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Hi all,

I just wanted to do a quick post, yesterday was "officially" my 2 year anniversary of transitioning. I arguably started before that, but August 10, 2015 is when I began "presenting full-time" as a woman, and I haven't looked back :-)  It was shortly (like days) after that I started on HRT.  It's also now been almost a year since my breast augmentation surgery.

When I look back, especially in the approach to my GCS (in December last year) I remember thinking about whether or not I would regret it. I really didn't believe I would, I think it was just that even the remotest possibility of that could have been devastating (since GCS is, for all practical purposes, irreversible). I haven't spend even a short moment of regret, so that fear didn't come to pass. The only moment that was even like it (but wasn't regret) was after 2 days of bed rest after surgery when I first had to stand up - it was such a weird, disorienting, uncomfortable feeling that I remembered wondering why I would have done this to myself - but that was just a response to how I felt at the moment, it wasn't a regret about what the surgery was for.

I think the key for me to not being in a position where I would regret anything was that I took my time. It may not seem like it, given how much happened in just 2 years (and I recognize that objectively that is a pretty quick transition time), but when you're actually living it day to day, it's a pretty long time. But the process also mattered - at each point I took a small step, I figured out how I felt about it, and if it felt right, I took the next small step. I didn't try to immerse myself in living as a woman (not that that can't be the right approach for others, but this is what worked for me).

The first few steps were in simpler acts of feminizing my look, until it drifted to a point where I had to go full on. Even then I was fortunate to have a friend who did a drag show and she let me guest perform, which gave me a "safe" place to present as a woman in front of a bunch of people. I did that quite a few times (she was really amazing, she pretty much let me guest perform whenever I wanted, I give her so much credit for helping me through the transition process).

Each step not only felt right, but it felt like it wasn't enough, so moving on to the next step was easy, even necessary. I recall at an early early part of the process a good friend asked if I thought I would get "bottom surgery," and I said, totally sincerely, "probably not." I meant it completely at the time, but through the process that I went through I came to realize that it was something I wanted.

One important thing that I've learned (or at least tried to learn) over time is to be aware of my privilege. I'm not Caitlyn Jenner, I'm not a rich white woman who could basically disappear and then re-emerge a few months later as a woman - I had to do it in real life, I had to transition while going to work, while riding the subway, while grocery shopping, etc. But still, I was fortunate to have insurance that covered most of the expenses (and the benefit of working in New York, where insurance companies are required to cover transition expenses). I also had a job that was not only ok with my transition, I think they really liked that I was doing it. And I was especially privileged in having close friends who were totally supportive and helped in so many ways as I worked through the process (especially my friend who was thrilled to have a new make-up shopping buddy and to share her knowledge of doing make-up). I'm also fortunate to have this website and the collective experience of everyone on it!

There are so many people who don't have that kind of access and that kind of support - so I'm always looking for ways to help out (not financially unfortunately, being a full time college student doesn't leave me with much - any - discretionary spending money). Ways to be supportive individually, and ways to advocate more publicly for changes that will benefit transgender people with less resources (right now we have to fight Trump to just not lose ground - but there's always room for improvement).

So that's all I have for this anniversary edition :-)

xoxo

Chrissy

Hi everyone,

This started as a journal entry for myself, but I decided that it would be better to put out in the “public” instead. My summer classes ended on July 11, and the fall semester doesn’t start until the end of August – leaving a “void” of about a month and a half (I had hoped to find work to fill in that time, but that didn’t happen). Before it started I had been at times excited about the “void,” and at times terrified – and for the same reason.

I knew that this would be a good time to do some personal reflection. The past year has been pretty big, as I’ve talked about in other posts – leaving my job, going back to school, and having breast augmentation surgery and GCS. The GCS was probably the biggest, but with being in school and dealing with recovery, there wasn’t much time to reflect.

Anyway – in an earlier post I mentioned that I considered GCS to be effectively the end of my transition (it isn’t really, but going forward there aren’t a lot of active decisions to make) and the beginning of my “evolution” (as I called it). This turned out to be more meaningful, and far more difficult than I thought at the time. I think the way I described it was that I had transitioned to become a woman (physically) now it was time to see what I wanted to do with my life as a woman.

There is so much tied up in this that it’s hard to know where to start – obviously the big “mistake” in my life was that I was identified and lived as the wrong gender for my entire life until I was about 48 years old. That fact alone makes it hard to just pick up and live. But in that are also the many, many decisions I made over time that were directly or indirectly linked to my gender dysphoria. There are far too many of those decisions to try to sort through, and I doubt it would be worthwhile if I could. One part of me wonders what my life would be like if I had realized much earlier that I was a woman and been allowed to live that way – but the more reasonable part of me realizes that doesn’t really matter, I can’t achieve that now, I can move back to some point in the past and do it over again.

A big problem now is the feeling that I can’t, or rather won’t, move forward. It seems strange considering how much I’ve accomplished over the past couple of years, but I don’t believe in my own ability to move forward from here. I’m able to almost dismiss the past couple of years as having simply erased a deficit rather than actually advancing in life. And it’s not that I don’t think I have the ability to do the things that I want to do, it’s that I don’t believe I have the will to do it, which I think comes down to lack of self-care, lack of self-love.

