I have been quiet over the past few months. I have visited the site but have not written anything. Not commented on anything, not added an entry to the blog, etc. All I've done is read what others are writing about. I've noticed a few people sign off lately; saying goodbye; moving on. I've wondered about their reasons for leaving. I've also wondered what I'm doing here.
To be honest, one of the things that has bothered me is whether it's safe to post here. I've thought about the way the political landscape has changed in the USA and what that might mean for people who are based in the USA - and also what it might mean for people like me who are not based in the USA but whose words are, in all likelihood, being stored in a US data centre as I type. Am I being paranoid? Probably. Do I have cause to be paranoid? Not sure, yet. Probably not. But I am also wondering whether I have anything useful or interesting to say anymore.
I could tell people about how I've visited the gender specialists three times since i last added an entry to this blog, and how I have another two appointments lined up - one later this week and one next month. I could talk about the fact that my GP still isn't prescribing my testosterone and I'm still getting it via a private prescription, and that my GP has received written instructions from the gender specialists about what to prescribe and how to monitor my blood, but that she still doesn't seem inclined to do it. I could talk about my relationship with my husband, or my brother, or how things are going at work, or how one phone call from me to the psychologist at the gender clinic is all it would take to set up a referral to a surgeon for top surgery.
But I don't really want to. I've realised that I'm being self-indulgent on here. I've recently read through some of my previous posts and it seems to me that I've felt sorry for myself quite a lot and I don't want to do that anymore.
Everyone has problems. Everyone has things they need to work out or work through. I have it quite easy, really. I have a good life and I have family and friends who care about me and respect me. When I come here I seem to forget that and I only dwell on the negatives. I've used this site to moan and complain when, really, I have nothing to moan or complain about.
I wish everyone well. I hope you all get what you want out of life and I hope your journeys progress the way you want them to. I hope the destination is as wonderful as you envisage it to be.
Peace and long life.
I've been seeing a psychotherapist for a few weeks. It was a recommended course of action by the psychiatrist at the GIC and so I signed up.
AI couple of weeks ago, I had a moment of clarity in one of our sessions. Yesterday I had another one.
I have to give myself more time to grow into myself. Into the 'new' me.
I've spent so much time and energy in the past year trying to speed things along, with GPs and the medical profession; trying to prove to others that I need treatment and I need to transition; trying to convince everyone that I am what I say I am, that I haven't given myself time to experience it.
To feel it.
I am changing - and I have refused to acknowledge or even recognise those changes. I've been so wrapped up in trying to get from A to B that I haven't stopped to admire the scenery or enjoy the ride.
So I am slowing down. I'm not going to get anxious about the T not affecting my body as rapidly as I'd hoped. Because, it IS affecting my body. And it's affecting my mind. My personality and my disposition.
Last month, my prescription was late. The delivery of the hormone was late. I went five days without it. At first, I was annoyed and anxious. By the time it arrived, I had realised that I was actually calmer and less aggressive than I'd been for a few months.
That was a surprise at the time. I hadn't noticed how much it had bumped up my aggressive tendencies until it was gone. I explained to the therapist that I had noticed this about myself. Guess what she said?
"That's why the RLE is so important. It's not just about proving you mean what you say to the medical professionals. It's about giving yourself time to experience and understand the changes you're making. To your personality as well as to your body. You're becoming a different person even if you've always thought of yourself as that person."
That was a bit of a light bulb moment for me. Sounds silly, but I really hadn't thought in those terms before.
I'm a little embarrassed to admit that.
I had always thought that I knew who and what I was. I thought the RLE was a step I had to take to prove who I was to others.
Now I know it's more important to me to view it as a step to take to learn and accept who I'm becoming.
I've just spent a week away from home, working. Early starts: late finishes. Not so much sleep over the past few days but it was a good week, nevertheless.
I've spent the last few evenings in the company of my team mates and my manager. It was the first time we had all managed to get together like that for a couple of years. And it was great to see their initial reactions to my appearance were positive. It was great to experience their total acceptance of who I am first-hand, in the flesh, because while we've all interacted over the phone many times, that was the first time I've been in their presence since I began to transition.
I'm lucky to work with people like that. I'm also lucky to work for the company that I work for. The acceptance is almost universal. Over the course of this week, I met many of the other employees and had to introduce myself and talk to them; the vast majority were strangers to me before this week. Not one person looked at me oddly when I gave them my name. Not one person avoided me when they realised I was transgender. Everyone behaved impeccably towards me.
This week has boosted my confidence and self-esteem enormously.
Peace and love to everyone.
What a training course. Enlightening, saddening, revealing, a little scary at times, but ultimately well worth the investment in time and money.
Do I feel confident in giving first aid in a mental health emergency? Not 100% but it's like physical first aid - you hope you never have to do it but it's reassuring to know you have the skills and knowledge if it comes down to it.
I will be better at spotting signs in myself - signals that my own mental health is suffering a dip. I will be better at spotting it in others. I have a far better understanding of mental health issues than I did.
I have knowledge of symptoms, physical, psychological and behavioural. I have knowledge of help resources. I know what to do in an emergency situation.
