The last couple of weeks have been busy. I had a first meeting with a new gender therapist (Shannon), my eyebrows waxed by a stylist (Zed), and an evaluation with a very experienced voice coach (Sandy). I’ve also started drafting my transition plan that I’ll review with Shannon when we meet again in September – after I return from Alaska.
I mentioned to Sandy (the voice coach) that I want to start low-dose HRT in September as a way to dip my toe in the water. She advised that I get some doctor recommendations from Shannon soon and set up an appointment (for September) as these doctors are so busy and the wait time could easily be a couple of months. She also asked about my plans to present in a more feminine way, perhaps full time, and how I planned to present at the Gender Odyssey conference in late August. I told her that I do not dress in public very often at all, that I wanted to allow time to grow my hair and have it styled, at least start on electrolysis, and to have made some progress with her on my voice. She kindly responded that there is a huge variety of people at Gender Odyssey – so I could wear anything and it would be okay. She also advised that voice therapy is much more effective when is presenting as a woman in public. It’s like learning French in school and travelling to France where one can actually speak it.
Yesterday I emailed Shannon with Sandy’s feedback, asking if she would provide names for doctors to me even though I’ve only met Shannon once. I expected that although she might provide names that she would suggest that I wait to make an appointment until she and I had more meetings. Surprisingly and without any reservations she provided me with the names, and agreed with Shannon that I should make the appointment.
I was a bit startled and afraid after receiving Shannon’s email. In our meeting a couple of weeks ago she told me that she - like other professionals are increasingly doing - follows the “informed consent model” where clients like me are provided the latitude to make up their own minds once we have been informed of the protocols, risks, etc. Her email was thus consistent with informed consent. And, let’s face it, I do want to take this step.
I reflected on all this while driving north yesterday for a couple of hours. I decided that before Gender Odyssey I will return to Zed (the stylist at the salon where I had my eyebrows waxed) and have her style my hair. In two months I believe will have enough to at least present more androgynously. I do have some hair loss in front that I assume we’ll be able to deal with, with "product" such as hairspray. Also, I’ll attend Gender Odyssey in a more feminine style of dress. Why not? I have several comfortable and casual outfits. What’s the worst that could happen? Given the climate of trans inclusion and welcoming in the Seattle neighborhoods I’m frequenting I think the rewards are much higher than the risks. I’ll also present in this way at least to Shannon, Sandy, and the HRT staff/doctor.
As I drove further it occurred to me that the difference between fear and exhilaration is subtle. I was (and am) feeling exhilarated about taking these steps. It doesn’t hurt that I received a cute pair of sporty/feminine flats that fit perfectly yesterday from Amazon. Oh, that, and I got my ears pierced yesterday! I also bought a couple of pairs of earrings that I look forward to wearing.
But I still have doubts, fears, and uncertainties. My (ex) wife is planning to come to Seattle in mid-September for her HS class reunion and we’ve talked about getting together. But I am thinking that she will not want to see me when I tell her about my ear piercings, my hair styling, and maybe more.
So what sustains me? First and foremost, I can’t deny my history. I owe it to myself to play this out. I am so fearful that if I do not that one day, perhaps at the end of my life, I’ll have regrets. Second, my (ex) wife is suffering a lot these days. We talked recently and I learned that she is sad, depressed, and lost since I drove away two months ago. She gave up so much while also supporting me so lovingly; I feel that I must follow through. Sure, I cannot take responsibility for her emotions and I try not to but I feel a need to honor her sacrifice and support.
At this point all the steps I’m taking are either reversible or can be switched off at will, so that makes it easier. My hope and assumption is that as I take these steps that I will feel joy that confirms that I’m heading in the right direction, and that will help sustain me as I take further steps that are more permanent. I’m also comforted when I consider that Shannon, Sandy, and my friends, will be there for and with me all along the yellow brick road.
P.S. I’m reading “The Transgender Guidebook: Keys to a Successful Transition” by Anne Boedecker, PhD. It’s excellent, in the same class as Dara Hoffman-Fox’s “You and Your Gender Identity: A Guide to Discovery”.