Tuesday, May 3, 2022

What a Couple Years!

Oy. It's been a couple of years, hasn't it. Seriously. Starting in August 2019, I got my FFS after a lengthy and frustrating legal battle with my insurance. Then in November I got my top surgery. Then it was time for my GRS to happen in May of that year. All of those in the span of about nine months. And that was just the surgeries. 

Covid-19 happened too and threw everything into chaos. Thankfully Kath and I were super lucky. We weren't affected negatively and didn't lose anyone that we knew. We even got to work from home which was really nice. So while we were super lucky, we were still stressed out and overwhelmed. 

Creatively, I got burned out. I really did and unfortunately that slowed us way down on recording Gender Rebels. But now we're back and recording again. We are even posting new patron only content too. 

On the writing front, two of my pieces are in the new edition of Trans Bodies, Trans Selves. It's a great A-Z encyclopedia of all things trans. I heartily recommend it. 

And in July, my novel Disgusta will be coming out! So I will have plenty of more updates about that coming soon. 

Disgusta is a young adult novel about a teen who growing up in the suburban South in the Nineties. In high school, he wrestles with belief in God, a disintegrating conservative family, and transgender feelings that won’t go away. It explores themes of belief in God, LGBTQ identity, rebellion, and coming of age. Additionally, its setting provides a serving of Nineties nostalgia and a realistic look at growing up queer in the evangelical community.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Burn Out and Checking Out Are Also Parts of Transition

So, I am about to turn 40. Not only is that a major milestone, it also means that my official transition started five years ago. And, back in 2015 when I started this process, I dove right into it head first. Not only did I start updating this blog twice a week, I also started doing weekly Gender Rebels episodes with my partner Kath. Then we started our Patreon page which meant generating patron-only content and we also launched the Gender Rebels YouTube channel. With all that going on, I was starting to grow my hair out, deal with hormones, and get laser hair removal on my face. Beyond that I was also writing novels and, oh yeah, working my normal 40 hour a week day job.

For three years, I think I just rode on this new transition high. Everything was so new and exciting. It was an adventure, eagerly waiting for hormone effects, coming out at work, starting full time, getting rid of all my boy clothes, changing my name, changing my gender marker, getting new paperwork on everything. It was wonderful. It was heady and something full of endless possibilities.

Then, as I reached my two years on HRT, I decided to go in for the surgeries. And I think this is where that excitement hit a big wall. Thud. First there was bureaucratic gathering of letters and paperwork, making consultation appointments, figuring things out. It was starting to sap my energy a little, but I soldiered on.

But then came the emotional roller coaster that was my fight against my health insurance company. They had denied my FFS and I was determined to fight them on it. My FFS surgery date got pushed back and back multiple times as I dealt with endless paperwork, denials, appeals, a deposition, accepting that I was going to lose, and...then finally I won. I won eleven days before my FFS date.

Then I spent time recovering from my FFS. For a month I looked like an absolute ghoul; covered forehead to chin in dark, black bruises, one eye droopy, a head so swollen it looked like a bowling ball full of surgical staples. My numb mouth that meant I couldn't drink from a cup from a normal person and had to use a straw for a couple months (it's still not quite there). Plus my ear-to-ear head wound scabbed over like crazy until the scabs got intermingled with my hair and decided to just stick around permanently. Thankfully, a couple dermatologist visits and some creams got that normal again.

Just as I was nearing the end of the healing on my FFS, it was time for my breast augmentation! Thanks to the legal battle pushing the date back, my FFS and breast augmentation ended up being about 90 days apart. That's about as close as you can get surgeries. I mean, the doctor signed off on it. But it still felt super quick. Then, there was the recovery from that, which I'm still dealing with as of this writing.

Needless to say, it's been a lot. And I found myself with no energy at all for creative endeavors. My blog fell fallow, and I Kath and I had to stop doing weekly Gender Rebels episodes. I just didn't, as they say, have enough spoons. Two surgeries and a legal battle wore me down and left me exhausted.

And that is something that I never really realized was a part of transition. It's been five years and so many changes. It burns you out. That is where I am right now...kind of burned out on the whole thing. and yet, there's still miles to go before I sleep because my next surgery is coming up in about 100 days.

When I first dipped my toe in the trans community over twenty years ago, I remember feeling for the first time that I really wasn't alone. I absorbed it all like a sponge. I talked to everyone I could and met so many cool, amazing people. Many of them I've lost touch with over the years, but at least once a month I get an email from someone who happens upon the podcast and tells me that they remember me from some old forum or another. I needed the community. I need to read other people's stories, their successes, their advice.

One odd thing I do remember from that old online community was that there existing something of a hierarchy. Crossdressers were right at the bottom, part time trans-women were only a little higher, full timers were higher still, people who had actually started hormones were higher than the HRT-less full timers, out trans-women were higher up than them, and post-operative trans-women were the true queens. Back then I was kind of at the bottom and looking up.