My own mental health is good right now. The trips to see the psychiatrist and the psychologist were positive experiences and I'm still feeling buoyed by them.
I hope it lasts a while.
Peace and love to everyone.
I'm currently heading home after day 1 of a two day training course.
The training is in mental health first aid. Not only is it fascinating and educational, but it's also enlightening from the perspective of my own mind.
I've learned a lot today. About how to spot signs that a person's mental health may be taking a dip. And that includes my own.
Day 2 promises to be just as educational. The trainer appeared to be a little worried that she might have stressed us out and she has sent us home with homework: take an hour when you get home to do something that you enjoy.
I'll be getting on my bike. And I'll be asking my husband how his day has gone. And I'll be taking the time to listen to what he really says. I think he's under stress too at the moment. I think I've neglected him somewhat recently.
Time to start to put that right.
It was a good night.
My train arrived late into London and I had to double-time the walk to meet with the psychologist, but it all went well enough.
I was hot and sweaty and feeling dishevelled by the time I arrived but, to be honest, I didn't look as bad as she did. It was evident that her office had no air con and she had had precious little fresh air all day. She looked more tired and dishevelled than me.
The interview went well. We covered old ground but that didn't rattle me at all. I simply answered the questions honestly and straightforwardly. I've been asked the same questions so many times now, and while they would have annoyed me six months ago, they didn't yesterday. It's as if these people don't read each other's reports - or maybe they're trying to find a different answer.
Anyway, a little over one hour after meeting her, I was checking into my hotel.
I found the gym and used it then took a shower and ordered room service. Great food, I have to say. I spent the rest of the evening reading and listening to music until my eyes started to close.
This morning, after another trip to the gym, I showered and checked out before finding a great coffee shop along the street from my hotel, which is where I am now. My train departs in around 50 minutes so I'm just passing the time and reflecting on yesterday's interview.
She told me to schedule a follow up appointment with the psychiatrist next month and then another one with her in January when she will recommend top surgery. She's already emailed the psychiatrist to agree with his assessment that I need a better T prescription than the one I currently have.
All in all it's been a worthwhile trip to London. Again.
Peace and love, everyone.
On my way to London to see the psychologist from the GIC. Sitting at the station waiting for my train.
It's windy but the sun is shining and I'm feeling good.
Step 1 was getting the T prescription. I ordered my supply for the fourth month yesterday and it arrived today.
Step 2 was getting to see the psychiatrist from the GIC. That was weeks ago. Today is step 3.
Goodness only knows what step 4 will be. I haven't a clue.
The T is redistributing my body fat already. It has also given me a few whiskers on my chin. I shave them off.
I decided to stay in London tonight. Have a quiet night to myself. Maybe use the hotel gym. Read my Kindle. Listen to music.
Have no idea what this psychologist is going to ask me but it'll be fine.
I thought I'd better clarify that last entry. Because, if anyone has been reading these entries, they might have noticed that, a few posts back, I was bemoaning the lengthy wait I had ahead of me for an appointment at the Gender Identity Clinic, and how it had pushed me to seek a T prescription from somewhere else in the meantime.
Well, I did seek a T prescription, from a private source, and I received one. And I've been taking it for almost two months. No ill-effects, so far, but not a lot else happening, either. I feel good, and I've noticed a little redistribution of body fat, and perhaps a slight increase in muscle mass - but I've been working out so that muscle might be because of that.
The T prescription was sought with the full knowledge of my GP - in fact, it was her idea for me to try to find some private treatment. And I decided that, if I was going to get interim private treatment, while waiting for the GIC to send for me, I might as well consider private treatment for the whole lot.
And that's where the last entry comes in. The psychiatrist and the psychologist I mentioned in the last entry both work at one of the top GICs in this country, but I'm not on the waiting list for that particular GIC - instead, I've gone to them privately. And now I'm being officially, properly assessed by that GIC - and, judging by the report that the psychiatrist has written, he has few, if any, qualms about treating me. He believes me; he's not doubting the things I've told him; he's not questioning whether I have 'gender dysphoria' - and in the initial interview, he didn't give me a hard time or try to catch me out or ask any of the horrible questions that I had assumed he would.
I've heard horror stories about how people are treated at GICs - about how they try to disprove your story or try to catch you in a lie or tell you you're not what you say you are. I didn't get any of that. Instead, I got a doctor who was sympathetic, maybe even empathetic, and when I left his office I felt happier than I've felt all year. I think I even had a stupid grin on my face as I walked out of the hospital.
The night before, I hadn't slept. I had been too busy worrying about how it was all going to pan out. That night, I slept like a log.
I'm still waiting for the second appointment - the one with the psychologist. I've called her number and left messages, and I've emailed her. But I'm not so worried anymore. I know the appointment will happen at some point fairly soon. And then I'll see where we go from there.
In the meantime I reckon I need to go back to my GP and get her up to speed. She'll be getting a copy of the psychiatrist's report soon. He wants some blood tests - of course - to see what my hormone levels are, amongst other things. And so I'll have to get those done too.
