Monday, July 27, 2009

Checkup... thumbs up!

I had a checkup with my ob/gyn this afternoon. He wanted to see me 4 months since I last went, and that time was up about now; plus, I had some questions to ask him about a few different things. It took forever to actually get into the office, as his staff had apparently overbooked him pretty badly today. Once I finally got to see him, we talked about how I was feeling (good), and how the hormones were doing (well), and if I was happy with the results so far (yes).

For my questions, I had three for him. The first was his opinion on what progesterone might do for me. He basically said "not much", which was in line with what the plastic surgeon said. No surprises there.

The next question was about finding a surgeon to perform an orchiectomy. We talked a little about my overarching plan for the surgeries that I wanted, and I told him, as I've said all along, SRS is too big a surgery, and the risks totally outweigh the benefits that I could see it bringing me. My dysphoria is more social than physical, and with this surgery I'm looking to simplify things for me, rather than to radically reshape my body. He said that he didn't perform the surgery, and that I would need to see a urologist. I asked if he knew a doctor who did perform them, and he said the one person he knew in town didn't do them anymore. But he said that he would make some calls, and he would get back to me in a couple of weeks. I figured that since he does treat a number of trans people, he would be in a much better position than me to know, or to be able to find somebody. Also, on a more personal note, I'm his patient, and I feel certain that he wouldn't send me to somebody who he didn't trust, or who didn't have a good reputation.

My last question was something my therapist mentioned, regarding a letter that I could take with me that briefly notes both my names, and says that I am under treatment for gender reassignment. Now that I'm going out in public, that's one thing that has concerned me a bit - my identification doesn't match my presentation, and that could cause more trouble than I care to have. He said yes, he's the one who gives those, and immediately got one of his office people to write one up for me. She had a form letter, so she just had to put in my names and print it out for the doctor to sign. It was simple as could be.

He wants to see me for another checkup in 6 months or so. If all goes according to my vague plan for facial surgery early next year, I'll get in to see him before I head off to the plastic surgeon.

Things just keep coming together bit by bit. When I take a step back and look at everything that's happening, I'm very excited with my progress, and it brings a smile to my face. It's actually happening!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Grrrr...

So right now I'm experiencing a measure of what I'm guessing PMS is all about. I talked with some of the girls I know in Second Life, and they all said, yes, that's about how it is. It's certainly not the best thing in the world.

Yesterday on my bus ride home, I was suddenly struck by such a wave of anger, I could not wait to get off and away from all those people. It really surprised and concerned me. Where did it come from? Who was making me so upset? Surely it couldn't have been my hormone levels, since my dosages have remained the same? Or perhaps my body reacts to them in a cycle of some sort, of which I have been unaware up to now. I spent most of last night wanting to tear into somebody, or take the mutes off my drums and wail on them for a while. All my aggressive feelings made me wonder if my male parts were trying to reassert themselves in some vain attempt. I just didn't know what was going on.

Today, I've got a low headache and I feel like I'm about to burst into tears at any moment. I feel ugly and awful and disgusting. I don't think I slept very well, because I looked very tired as I was getting ready for work this morning. As I was driving to the park and ride, I decided that I just couldn't deal with people today, so I went back home, and am taking a sick day. I'm just reading and taking it easy, and I'll probably have a nap in a while.

I guess the part that worries me so much is the speed with which it came on, and the fact that it seemed totally unrelated to anything that was going on around me. This is totally new for me, and it's not a little frightening. Talking with some people who had a better clue what was going on definitely helped soothe my fears. Hopefully tomorrow I'll feel a bit better?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Out and about

This past Sunday was a big day for me. Not only did it signal a return to a more normal Monday-through-Friday work schedule (yaaay!), but it was also a full day of presenting femme out in the world. I was, of course, scared to death for a decent amount of it, but I got out there and did it, and lived through everything.

