Monday, March 28, 2016

Highline, Health Center & Drinks with Friends

Okay, my camera is gone. It no longer works. What happened was, I was repelling down a hundred foot cliff in the rain forest with the camera in my pocket and I landed in about four feet of water. That's a true story.

Luckily, my SD card survived and I didn't lose any pictures (like the one above). But unfortunately, it means that my camera is toast. Not even the rice trick could save it. Yeah, I'm bad at cameras. So, until I find myself another one (which I can't afford right now- I can barely afford my laser treatments), all I have is my phone. My phone has a nice camera, but it's not so great for pretty fashion shots. So, for my most recent's mostly selfies.

Which, kinda of makes me go booger-snots, because I've been having a lot of really fun adventures I'd love to document with better photos! Ah well. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. And then add vodka. And then party.

Spring is just barely beginning to tease us with some nice weather, so when I went to my doctor's in Chelsea for my most recent check up, I thought it would be fun to also stop by the High Line to try and snap some photos.

Trying to capture that golden hour light on the High Line. 
The High Line was an abandoned elevated railway in Manhattan. A few years ago it was turned into a park, of sorts. Actually, it's just a side walk lined with nice plants but it's proven quite popular. Sadly, I wasn't able to get any good photos. Actually, I was mostly upset by my wig. Though this particular wig wasn't that old (I had only worn it out maybe three times), it had gotten so battered by the wind that it was tangled to hell. Instead of cute curls, I felt like I was wearing a fake looking helmet of matted hair. Though I ducked in every bathroom I could to try and tame it, tease it and make it look as decent as possible, it seemed like every time I stepped back outside the wind just whipped it around and destroyed it further. Ugh. I hate wigs.

Cross-town bus. 
Despite feeling stupid and non-passable due to may hair, I took the bus across town to one of my favorite restaurants, Waterfront Ale House. Their pulled pork is some of the best NC barbecue that can be found in Manhattan and their nachos may be the greatest nacho ever achieved by human kind. My girlfriend met me for dinner and a pint when she got off work, so all in all, it was a pretty good day. Though I had to get blood drawn, I didn't have the vasovagal syncope response and faint. Plus, I don't have to go back to the doctor for another check up for six months! Plus the doctor let me up my estridiol by 33% and gave me finesteride (propecia), so I'm hopefully wigs will not be a problem in the future.

My other adventure was just a trip to BergN in Crown Heights to hang out a bit with a friend who's been somewhat tangential to my main social scene, but who I wanted to get to know better. She also has a few transgender friends and my girlfriend was pushing me to get more trans friends. I don't know why. Honestly, I haven't found that many trans people that I really get along with. Mostly it's because other than this one big thing, we have nothing at all in common. Plus I tend to feel weird around other trans women. Like either they pass better than me and I just make them stand out and look weird, or I pass better and they draw unwanted attention to me. It's weird, but that's how I am. Plus I'm not too social anyway, though oddly enough I think I have less social anxiety as a girl.

The subway has surprisingly good light. 
Sadly, while I wore a brand new wig, it juts didn't quite fit on my face right. Maybe I cut the lace too close or maybe it was just shaped weird, but either way my hairline looked really bad the whole night and I think it was quite obvious that was wearing a wig. While I did my best to try and get it to curl nicely (and it did for a few brief minutes from time to time), it destroyed my confidence. Suddenly, I felt like everyone was staring at me, gawking at the ugly, stupid looking freak of a tranny. And that made me especially self-conscious around other trans women who had their own long hair and weren't wearing wigs. So while I had an okay time, I just couldn't shake my unease with my appearance and I couldn't wait to get out of public, get home and shut myself away behind closed doors and windows! 

Of course, before I did that, I just had to snap a selfie with the gnome statuette that someone was throwing away. A perfectly good gnome! Can you believe they were just tossing it? Then again, I didn't want it either, so I snapped a shot and set it back down on the street, perhaps to be picked up by a woman of less discriminating tastes.