And then, I suppose I need to consider taking myself off the waiting list for the original GIC. I've been on that waiting list for eight months. But I've kind of jumped the queue now, having managed to get myself into this other GIC. It's amazing what throwing a little money around can do. I'm lucky that I can afford it. I find it annoying that private treatment can be obtained within a couple of weeks whereas NHS treatment can take years to materialise. I feel really bad for people who can't afford to do what I've just done. I also feel a little bad that it will appear to others that I've jumped the queue - but at the same time, I will be freeing up one spot on the waiting list, so that's the thought that is consoling me at the moment. The NHS system is in such a mess that just freeing up one spot for someone else to get assessed and treated a little sooner is probably a good thing.
But I ain't removing myself from that waiting list until I'm sure I'm going to get proper treatment privately.
I went to my first appointment with the head psychiatrist at a well known GIC this week. He has already written his report, sent me a copy and asked for my permission to forward it to my GP and to the head psychologist at the GIC.
Of course, I gave my permission and now I'm waiting for an appointment with said psychologist.
The psychiatrist was nothing like I'd imagined and the session or interview or whatever you want to call it went well. Better than I'd anticipated.
He's already said he wants to increase my T dosage. And he didn't question my sincerity or motives. Or try to trip me up.
I'm getting treatment, officially, it would seem.
I don't like the term 'passing' because it sounds to me like I'm trying to fool people. I'm not 'passing' as male because as far as I'm concerned, I am male. These aren't 'tips for passing' as such, because it's just how I am and what I do, and my way of doing things won't work for, or resonate with, every trans male out there. I think we each need to find our own way of feeling comfortable with what we are and how we present that to the world. There is no right or wrong, and what feels natural for me won't necessarily feel good for another trans man. But here are my thoughts anyway.
My husband has told me, more than once, that I have always 'walked like a man' - whatever that means - so I thought I'd try to describe what that is for me. I have never attempted to walk in a consciously masculine or feminine fashion. I have to admit. I just walk. When I asked my husband to describe my walk to me, he said I take longer strides than the average cis woman, and I don't sway my hips. He also said I walk purposefully, as if I know where I'm going and want to get there. Since I ditched my last piece of 'female' clothing last year, he said he's noticed that I pull my shoulders back more and that sometimes I 'strut' when I walk. I'm not entirely sure what that means.
I do think I'm more comfortable in myself, now that everyone knows who I am, and now that I don't have to dress in any female clothing anymore for appearances' sake, so maybe that extra comfort has made me a little more confident.
I've never worn high heels. I've always been more comfortable in flat shoes and boots. Maybe that has influenced my walk.
My hair is short. I cut it myself. I trim the back and sides with an electric hair trimmer and I cut the top with scissors. I admit that I haven't yet found the confidence to walk into a barbers' and ask them to cut it for me. But I hardly ever went to visit a 'female' hairdresser, even before I came out. I've always cut my own hair.
I don't wear makeup and I didn't like to wear makeup even before I was out. Lipstick, on the odd occasions I wore it in the past (such as on my wedding day), never lasted more than ten minutes before I wiped it off - it always made my lips feel funny. I was never very good at putting on makeup when I had to and I always felt wrong in it, so it was something I avoided.
I've always had a thing for aftershave rather than perfume (I think it smells nicer, generally) and I've bought 'male' deodorant for years because I preferred the scent. There's a thing I did discover, many years ago, about the difference between 'male' and 'female' deodorant. When I was supposed to be female, I shaved my armpits, as 'women' are encouraged to do in our society. If I had 'female' deodorant and used it after shaving, it stung horrendously - and women were supposed to buy special 'no sting' deodorant (which was more expensive) if they wanted to avoid that particular discomfort, not just use any old female deodorant. But here's the thing - 'male' deodorant doesn't sting after you've shaved your armpits. Whatever they put in 'female' deodorant that they don't put in 'male' deodorant is the culprit. But male deodorant smells nicer anyway so I've used that for years. And I stopped shaving my armpits a long time ago.
My clothes are mostly casual. I have a couple of suits, dress shirts, ties and the like, but they don't come out often. Mostly I'm in jeans with button flies (I like button flies far more than zips) or chinos. I will wear a t-shirt over my binder and a long sleeved shirt over that. Sometimes I will button up the shirt but usually I like to leave it unbuttoned. I rarely tuck in my shirts. I find that if I tuck in a shirt, it's a little more obvious that my hips are larger than my waist. I haven't been taking the T long enough for it to have had a noticeable effect on the shape of my body (although it is happening, slowly - my waist is thicker and my thighs are thinner than before I started the hormone). When I do need to tuck in a shirt, I wear something over it, such as a jacket or waistcoat. My jeans and trousers sit on my hips, not my waist.
Obviously, I wear a binder. Not only is it there to change my shape, it makes me feel more comfortable and confident. I've been wearing binders for years but only started wearing them seven days a week last year. It's probably more psychological than physical, but I feel more 'me' since I started wearing them full-time. I've bought binders from three different manufacturers but I prefer one of them over the others. It's easy to get them, too, because they're available online from a stockist in this country. I wear a packer, too, and they're available from the same stockist. That's also a psychological thing, I've found. I feel better when it's there. I feel bereft when it's not. When I bought my first packer, I soon realised that the one I'd bought was too big. I switched to a smaller size soon after and I tend to re-order the same 'make and model' when I need to.