First, my friend L and I had planned to see the new Harry Potter film together, and since she was out of town on opening night, we decided instead that Sunday was the day. I invited a few other friends along - C, E, and K - and E declared that she would only go to the movies with me if I presented female. Ok, sure. It surprised me a little bit that I wasn't more hesitant when she first made her requirement, but once I got out there and was trying to get out of the car, it jumped up to a whole new level of significance.

But neither the movie nor my friends were going to wait for me, so I got out and walked to the box office. I got my ticket without incident, and we all met up inside. As we walked to the theatre, L asked quietly if I was still breathing, which helped lighten my panic a bit. And of course, everybody had to go to the bathroom before sitting down, so I went too. This wasn't the first time I've been in a ladies' room, but it was the first time I've been in a ladies' room when there were other ladies in there. One looked me right in the face, and made no reaction. So I guess everything was ok.

After the movie ended and we were walking out, there were a bunch of people coming toward us, and I just tried to not think about them too much. I've still got a way to go to get over all my anxiety, but at least I'm out there confronting it, rather than wallowing in it.

The next encounter: my role-playing gaming group met on Sunday too. Neither of them had seen me in girl-mode before, so that was a new experience for everyone. We didn't really get much gaming done since we were sort of in-between campaigns, but we did a lot of visiting, and it was a good opportunity to practice some of the new voice things I've been learning. J didn't do too well with either name or pronouns at the start, but he started getting it a bit later on. D did pretty well for most of the afternoon; he ma'am'ed me a whole bunch of times, without even hesitating, which made me feel really nice. But for a first time, it went well; everybody made an effort, and I made an effort not to be upset when they inevitably slipped. It will get easier on everyone as time goes on.

So now the gamers know the real me. That's been a huge emotional hurdle for me, coming out to them. I'm sure it doesn't matter to them how I present, so I think I'll just present girl-mode to them from now on. It's something I'll do all the time eventually, and they're another group who knows me and cares for me, so that can be another comfortable part of my week.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Nobody got the memo...

I'm still catching up on some of my posts, so please bear with me.

Last Monday, I went out into the wide world in girl-mode for the very first time. It was scary, and exhilarating, and fun, and ultimately it was no big deal.

My friend P, who I haven't seen in ten years, was in town for a visit, and we had planned to have dinner that evening. He's been so supportive and almost nonchalant about my change, and I thought it would be fun to spend the evening with him in my proper form. I picked him up from the airport, and off we went. I had to go by C & E's for some last minute help with the dress I was making for my vacation, so that was our first stop. E helped me with the things I needed, and then we visited for a while. P declared that he was terribly hungry, and since I hadn't eaten much since lunch, I was as well. E headed off to bed, and C, P and I went out for dinner. It had gotten rather late, so the first 3 places we tried to go were closed. We finally found a place, and went in.

I was first through the door, and was surprised that I felt very little anxiety. I was with two people who knew me and cared for me, and I knew that they would not put up with anyone treating me badly. We sat, and ordered, and ate, and left. Nobody batted an eye, or stared, or said a thing.

The next day, as P and I (in boy-mode) were having dinner, we talked about the experience a bit. I told him that I have a lot of anxiety about people treating me badly when they first see me. His comment was that "nobody got the memo that you're the center of the universe." And he was precisely correct - I'm not the center of the universe. Everybody is wrapped up in their own stuff, that most will probably not take much notice of me at all. I'm weird, but I'm not threatening them, so... so what.

That same phrase became my mantra a few days later, when I was halfway across the country, and about to walk out of my hotel room, to meet a bunch of people I'd never seen in real life. Nobody got that memo, Trinity. Nobody really cares. It helped a lot, and it continues to help me. I'm getting the feeling that yes, I really can do this. So I'm going to try to get out there and do it.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Pride

This will be one in a series of catchup posts. I should have posted this two weeks ago, when it actually happened, but for one reason or another, I didn't.

The Houston Pride Parade occurred on the 27th of June, and despite my typical crowd anxiety (again with the anxiety?), I really wanted to go. I certainly wasn't going to brave an estimated 150,000 person crowd alone, so I asked L if she was available that day. She already had plans, and funnily enough, she said she's got crowd anxiety stuff too. I mentioned that it was occurring to C and E, and that I would really like to go see. C volunteered, and so off we went.