Which brings me to the main point of this post, “Childhood Emotional Neglect.” In concept I’ve been aware of this for some time, I just recently came across that specific name for it. It’s basically the idea that your parents didn’t give you enough emotional attention as a child and so you don’t develop proper emotional health for yourself.

I realize this sounds like – and truly is – another “blame the parents” approach. I truly have moved past that point, with help from my former therapist. In one session I talked about how I thought my parents had failed, vs my sister who felt like they did the best they could. My therapist responded with “they might have done the best they could, but you needed more.” Which was a very helpful way of reconciling the past and bringing up to today – they probably did fail me, that isn’t going to change, so I have to fix it now.

I’ll stop my rambling now J  That’s the point I’m at right now, and I hope to use the rest of my time until school starts to process some more of this. While writing a paper last semester I was doing a review of an article about working with transgender clients which pointed out that “completing” physical transitioning is not the end of the process, which I was very happy to see addressed, it truly isn’t the end, it’s yet another beginning, and often (always?) a pretty scary one.

xoxo

Chrissy

Hi all,

My birthday is technically still 2 days away, but since I have access to a computer right now I thought I'd do this now. It seems like a good moment to just reflect on the past few years. First a quick timeline!

March 2015 - this isn't really the beginning of the story, but this is when I actually recognized that I am transgender, and then shared that with my therapist. There was about a year or two of cross-dressing and exploring that lead to this point. One vital take-away is that from this moment on a lifetime of depression went away. I'm not saying I haven't been depressed about things since then, but the underlying, existential depression I experienced until then was gone - I stopped asking myself "Why can't I just be right?"

August 2015 - I began "presenting full-time" as a woman, both at work and everywhere else. Working at a school helped this as the school was pretty empty during the summer, so I had time to acclimate without a bunch of faculty and students around. Also during this month I started taking hormones.

July 2016 - I left my job to go back to school. I had been planning to go to school anyway, but part-time. My employer needed to reduce staffing, so they offered a buy-out which made my school decision easier ("easier"). It was still a tough choice to make - I had been there 10 years, it was secure, I had no idea what would happen if I left. I eventually spoke with my best friend on the phone about it (he had moved out to LA recently) and he asked "in 5 years what do you want to be looking back at?" - my decision was made.

August 2016 - I had my breast augmentation surgery.

September 2016 - I started school, pursuing a Masters in Social Work at NYU. For so long I had been trying to figure out what I really wanted to do in life, this choice seemed so obvious after I made it, but I know I couldn't have made this choice before coming out and transitioning.

December 2016 - I had my GCS - YAY!!!

May 2017 - finished first year of school - YAY!!!

And that brings us to today. A lot has happened, and I'm thrilled with it, but I know that more still has to happen. For one thing I don't think I've quite fully internalized my own sense of being a woman, at times I still feel like an imposter. I suppose after living for 48 years identifying as a man it's bound to take some time. My recent decision to stop wearing wigs helped - I had put too much of my gender identity into them.

I still very much fear being alone forever. I often find myself thinking that no man will ever accept me as a woman and be in a relationship. There is something to it, there are definitely men who would run away from the idea of dating a transgender person, but I also know that some of that thinking is part of what I said just before about not fully accepting myself as a woman. There's work to be done.

I wonder if my sister will ever come around. I'd prefer to think that I'm fine just leaving her behind, but I know I'm not. We never had a very, very close relationship, but we generally had a good relationship and I miss that. I also know that I made the choice, I told her I didn't want to hear from her until and unless she was ready to accept me as a woman, and I can't back away from that.

I'm often unwilling to accept some things that are simply true and can't be changed - they all focus around the fact that I was not born a cisgender female, and I will never have been. As a result I will physically never be a cisgender female, I will never have the experiences that a girl has growing up, etc. It's silly to reject those facts, but I still try sometimes.

So that's more or less where I am right now - see what happens in the next year :-)

xoxoxo

Chrissy

Hi everyone,

I took a somewhat unexpected next step on Friday - and it came with a pretty big bit of self-realization.

Since I started wearing a wig regularly (going on 2 years now) I've been rather relaxed about haircuts. The last couple of haircuts were self-inflicted - I mean "self-done" - and so my natural hair has, I'm sure, not looked so great. But it didn't matter, nobody was seeing it - even if I just went downstairs for laundry, etc., I'd at least wear a baseball cap.

It occurred to me that if I actually met someone and started dating, they would eventually need to see it. So I've known for a little while that I at least needed to get a real haircut and not keep doing it myself. At a practical level I wasn't sure how that would work - would I go someplace without a wig on to get it done?  Unlikely. Would I wear it and take it off when I got there? That seemed likely, but possibly awkward.

I had lunch with a friend on Friday (Bastille Day!!!) and mentioned all of this, and showed her a picture I had found on-line of a hair style that I thought might work for me (BTW, my hair is quite thin, and there is some male-pattern baldness, that's what's made going natural so difficult for me). She agreed with the style, and with my "plan" to go to Supercuts after our lunch. To help me along she insisted that I send her a selfie when I was done :-)   I like that kind of thing, being "backed into a corner" helps overcome any last-minute jitters.