In about 100 days, I will reach my queendom, at the top of the heap. Not that anyone really cares about that hierarchy anymore. In about 100 days, my transition will be "complete." There will always be some more electrolysis, but I will, for all intents and purposes, be done. I will have transitioned. Ages ago, I would sit on the subway, young 22 year old me, and write out these plans, these transition checklists. Well, my checklist is almost done. What does that really mean?

For the past few months, I have found myself needing to check out from all of it. I unsubscribed from all the trans subreddits I used to read. I've found myself unsubscribing to trans YouTubers I've enjoyed for years. I honestly don't know why. But I don't think that it's because I'm "done" with my transition. I think that checking out of it all, taking a break from it all, is something that you need to do some times.

Five years. For five years I have been living and breathing and drinking and eating transition. Transition has been the central part of my life. And it seems like I will be doing that for at least another year. I think the reason I've kind of checked out of the transgender community is because not only do a need a break, but I just want to be "normal." After five years, I'm over transitioning and just want to live my life.

So that's where I am right now. I'm checking out and burning out and I'm not sure I like either. I do want to be part of the community that has brought me so much strength and encouragement, and to which it turn, I can provide strength and encouragement to the next generation. And I want to be be burned out! have the energy, all that lovely restless energy, for weekly podcasts and blog posts, and writing, and trying to get published. I still want to write and direct my own Frances Ha style mumblecore movie. It's something I've always wanted to do.

But, I think that burn out and checking out are parts of transition. There's no escaping them. Transition is hard! It takes over your life for years! It's an energy and attention vampire. At some point burn out and checking out will catch up with you. I'm not sure if anyone ever told me that, but I think that it's something unavoidable. Well, let me get through this next year. And then, I think in 2021, I'll have all my spoons back and be ready to hit the ground running creatively and community-wise too.

And don't worry, I'll have plenty to post this year too. Wishing you all the best. 

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Trans Love: A New Book

New book featuring not one but two pieces by me! Be sure and check it out and also buy a copy too!

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

The Story of My Breast Augmentation Surgery

My surgery was scheduled for a Friday. It would be at NYU Langone here in NYC.  On Thursday, I got a call at 11am from them stating that they still needed more paperwork from the cardiologist. If they didn't get it within the hour then my surgery was going to be cancelled. Egads! For FFS, it had taken me weeks of phone calls, faxes and pleading for the cardiologist to send exactly the right info to the surgeon.

A sinking feeling came over me. Were they really gonna cancel? This surgery had been scheduled for a year! Why wait until one hour before the deadline, one day before the surgery to request more paperwork?! I'd stopped taking my HRT two weeks prior. I hadn't had any alcohol for two weeks. I had submitted insane amounts of paperwork. I was ready for my surgery!

Well, thankfully, I got a good person at the cardiologists and they were able to quickly send over exactly what the surgeon needed. Then not half an hour later I got another call. My surgery was scheduled for 3pm the following day. Three seemed a weird time for a surgery. It was my understanding that they always did them as early as possible. But ah well, I'd take it.

There was a long wait before surgery. Kath and I sat there in the little pre-surgical area for hours. I was wearing my hospital gown. I did get a little freaked out when I put my hospital gown on. There was a sort of plastic lining on the inside and I thought "Oh my god, that's so the blood won't soak in. That'll be my blood!" But in general I was pretty calm. Having gone through surgery before with my FFS made me far less nervous or scared. I knew what was happening and breast augmentation is a minor surgery compared to FFS.

It was so weird to once again have to walk into the operating room full of all the equipment and actually climb up on the little bed myself. This time I managed to not get a clear look at the blades, scalpels, and other tools. But I was a little weirded out by how small the table/bed was. It clearly had not been designed for the comfort of the patient. The staff was nice and they got me hooked up to an IV. It went in my hand which hurt. I like the arm better. I cracked some nervous jokes with the staff, tried to think about other girls I knew who had been through this and been fine, and then the drugs kicked in. I was out. 

After the surgery, I was wheeled back into the curtained off area with Kath. Unlike with my FFS, I wasn't out of it as badly. My chest definitely felt tight, like there were two foreign objects shoved in between my skin and muscle. I was wearing a thick, gigantic, medical bra. They had me lying down on a stretcher. After a while I got really uncomfortable and tried to sit up. That was painful. Later Kath would comment how I'm normally quite good with pain but from my reaction she could tell I was in serious pain. Thankfully, some staff helped me into a chair.

My chest was tight but it was only painful if I moved. Staying still was a little uncomfortable but pain free. Then the moment I shifted or tried to use my arms pain shot through my chest. So, I tried to stay still, joke around with Kath, and sip on my apple juice. At least the chair was more comfortable than the the bed.

It took forever for them to release me. Though it was only about two hours it felt like an eternity. We grabbed a cab home. Walking wasn't too difficult. But when we got home, I collapsed down on the couch and laid there for about fifteen minutes resting. Then I thought I might get up to get a drink. Except I couldn't get up! Any way I moved was painful. I was afraid of ripping something out or damaging my body. I had to sheepishly call Kath over to come help me off the couch. The same thing happened lying in bed the first night. I had to pee at like 3am. So I woke up poor Kath to help me get out of bed.