Wait a this gnome sleeping or dead? Either way it's creepy. 
So, with all this nonsense about not passing and looking stupid in wigs and wanting to run home, it probably sounds like I'm down. I am down. The further I get into transition, the more I want to feel like me when I go out. I don't want to "dress up." I don't want to cross-dress. I don't want to have to wear a wig. I couldn't afford this month's laser treatment and I'm not sure I'll be able to afford it next month either. I can't afford a new camera for good pictures and I can't afford to go shopping for new spring clothes. It's cold and rainy out and I'm not too happy. I'm struggling. If I can't be a decent woman, then I just want to be a man. It's a weird in between time and I hate it.

Maybe spring will be better. Hopefully in May I can afford some more laser and get some clip on bangs to try out. By June or July my hair will be long enough for some clip on extensions. Maybe my hairline will grow in with all the chemicals I'm ingesting on a daily basis. I don't know. I hope. That's all I can do is hope. Here's to hoping!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Sometimes I Feel Like Quitting

There are times when I seriously consider stopping this whole crazy transition thing and I'm not sure if it's reality hitting me in face or just me feeling down about life. There's a lot that makes me unhappy and leaves me feeling less like a woman and more like a delusional crazy person. When I get in those moments of doubt, here are the thoughts that flit about through my head and make me want to just quit and be a normal person again.

Ugh. I hate wigs. I hate hate hate hate hate hate them. Right now, I'm stuck with wigs and there's nothing I can do about it. Well, actually there may be things I can do about it and I'm doing them. There's spiro and finesteride coursing through my veins as I write this and I hope it'll make my hairline grow into a natural feminine shape. I'm hoping it will reverse the little divots of forehead that decided to invade my hairline when I turned 16. I hate that wind can destroy a wig and make it look ridiculous because NYC is super windy. My own block is like a wind tunnel. I hate that wigs look fake and I hate the times that I've actually shifted to an incorrect position, leaving me looking ridiculous. When I go out in a wig, I'm always hyper-sensitive about it screwing up and looking bad and awful leaving me looking less like a woman and more like a crazy dude with a dirty mop on his head. Right now, until my hair grows out and I have a normal hairline, there's nothing I can do but continue to use wigs. Stupid, awful, uncomfortable wigs.

I hate my weight. But, I also hate exercising. Funny, isn't it? And really love food and drinks and candy and sitting around not exercising. Now, as a guy I'm not fat, just a tiny bit heavier than I would like, but as a woman I feel like a hideous, enormous beast. Sure, there are fat women, but it's all in their hips. For me, it's sort of everywhere. It's awful. Women should be svelte and skinny. When I see tall, skinny girls on the streets or on the subway, I long to look like they do. Right now, exercise and eating better are a huge struggle for me. It's getting a little better now that it's warmer and bright out, but for five months out of the year it's cold and dark and wet in NYC. It's just not conducive to working out or being physical at all. I just want to eat delicious burgers, wash them down with a cold, hoppy IPA, have a bright pink cosmo with my friends, eat pizza and then sit around playing on my computer. Luckily, it's getting warmer. Maybe there's hope.

Yes, passing. Plenty of people online who look at my carefully selected photos tell me that I pass. Some friends have told me that I pass. Some trans friends have told me that I pass. But, sometimes I feel like the biggest freak on the earth. Sometimes I go out and I swear I can feel people staring at me, secretly laughing at me or pitying me or thinking I'm just some weirdo. There have been people who have misgendered me and clocked me leaving me feeling stupid, ugly and all around awful. As above, wigs just don't help. Being tall doesn't help. Not being skinny doesn't help. Having ginormous hands and feet doesn't help. Are people just telling me I pass to make me feel better?

Unrealistic Hopes.
Sometimes I feel like I'm completely insane to even think that I could live as a woman or look even remotely female on a day to day basis or be taken seriously by people. Do I really plan on growing old as a woman, on being buried as a woman? I mean, being young and pretty is one thing. Do I want to be a portly middle aged woman in a house coat or a doddering little old lady wearing knee highs and pushing a granny cart down the street? Is this really for my whole life? Could I really be a believable woman every day for the rest of my life?