So I went to Supercuts. There was one guy and two women doing hair - I was hoping not to get the guy - I didn't. I explained to the person who did my hair that the last cuts had been my own before I took the wig off, and I showed her the picture I found. I knew she couldn't do exactly what was in the picture, I don't have enough hair :-(   But she got the idea, she knew what I was going for, and she did a great job!!!  I had fully anticipated that I would put the wig back on when we were done, but then I didn't, I went home "natural" (and mind you this was in the city, so "going home" involved a 10 minute walk in Manhattan to the PATH train, a 20 minute train ride, then a 10 minute walk home). It's not my "fantasy" hair style, but I'm not likely to ever have that (see above re "not enough hair", plus I don't think the Farrah hairstyle is so popular these days).

Below is a picture I took after I got home (so my hair was dry). A "pixie cut" as I came to learn is what it's called :-)  Pardon the exposed bra strap and lack of any make-up!

The self-realization happened because as I was walking home I felt a sense of liberation from not wearing a wig. I realized that I had let my wig(s) represent my gender - subconsciously I only felt like a woman with a wig on. Not that I won't ever wear them again, but I need to work through this (especially now that I'm on summer break, so I have some freedom to ease in). Friday night I had to make a trip to Rite Aid, so I decided to do it without a wig. Then yesterday when I went to play tennis I didn't wear it, and again today I went to the gym and the supermarket without it. It really does feel good, it feels like another step towards authenticity :-)

***Please know that I'm not criticizing wearing wigs!!! I know a lot of trans people do, and obviously I was for 2 years and probably will continue to do so. I just personally need to know that I'm fully me with or without it***

Here's a pic -

Chrissy_new_hair.jul1417.thumb.jpg.01a8b 

And unrelated to this post - here is a picture of Cinammon. I got her a few days before my GRS (at Duane Reade when I was getting my surgery-related prescriptions), she went with me to Philadelphia for the surgery, was with me through the entire recovery and ever since :-)  Particularly in the few weeks right after surgery, when I couldn't really write in a journal, I often talked with her about things that I was feeling...she's a great listener, she doesn't judge, she just smiles :-)

Cinammon.thumb.jpg.2c1a9e9620ae8b3c31250

xoxo

Chrissy

Hi all,

It took me a little to figure out how to get my pics on here (apparently I can't do it on my phone, it has to be on a computer so that I can resize the pics).  Below are three pics - two of them show the top that I wore for Pride - they gave us the t-shirts for marching with NYU, I modified mine, cuz ya know, boobs. It worked out nicely since the "Y" in "NYU" is centered so that I could cut the V into the top of it. One of these also shows the Trans pride flag that I had for the march :-)

The march itself was fun, except for the beginning. We met at our staging area at 3:30 p.m. and didn't step off until 5:30 - it gets really hard standing around one area for 2 hours! But it was a lot of fun marching with NYU (this is the only year that I could do it as a current student, I didn't want to miss that). We had a couple of hundred people show up for our contingent (apparently about 1000 signed up, not all showed up of course).

I broke off at around 7:00 (we were a little more than 1/2 way done with the march). Pattaya (my friend who does drag, who used to let me guest perform at her shows all the time) was doing a show at Le Singe Vert that ended at 8, so I didn't want to miss it. The last picture is of the two of us :-)

So overall a good experience - I probably won't march again though, I'll just watch, it's more fun :-)  But this was the first Pride that I could do as physically a complete woman, so marching seemed right :-)  It also helped me overcome some of the ambivalence I have over identifying as transgender. When it came down to it, I marched carrying a trans pride flag, so clearly I'm ok identifying as such.

xoxo

Chrissy

Pride top and flag.jpg

Chrissy and Pattaya.jpg

Pride top.jpg

NY Pride

By Chrissy,

Hi all,

Sunday is NY Pride, it will be my first as a physical woman!!!  Last year I was presenting full-time, but no surgeries yet. The year before was more of a gender-bending year.

I'll post pics - I'm marching with NYU, so I have the shirt they gave us - I altered it to make it a v-neck, I wanted cleavage 😛

Xoxo

Chrissy

 

 

Hi everyone,

Since I took another step in socializing today, I thought I'd post something about that topic generally.

Before coming out and transitioning, I had identified as a gay man. As such, my social life was largely built around the "gay community." I hadn't thought too much about that initially, since coming out and transitioning are pretty time-consuming for a while, and it was generally easier to do that while staying within a familiar social environment. But I knew it was going to have to change - although I admit to having some thoughts in the past about seeing it being Lesbian could work for me, I knew it wasn't right (I was leaning that way because (1) I have a little bi-sexual tendency, and (2) I thought it would be easier to meet a woman who would accept me as a woman in a romantic relationship than a straight man).

Anyway - since I would like to date at some point, and even be in a relationship, I knew that I was going to have to break out of the LGBTQ "bubble" that I was in, and I have taken some steps. It helped that I did have a couple of straight female friends. And then of course I started school so I started meeting new people, many of them straight. Then, for after-school relaxation I started going to a little jazz bar in the Village.