I have, in the past, spent a lot of money on STP devices - some very expensive ones have turned out to be a complete waste of money - but I didn't know that until I'd tried them. These days, I make my own. I know what works for me, now, but it did take a little experimentation.
I don't think I'm 'fooling' anyone with how I look and behave and dress - but I do now feel more at ease with myself. Whether other people think I'm female, or male, or neither, doesn't matter to me as much as how it makes me feel to be presenting myself as me.
And I'm not trying to be a 'typical male' - because there is no such thing.
Yesterday I ordered my second month's supply of T. I received an email from the online doc to tell me to order it because she had sent the prescription to the pharmacy. She also said I need to arrange for more blood tests before the end of September, to check my testosterone and estradiol levels.
I can't believe I've managed to get through almost a month's worth already. Time has passed so quickly. And, apart from the almost immediate effect on one particular part of my anatomy, and the increased appetites (plural - it hasn't just made me hungry all the time, it's affected my libido too), I haven't really noticed a whole lot else. But my husband says I have more muscle definition in my upper torso and arms. I'm not sure about that, but I'll take his word for it.
I have been trying to work out more, particularly when I realised I was eating more (or wanting to eat more, at any rate). It might have been my imagination but I thought my stomach was starting to get fatter. So I'm on the bike every day and I'm working on my shoulders and arms as well. Having said all that, it might be the fact that I drink too much beer that's making my stomach fatter. I need to check out some additional stomach-specific exercises. I'm never going to have a six-pack and I probably don't want one, but I don't want a beer gut either.
I'm not at work this week. I decided to take five days, to do some stuff at home and to watch some of the final week of the Tour de France live (as opposed to watching highlights in the evenings). And it looks like I chose a good week to not be at work. It was warm and sunny yesterday. Today, it's scorching with unbroken blue sky. Apparently, tomorrow will be just as nice. So I think it's time I turned off this computer and went outside. There's some weeding to be done in the garden.
Peace and love, to everyone.
I know I'm lucky to live in Manchester. This city has a big LGBT+ contingent and a lively LGBT+ scene and a city council that supports its LGBT+ people. We even have our first out gay Lord Mayor now.
He was at Sparkle last weekend. Sparkle styles itself as the "National Transgender Celebration" here in the UK. http://www.sparkle.org.uk/ It's also a trans* charity. I don't know whether Sparkle weekend really is the biggest trans* get-together in the UK, or whether trans* people really do descend on Manchester from all over the country, but I was there last weekend, with my husband. And there were an awful lot of other people there. Definitely several thousand people.
The only disappointing part was that it had rained throughout the Friday night and for a good few hours Saturday morning, before Sparkle was due to kick off on the Saturday. When we got there, the rain had stopped, but the gardens where the main Sparkle event was scheduled to take place were awash with mud due to all the rain. It was a mudbath. The organisers had sprinkled some sawdust around the place to try to lessen the mud, but it didn't really work. And so everyone got messy. I felt sorry for all the ladies in their high heels but there wasn't a lot they could do about it.
But it was great to see so many trans* people in one place. We wandered around the gardens, checking out the various stands, and then we decided to head back to Canal Street for a drink. We ducked into View for a quick one, but it was pretty quiet in there so we only had the one drink and then headed for our favourite bar, Bandit.
It's actually called Bandit, Mugger & Thief, which is a tad too long for a bar name, in my opinion, but it's a great place. It used to be named Taurus, which I think is an eminently more sensible name for a bar, but whatever. Taurus/Bandit is a great place to hang out on Canal Street. The people who work there are friendly and the bar is comfortable and usually pretty busy but not too full that you can't get a seat.
We discovered a beer called Barista stout. I'd never had it before, although I will be having it again. I like stout and porter - dark beers are my favourite and I usually drink Guinness. But this Barista stout... the first mouthful tastes like vanilla ice cream and then it starts to taste like coffee and chocolate - like a mocha milkshake. Oh my goodness, it is gorgeous! So we had more than one.
While we were sitting there enjoying our drinks and chatting about stuff, my husband said, "That woman behind you has been standing on her own for ages. Do you think she's waiting for someone?" I turned to look and realised I had seen her earlier, standing there, and she had been alone for a while. So I hopped off my chair and moved to say hello and invite her to sit with us, while she waited for whoever she was waiting for, because it was fairly obvious that was what she was doing.
And that was how I met my newest acquaintance - or friend - Emma.
Emma joined us at our table and we all chatted about whatever came into our heads. Inevitably, I suppose, some of the conversation focused on transitioning and our different journeys. By the time her friend arrived - it could have been an hour or two later; I have no idea how much time had passed - we had exchanged phone numbers and agreed to keep in touch.
I'm hoping that we do keep in touch. I hope I don't have to wait a whole year - for next year's Sparkle celebrations - to meet up with her.
Yep, changes are afoot.
I did notice something Monday morning that surprised me. But I'm not going to explain anything about that here. Suffice it to say that there was a noticeable difference in something after only two doses and I spotted it as I was getting ready to administer dose three.
Today is Tuesday and I've had only four doses of the hormone. I can say with certainty that my appetite has increased. I feel hungry all the time so I'm going to have to watch that carefully.
