6 months

We all know that time is strange. Recent things feel like they were ages ago and the distant past feels just like yesterday.
On September 8th (6 months and 10 days ago), I started taking testosterone. It doesn’t feel like it was that long ago, and yet… it feels like it always has been that way.

6months10days

Six months

Day1

Day 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you didn’t already know, I was a mechanic before I started having major back problems (and 3 subsequent surgeries), so the only analogy I can think of is in automotive terms. I feel like my body had been running on too thick of oil for the first 35 years of my life. It was too viscous to get up and lubricate the bearings which made for a really rough ride. Now that I’m on T, it is the proper 5w20 and I feel lubricated and smooth.

Don’t misunderstand that analogy though, testosterone isn’t a cure all. I still deal with anxiety, depression, complacency, back pain, body dysphoria, and a whole host of other issues. What testosterone has done though, is help me to present myself in a way that doesn’t need explanation. Customers and strangers both now read me as the man I am. My voice has deepened into male range. My face is somehow changing. My confidence has risen. I’m getting more body hair. I am physically changing, but I am still me – with my flaws, weaknesses, humor, and strengths.

I have several important dates coming up. The first is April 27th. That is the day I have my hearing to have my name legally changed to Oliver. I have my letters from Howard Brown Health Center to bring as well to show that I am indeed male. As soon as that hearing is over, I will be heading to the Social Security Administration office (that is conveniently 2 miles away from our apartment) to get my new SS card with my new name and file that I am indeed M not F. It will take probably about 2 weeks to get the new card and then I will get to go to the DMV and get my real license. A real picture, a real name, a real gender.

A few days after the hearing, on May 1, I will have Starbucks health insurance. The first thing I will do is to set up a consult with a surgeon. I may have to wait until I have been on testosterone for a full year (various surgeons have different requirements), but even then, just knowing that it will happen, will mean a world of difference. I’m sure I’ll write more about top surgery and why it is so important when I get closer to it being a reality, but I will say now, that it is going to be worth the pain and the seemingly endless waiting. To be able to look at myself in the mirror and to actually see what I felt I should see will be the greatest gift.

 

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start rant

There are certain things that I can’t stop thinking about – that I can’t wait for, but I have no choice in the matter.

This morning, we had a delivery scheduled from Peapod. Normally, I get an email about 20 minutes out saying we are next. I got that email after they rang the bell. I should have been prepared anyway, but I wasn’t. So, I quickly found a baggy sweatshirt and threw it on because I didn’t have time to put on a binder (it can take awhile to get those on). It seemed to work, because when I opened the door, he looked at me and said “Where would you like this sir?” Most guys, would be able to just open the door without thinking, hesitation, and fear, I can’t.
I also had ordered alcohol. It was a great price and it was something the wife likes – no brainer. Well, Even though I am clearly in my 30’s, the driver needed to see my ID – they actually write the info down. After the ID viewing I became “ma’am”.

This isn’t about how it sucks being misgendered (though it does), this is about all of the little stupid things that matter. Those things that from the outside aren’t that big of a deal, suddenly are huge. Showing an ID, getting dressed, vocal tone, and inflection.
Just existing is challenging at times.

I’ve had several surgeries for various reasons – 3 different back surgeries (2 of which were in 2015), gall bladder, hysterectomy, a broken finger, and I think 2 others… and each time, I tend to discover a new thing I’ve become allergic to. Each time I have to drown myself in benadryl. And getting top surgery would be 100% worth any adverse reaction from adhesive, anesthesia, latex, or some new thing. It would mean freedom. One less thing that I need to stress out about.
I’m just waiting to have worked for an average of 20 hours a week for 90 days – and then – I will have access to that surgery.

Also, still trying to find out if my current insurance will cover pellet implants instead of injecting with something that I’m allergic to. In the mean time – Zyrtec and keeping the epipen handy.

We also decided that my tax refund instead of going to some bills as planned, will go towards my legal name change – so I can then file my gender change at the same time. I am just waiting on one last W2 to arrive. Then we can file. Then I can get the money. Then I can be me.
And then I will have to change my voter registration – because I have to vote. You have to vote. There are candidates who not only don’t want to give us equal rights, but want to take away what little we have.
I’m not going to tell you who to vote for, I just want you to do your homework and vote. Please. This is really important. If you can, vote in the primaries, if not – at the very least vote in the general election. If you are going to be 18 by election day and live in the US – PLEASE register and vote.

vote

/end rant.

he’s back

Consistency.
Judging from this blog, you might be inclined to think I have an issue with it. I really don’t. I took a month off of writing to re-group. I believe I have grouped appropriately now and am back.