Today I took an even bigger step - at least in my head - I had joined a new tennis league (I had already belonged to an LGBT tennis group), and today I had my first match with someone from that group. I'm in a women's division, so initially that's who I'm going to meet, but that's a good starting place. It made me a little anxious since she had no way of knowing that I'm transgender going in, and not knowing how she might react. Well, she didn't. There was absolutely no awkwardness, it was great - and it was a really good tennis match (we had to play all 3 sets, and we were going point for point most of the way).

There are still temptations to reach back and cling to the social world that I knew - but I have to give up some of that (not all of it, I'm not just ditching all of my friends!)

xoxo

 

Chrissy

I cannot believe I haven't written about this yet!  Last Friday I saw "Wonder Woman," and it was truly amazing.

There are things I could be critical of (the messaging in a few spots was a little heavy handed and the effects in a couple of areas a little cheesy), but overall I think it's a truly great movie (and I'm not really into superhero movies).

I won't say much about the movie because I don't want to do any spoilers - but there were moments when I was moved to tears, and moments when I felt more like a woman than I ever had before. I don't know if I can explain what that second one is about, but it happened.

Hi all,

On Saturday I had lunch with a friend from school - and then we hung out for a few hours. I know him well, we were at the same field placement during our first year and we share a love of Taco Bell :-)   A discussion we had along the way on Saturday was about being "out" in class. With me it's about my transgender identity, with him it's about being a military veteran. On the surface for both of us is a desire to not be "the ___ student" (me "the trans student"). For him that might really be it, for me I think it goes deeper, I think it's a real desire to maintain my identity as a woman and the fear that being open about being trans undermines that. Even deeper is that internally I still see being trans as somehow making me less of a woman.

The result of all this was that during my entire first year I had never said anything about my gender identity in class. I had said things about it individually to other students, but never during class - and it is a social work program, so there were many, many opportunities where I could have - and should have - said something. We both agreed that not sharing is both bad for us individually (it's hiding something) and we miss the opportunity to add something to the educational process for others (leaving out a major part of our life perspectives).

That changed on Tuesday. We did a quick in-class exercise where she gave us each a short scenario, something that was designed to generate a negative response (mine was that I had applied for an apartment, and although I was fully qualified and the only person who was applying for it, the landlord rejected me). My initial response was confusion and assuming that it was because of my gender identity. I had a minute or 2 to think of an alternative, but I didn't. So for the first time I openly acknowledged my gender identity in class :-)

Hi everyone,

I recently finished my first year of school (I'm doing the 2-year MSW program at NYU) and decided that I needed a little get-away (emphasis on "little" - I don't really like traveling all that much, and can't afford much). So I decided on a day trip to the shore - my goal going into the day was to not think backwards or forward, just to try to be in the present. Of course, as I mentioned to a friend later, it was a little weird that I chose to go to a place that we used to go to all the time when I was a child if I didn't want to think backwards - but it still worked out.

On the train ride down it occurred to me that through everything that's been going on in the past year I hadn't really taken any time to just reflect specifically on transitioning. It makes sense, I was in school  and recovery from GRS, while it wasn't ever particularly painful, is still distracting. But now, school is done for the year and the recovery is very well along - so I did reflect. In that moment I just felt really, really happy about all that had happened.

But here's the bigger thing. Either that night or the next it was very warm - it got up to the 90s here and didn't cool off over night. Since I've been too lazy to put my a/c in and only had a fan, I ended up sleeping au naturel. With the lights out and a jazz radio station playing, I closed my eyes. Without really thinking about the fact that I was doing it, one hand came down from a stretch, landed on one of my breasts, and then down to my lower regions - nothing erotic going on, just a casual stroke if you will. But the sensation was wonderful! Again, not erotic, it was just that I actually felt a woman's body - my body was now a woman's body!

Just wanted to share that :-)

xoxo

Chrissy

long time...

By Chrissy,

It's been awhile since I've written anything here - that was partly (largely) because of school and recovery. My recovery from GRS is going well, I've now been cleared for everything (including tennis and sex!), and I'm down to dilating twice a day (until the end of June). There was some granulated tissue, but that's been taken care of. And I've now had the delightful female experience of having my feet up in the stirrups for a medical exam! It doesn't make you feel at all vulnerable (sarcasm). I'm glad that my surgeon's staff is entirely female, I suspect that part of the process would have been a little more uncomfortable if her PA who was checking me was male.

I recently finished co-facilitating an 8-week support group for transgender people, this one was focused on those who had recently come out and/or were in the early stages of transitioning. The most interesting part for me personally was that going in I saw myself as in a very different place than the group members (since I've pretty much come out everywhere, and my physical transitioning is largely done), but there was definitely a common thread that made me very much part of the group (since it's a peer-run support group it was fine that I was sharing as well, thought I always made sure it was after anyone else had shared, I never took a priority position for myself). Specifically, the sense of alienation and rejection that people felt because of their gender identity, that's still definitely a very big part of my life - especially now that surgeries are done and I'm thinking more about the prospects of dating :-(

Update

By Chrissy,

Hi all!

So my recovery seems to be going well. I had my follow-up with the surgeon and they removed the packing and tubes. That felt so much better! They showed me how to dilate - wasn't too bad.

Yesterday I came home - I've never been so happy to be home! Recovery is easier in my own place with my own stuff.