The headache must have been a coincidence. I haven't had one since the other day. I'm relieved about that.
I have noticed that I smell different. And that the skin on my face is different. I don't know whether it's just my imagination, but I think it is also affecting my sleep. But generally speaking, I'm happy with how things are going after such a short time.
The title of the blog entry... it's not what you think.
When I arrived home from work Friday there was a small package waiting for me. Upon opening it, I found thirty smaller packages inside. Well, sachets. My first month's hormone prescription, in thirty neat little packets. As today is Sunday, I've used it twice. And now I have a banging headache and I'm wondering whether it's the T, because that was one of the listed side-effects. It's noted among the many side-effects that could assail me. Of course, the headache could be a complete coincidence. I'll just have to wait and see.
It feels good to be finally, officially, changing, even though I'm not stupid enough to think any changes have actually taken place after just two doses. But you know what I mean... If anyone knows what I mean, it's likely to be someone reading this.
I'm looking forward to seeing a little redistribution of body fat, and I'm looking forward to noting any changes to my voice. Some of my friends assume that what I'm most looking forward to is growing a beard. But that's not top of the list. I'm assured, by people who have been there & done that, that I'll change my mind. But I am looking forward to shaving properly - or, as someone else suggested I'd soon get fed up of shaving, maybe I'm looking forward to getting fed up of shaving. I shave already - have done for a while - but there's not a lot to remove so I only do it a couple of times per week. So I'm looking forward to having to do it on a daily basis, but that's probably way off in the future.
In the meantime, I'll just make a note of anything else that I see happening, to my body or my disposition, over the next few months. And I'll check in regularly on here.
To anyone who reads this, have a great week.
Well, nearly. I ordered my first month's supply two days ago and received confirmation yesterday that the order had been fulfilled. It's on its way.
When I was getting ready for work this morning, after spending entirely too much time watching the news and the discussions about the UK referendum and the decision to leave the EU, I looked at myself in the bathroom mirror. That's something I don't often do - not unless I have to - and I realised, with something of a jolt, that I look like my brother.
People have occasionally in the past told me that I look like my dad but I've never been able to see that resemblance. I have thought that my brother looks like my dad, though. And then suddenly, today, I could see my own resemblance to my brother. After all these years, I don't understand why I could see it today. Maybe I'm looking at myself differently somehow? Maybe I just looked properly for once. Maybe it was there all along and I never saw it.
To me, my brother bears a striking resemblance to Matt Dillon. I've always thought that about him but never told him. I'm kind of glad I kept my mouth shut now. But I certainly wouldn't mind looking like that one day.
How do you spell 'woohoo'? is it 'woohoo' or is it 'woo hoo'? One word or two?
I've just had confirmation that the Dr is going to write me prescriptions for testosterone.
Not sure which emoticon to use...
It's raining - again.
It's the middle of summer here... "Summer" is a relative term. It means it isn't freezing cold but it doesn't mean we necessarily see the sun. I haven't seen any blue sky for around a week.
But I received a reply from the online doc who told me that they "don't have any reservations about proceeding".
It seems I might have passed their assessment process - or at least, I passed that part and I'm moving on to the next part of the process, whatever that is. So I didn't blow it completely, with my questionnaire responses and with the content of the conversation I had with the 'assessment counsellor'. I think that means I might be allowed to think that the doc is going to write me a prescription at some point.
In my dreams, I've always been male. I don't often remember my dreams - not unless I'm woken up in the middle of one - but when I do remember them, my image of myself is how it should be. I remember telling a friend about that when I was a kid and they laughed at me and thought it was weird that someone with a girl's body saw themselves as a boy when they were asleep. Apparently, that wasn't 'normal'. Most people didn't dream like that, it seemed. When I got laughed at, I decided to keep that little nugget of information to myself for many years.
This morning, I was woken from a dream when our dog barked. At the point in the dream where I left it, I was looking in the mirror. And I had a very nice beard.
Too eager? Most definitely.
I'm going to be a good boy today and I'm not going to complain (much).
Feeling fairly upbeat, actually - certainly compared to the last time I visited the site. Since I last wrote, my questionnaire responses were passed to an assessment counsellor, and she emailed me to arrange an appointment to talk. We spoke on the phone a few days ago. The worst part was that she covered ground that had already been covered in the questionnaire, in that she asked similar questions that touched on the same subjects, and while I kept my calm and provided the responses in a polite manner, I was still thinking to myself, "Why do you want to know intimate details about my sex life?" and, "Didn't you read the questionnaire?" She asked me what kind of lower surgery I want and I could feel myself getting exasperated (because my answer was on the questionnaire) so I had to take a few breaths before I responded. I don't even have a hormone prescription. At this point in time, surgery of any kind is quite possibly years away, judging by the pace of things in Gender Services. Can't they just give me the T before we get to that kind of discussion? I didn't say that out loud, of course.
