pulled 1ML of testosterone from a small vial, and injected it into my thigh. I remembered then, that it’s been a whole year since I really came to grips with the masculine aspect of myself, and I’ve just run with it.

I went to Burning Man last year and discovered I was trans, and it’s totally okay to be exactly who I am. Today, I took my 17th shot of Testosterone.

I’ve come so far since I burned my past in the Temple, and it’s been good.

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It me, a trans boi

I didn’t know I was trans until my mid 20’s. I didn’t have the language or the context to explain what I felt growing up. My writing over the last 8 years has actually thoroughly documented parts of that process. Coming to terms with my gender and what that means to me.

I spent my entire childhood just feeling wrong¬†at my core. Never able to measure up, never able to be the girl they wanted me to be, because I just wasn’t, no matter how hard I tried. I did “ballet” (and legitimately enjoyed it), I wore dresses and pink, I played with dolls, I did my nails…I did everything society told me good girls did, and I tried very hard to play the part of demure and graceful damsel waiting for her prince.

Spoiler alert, I am not demure nor particularly graceful playing a damsel. My failures at this were just compounded during high school when I got bored¬†talking with other girls because all that we were supposed to talk about was future homemaking and homeschool curriculum and other very traditionally girly things that just didn’t interest me. There was a period of about a year and a half when I was 14 where I was able to fly under the radar (thanks to an undesired move and pregnancies) and pretended to be a boy on the internet (that was the deal I made to be allowed to blog when I was 13, because predators don’t…go..after..boys…apparently) and offline I continued that persona and wore camo and got away with being “one of the boys” at speech and debate.

Looking back it seems obvious, but at the time I just thought I was broken. I wasn’t a girl, I wasn’t a boy, but I didn’t have the language to describe or even have a frame of reference about what trans-ness was. I just thought, as I had been told by my parents and pastors and every authority figure in my life, that I was inherently broken. I was just wrong¬†and only God could fix it, but he didn’t seem to want to, so I just tried really hard¬†to play my part as well as I could. I internalized the messages of wrongness and brokenness because I didn’t match up what I was told good godly women were like, not inside. I could cook and clean and sew but those crushed my soul and the future I was promised was not a road I wanted to take.

I wasn’t allowed to explore the woods, or play outside, I wasn’t allowed to play video games. I wasn’t allowed to do anything that was considered a boy thing. I feel like it’s important to note that I didn’t want to only do those boy things, I just didn’t want to be limited; I wanted to have both options. I wanted to be able to express both masculinity and femininity but that was definitely not allowed. I had one option and one option only, unless I was sneaky.

The idea of having children bothered me on a visceral level, it wasn’t until recently that I discovered how very connected to dysphoria it is. The idea of having a human come out of my body goes straight to lizard brain levels of “no. this is death.” I suppose when I interpreted my period as the ultimate betrayal of my body against me that should have also been an indication.

Instead I spent years wrestling with myself, hating myself with every fiber of my being until I was about 20 and finally started discovering the language to describe how I felt. It happened by knowing other people who came out, and finally putting a name to my sexuality, talking with other queer people. I embraced my queerness when I was 22, which was the first stepping stone to discovering my trans-ness.

Autostraddle, Tumblr, Everyday Feminism, and It’s Pronounced Metrosexual were all really great resources where I finally started learning that I wasn’t alone in my feeling, that having a uterus but not being a woman is completely valid.

I started talking to nonbinary people and trans girls and eventually realized that I am trans enough, and no one is stopping me from transitioning but myself. Meanwhile dysphoria was getting worse, now that I knew how to identify it and what it was. I talked to my partners, friends, and therapist. And learned some things

  1. Cis people don’t question if they’re qualified enough to be their gender
  2. Gender is what you make of it, and it’s importance is up to you
  3. You are allowed to and deserve to transition if you want to
  4. Transitioning looks different for everyone, you don’t have to want surgeries to be trans
  5. Nonbinary, Genderqueer, Genderfluid, Agender, etc are all valid trans identities
  6. It is your body, you get to change it (or not) however you see fit

For a while I thought I just wouldn’t transition. I’d just deal with estrogen and periods and do what I could to mitigate PMDD and everything that goes along with that. At some point…actually, at Burning Man, I realized I didn’t want to do that, I wanted to start HRT and see what happened. I could always stop if it wasn’t right for me. Both of these are valid.