For 4 weeks I have to dilate 4x a day for 20 minutes each. I'm still working on my positioning, it gets a little uncomfortable and tedious, but I'll survive :-)

Otherwise for now it's a lot of TV and reading. Barring complications I should be able to go back to school and my internship the week of the 23rd.

At a more fundamental level - as swelling starts to recede it's easier to see what I have now, and it's pretty awesome 👯 

More later!

Xoxo

Chrissy

 

GRS Part II

By Chrissy,

Hi again,

I wanted to post some more now that I've actually had my surgery (YAY!!!!), especially for anyone thinking about or planning the surgery themselves - everyone's experience is different, but this might give some things to consider:

Monday, Dec. 26 - I arrived in Philadelphia and checked-in to my hotel.  Went to a Target Express nearby to load up on food and beverages for the days after surgery when I'd be at the hotel, knowing that getting out for food would be tough.  Around noon I started bowel prep (Magnesium Citrate and Dulcolax, and a couple of other prescriptions).  That went on through the day, culminating in an enema at 4 a.m.  I unpacked and tried to set things up as much as I could to be ready for when I got back - then I packed my bag of stuff to go to the hospital (including Cinnamon, my new stuffed bear).

Tuesday, Dec. 27 - I had to be at the hospital by 10:30 a.m., and it's only a few minutes away from here.  I was still up early - nerves no doubt.  My brother called to check-in and asked if someone could call him when the surgery was done.  Around 9:30 I got a call from the hospital asking if I could show up early, Dr. Rumer was running early.  So I left and got to the hospital before 10 a.m. (Hahnemann University Hospital - it's affiliated with Drexel University).

I went through check-in - a bunch of questions standard for any surgery.  Got changed into the gowns they gave me.  Then the anesthesiologist came by and put in the tube (or whatever it is they put in). I saw Dr. Rumer and her PA quickly - people kept asking if I had any questions, but really I didn't.

Got taken into the operating room at 11:09 a.m. (they call it when the patient is brought in), and got moved to the operating table.  Next thing I know I wake up in another room.  They had called my brother at 1:40, so I know it took about 2.5 hours in total.  I called him around 4:00 when I was more coherent

I spent the next 2 days in a hospital bed, unable to get up or move much at all.  My only real complaint is that the bed had about a 2" mattress, which I think is way too small for being on bedrest for 2 days (I told the PA about that later).  The nurses were nice, but it took a long time to get almost anything.  I do know that I couldn't do their job, and they don't make enough money (I don't know how much they make, but it can't be enough).

So my new vagina is still packed, and has 3 tubes coming out of it - 1 going to a Foley bag (urine) and 2 going to smaller containers collecting blood.  The nurses periodically emptied them.  I had no hunger, which was good because the food was truly awful (how do you make scrambled eggs not good!?!?).

Thursday, Dec. 29 - I got discharged - yay!!!  It took forever, but it finally happened.  Before that I had to actually get up and start moving, which was so much harder than I expected - I did fine with it, but there was light-headedness and nausea.

They sent me back to the hotel in a taxi - and I've been here since.  Pretty much staying in bed except to go to the bathroom (including emptying the bags) and getting food.

I don't really feel any pain from the surgery - the biggest pain is my butt from the hospital bed, that's the main reason I've been taking the percocet since then.

On Tuesday morning I got for my follow-up, which is when they'll remove the tubes and packing.  Then I stay one more night (to make sure everything is ok after they take the stuff out) and go home the next day.

Emotionally - I won't lie, on Thursday I had moments when I thought I might be feeling regret, but it was entirely about how I was feeling and knowing that the surgery caused that - as I've started feeling more normal any such thoughts went away and I'm getting back to feeling thrilled about this :-)   (I think that will be complete when the packing comes out and I can actually see it)

More later!

xoxo

Chrissy

Hi everyone,

I haven't been able to write for awhile - I started school again in September and that's kept me pretty busy.  I'm in the MSW (Masters in Social Work) program at NYU (New York University), which is a full-time program and includes a 21-hour/week internship on top of classes (mine is with a drop-in center for people who are homeless).

Anyway, I didn't come on to write about that, but since the semester is over, and internship is over until late January, I have a little time.

The big update is that my GRS is happening this coming Tuesday!  I leave for Philadelphia on Monday morning, then the surgery is at Hahneman University Hospital with Dr. Kathy Rumer.  I'll be staying in Philly for a week and coming back home after my one-week follow-up with her.

I've already started pre-surgery prep - including stopping hormones a few weeks ago (that one hurt), and today starting an Arnica protocol (it's to reduce or eliminate bruising from the surgery).  Then on Monday I'll be on a clear-liquid diet and have to do some bowel prep (the glamorous side of surgery!).  I have to be at the hospital at 10:30 a.m. And luckily this time my insurance company didn't give me a hard time, they approved the procedure (they also eventually agreed to cover top surgery, which they had rejected initially - it's really good that I work/worked in New York where the state requires these things to be covered.