Anyhow, I managed to get through the interrogation without messing up too much, I think, because the next day, the online GP emailed to ask if I was ok after the conversation, and ask whether I needed any more 'counselling'. I hadn't felt as if I'd had any 'counselling' though. If I'm totally honest, I feel that the conversation with the so-called assessment counsellor was a waste of her time because we basically rehashed the questionnaire. But what do I know? Maybe she was reading between the lines, or monitoring stress levels in my voice, or drawing conclusions from the pauses in my answers to the questions. Or maybe she was checking that I was giving the same answers as I'd already provided. I haven't a clue. It's part of the process, I realise that. And I have to play the game.
The truth is, I don't need any counselling from her. I have a very nice counsellor already. I've been seeing him on a weekly basis for a couple of months. He's great. And I can continue to see him for as long as I want. He has boosted my confidence and reassured me about many things. I always feel better after I've had a session with him. And I had a session with him yesterday.
I know I said, a while back, that I didn't want to see a psychologist or psychiatrist, but I think I was being stubborn back then. I can recommend it now. Even though, when I first visited him, I didn't think it was going to be a useful exercise, I can say now that it has been.
So, I still don't know whether I'm going to get a T prescription from this online doc anytime soon, but do you know what? I've survived this long without one, so I have decided I can survive as long as it takes. And if I have to wait another two years, I'll wait another two years.
Gotta go now. The football is starting soon. I'm sitting here, resplendent in my Republic of Ireland jersey, waiting for kickoff. Come on, Ireland!
I'm looking outside as I type this and the clouds have just rolled in - and they're black. I think we're in for one huge storm any minute. Yesterday, we had one. The rain was monsoon-like. It flooded everywhere, and yet the water had all disappeared half an hour after the rain ceased. Presumably because we've had a couple of weeks of almost unbroken sunshine.
I know I'm rambling about inconsequential rubbish but it's because I don't know how to articulate what I want to say. I've been away for a while. And now that I've remembered to come back, I feel like I need to apologise. That may be a little weird, really, considering I don't actually know anyone on here, although I did convince myself for a while that I did know people.
The reality is, I'm here for a distraction because I'm angry. Although I had been told, six months ago, that I had maybe between 73 and 84 weeks to wait before the Gender Identity Clinic sent for me, I recently discovered that wasn't accurate - and it's more likely to be over two years. Now, that might be only an additional 20 weeks, but that's another four or five months. And I changed my name and went full-time last December. Without a sniff of any hormones. And it's driving me mad, because I'm constantly meeting new people, or speaking to strangers on the phone, and feeling somewhat obliged to explain the situation to them. Which I don't want to do - not to complete strangers, because it's none of their business. And it's awkward and it makes me feel uncomfortable.
Here comes the rain.
I feel like people at work are looking at me, waiting to see changes that aren't happening. Everyone's being polite and they're using my name and the correct pronouns, but I see them looking at me questioningly. I have to keep reminding myself it's probably strange for them, and a new experience. Although I know there are other trans* people who work for the company, none of them are in the same location as I am, so I'm something of a novelty. And I may be wrong about this, but I believe I'm the only out trans male at work. All the other out trans* people I know at work are either non-binary or trans women.
So I decided I couldn't wait much longer. I couldn't wait for the GIC to send for me in another 18 months or 2 years from now. I have looked into private treatment and I have discussed it with my GP, who agrees that would be a good move, at least in the interim, while I wait and wait for the GIC. And I found someone who is willing to treat me - prescribe the T for me - if I pass her assessment process. So far, all the correspondence has been via emails. But I've just sent an email that was difficult to write.
A couple of days ago, the remote doctor sent me a bunch of questions to answer, as a prelude to an appointment with an assessment counsellor. The questions were very probing, rude at times, and bordering on offensive in some cases. Now, I expected to have to answer intrusive questions in a one-to-one assessment scenario, face to face with a trained individual, but I didn't expect to have to sit down and compose responses like I just have, and send them via email. The experience has left me very wound up and angry, and at the same time I'm wondering if I've just dashed my chances of receiving treatment from her. What if my answers tell her something about me that make her think I'm not suitable for treatment? What if I've just messed up big-style?
I'm worried. But I'm also still annoyed at the impudence of some of the questions. I need to find a way to calm down and just wait for her response. So I'm going for a walk in the rain.
I hope everyone is ok. Take care of yourselves.
That's the only word for it. I think I took on too much and it's worn me down. But at least I've realised now.
My dysphoria (oh, how I hate that word - it's so clinical and doesn't adequately describe the situation) has become so much worse since I got myself on the waiting list for the GIC, came out to everyone and changed my name. So I thought that a good way to remedy that would be to find lots of stuff to occupy me. I volunteered extra hours at the local LGBT centre, I took on training for Advocacy work, I volunteered to prepare a bunch of articles for LGBT History Month in February, and I agreed to take on a similar task for March, preparing a bunch of articles and biographies for posting to the company LGBT Network's website in the days leading up to 31 March (International Trans Day of Visibility).
I've worked hard on the preparation of those items; throwing myself headlong into the work, to distract myself from the dysphoria. And to distract myself from the knowledge that I couldn't write my usual stories. That writer's block was killing me because that's my usual outlet and I didn't have it.