Romantic Partnership. 
I worry that my partner will leave me, that she didn't sign up for anything this crazy or out there. That I'm not only outing myself to the world, but I'm also outing her as the kind of woman who dates a tranny. Her partner is a guy who puts on a wig and a dress and paints his nails and goes shopping and sips cocktails with the girls. I seriously worry about that and how it will affect other more personal aspects of the relationship that I'd rather not go into. My partner is amazing. She is beyond amazing. I couldn't wish for a more amazing partner. She tells me that she's on this journey with me and it's exciting. She reads trans-women's memoirs and gets excited by the process. But, as amazing as she is, I'm just can't silence that little nagging worry in my head. Because you see, I'm happy in the relationship as is, and yet I'm voluntarily changing the very nature of it. I worry.

Social Life
It feels weird to me, asking friends to join in my shared delusion. Telling them to call me by my female name and use female pronouns because I'm wearing a wig and a dress and makeup that day. Do my friends all think I'm crazy? Am I embarrassing to be around? What do my female friends think when they see me in the ladies room when we're going out for the night? Am I a faker? Am I invading female space?

Yet, I Keep Popping My Pills
So, why I am not quitting? I don't know. Maybe it's because I quit once before, five years ago and regretted quitting. Maybe it's because I know that my feelings of gender dysphoria have been with me since I was like three years old, as far back as my memories go, and haven't gone away. I worry that it'll never go away and if I quit again I'll just be full of even more regret. Other times, I can't wait. Other times I feel so much more alive when I'm in girl-mode. I look forward to having my own hair, to feeling a dress on a warm day, to totally rocking my bikini body on the beach. So I keep taking my pills. Taking it one step at a time and trying to not be discouraged and trying to be patient. Patience has never been one of my strong suits. I would have totally eaten that first marshmallow. But I'll keep trying to be hopeful, even when the doubts inevitably come.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Laser Hair Removal Works! (A Big Day for Me)

My laser hair removal has been going well, but it was only the other day that I noticed how well it had actually been going. Okay, confession time. I'm not living as a woman full time. Also I'm pretty lazy when it comes to shaving on the weekends.

One recent Sunday, I noticed that even after two days of not shaving my face, my beard hair had barely grown in at all. There were just a couple of little patches and that was it. Suddenly, I got an idea...what if I really closely shaved what little hair their was and tried some makeup without any foundation. Would it work?

See, the beard cover is one of those things that I hate about living as a woman. When I recently traveled, and lived full time for a while, I literally found myself having to stop in the middle of the day, shave again, then reapply some thick, heavy foundation. Not fun and definitely not something that I want to do every day. But, I thought one day, I could do laser or electrolysis and not have to wear foundation at all. It'd be so exciting! My makeup routine would be cut down by five minutes or so and appearance wouldn't be this fragile eggshell I have to work delicately to maintain (heck, I've even developed a way to scratch my nose without messing up my makeup - by pinching the columella between my nostrils ever so gently).

So, the other day, after shaving, I gave my face and chin a careful look over in the mirror. Where the two little patches of hair were there was just a little bit of that ever awful bluish-gray beard color, but otherwise my face was pretty darn smooth. Not too bad!

Skipping my Maybelline Dream Matte® Mousse and Covergirl TruBlend powder, I just started with some basic contouring, then did my regular routine for eyes and brows and lips. In the end, I did put a tiny bit of powder on the beardish spots, though they didn't really need that much coverage.

Looking myself in the mirror, I felt fantastic! Firstly, having my actual skin show instead of a millimeters thick cream just looked way better. It was a more natural look and my skin gave off that normal, healthy glow that beauty product ads are always talking about. Secondly, it just felt great. Not wearing thick foundation made me feel much more comfortable and natural and I'm hoping it helped me pass a little better too. So, yay laser hair removal!

Laser has been a little bit of an issue for me though, at least financially. It's expensive as heck and I'm thinking of maybe looking for some other options. My place charges $150 for a twenty minute session, which, as you can see, does yield results, but that's a seriously big expense every month. It's doable, but not when my cat gets sick and racks up $800 in vet bills or when the IRS decides that I owe $500 in taxes this year. It just reminds me of that sad opening scene from Up where the couple tries to save up for their dream vacation but life keeps getting in the way.