Since July I've been seeing my therapist twice a week - she provided one of the letters that I needed, and requested the additional sessions - which I think is great (I'm actually going to miss going twice a week, but I can't afford to keep doing that).  So we've talked A LOT about the process - transitioning generally, the surgery specifically, and now the post-transition period.  I used to say that I'd probably be transitioning until I die, but lately I've decided (for myself, others may feel otherwise) that GRS essentially marks the end of my transition - at that point I'll have done as much physically as I'm going to.  Now I'm in a period of "evolution" - discovering who I am - both as a woman and just generally.  It's already begun, and it's been a great process.  I find myself moving away from LGBTQ-specific things - not as a rejection of the community, but as an acknowledgement that I'm straight (as a man I was gay, but not now), so I needed to know that I can function in "straight environments."

So now that I'm more comfortable with school (I was worried a lot about whether I could really do it - now I feel much more confident), I'm going to try to write more.  I bought myself a separate journal to keep notes about GRS - I plan to write that first entry on the train to Philly, and then keep track of what happens, how I feel physically, and how I feel emotionally - I'll try to share some of that here as I go along, in case it's helpful to anyone (recognizing that the experience is going to be different for everyone - but there are still going to be similarities).

I also want to write more about my "evolution" - that was something that I (understandably) didn't focus on until more recently.  The physical transition is one thing, but as I felt myself living a more authentic existence it also became important to know how I wanted to live my life.  The benefits are already huge - I find that the friendships that I had are stronger than ever, and the new people I'm meeting are really good people (mostly social work students) - and none of this would have happened without that recognition a few years ago that I am a woman, and I am transgender.

I'll wrap this up for now - I know my attention flags sometimes on longer entries, so I'll stop taxing people's attention span :-)

xoxo

Chrissy

Top Surgery

By Chrissy,

Hi all,

So today was my top surgery! I had it done by Dr. Jeffrey Rockmore - I can't say enough about him, his staff, and the St. Peter's Surgery Center in Albany. Everyone was incredibly friendly, helpful and supportive, and the results seem really good! (they are still wrapped, and swollen, so I can't say for sure yet).

My friend Bryana went with me - we only met in January but she's quickly become such a good friend, and so graciously and enthusiastically took the trip with me (about 2.5 hours drive each way, and about a 2 hour wait while I had surgery). She did so much to relieve the anxiety I was feeling!

There isn't really any pain, just discomfort (I'm on percocet, but after my shoulder surgery last year there was still massive pain even with that).

Overall I feel even happier about this than I had expected, I feel like I took a huge step towards truly being who I want and need to be 😀

I'll follow-up again as the swelling subsides!

Xoxo

Chrissy

 

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Hi all,

Well, since last I wrote I have become unemployed – YAY!  It was by choice, I had been planning on going back to school part-time when my employer offered a reasonably generous “buy out” package, so I took it – this way I can go back to school full-time and finish in 2 years instead of 3 (I’ll be attending NYU in the fall, going for a Masters in Social Work).

So for the next 2 months, until Orientation on August 31, I am completely free. What I hadn’t considered was the “identity crisis” that would create – let’s face it, most people identify by their job, and I currently have none, and although I’m registered for classes, I haven’t really started being a student yet either.

That brings me to the main point of this entry!!! As I mentioned in an earlier post, I now have GRS (or SRS if you prefer) scheduled for December 27. Because this is sooner than we had been discussing, my therapist asked if we could start meeting twice a week for a while – she’s (hopefully) writing one of the letters I’ll need, so she wants to make sure we cover what needs to be covered. I’m fine with that – I have the time, I like her, and I think it’s important work (I don’t like the fact that the WPATH standards call for more than informed consent for surgery, but I still think it’s important to make sure you know what you’re getting into.

As a starting point, I started a “list” of things that I think I should be aware of, considering, etc., in connection with GRS – I wanted to post that here and seek feedback – either additional items for the list, comments on the things I listed, whatever – and hopefully this can be of some help to others who are planning or even thinking about GRS J

So here’s my list – just bullet-point form, for now without any details on my thoughts - and in no particular order:

·         How will peeing be different?

·         How will orgasms be different?

·         Clothing will fit different

·         I will feel more completely – fully a woman

·         I’ve had a penis all my life – is it possible I’d miss it?

·         What will care and “maintenance” be like?

·         Are there new health issues to be concerned about?  And are any health concerns being eliminated?

·         There’s no going back = unlike other parts of transitioning which are, more or less “reversible”

·         I probably have a better chance at a relationship as a gay man than as a straight woman – and this removes being able to “present” as a gay man

·         Could I handle regret if it lasted long-term?

And I really, really want to emphasize that these are literally any thought or question I could think of – some of them seem more important to me, some of them barely register in terms of importance, but I think it’s necessary to address everything that you can think of. At this risk of sounding prematurely defensive, I say that just to preclude anyone from saying that “if X is really important you shouldn’t proceed with the surgery!”

Tomorrow is New York Pride! It's expected to be one of the biggest ever as a result of the emotional impact of the Orlando shootings - and there will also be an increased NYPD presence as a result of the shootings. I expect that they'll do a moment of silence for Orlando - they do it each year for those lost to HIV/AIDs, and it's always an incredibly moving experience - you're on the streets of NYC with thousands and thousands of people, and there isn't a single sound (otherwise it's almost impossible to be on 5th Ave. or in the Village in total silence, except perhaps during a snowstorm).