So, I've been spending weekends prepping stuff for March (I have to do it at weekends because of the way our company network is set up - so many websites & resources aren't available at work because they're blocked by the security systems). I have full biographies of around twenty five different notable trans* figures from history, as well as information on notable trans-related events from history. I have written a "Trans 101" for people who know next to nothing about the subject. I have written articles on non-binary identities, a piece on non-binary pronouns, articles on understanding & respect, and I gathered together a bunch of verbatim quotes from trans* people I know; these quotes span the full range of experiences of being trans* and come from people who identify as belonging somewhere on the trans* spectrum. That final piece will be posted on 31 March and, even if I say so myself, it's a very powerful piece - emotional, thought-provoking and sincere. And it gives a real flavour of the thoughts and experiences of trans* people.
I asked the Trans* Advocate at our company to read and review all the stuff I'd prepared for the lead up to 31 March and she said she was "too busy" and I hadn't given her "enough notice" - that was on 10 March. By my reckoning, I've given her 21 days to read the stuff. So she obviously isn't interested. But what annoyed me more was she said, in her emailed reply to my request, "Be very careful with the language you use in anything you write - I wouldn't want you to offend any of my trans* colleagues."
Like, what?? I AM ONE OF YOUR TRANS* COLLEAGUES!
Does she think I don't know what I'm talking about? Does she think I don't know what it's like to be transgender? Does she think I'm going to be insensitive and use inappropriate language and terminology?
I've known I was transgender since before I was ten years old. Just because I have refrained from transitioning until now, doesn't make me a non-expert.
So, anyway, I've reviewed everything I've written & prepared; reviewed it so many times now that I've become word-blind - and now I don't trust anything i've written. And I'm so annoyed that I've come to this point. Because I know that I threw myself into that task so heavily that it was bound to hurt when I had finished it, regardless of anything the company's Trans* Advocate had to say.
Because, at the end of the day, I was doing it all for myself, not for anyone else. I needed the distraction. I so desperately needed the distraction. And now I want to delete everything and forget I ever started it.
And I want to cry.
But I can't cry. I haven't cried for months. I seem to have lost the ability.
So instead I pick fights with my husband. Yeah, that's really productive, isn't it?
The only good thing to have come out of all of this is that my writer's block has gone. I wrote three chapters for one of my books, yesterday. I just finished one chapter for another one, and I enjoyed doing it. The words have come back. Now that I have my trusted outlet again, maybe I'll be able to pull myself together.
I haven't been around for a while (sorry!) because I've been burying myself in work (lot and lots of it) and in other stuff, to occupy my mind, or to distract myself from unwanted thoughts to be more precise.
Been doing a bit of training for ATH (Action for Trans* Health) here in the UK - training to become an Advocate. I'm also volunteering for the Trans* programme at the LGBT Foundation here in Manchester, so I have been spending a fair amount of time hanging around the LGBT Foundation headquarters on Richmond Street. I was there all day yesterday. That's where the monthly FTM group meets although it seems like months since I've been to one of those (but it hasn't been months at all).
I've been preparing a bunch of articles and stuff for LGBT HM to be posted on our company LGBT+ internal website, and also preparing information and biographies of notable trans* people for the week leading up to 31 March (International Transgender Day of Awareness) - the plan is to have a different article and a different bio uploaded to the site each day of the week leading to ITDoA.
I've done all this (and I am continuing to do it) because I still have my writer's block
If I can't write something, I send myself crazy.
I hope everyone is doing ok... xxx
Things that make me smile…
Seeing the leaves appearing on the trees in spring. Watching winter give way to spring always makes me happy. The leaves are bright and vibrant and fresh. It seems that, suddenly, everywhere appears to be more alive. People smile more and I guess it’s because they are more hopeful and filled with expectation now that the darkness and cold of winter is becoming a memory.
Blue sky. Don’t get me wrong, I love clouds (I’m even a paid-up member of the Cloud Appreciation Society) - but you can’t beat a blue sky. There’s something basic and primeval about the way humans react to certain colours - and the blue of the sky is one of those colours that homo sapiens have reacted to for millennia. It’s ingrained in our DNA, I believe.
Seeing Valentino Rossi win a race. Go Vale!!! You’ll always be my hero. #46
Jumping on one of my bikes when the sky is blue and heading through the countryside never fails to put a smile on my face. If you’ve never ridden a bike, you’re missing out on what could well be one of the best experiences of your life.
Watching children jump into puddles left by the rain. Or watching them play in the leaves when it’s autumn. Reminds me of when I was a kid.
The smell of good coffee. Heavenly. Also the smell of nutmeg or cinnamon.
Talking of smells... There’s this aftershave (cologne) that I fell in love (or lust) with when I was a teenager. It is called Aramis. One of my teachers wore it every day at school. If I ever catch a whiff of Aramis, I grin like a fool.
Music. Music always calms me. Or it invigorates me. I’ll listen to many types; there aren’t many genres I don’t like. The only exceptions are musicals and country music - I’ve never managed to get into them. But most other types of music will make me relax and smile.
Writing. That’s another thing that calms my mind and makes me happy. Except when I have a block.
I know what works for me. The best therapy for me is immersing myself in my music or my painting or my writing. So I just bought myself a new synthesizer. It was either that or download a shed load of new music. And I've spent quite enough money on music downloads lately.
