[Reposted from a FB group entry I made this AM] I want to tell you a story about fear and excuses. I want to preface that story by making it clear that we all have to come along our journeys at our own pace, and … Continue reading You’re A Firework, That Will Survive, Rising Up To The Challenge Of Your Rivals
I went in there expecting to have to fight. I even had a plan if I needed to walk out. See, I’ve never had good results for long when I went to the VA for health issues. I was leery about reaching out to the LGBT Care Clinic to begin with. I was leery about going in to meet the counselor who was supposed to decide if I was “trans enough” for HRT. I was even leery about going to group therapy.
But, every step, that trepidation turned out to be unwarranted. The director of the clinic was kind and warm (and his email signature specified his pronouns . . . very progressive for VA, I thought). My counselor was amazingly sweet and supportive, complimentary of the steps I’d taken on my own “already”, and told me just a few minutes into the appointment that there was no doubt that my decision to start HRT was clearly right for me. Even Group was OK, with yet more bright and obviously compassionate care providers facilitating.
But, today . . . today I was meeting my prescriber. Today I was meeting the woman who held my fate in her hands, as the gateway between me and that sweet, sweet estrogen.
You may not know, but transgender hormone therapy is kind of a mess, academically speaking. Heck, it’s only been in the last 5 years or so that it’s been widely accepted as “safe”. There’s almost no meaningful research, what has been done is tainted by poor methods or out-of-date protocols, and there’s no real push to do anything about it. If you want an education in female “cross-sex” HRT, you’ve got to weed through tons of poorly documented anecdotal evidence, fight through mountains of prejudice, and hope like hell the person on the other side of the prescription pad has done the same. Or is at least willing to listen.
I’ve done that research. I’ve found the work of the few people actually working to refine the protocols. And I found some less than well known information compiled mostly by one man out of Detroit, who is so passionate about this that he keeps his entire catalog of research in an updated PowerPoint on his Facebook for care providers and patients alike; the same PowerPoint he uses to present at conferences every chance he gets, when he’s not treating his thousands of patients actively in transition. I want to do it his way. His way is to use the body’s natural feedback loop to trick it into shutting down testosterone production with high consistent levels of estradiol (A form of estrogen most commonly used in hormone therapy) WITHOUT having to resort to anti-androgen compounds (or “blockers”). His protocol relies on injections of estrogen, to skip “first pass” liver processing (hard on the liver, and reduces the efficacy of the estradiol). Most protocols rely on blockers to squash testosterone levels, and use barely significant levels of estrogen administered under the tongue to encourage feminization. His method has lower risks, lower side effects, and most importantly, shockingly better results.
And so I went in today expecting to have to defend his position as my own. I don’t know how much time I have (for those of you joining us already in progress, I have terminal heart failure), so I want to be as aggressive as possible. I’ve been on sublingual E- it’s impossible not to swallow some of it, and every microdot that goes through my digestive system is lost opportunity. F that. Gimme the good shit, Doc, and gimme a lot of it. Now.
And she did. Injections? No prob. Skipping the blockers? Of course, that works just fine. High levels of serum E? Well, she’s a little leery of the upper end of his range, but she’s willing to shoot for the low end AND she’s willing to read his research.
She’s also willing to write any and all letters I need for changing my birth certificate and getting an orchiectomy.
I don’t think I’ve ever said this before, but . . . things went really well at the VA today.
People say that when you come out, you lose everything. They say that no matter how supportive family and friends might be at first, they’ll eventually fade away. Either they don’t want to hear about transition issues all the time, or you aren’t really the person they always thought, or any other number of explanations.
Clearly, not me, though. I mean, look at the outpouring of support I have. Look at all that love and acceptance.
And yet, one of my closest friends, one of the first people I even came out to, has decided that I’m not worth the effort anymore. My “new world” is “out of touch with reality”. 15+ years of friendship, gone like that.
Maybe they’re right. Maybe you do lose everything.
I don’t have any deep insight or revelation to offer in this post. I’ve been busy with typical holiday stuff, getting to go out and spend time with friends and loved ones. It’s really nice to be me when doing so.
On the other hand, the emotional changes going on right now are HARD. Coming to terms with everything I missed out on not getting to grow up as a woman. There’s actually a lot I have to say about it now that I reflect, but I’m off on a whirlwind day of holiday reverie. Maybe tomorrow.
“I care about you so much, you’re like a brother to me, I could never risk that. I’d be afraid of losing you as a friend.”
So many times those words fell on my teenage ears. We didn’t have such stupidity as “the friendzone” back then. If someone wasn’t interested in you, then they just weren’t interested and you either moved on or stayed friends. But it was lonely. Well, I thought it was. Coming out to everyone has given me some insight about certain things, and I expect I’ll stumble across more as time goes on. But this one came to me yesterday talking to my new transition care co-ordinator.
I had no idea I was a woman, as most of you who have read much of anything here already have seen. But I was, and even though I wasn’t consciously aware, it still informed my behaviors and personality. I have always had more close female friends than male. I’ve always gotten on better with women (or feminine people, to be more accurate). Lonely (and admittedly puberty-driven amorous) young me developed fast friendships with many women. Really, really good ones, too. So many of the women in my life (either ones I dated or not) have been part of it since high school. And friends make the best lovers, says conventional wisdom, so why shouldn’t I be dating these women who I was so close to? I’m sure the reasons varied, and I’m sure more than one of the “like a brother to me” speeches was simply an attempt to save my feelings. But, the reasons aren’t important here. What is important is that I’m recognizing now that the connection I felt with these women wasn’t always amorous; it was platonic, but no less meaningful.
One of the things I’ve heard a lot since coming out has been “I had no idea, but now I understand our friendship”. And while that makes me feel good (it’s certainly affirming to hear that I never seemed like “other guys”), it didn’t really hit me until I was laying out my narrative again for a new care provider. I had all these feelings as a young “boy” for all the amazing women in my life, and because I thought I was male and assumed a certain set of norms and gender roles, I always interpreted those feelings as romantic. Maybe some of them were, but again that’s not germane to this line of thought.
I guess having spent so much time living as a man but not really connecting as one has given me these 2 points of view with which to better evaluate my experiences. Now that I’m on the other side, I see things differently. So, I’m going to start teasing these ideas out more. I think they will help me better understand myself and I also think that it’s a sort of shared perspective, but with the benefit of both perspectives being purely internal.
Well, this wraps up the end of this chapter of my transition. I got the call early this afternoon that the Church council is not willing to try having a transgender Scout leader. Totally not surprised. I get the impression that the actual discussion was a bit less . . . tactful, than the message that was relayed to me. I resigned and came out to the rest of the leadership and left the FB group.
And then I got to change my name on Facebook. And that was amazing.
As most of you know, I have been waiting to find out what is going to happen as far as my role in my son’s Cub Scout pack, where I am a leader, as a result of my coming out. I met with the Pastor of the church that charters our pack; according to the official rules, such decisions are entirely up to them. I was surprised at the result, but it means I’m still waiting. He is personally inclined towards the belief that BSA is making strides in these directions and is not opposed to me staying on after I come out. He recognizes that needs to happen as soon as possible. He will meet with the church council tomorrow morning to let them know what’s going on, and we’ll see what happens.
I’m ready to know what’s going on. I have friends in that Pack…friends who I haven’t been able to tell yet. It’s also a pain in the ass managing 2 parallel Facebook accounts. I’m ready to move, whatever direction that is going to be.