I debated for a few days on whether I wanted to present femme there. I thought that of any place, that would be a safe enough place. After all, these were some of "my people". But then all my anxiety basically overruled my reasoning; at the time, I had not been in girl-mode out "in the wild", and I was still very uninterested in even taking the risk of being the recipient of pointing and laughing. Me and my anxiety. I don't say, you say? Sure, sure.

So we went. We parked several blocks away, as I knew that both traffic and parking was going to be a complete nightmare. On the walk to the parade route, I kept fighting the urge to turn around. I really can't stand crowds; a crowd situation can, and often does, turn even the most mild-mannered person into a comple jerk. Shove, shove, push, and the inevitability of somebody taller standing in front of little old me. Sigh.

We got to the route about 20 minutes before the parade was to start, and worked our way slowly down the side of the street, looking for a good place to stand. We found a spot not too far down, behind a group of girls who had brought their lawn chairs. I could see! That was a bit of a choke point for all the people walking by, so there was plenty of movement there, but we were able to squeeze in behind the seated people without too much problem.

The parade started late. That's a given for something like this, though. I can't remember how late, but I think it was at least a half-hour. Maybe closer to an hour? However late it was, it gave me the opportunity to do some good people watching. And because we were right next to a constant stream of people moving by us, there was a lot of really interesting people-watching to do. People in every size, shape, color, and description. There were also several guys on the street, in the parade route, apparently trying to rile up the crowd.

One the parade started, some of the groups who were represented surprised me a little. There were probably a dozen different churches and religious groups. There was a couple of legal offices. All the candidates for the upcoming mayoral election were there; some even had floats. The diversity councils from several of the large oil companies had their entire contingents marching. The Houston Pride Band was there. HTGA and STAG were there. PFLAG was certainly there. Several LGBT-positive nightclubs had groups there. It was a cacophony of different groups, but it was a beautiful noise.

The crowd got more rowdy as the parade went on, which is fairly typical when there is a lot of drinking going on. Drunken gays and lesbians are just as boorish as drunken straight people. The gay guys who basically pushed in front of me and prevented me from seeing, were completely obnoxious and really drunk. There was another girl who insisted on having her hands on her hips, with her elbows way out wide, practically poking me in the still-tender boobs every time she moved. The supremely drunk lesbian to my left, who could barely stand up, and whose slurred speech could barely be understood, was just embarrassing. In the "we're just like everyone else" theme, drunken assholes are drunken assholes, no matter their race, creed, color, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Why do people insist on doing that to themselves, and ruining everyone else's fun?

After the parade was over, C and I started walking to find a place to get some food. I had been so worked up, I hadn't eaten dinner, and I think C ate a bit of a snack before we left, so we were both pretty hungry. We settled on a pizza place that sold by the slice, several blocks away from where we stood to watch the parade. There were several other parade-watchers there, so it was an interesting crowd. I was still too keyed up to eat much, but was able to take the raw edge off my hunger. C's stomach is a bottomless pit, so he just piled it in.

On the trek back to the car, we passed by a group in which C thought he recognized someone. We stopped to talk to them, and the person turned out to not be who he thought it was. Though one of the group of three was fairly drunk, she was still very respectful and pleasant, and wanted pictures of both of us. It was cute.

So all in all it was more positive than negative. I got home foolishly late, and I was very tired, but it was a good experience.

Meeting the Fracturelings

Today was quite a full day. I made it through several firsts, not the least of which was my in-office meeting with the plastic surgeon, and in femme-mode, no less. His office was barely-restrained pandemonium, so we were running quite late when he was finally able to talk to me. But talk, he did! He was a whirlwind of information, and sometimes it was even a little hard to keep up. He did a really good job of explaining things, and augmented a lot of his explanations with pictures. He gave me a very comfortable feeling about his level of expertise, and much more importantly, his dedication to his craft, and his pure enjoyment of what he does. He helps people, and it comes through loud and clear that he gets a great deal of satisfaction from it.