But, I think I can manage to scrape together $150 most months without dipping into my savings. That just means putting up with the nagging laser lady who acts personally offended when I skip a month. Yes, I am aware that it works better if you don't skip a month. But that fact doesn't put money in my pocket, lady! Yeah, I'm tempted to find a less-naggy, cheaper place, though I'll probably stick with a place that I know will yield good results. After all, when someone is firing a laser at your face, you kinda don't want to skimp on the quality, right?

Okay, hold still and I'll get that hair right off. 
Either way, I'm definitely looking forward to having my next session and then one day being able to just throw away my foundation for good! That alone costs $11-$12 for the mousse and $8-$10 for the powder, so eventually laser will just pay for itself. And for the rest of it, I'll just see if my daily cocktail of various drugs and hormones will take care of it. Fingers crossed.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Metropolitan Museum of Art

 When I was eleven years old I went outside for the first time, metaphorically at least. Left home alone, I borrowed my sister's plaid skirt. On a pleasant Georgia day, I put on that skirt and screwing up all my courage, walked right out the back door of our house, around the side of the house and then right back in the front door, as quickly as my legs could carry me. It was my first time outside, not quite as a girl, but at least wearing a girl's item of clothes. Sure, I had been out plenty of times when I was really little and my sister would dress me up, but this was my first time doing it when it was forbidden, when it was a sin. I was actually going outside, sinning for all the world to see, with the full knowledge that if I got caught everyone would know I was a horrible pervert. If my family saw me or found out from a neighbor I had no idea what would happen, but I was certain it would be bad.

If I could go back in time and talk to that eleven year old, I wonder if he would believe me when I told him that one day he'd be spending his birthday as a girl, surrounded by friends, sipping champagne at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. That was birthday this year, and it was perfect.

As many of you in the Northern Hemisphere know, the last few winters have been rather brutal. During those cold, dark days, I came up with a plan for some fun indoor activities including scavenger hunts in Grand Central Terminal or hide & seek in a large museum. Though this winter hasn't been nearly as bad, my friends and I put one of these plans to action and came up with our own rules for hide & seek at the Natural History Museum. It turned out to be super fun, so for my birthday, I made plans to play again, this time at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (or "The Met" for those who are both lazy and confident that no one will confuse the museum with the other Met where they host operas).

So, yeah, I wore my Brooklyn Industries crane dress. Again. Right now I don't really have any casual dresses that work for winter. All my casual dresses are just too summery. But, since my friends haven't seen me that often, they don't know where I am in my laundry cycle. So yeah, I wore it again. Plus I think it looks cute with my thin black sweater, tights and my ankle boots. It's a cute winter look. And I'm just not sure about jeans. I mean, if I'm going full time I should get used to them, right? As a guy all I wear when I'm not at the office is jeans and a black t-shirt or jeans and a black sweater. Maybe it's time to look into some nice fitted black women's t-shirts. Yeah, casual is a challenge for me, but one I'll need to rise to if I'm going to be doing this every day.

Unlike back in my more running around the yard days, now I'm much more comfortable being out as a girl, to the point that it feels normal for me to be out and to interact with people as a girl. It's so great to me that I now have friends who have only ever met me as a girl, which makes me super happy and giddy. But, as comfortable as I am in that role, I still get super paranoid. If anyone look at me, I immediately fear that they're making fun of me in my head. If I hear two people giggling on the subway, whether they're near me or not, then they must be laughing at me. I'm still trying to remember to avoid eye contact with everyone and ignore things, but sometimes, I do worry that I stick out like a freak.

On my birthday trip to the museum, I think I did okay though. Though I did accidentally make eye contact with a couple people (making me ever so slightly paranoid about passing), generally I managed to blend in with the crowds well enough. In the end I think I passed well enough, and most importantly, I was about as out as a person could be. Thinking back on all those times I was afraid to leave the house, I was now out in public, unafraid and happy to be who I am.

