On Passing

Despite all evidence to the contrary, and in full recognition of how incompatible this seems with my extremely deep set misanthropy, somehow I continue to believe that most people want to be good and kind. That’s the only explanation, really. I’m still convinced that I don’t “pass”. I’m convinced that everyone who doesn’t call me out is simply being nice to me. The lady at my son’s school who did a quadruple take on my license and told me she needed *my* ID could not possibly have been that taken aback and confused, right?

I’m working really hard to rationalize to myself how most people MUST know I’m trans on sight and yet when I had aforementioned son out to dinner, and he loudly called me “Dad” twice, everyone around us became visibly uncomfortable or curious. It had to have been the lighting, right? It must have been helping me “fool” people.

Old Southern men in the grocery store want to help me with things- I guess when they notice I’m walking with a cane? But old Southern men are nice and gentile and have been brought up to be mannerly, right? Maybe they have bad eyesight, I tell myself.

There’s the whole added complication of the idea that making a big deal out of “passing” is problematic as it endorses cis-het norms of beauty and womanhood. But, for now, I’m not gonna fight that battle. I know how I see myself when I close my eyes, and quite honestly, I’m entitled to my own vision of myself rocking the aesthetic of my choice just as much as someone who wants to blaze their own trail. I’ll be aspire to be Betty Page meets June Cleaver and you do you, honey. There’s room for both, but that’s a whole other blog post.

So, anyway, I seem to be out there passing far more often than I realize or am willing to accept. I can’t wrap my brain around it- I know I’ve changed but I still see so much of what I’ve always seen in the mirror. In a way that’s good- my son’s biggest worry when I came out was how different I’d look. His Mom pointed out that I’ve never been very traditionally masculine, even with a beard, and that the changes would be gradual, etc etc. I guess as long as I still see that dude I used to think I was in the mirror to an extent, he does as well, and I’m willing to be uncomfortable in all other situations if it helps him ease into his role in my new life.


Checking In

I have no topic here tonight. I have no flashy insight. It’s been almost 2 weeks since the last post, so, I should at least check in.

Got some bloodwork back- all looks good; estradiol climbing, T barely existent. Went to a wonderful holiday party last night at the transgender support center down in Charlotte. I feel called to volunteer there. I’m looking forward to it immensely.

Wonders Never Cease

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.

On “Best Friends”

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.

Holiday Craziness

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.

Happy Festivus.

How To Be An Ally, and Mean It

I want to make it clear that I am in no way trying to diminish the importance of the support I have received since coming out and going full-time. The words of encouragement from friends and family mean the world to me and have helped me immensely.

But I’d trade it all for this.

Trans people don’t need you to tell us you’re proud of us, or you admire us. Trans people don’t need you to tell us we’re brave. Trans people don’t need you to tell us we “look great” or anything of the sort. It’s really, really nice to hear those things, don’t get me wrong. But it’s not what we need.

Trans people need you to stand up for us when we aren’t around. Trans people need you to advocate not just with us, but on our behalf when we’re not being listened to anymore. When we are judged and pushed out and ostracized from a group simply for making the excruciating decision to come out, we need you who are left behind to make a big deal about it. We need you to stand up to transphobia and hate and fear. We need you to care not just about us as people, but the environment in which we have to exist. We need you to care about the trans people who can’t come out yet, or may never be able to come out. We need you to say something to the people who snicker and scoff behind our backs. We need you to be as brave as you say we are.

It’s easy to support trans rights when you’re trans- you’re already being judged, so might as well own that shit. And of course, when someone who wishes to stand against us hears our calls for equality, they fall on deaf ears, because we are seen as less, as freaks, as aberrant or deranged. But when you stand up on our behalf, it means something very different. When ever someone outside a marginalized minority stands up for them, it means more to those who look at us from the outside and cringe. It’s harder to rationalize away. It’s significant.

That’s what we need.