It was really interesting seeing them on my chest for the first time. They were big! I knew I was getting pretty big boobs. But I was like "wow!" These are ginormous. Um, I'm not complaining. It made me super happy to realize I was going to one day have amazing breasts. I wanted to go run to sixteen year old me who was so distraught with dysphoria and be like "Little me, it's gonna be okay! It's gonna be awesome one day. Just hang in there."

Over the next few days the pain slowly, slowly subsided. I was given opiates, but elected not to use them beyond the first day for fear of becoming addicted. Instead I just used some regular over the counter Tylenol and Motrin. I think it worked. On day three I started weening myself off the painkillers. By day four or five I was completely off.

Recovery has been much easier than for FFS. For one thing, I can shower. For another I don't look hideous. Plus there was no icing down my face for a week. Oddly though, I would say that breast augmentation has been way more painful than FFS was. Sure, FFS was uncomfortable and demoralizing, but it really wasn't painful. Breast augmentation has been painful.

The pain has been really surprising too. You never quite know what is going to set it off. Turning the dial on the toaster oven caused me serious pain. Trying to open push doors in stores hurt. Getting up from a seated or a prone position was especially hard.

There was one night, maybe at day six or so. Again, I got up to use the bathroom late at night and then crawled back into bed. Once I was back in bed I realized that I hadn't even thought about getting up. I had managed to get up out of bed without any real pain. That was a nice feeling.

So now it's just patience. It seems to be a running theme in my transition. HRT effects take a long time. Growing out my hair took a long time. Healing from FFS took a long time. And healing from breast augmentation is going to take a long time. Right now I'm still waiting for the girls to settle into position. They install them high up knowing that gravity will do it's work in the weeks and months following surgery. So they're still up around my collar bones.

But, you know, even though they're not done settling yet, it's hard to avoid the temptation of taking pictures, isn't it? Ah well.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

My Facial Feminizaion Surgery - Three Months Later

So, the other day, someone commented on my Instagram photo and said "Your FFS was totally worth it!" Though I didn't respond, my first thought was bitch, you don't know what I went through. I'm the one who spent months putting together paperwork and building a legal case against my insurance company. I'm the one who looked like a bruised, swollen freak for a month. I'm the one who can't whistle as well as once I could! How do you know whether all that was worth it?

Was it all worth it? That's the question. Now that I'm out of the woods on paperwork, and mostly out of the woods on healing, I think I can say it was worth it. When I look at some of my new pics, I have trouble even believing that they're me. It makes me super happy. I think I find myself passing more easily in public and that makes me super happy too. 

Sure, I won't be entering any big whistling competitions any time soon. And while it makes me sad to lose that coveted crimson sash to Bertha "Whistlee" Butler, I am going to have sit out Salzburg this year. But I'm comin' for you next year, Bertha! Still, I'm happy. So I guess maybe it was worth it. 

If you came for thoughtful content and not just a bunch of photos, I'm sorry. I can't help you. This is just gonna be a bunch of photos. I'll be more thoughtful soon.

In the meantime, here are some more pictures that I can't believe are of me!


Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Top Surgery

Here we go again. It seems like my facial feminization surgery was yesterday. In fact I'm still healing from that surgery. Yet here I am about to go under the knife again. In less than two weeks I'll be getting my top surgery.

This surgery is a lot less scary than FFS was. For one, I've now been through a pretty involved surgery. So nothing is going to be a surprise this time around. Top surgery is actually a much, much simpler procedure in terms of surgical complexity and in terms of recovery. I should be able to go back to work in less than a week. And though I won't be able to do heavy lifting or jogging for a while, it shouldn't be too bad a recovery.

Heck, my biggest worry is that I'll give into the temptation to post pics before I'm fully healed. Breast implants take a while (two weeks to three months) to drop into place. And I will be super tempted to post lots of pics before they settle and look normal. We'll see how it goes.

The biggest thing that my top surgery will impact is whether or not I choose to go ahead with GRS as scheduled. As is I've planned three surgeries in the span of only nine months. Now, medically it's probably fine. My doctors have signed off on it after all. But I worry that I might be taxing my body and my spirit a bit too much.

The FFS recovery, while not painful or gross really, was harder than I expected. And I know GRS is going to be even harder than that. A part of me is like, great, let's get it all over in one nine month period. But another part of me is like, maybe my body shouldn't be put through all this so quickly. I don't know.

My breast augmentation surgery will help determine my future course. Maybe it'll be a breeze and I'll have six good months of recovery before GRS. Or maybe it'll be hard and I'll be so sick of doctors and hospitals that I'll want to push GRS back another year. We'll see. I sure as heck don't know right now.

Well, either way, I'm excited for top surgery. I think it'll go a long way toward helping with dysphoria and body image. Wish me luck.