Sadly I didn't get a lot of photos of me and beautiful art, because we were playing hide & seek the entire time! Quite frankly, I ended up stuck in a few hiding places with rather bad lighting, though I did my best. In the European furniture area, there were luckily a few mirrors and well-lit rooms, but other areas tended to have some bad lighting, making photos and selfies a little trickier. 

 We did one round of hide & seek in the Greek and Roman statuary area, another in European furnishings and then our final round in Modern-20th Century art. My favorite spot within the Met is probably the Temple of Dendur (as seen in When Harry Met Sally).

On this particular trip, we didn't even visit the Egyptian section and I barely got to look through 19th Century European painting, which is my other favorite spot in the Met. Also, I was hoping to snap a selfie or two with Washing Crossing the Delaware, but we didn't make it to that area either. Looks like I have many Met visits in my future. 


Also, I realized that this was my first birthday that I've spent as a woman. How awesome is that? Really, that was the most amazing part of all of it. To be out in public, with my friends, accepted as a woman. It was a great day. We saw some amazing art from in a world-class cultural institution, played a fun game of hide & seek and then went up to the balcony bar for a drink. A friend of mine even bought me a rather expensive bottle of champagne (how awesome is that?) and then the waitress brought me chocolate covered strawberries (how awesome is that too? I've never had a museum give me free dessert before). There's something about sipping fancy champagne in a beautiful museum that makes me feel so classy. I mean, I grew up a working class boy in Georgia and then I get to grow up to be a classy woman sipping fancy champagne at the Met. It's a good life.

Here's to another great year!

Also or those interested, here's how you play hide & seek in a major museum:

Metropolitan Museum of Art Hide & Seek
Each player will be given an arm band (in case anyone doesn’t know everyone well, they’ll be able to recognize who’s playing the game). We'll form a circle and roll a D20. Whoever rolls highest heads out into the museum and we’ll start the next round. Once there is only one person remaining in the circle, that person is the Seeker. The Seeker will count to 100 and then the game begins.

Players find a hiding space in the museum (or within agreed upon boundaries) and stay there. When the Seeker finds another player and tags them, then that player also becomes a Seeker. They must be tagged, not just spotted. The game lasts until only one person remains uncaught.

If the last person has such a good hiding place that the Seekers give up, they can text them a surrender and everyone will reconvene for the next round.

1). All players must remain in the designated area, and must remain in public areas. No going to 'employee only' areas, hiding in restrooms, special paid entry exhibits, trying to climb on top of the Temple of Dundur or inside a sarcophagus, etc.
2). No running, being loud or engaging in any activity that could ruin anyone else's museum experience or put any person in danger or possibly cause damage to museum property or exhibits.
3). Players will have an arm band and must wear your arm band/cloth at all times. Disguises are allowed, but your arm band/cloth must always be visible.
4). Seekers don’t have to stay together. They may split up to cover more ground. Seekers may communicate by text message when not together.
5). Any personal article or article of clothing you’re wearing counts as “you” for the purposes of tagging.
6). Play fair, don’t cheat, and have fun. And maybe learn something about Grecian urns or 19th Century European oil paintings.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Short Hair

It's been a long while since I had real, actual, long hair. Really, it's been since high school. Back in the 90s I had shoulder length hair. It was dirty blond with a good amount of wavy curl, but not crazy curls like a ramen-noodle hair. Shortly after moving to NYC, I decided that it was time to get rid of my hair and shaved my head. The look worked for me well enough that I just went ahead and kept my head shaved for the next decade or so.

Now, though, I'm starting to grow it out again. It's exciting because, as I've said, I hate wigs and can't wait to have my own hair. But it's also exciting because back in the day I lived with my parents, and even though I could grow my hair long, I was never able to actually style it. Sure, a couple of times I would dye it a little reddish, maybe even a little purplish, but I could never actually go full girl with my hair. I could never go a salon and get it really cut and styled into a super cute look. There were times in the late-90s that I dreamed of getting my then-long hair cut, dyed and styled to look like Willow's in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Sadly that was not to be. Though I bet I would have looked super cute. Instead, I mostly just let my long hair sit scraggly on my head because at the time it was the 90s way to do it. So instead of looking like the lovely Allyson Hannigan, I looked more like a low-rent Kurt Cobain impersonator. Back then I was scared that my parents or someone that knew my parents would see me and the trans-shit would hit the fan.