For me, this is my first NY Pride since I started transitioning.  Last year at this time I had "come out," but I hadn't really started transitioning yet (I went for a gender bending look at Pride). So this will also be the first time I'm actually marching and not just watching (I did also volunteer one year). I'm planning to march with Identity House, the peer counseling organization I volunteer with, which is what prompted me to march. In the past I've wanted to, but didn't really have any group that I felt strongly enough about to march with.

But back to the point about it being the first Pride since my transition started. That has prompted me to look squarely at my own ambivalence about being trans.  I don't mean that I question whether I am or not, any question like that was resolved LONG ago - I mean that at some level, at some times, I try to reject my identity as a transwoman, and "just" be a woman. Sometimes it's an affirmative thing, I'm affirming my gender identity as a woman, other times though it's a negative, it's me trying to not be trans.

This is kind of a hard thing to acknowledge here in particular - on this website - but I think that makes it more important to do. I went to the Transgender Health Conference in Philadelphia a few weeks ago and realized that I felt very uncomfortable. In my day-to-day life I'm typically the only trans person around, this was a rare situation where I was in roomfuls of trans people, and I wasn't comfortable, which upset me a lot.

I don't think it's unusual, perhaps others (many others even) here have experienced it - or something similar. There is an underlying wish - that is, I have an underlying wish that I had just been born a cisgender woman - and it can feel horrible to recognize that that will simply never be my reality. There is no amount of transitioning that will ever make me a cisgender woman.

I am taking a step to work through this tomorrow at Pride - I found a shirt on-line to wear, a pink tank-top that says "Trans Women are Real Women" :-)  I think it's important for me to take ownership of that message - keeping in mind that while I'm wearing it for Pride, I'll also be wearing it as I travel back and forth to the city, which means around an audience that isn't necessarily receptive to the message.

So I just wanted to - or rather, felt the need to - share that. I'll post some pics on Monday :-)

xoxo

Chrissy

As I mentioned in my last posting, I had a consultation in Philadelphia on Monday about bottom surgery - it went very well, I liked the surgeon a lot and liked the work that she showed me.  So I'm scheduled for December 27 :-)

I had anticipated waiting until spring because of school, but classes finish in the fall on December 23, and there's over a month before spring classes, so this worked out, and financially it's VERY helpful as it lets me get this under my current insurance, and in the same year as top surgery so that I have only 1 deductible to worry about.

I had a "gut check" moment while waiting for the surgeon - this time my gut's response was "leave me alone! this is good!" - so apparently my gut is getting a little annoyed at me checking-in too much. I drove down (hate driving, but it seemed easier), and the drive back was awesome - nothing about the drive itself, just knowing that I'm getting this done, that it's scheduled and before we start 2017 I will be just about as much of a woman as I can be :-) (physically at least)

Now I get to have the conversation with my brother in which I tell him :-)  That should be fine, we've already spoken about me being trans and he's totally supportive, just awkward having any medical discussions with him.

I see I haven't updated since April 28, so I'm behind on a few items :-)

My job - where I've worked for 10+ years now - recently announced employee buy-outs b/c they need to cut the budget.  Since I was already planning on going back to school, I took the buy-out and will now go back full-time (to NYU for a Masters in Social Work). Now I'm just here at work riding out my time until probably June 30 - it's SOOOO boring!!!

On other fronts - next Monday I have a consult with a bottom surgeon in the Philadelphia area - very excited about that!  And in mid-July I have another appt with the top surgeon in Albany - to finalize details, etc.  That surgery is scheduled for August 19 - one of my friends who is a student, and thus free during the summer, is going with me (you have to have someone with you).

HRT Update

By Chrissy,

Hi all,

I just had my endocrinologist appointment - my testosterone level is at 170 now - yay!!!  Typical male level is 270-1200, female level is up to the 60s or so - so I'm in "No Man's and No Woman's Land" currently - but it's progress!

I think the nicest part of the appointment was when he said he wished everyone who came to see him was like me - in this case meaning that he has no qualms about what I'm doing and giving me the HRT prescription, so that was nice to hear :-)

He did say I need to lose some weight - which I knew quite well already, I'm hoping hearing it from him will help motivate.

xoxo

Chrissy

Hi everyone,

So last weekend was the memorial service for my uncle who passed away in January - everyone was so spread out they delayed it to find a convenient time for as many people as possible. His passing was of course sad, but he was older and hadn't been in good health (mentally or physically) for quite some time.

The point of this entry is the fact that this is the first time I've seen many family members since I transitioned. About 10-12 people knew (the most direct of my relatives - my brother and sister and first cousins), but most of the rest didn't, so on top of being a sad occasion I had to basically "come out" at it - it was an interesting balance, obviously it's a funeral so it's not about me, but it's not like my transition is a subtle thing that nobody will notice if I don't mention it! And going as a guy was out of the question (one of my friends asked me after if I thought I would have been more or less comfortable if I had presented as a male for this - I told him I don't really know because I can't even imagine doing that - he liked that answer).

Anyway, the first issue was that the first group of people I saw were more distant relatives who didn't know about my transitioning, and it occurred to me that i hadn't thought about how to "introduce" myself. I introduced myself with my current name, but several times added "formerly _____" so that they would know who I am.