So I think I'll have him do the work we've discussed. And my tentative timeline is January 2010. That seems like plenty of time for me to get things finished up which need to be finished.

The other big important thing that I did today was that I spent the entire day in girl-mode. And I was in my hotel room for very little of it. I went over to N and B's to meet some of the Fracturelings who were in town for Fracturecon, though most were either asleep or elsewhere. I had a good hour of conversation with N before I had to leave for the drive into Chicago for my consultation with the surgeon.

Once I got to Chicago, I met up with J for lunch before the appointment, and she came with me to the session with the doctor, and then after some mind-bending traffic, she came back to Milwaukee with me. We had a super pleasant time together, and seeing her again tomorrow will be another fun time.

One thing that multiple people have said to me, is how settled within myself that I seem to be. At the time, I thought, oh no way, I'm just out here flailing. But the more I think about it, the more sense it makes. I've been going out in girl-mode for around a year, and I've gotten much more comfortable with both my physical presentation, and with the role which my presentation entails.

The other thing that struck me was the complete lack of reaction most people had to me. I did get a few funny looks when I was picking a few last-minute items up at the grocery for the dinner I cooked for everyone. But I was there to get groceries, and most people were there to do the same thing. When J and I had lunch, it was almost exactly the same way; we sat and ate, and everyone else was just doing the same thing. So it's helping to drive the point home that either (a) I pass really well, or (b) most people couldn't care less. I'm assuming choice B.

I am just so full of good feelings from meeting all the Fracture people in real-life tonight. It was a completely affirming thing, as I always knew it would be.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Busy, busy!

You know that old saying, "the harder I work, the behinder I get"? That's just how I'm feeling right now. I've got three blog posts that I want to make, dating from last weekend, and I've got more work to do on my dress, and I'm in the middle of an across-the-country road trip, and, and, and. I feel like I'm not finishing anything properly, and being the perfectionist that I am, doing something halfway is probably worse than not doing it at all.

Sigh.

I'm whining. I'm tired, and cranky, and not very comfortable, and I still have a couple hours' work to finish up some important things on my new dress before I can go to bed.

Road trips are no fun. I always forget that, and then I'm given the rudest of awakenings when I take one. They're exhausting, and the road has absolutely no mercy - you have to complete the distance, no matter what. But, I'm halfway done, and I'm doing it, and when I get to the end and see everyone who I'm going to see, it will be worth it. Tomorrow will be better. The reason for my journey will come to pass. I will be surrounded by friends, and there will be fun and merriment.

Right now, I would be content with a refreshing beverage, and my work being done. That doesn't seem like too much to ask. Magic 8-ball says: my sources say no.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Exercise works for other things too

We all know that exercise is not usually the easiest thing to do - it taxes the body, so that we can learn how to make our body work better. Voice exercises, as I'm finding out, are no different. The first few times I did my readings, I either overdid a bit, or I'm just not used to the amount of breathing that I'm doing; I felt faint and lightheaded, which made me feel a little below average, and also rather frustrated me. Since then, however, I've gotten used to it a bit, and I'm not having nearly as much trouble, either physically or emotionally. So, it seems to be working, which, of course, is the point of the whole thing.

I asked S, my speech therapist, whether it would be worthwhile to record myself when doing my exercises, and she said that yes, it would give me some good feedback to hear what these new things are doing for me. The first couple days, I just spoke my phrases, and didn't record. I just wanted to get the hang of it, and, truth be told, I was a little afraid, based on the non-progress from my earlier attempts. Yesterday evening, I felt like I had it pretty well, and my curiosity finally overcame my fear, so I started the recording program.

Well. Veeery interesting. I can certainly hear the difference in quality. I know that what I'm doing right now is exaggerated, but I think I've got an idea of where my voice training will be going over the next weeks. This morning, I recorded a few more of my phrases, just to see if I was hearing things, or if it was a fluke. No, there's definitely... something there.

I'm actually kind of excited to continue these sessions, since I can already hear some improvement. I'm making some progress!