Luckily now I have the freedom to have my hair done however I want. Unfortunately, now I don't have the hair! But, nano-meter by nano-meter that's changing as my follicles push out more keratin. Right now I've got a small amount of hair atop my head, and firstly, it's nice to know that none of it is grey. It's a normal short guy's haircut.

In a few months, however, it'll be longer, so I'm starting to look into some short haircuts that might work for me. A few years back I found a short blonde wig that worked pretty well for me. At the time I was a little skinnier and it managed to fit my face quite well. I thought it was a pretty good look for me.

In a few months, however, it'll be longer, so I'm starting to look into some short haircuts that might work for me. A few years back I found a short blonde wig that worked pretty well for me. At the time I was a little skinnier and it managed to fit my face quite well. I thought it was a pretty good look for me. Now, initially, my regular hair won't be quite so long, but I figure that I can start getting toward something like this longish bob hairstyle. 

Recently, on a snowy blizzard day, I sat in and binge-watched Ascension on Netflix. Besides the fantastic clothes (such beautiful retro dresses), I really liked Lauren Lee Smith's character's hair cut. Also the show was fairly good too (though I wasn't a big fan of the ending - email me if you'd like to discuss). 

She's fairly thin, which I think helps in pulling off a stylish crop style. Also just being pretty. I'm currently working on both aspects of that, though it's taking a lot of work. Lauren Lee Smith pulls it off really well and I only hope that as a transgender woman I can look half as good, especially as I age. I mean, I don't want to look like some middle aged woman before I'm even middle aged. Speaking of women who have aged quite well...

Say what you want about her politics, but Megyn Kelly always has great hair. Plus she manages fantastic makeup even with a seriously hooded eye. Plus did you know that she had the flu during the first Republican debate last year but kept going like a consummate professional? Okay, maybe I need to add her to my list of female role models and include her with Shirley Manson and Kristin Ritter. She can rock a black shift pretty well and she's tough as nails and smart as an owl (owls are smart, right, or is that just in cartoons). Anyway, she recently went to another short, cropped blonde cut that she pulls off fantastically. With some heavy growth on top and the right stylist, I might just be able to pull off that look too. That's the goal anyway. 

Lastly, the question becomes, what if I don't want to be blonde? I mean, I've been blonde plenty of times, but my natural hair is brunette and I think I look great with darker hair. Can I pull off a darker, short hair style? Hopefully. 

Jena Malone is one of my favorite ancestresses, and she's mangaged to look super cute with short, regular brownish hair like mine. 

And of course Winona Ryder has always looked amazing with her trademark short dark hair. 

Luckily, I think my natural features tend to be a little bit on the feminine side; larger eyes, smallish-chin, good cheek bones, arched brows, so maybe I can pull off the short hair. Now, I'm not Winona levels or pretty, but I'm better than say, Dolph Lundgren or Danny Trejo or something. So ultimately, I'm hopefull. 

For the past 12 years or so, my head has been shaved, Right now, my hair's growing and hopefully filling in a little bit more in front thanks to the spiro. Every day, I look at it in the mirror and hope I'm not imagining it coming in. Luckily, my hair is thick (well, were the male patterned baldness isn't affecting it), my hairline isn't really as bad as I thought, and my hair hasn't gone grey at all. It's thick, lustrous and slightly curly. Once it grows out it'll be fantastic hair. I'm hoping for Liz Gillies levels of fantastic, but we'll see. 

Let's see- hair grows a half inch a month, so I can pull of this look by early 2021. 

In the mean time, I'm seeing my doctor this week and want to ask her about it. From what I've read, propecia is basically the same drug as spironolactone, so it's probably not worth it to add another drug. Maybe she can just up spiro dose for me. And maybe in the next few months I can start rocking a cute, short hairstyle. Maybe I can even have it styled professionally for my good friend's wedding which is coming up in June. That'd be fun. 

Hair is my last real obstacle before coming out full time. Well, hair and courage. I'll keep trying to do my best on both.