I seem to have lost my muse when it comes to writing. The stories are in my head, but they aren't making it onto the virtual paper of my computer screen, for some reason.
It's annoying; having all these tales rattling around inside my brain but unable to get them out. I have this one story on my mind at the moment that is almost perfectly formed. I have the characters, the storyline, a lot of the dialogue and most of the action between the two main protagonists, but each time I sit down to write it, there's a block - and I sit, staring at the screen, thinking, "How do I start?" It's stupid. I know the whole story; I know how it starts, how they develop their relationship, how their tale ends. But can I get it out of my brain? Nope.
The last time I had a block like this, I worked out what I'd done wrong. On that particular story, I had backed myself into a corner, leaving me with a chapter I knew I had to write, but unable to get it out. So I went back and changed the previous two chapters, allowing me to then attack that next chapter differently. It worked. But now, if I can't even make a start on this new story, I can't get myself out of the corner. And these two characters are occupying my dreams as well as my waking mind, so I have to do something about them soon. Otherwise, I may have lost one of my therapies for a while.
Maybe that's why I'm rambling on here. Sorry
I no longer have any desire to see a "therapist". I think it will perpetuate the medical profession's opinion that I somehow have a mental illness if I sign up for that. It's hard enough to get the medical types to take us seriously as it is. I have friends to talk to, I have my husband, and I have my FTM support group. For now, that will suffice, I think. At one point, I thought it might have been a good idea to talk to a stranger about stuff, but... no. I don't want to. Not anymore.
I know that at some point, I will have to sit in front of one, while they ask me probing and insensitive questions about my sex life, my sexuality, my body image, my feelings, what I had for breakfast. But I'm prepared for that because it's part of the process I have to undertake, if I'm ever going to get the treatment I need, want, desire, whatever you wanna call it. I've heard horrible stories about the kind of questions they ask and how seemingly irrelevant they can be. And having to answer questions like that makes me shiver. But it has to be done at some point. I'm resigned to that.
Until that day comes, I'll stick to my current support network.
Here in the UK, the Women & Equalities Select Committee (a government thing) has been conducting an inquiry into trans* issues for around six months. Last week, they published their much-anticipated report on their findings and their recommendations. Rumours had already abounded regarding the recommendations their report was likely to make, and it turns out most of the rumours were true.
So, maybe life will get a little easier for trans* people over here, if any of those recommendations are taken forward by the government. I certainly hope so.
I spent a couple of hours yesterday, reading through the report from start to finish. It took a while because it was lengthy, but they seem to have covered most of the things I was expecting, such as how the National Health Service is failing us, and in fact, discriminating against us, how the Prison Service needs to be reformed, how education - in schools, colleges, universities, the NHS, the government departments - everywhere, basically - has to improve. How non-binary people are discriminated against in ways that are just too heartless for me to find the words.
Most of their recommendations are sensible, long-overdue, and not difficult to implement. Other countries have already implemented such simple changes as self-determination of gender identity, making the processes in England (and Wales to some extent) outdated and discriminatory.
Currently, as the process stands here, I will have to wait 17 months for my initial appointment at the Gender Identity Clinic that I've been referred to, rather than the required maximum waiting time for any NHS appointment of 18 weeks. Once I finally get to see someone at that GIC, I then have an assessment process that will take between three and six months, after which someone will decide whether I have 'gender dysphoria' and am in fact transgender, as I claim to be. They will decide that - not me - and their decision will determine whether I get any treatment. That means, time elapsed could be close to two years before someone tells me whether I'm a good candidate for testosterone treatment. Then, as I understand it, they will suggest to me that - if I am hoping for any kind of surgery - I should try living 'in role' so that I can prepare myself for how it will feel to be 'male' for the rest of my life.
I believe I know what it feels like to be male. That's the whole point! And I've been living as male for a f'kin long time already! I may have only 'officially' changed my name last November, but what's a name anyway? I could have chosen a gender neutral name if I'd wanted to. And, at the moment, while I'm already dressing in my male clothing, with my male haircut, and my male mannerisms and my male name, I wonder if I should have done that - chosen a gender neutral name. Because I know what people see when they look at me. Because I can still see it, too. I have a female face. I look like a drag king. Or maybe I look like a butch lesbian. Or perhaps, to some people, I look androgynous. I don't know. But what I do know is that I'm actually getting more anxious now, knowing that I am on a waiting list and that it's such a f'kin long wait. My 'dysphoria' (I hate that word!) has actually become worse as I think about how far away that appointment is. I spent a chunk of time yesterday looking online for what I know is illegal T. And looking for the so-called 'natural' alternatives to T. I need to do something. I can't wait two years.
Dammit! What started out as a fairly positive post ended up as a miserable one. I'm sorry. My original purpose when I started to write this was to say how pleased I was after reading the Inquiry report. How optimistic it had made me feel. How, I had started to think that, by the time I do get to see someone in the GIC, the laws may have changed, or the waiting lists may have shrunk. Or that the government and the medical profession might have actually stopped thinking of 'gender dysphoria' as a mental illness. I'm not mentally ill. I'm certainly not mentally unstable. My problem is that I have the wrong sex organs, that's all.