Saturday, October 10, 2015
(cross-posted from elsewhere, but I thought it was blog-worthy as well)
Every month, the engineering team at my startup gets together to report on what we’ve accomplished that sprint (development cycle), with a short slideshow and demo. I asked my boss to go last today, and after the rest of my presentation, when everyone was starting to drift away from the conference table, I showed this final slide, my heart pounding so hard in my chest I could barely ignore it. I took a deep breath, and dove in.
“Some of you know this,” I said. “And some of you probably suspect, by changes I’ve been making recently. I’m transgender. I’m about a year into my transition, and if any of you have questions, feel free to come to me.”
My ally asked how I wanted people to refer to me (she’s awesome! Perfect setup!), so I said: “Female pronouns would be great. I realize that may take some of you a little time-” (at which point my boss interrupted to tell me that I should correct people anyway). “We’re all going through a sort of transition together,” I went on. “I promise I won’t jump down your throats if you occasionally slip.” Again, my boss (and his boss) both said a word or two of support (they’ve both known for a few months), and... then it was done.
A few of my co-workers approached me afterward, expressing their admiration at my courage, and I did my best to be gracious, still a little tiny bit in shock. I’d done it. I’m out. The only people at this point who don’t know are my sister, my parents, my old Mormon congregation, and Facebook. I suspect a lot of those conversations may not go this well, but it ultimately doesn’t matter. I’m me, now, 24/7.
No more hiding.
Thursday, September 24, 2015
Long time no see. Life continues to chug on, and so does this crazy train I'm riding.
This morning I had a brief consultation with an electrologist to get her assessment of my prospects for facial hair removal; I’d mentioned to her ahead of time that I was considering starting with laser, then cleaning up the stragglers with electrolysis, and she was super helpful in walking me through how to structure that (in a nutshell: 3 or at the most 4 sessions of laser, 8 weeks apart, then zap the rest until we’re done). I thanked her for her time, and went to work.
So tonight, when we were all home, I shared some of my morning experience with DW, keeping it as matter-of-fact as possible, answering her questions, but otherwise trying not to come across as too excited about it (she’s almost always uncomfortable talking much about anything transition-related, and I try to be sensitive to that). At first I felt like she was okay with what I was telling her; I mean, I’ve always hated shaving, and for years (even before I was out to her) I’ve brought up laser as something I’d be interested in doing, and she knows I’ve been slowly saving money up for this exact thing.
I think I was probably just kidding myself.
After talking for a few minutes, she said something remarkably similar to something I just read in Jenny Boylan’s memoir, She's Not There (which, by the way, is excellent, and which I've thoroughly enjoyed), which her spouse said to her when they were standing more or less where DW and I are now. As best as I can remember it, she told me:
“You’re going to do what you’re going to do, but I can’t help but feel like it’s another part of the person I fell in love with slipping away.”It made me so, terribly sad. The real tragedy of relationships like ours is that we love each other’s hearts & souls, but everything she loves about my body are the things I most hate, and making my body more comfortable for me makes it less so for her.
When we got married, I was convinced that her love could save me. Fix me. That our perfect unity could make this yearning I've always felt, this profound sense of disconnection with my assigned gender, just melt away forever. (I spent the first 40 years of my life hoping and praying that God would take it from me, too, but He never saw fit. Or He couldn't. Or something. I don't know. But that's a subject for a separate post).
We've shared countless joys and sorrows. Built a happy life together. We're the proud-but-often-frustrated parents of two amazing teenagers.
But the gender thing is still hanging here between us, and I'm afraid it always will be. Our friendship is as strong as ever, but our romance is no more. There's no blame or hard feelings about this (at least I don't think there are), but it's hard not to feel pretty melancholy sometimes.
I have no idea what the future holds. For now, we're keeping the family together, in no small part to give our kids the best possible home life. But I think we're both wondering how long that can last.
Tuesday, April 14, 2015
Well, so much for restarting my blogging habit here. It's been a month since my last post, but here's the next, much-belated entry in my series marking my first year on hormone replacement therapy. Let’s talk about three things that usually get mentioned in the same breath, for some reason: hair, skin & nails.
SkinI’m going to save hair for last, because I have the most to say on that subject. Skin is much more straightforward: it’s getting softer. Smoother. I bruise more easily than I used to, and get nicks & scratches a little easier, too. It’s also a lot drier than it used to be, so I find that my lotion budget has gone up quite a bit. But I do like the way it feels (and smells), so I don’t mind that at all.
NailsLike my skin, my fingernails also seem a little thinner, and tear more easily. I’m keeping them a little longer than I used to, and keep a shiny clearcoat on them most of the time, which does help strengthen them a bit more. A few times I’ve also ventured to be a little more daring, and have worn them painted to work, to my therapist’s, etc, mostly on significant days (like trans day of remembrance). To my co-workers’ credit, nobody’s batted an eye or said a thing. (bless you, San Francisco!). I like them painted; it’s a little cue to others and a quiet reassurance to my sense of self. But until I’m ready to be more visible in all aspects of my life (including my kids’ church, which is notoriously queerphobic), I’ll probably stick to special days (Next on the calendar: March 31st, Trans Day of Visibility).
HairI’d started growing my hair out some time before starting hormones, but it was kind of… well, my daughter said it was mullet-y. Since then I’ve started working with a stylist that’s helping me to take care of it while I grow it out. I know there are plenty of girls, cis and trans alike, who can rock short hair, but right now, honestly, I need it long. I’ve lived my whole life without being able to wear it long, so I need this, emotionally. (plus, anything to help me pass is a plus).
One of my major dysphoria triggers has always been my receding hairline. Hormones have helped a bit, halting its progression, but they haven’t done much to promote regrowth (a few stray hairs here and there, but that’s it). A few months ago, a trans friend recommended rogaine, which had done wonders for her, so a little over a month ago, I started trying it. Sure enough, after a few weeks, the receded areas started to show signs of life again… it’s been agonizingly slow, but there’s just the faintest patch of peach fuzz there now, which is encouraging.
Body hair has seen slower changes on HRT than I had hoped. I’m genetically predisposed to “sasquatch” levels of body hair, which has been another major trigger for a long time, and it’s incredibly time-consuming (and very visible to others) if I shave, say, my arms, legs, and chest. But things are sloooowly getting better. A few months ago, I used a few Amazon gift cards to invest in a starter epilator, and have used it a couple of times on my legs, and this week, on my arms. The hair that’s growing back in both areas is finer, thinner, and slower to regrow, so it seems that my body may finally be taking the hint. Huzzah.
That leaves my facial hair, which I “affectionately” refer to as my chin moss (not my term: I heard another trans girl on Tumblr use it, and it fit well enough that I adopted it). My #1 dysphoria trigger, and most likely the main thing keeping me from being correctly gendered more often. But dealing with this one is stressful and expensive. I have to shave every single day, and even then, I have a very visible beard shadow, and would prefer not to have to hide it using a lot of makeup (it would make me feel deceptive, tbh, but I know that’s just me). Anyway, I’ve started a separate savings account with my bank specifically to set aside money so that I can invest in laser hair removal for my face & neck, hopefully later this year. More on that, hopefully soon.
Friday, March 13, 2015
So... this is the first of what I think may be several posts marking my first year on hormone replacement therapy, and how it relates to what came before. Because it marks the anniversary of the day when my rebirth began, I'm going to call it "Rebirthday."
This time, I’m going to be talking about my boobs, so if any of you feel like that’s TMI or triggering in any way (and if it is, I’m sorry :(), maybe don’t click through the “Read More.”