So, here is a brief catch up on the goings on in the past 33 days:

The wife and I have started watching the Walking Dead. Well, she’s seen it before, I hadn’t. I thought it was too gory for me. But, I got hooked on the character development. We just finished season 3 last night.

I bought a set of clippers to save money since I like my hair short I usually get it cut biweekly. Well, I figured a set of clippers is about 2 haircuts – so yeah, no brainer. Well, turns out, I’m not exactly great at cutting my own hair 12568911_438777796333362_1527422466_n

… because I think I am doing something wrong as it is constantly pulling when cutting – thus hurting like the dickens.

I realize that I “pass” about 90+% of the time. So now when I get misgendered, it actually bothers me way more. I can’t get past it. I keep trying to figure out why – “What did I do differently today?” “Is it the customer service inflection in my voice?” “Is my binder not working?” “Am I fooling myself into thinking I actually look like the man I am?”
Only twice though (and on the same day within the same hour (hence the plague of self doubt) has anyone ever been malicious with their misgendering. They both happened at work. One was a woman I had never seen before and was a “typical north shore (read: Canada Goose coat wearing, Audi SUV driving, can’t get off the phone to order a cup of coffee) snob”. She emphatically and over enunciated called me “ma’am”. She had this evil glint in her eye when she said it.
The other time was a regular customer. He called me she, and I said with a quizzical expression and a calm voice “uhh, it’s he.” – He said “I know what you are”. Seriously.
That got under my skin in a big bad way. I told my shift supervisor about it who asked permission to tell my boss – and I have to say, that alone felt good – I was being respected. He then asked what I wanted to do about it. He gave me all the power. If I wanted him banned from the store, he would have done that. I decided to let it go. He is a miserable old man – no need to give him a perceived battle to fight for – let him think he won – even though he is now plagued to decaf at my store.

I went through my first vial of testosterone. 12543150_964989390242308_1743734671_nI’m now 22 weeks in and I love it. The only thing I do not love is that I am sadly allergic to the binding oil in it. I have developed large (4+ inch diameter) itchy welts at the injection sites. At a follow up at my clinic, she prescribed me Zyrtec and an epipen (just in case) until we decide which alternative delivery method to try. I’m leaning towards pellets (which is basically an implant that is done 3-4 times a year instead of a weekly injection) – but that depends on what my insurance says.
Also, at that follow up, I got something that I want to frame, but I have to give away. She wrote me 2 letters. One for the Social Security Administration and the other for the State of Illinois – so that when I finally get my name changed, I will also have my gender marker changed – I will legally be Oliver, a man.

I also had to have an emergency oral surgery.12530723_1673147172956594_508245106_n

You see, several years ago (15), I was told I should have at least one of my wisdom teeth out. I didn’t have dental insurance and quite frankly, I buried my head in the sand. Last year, I went to a dentist who told me to have all 4 out because they were causing cavities on the other teeth. Well, life got in the way (back surgery, hysterectomy, finding a job, etc), so I didn’t. Around Christmas, my mouth started hurting. By January, I was taking leftover pain meds from the back surgery to deal with the mouth pain. I went in to my dentist who told me that wisdom tooth (from 15 years ago) was decayed and needed to come out asap before it destroyed my JAW. So, boom, all 4 removed as well as the money I had ear marked for my name change.  On the bright side, no more pain. On the realistic side, I don’t know if those letters will ever come in handy when I can’t get (and keep) the money for the name change process.

Now that you know what is behind, let me fill you in on what is ahead –
I will find a way to do my name change. I can’t keep going like this when I am legally something I not only don’t “feel” – but don’t even look like anymore.
I want to look into top surgery once I get covered with health insurance through Starbucks (their plan covers it!).
I will decide on an alternative testosterone delivery method (because the more I’m exposed to the cottonseed oil, the worse it will get).
I want to lose weight and start lifting – Not so I can look like all the buff FTM dudes out there like Aydian Dowling, Jake Graf, or the FTM Traveler (who I am meeting this weekend) – but so I can be strong. So I can take care of my body. So I can feel better about myself. If I get to be insanely buff, AWESOME, but I’ll settle for looking like a middle aged man who can lift more than a bag of groceries.