I didn't have any negative incidents - there may have been a couple of people who avoided interacting with me, but those who did were all perfectly friendly. One of my cousins (who knew already) commented towards the end about how much happier I seem (and that's at a funeral!)

So after a lot of stress leading up to it, it ended up being a good experience.

xoxo

Chrissy

Finding Peace

By Chrissy,

Ok people, so this isn't technically - or at least not fully - about being trans, but something I need an outlet for.  It might be a bit meandering.

I've been going through a difficult stretch, including a series of "endings" that have left me feeling - well, I don't quite know, but I know a thought that has crossed my mind several times is "when will I find peace?"

The endings - (1) I'm applying to grad school and on Friday got a rejection from one of them - the one that was by far my first choice; (2) the drag queen who often lets me guest perform is no longer doing her show at the bar I go to; (3) my 2 best friends are about to move to California; (4) one of my favorite uncles passed away in January; (5) ... I know there are a few more, but I'm blanking right now.

This is all on top of having a job that has gotten progressively worse over the past few months, and there is absolutely no sign of it turning around anytime soon (or ever).

So how do I find peace?  I used that line in therapy today and she asked me what that would look like to me, peace. My initial answer was that I would have a job that I didn't hate going to every day and didn't cause endless annoyance and stress. As I thought about it on my way back to work I know that that was too specific an answer, but a good lead-in to maybe figure it out.  Because it's not about getting things to be happening the way I want them to, it's about getting me to think about things differently.  I think the serenity prayer is always a good baseline - give me the courage to change the things I can, the strength to accept the things I can't, and the wisdom to know the difference.

I think this is related - but keep in mind I did say I might meander :-)  Every Wednesday I go to a supervision group for the volunteer organization I belong to, and last week (at our last session) I made a comment about how this group, for those 2 hours a week, allow me to feel completely comfortable with my complete identity.  It's not that they accept me being trans, it just is. And I thought afterwords that if I can feel that way in the group, i should be able to feel that way anywhere :-)  Just knowing that I'm capable of feeling that way makes it possible.

To relate that back to the broader theme - I'm capable of accepting difficult things, so I should be able to accept any difficult thing.  Ok, that's just a starting point perhaps.

One final point on the grad school thing. Being rejected by my first choice school actually hurt me a lot more than I expected.  I think that although I harbor some doubts about being able to do it, I assumed the choice would be mine (I'd be accepted and then decide if I want to go).  But this really was crushing - I got home from work the day I got the rejection and literally cried for about an hour (and even thinking about it right now almost makes me start again). It became really clear that "coming out" as transgender finally made it possible for me to realize where my passion lies, and to have that set-back on the path to fulfilling it was very painful.  It doesn't end things, I have a couple of other applications out still, but those options would be more difficult - but probably worth pursuing.

So thank you to anyone who got this far - and if you didn't, well you're not seeing this now so there's no reason for me to say anything to you - but I understand :-)

xoxo

Chrissy

I had my weekly therapy session today and she confirmed that she had faxed the needed letter to my surgeon to authorize my top surgery - yay!  In this case insurance doesn't actually require it, but the surgeon does - needed a letter from a therapist confirming gender dysphoria. I called and confirmed that they got it, and they did - tomorrow they'll be contacting the insurance company to start the pre-authorization process.

It isn't happening until August, but I still was happy to see it moving forward :P

Dress up time!

By Chrissy,

This past weekend we hosted a moot court competition at our school, and as Moot Court staff administrator I was very involved in the planning, and naturally attended the Saturday night reception for the event.  It was my first real opportunity to "dress up" :P  The picture below is me (on the left) and 2 students.

I did realize on Friday night as I was packing up for the next day that I had never really dressed in plum before, so I didn't know what color make-up to use - fortunately Google exists and I found that lavender works perfectly!

Overall a very fun night!  My next opportunity will be the Law Review Banquet on April 1 - of course I just wore this dress, so I'll have to come up with something else for that occasion.

 

 

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New path

By Chrissy,

Hi all,

It's been awhile since I've been able to write - very busy at work, and outside of work (the outside part is all good, but tiring).

In a prior post I wrote about an "exit strategy" from my current job, and that point has advanced substantially.  Several weeks ago I had breakfast with my electrologist (her appointment after me had cancelled). I was telling her about my job issues and half-jokingly asked if she knew anyone who was hiring. She replied that I was asking the wrong question, and that what I needed to ask (myself) is what is my passion, and how can I make a career out of that?

It took virtually no time at all to figure it out once I had that question in mind and I've decided to try to pursue an MSW (Masters of Social Work) and try to become a therapist. Long ago I had thought about pursuing that career, but never followed-through. Looking back now and realizing the impact of gender dysphoria, I think that it was impossible (or at least improbable) that I could have figured out what my passion was, much less follow-through on it, until I came out as transgender (which, BTW, was a year ago this month).

Earlier this year I started volunteering with Identity House - a group that provides peer counseling, support groups, and therapy referrals for LGBTQ people in the NYC area. I've never done anything that has given me as much personal satisfaction as this! So at this point I've applied to 2 MSW programs, that might be about it, I had to choose based on some logistical constraints - but one of them is Rutgers University, which has a well-regarded MSW program.

xoxo

Chrissy