So in December of 2016 I started HRT. Testosterone works FAST. Within a week my muscles started moving, I started losing curves, my voice started getting deeper, my clit grew. I’m approaching shot 4, I have angles and a jaw line, I feel right. I had no idea what it felt like to actually inhabit my body until I started HRT.

I’m not a woman, and despite taking testosterone, I’m not a man either. I’m just your local nonbinary fairy boi taking baby steps to being in their own skin.

 

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This Week in Trans

  1. Apparently cooking is a skill I default to.
  2. I can run?
  3. Melons taste good?
  4. I still dislike olives.
  5. All my feelings live in my belly.
  6. Everything is pain because my muscles are moving around so much.
  7. I am always hungry.
  8. And horny…and horniness feels different now? it comes from a different place so I don’t recognize it at first.
  9. I feel in my body, and more capable and dextrous.
  10. My curves went away
  11. My face is fuzzy
  12. My jawline has angles
  13. My clit is a dick now
  14. I think about myself and my abilities so differently now. I start from a place of “I’ve got this, what do I do” instead of “I suck, this is shit, I’m shit, what do I do” which is huge and makes functioning a billion times easier.
  15. I feel right.
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Pepper Potts in an Iron Man Suit

Pepper Potts was in an Iron Man suit. The suit was keeping her alive. She couldn’t just take it off whenever she wanted to, because to do so before she was in a place to receive proper and necessary medical care would be her death. As it was, the condition that lead her to live in an Iron Man suit was complicated and treatment wasn’t easy, not even for someone close to Mr. Stark. So Pepper Potts wore an Iron Man suit. She wore it every day and every night. She wore it to parties and running errands, work, and taking out the trash.

Tony was supportive, he knew Pepper was in the suit, and that living in the suit was hard for her. He kept her company and made her as comfortable as possible. He taught her how to use it and tried to show her the plus sides to living in a suit. He was there to listen when she had problems, to hold her iron clad hands and watch netflix, but most importantly, he saw her. He saw Pepper for who she was, not the suit she was wearing.

Whenever Pepper left her home she had to make a decision – a decision that was revisited upon every interaction with every human she encountered during her day. She could go out in the suit and be mistaken for Iron Man, talked to as if she were Iron Man, or reveal her identity as Pepper and be disbelieved, ignored, or beaten, harassed, and tormented. Of course, there was the off chance that some people would believe her when she said “I’m Pepper Potts, this is just a suit, it’s not a reflection of me” but those people are rare in public.

Most often, she got called “fake” and her life experiences were invalidated because all people could see of Pepper was the suit she was wearing. They thought, well if there’s an Iron Man suit, obviously it’s only Iron Man in it, and as soon as they learned otherwise, they harassed, threatened, and called her a poser, just trying to get attention, a wannabe, not real.

But it’s only Pepper Potts in an Iron Man suit. We all know that what we wear isn’t who we are.¬†

Sometimes I feel like my skin is a suit. It’s something I wear, something I have to wear because this suit is what’s keeping me alive. But whenever I go out, because of my suit, I have to decide if I want to put up with the misogyny and misgendering that my suit brings me, or risk confrontation. I often opt for keeping my head down and avoiding conflict. It doesn’t make the way people treat me – when they see my suit and harass me because of it, or keep calling me her when I’ve told them I’m not – feel any less painful; it’s just sometimes easier to ignore it than fight it, until I have the energy to. I haven’t found my powers yet.

My skin is a suit, it isn’t me. I’m inside of it. And the people who see through the suit and into me are the people I want to keep around. I want to be seen, my suit doesn’t define me.¬†

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