I have never wanted a tattoo. Never had a piercing. Never dyed my hair. Plastic surgery has never been on my bucket list.
Why on Earth am I going through this transition? Where do I want to end up? Do I really want to be female? Am I technically female already? Why am I sure I am trans?
I will do my best to answer these questions and others as they pop up.
How do I know I am trans? I just do. Like I know I am alive. I first discovered I was trans at around 3 or 4 years old. I do not remember the exact moment, but it coincided with the time my brain developed to the point where I could understand the concept of males and females being different. I understood I was male and yet I understood that I did not identify as male.
This all happened before I ever felt a sexual urge, before I understood male privelage, before I started school. I am an only child and had limited opportunities to interact with girls my age. As far as I can recall, this was not a choice, it just was how my brain functioned.
How does a person become trans? There is limited science, so the theory I present may eventually be proved false. It does make sense to me though. Here goes…
People are not conceived trans, they develop into trans people in the womb. Every fetus begins as female, and through carefully timed hormonal releases, the mother sends chemicals that make the fetus develop a Y chromosome. An entirely different hormonal release determines the fetus’ mental gender.
A quick detour in order to discuss gender. Gender, as I use the term, is quite different from sex. Gender is mental. Sex is physical. A male can identify as a female in his mind, as gender is conceptual. For the same reason, society may see a woman, when really they are looking at a physical male… if they do not know this, it doesn’t matter. They see the gender they conceive. We have a gender and a sex, most people are congruent. Trans folks are not. My internal gender does not match my physical sex. Got it?
Back to the womb. As you have probably figured out, the theory is a mistimed hormone is all it takes. I was given the Y chromosome hormone, but the hormone that would have given me a male brain either came too early, too late, or not at all.
It is scientific fact that male and female brains are physically different. Female brains tend to have a larger language processing area, also, female brains have more connections between the left and right hemisphere. The female brain is generally better at multitasking, the male brain is better at focusing on one task at a time without distraction. This begins to explain why men often don’t understand why women like to talk so much, and why women often don’t understand why men like their peace and quiet. Forgive my over generalization. I am not a brain surgeon.
Anyway, studies have shown trans folks often have brains that more closely match the physical structure of the brain of the gender they identify. Some trans folk have more extreme differences in brain structure than others, but it is a safe bet my brain shares much in common with a cis female’s brain.
What is cis? Cis is a useful word when discussing trans topic. Someone who’s mental gender matches their physical sex is cis. Most people are cis, I am trans. Cis has nothing to do with sexuality. You can be straight, gay, lesbian, bi… etc, and still be cis.
On that note, you can be straight, gay, lesbian, bi… etc, and still be trans. But here is where it gets a little funky. I am either a straight man, or a lesbian trans woman. A gay man would be a straight woman.
So here is the $60,000 question. Why am I transitioning?
Well, I kind of ran out of options. The incongruity between brain and body has taken its toll. I have lived with the burden of a mental ailment. I am gender dysphoric. What is dysphoria? It is the opposite of euphoria.
Most every trans person has lived with gender dysphoria (GD). Being dysphoric is kind of my comfort zone as I have only known life with dysphoria. When I am happy, I am happy like most anyone else. When things do not go my way, my dysphoria can amplify the negative feelings. If I am depressed, I am not just depressed, I am also reminded that my brain does not match my body. This makes me and others like me particularly vulnerable to depression.
Recently, my alcoholism went from out of hand to extremely out of hand. Alcohol, being a depressant, made my general dysphoria much worse. I would drink to escape myself, and that in turn, caused me to destroy many friendships and almost cost me my marriage.
Over time, the dysphoric depression, boosted by alcohol, became suicidal depression. I really got to a point where I not only considered killing myself, it was actually the first thought I would have each day. I had convinced myself the world would be better without me. I started calling and contacting old friends I hadn’t talked to in ages. They didn’t know it but I was saying goodbye. One last conversation with those who were close to me.
This culminated in a visit to the emergency room to discuss my suicidal intentions, then an attempted suicide and finally another visit to a hospital, this time a night in a padded room.
Shortly after, I got some mental help from a psychiatrist, and I was given a prescription for an anti depressant. It really helped, but it did not cure my depression, it just took the edge off. It took the suicidal thoughts away. I was still prone to dysphoric bouts, but I was better equipped to handle them. I also, cut my drinking down to a moderate level (although the holidays gave me an excuse to go off the wagon for a bit).
My psychiatrist recommended I visit a particular psychologist, to discuss my gender dysphoria as my psychiatrist admittedly is not well versed in the subject.
I went online to research the psychologist but I could not find any info concerning him and trans or gender issues… so I called a LGBT center and asked them for a referral. They suggested my current psychologist, and after we talked on the phone, my psychologist suggest a general practitioner well versed in working with trans patients.
This is where things went really fast. I visited the psychologist one day. Two days later I saw the GP. The next day, I had my blood tested. A week later I went into the doctor to discuss the results of my blood test, and before I left, I had an estrogen shot in my arm, and a prescription for a testosterone blocker.
It really happened so fast, I was not emotionally prepared to begin, and yet I could not say, “No”. I figured I could quickly back out if it didn’t work for me. I gave myself two months as a trial term. I have one week to go before I reach the two month point.
Why two months? Because if I were to stop, my body would return to its former manly glory. More importantly, I would not become sterile. Eventually, if I continue HRT, I will become sterile and if breast development reaches a certain point, only reduction surgery will shrink them.
So why am I transitioning? I had always heard it was the only, “cure” for gender dysphoria… and while I had trouble believing that was true, curiosity got the best of me. Besides, I realized I would rather risk being seen as a freakish woman than a dead man.
And it works for me! It really does. I have not felt dysphoric since I began HRT. I have heard people describe GD as eternal PMS, and I will never know for certain. It seems like a useful comparison. I was remarkably moody, and downright mean to those closest to me. Alcohol only exaggerated these negative thoughts and feelings.
Now, I am discovering the person beneath all this drunken dysphoria and this person is neither male, nor female… this person is ME! I finally get to know me. And you know what? I like who I am, finally.
It is funny, that people associate me as a person with my being male, and as I transition towards female, they may think my personality has changed. In reality, my personality has been freed from unlimited depression and I am more myself now than most people, myself included, have ever known me to be.
It is really hard for most people to understand why cutting my testosterone and replacing it with estrogen works so well. The best example I have heard given in order for a cis person to wrap their heads around what it is like is this: Imagine cis folks, if I were to replace your hormones with those of the opposite gender. Most of you cringe at the thought. Well, that has been my entire life. My body has been producing the wrong hormones for my brain, and it has been a little slice of Hell being inside my own head and body.
How far do I intend to take this transition?
Believe it or not, I have no clue. I am not a particularly girly person, nor am I inspired to learn how to be one. I do enjoy expressing myself in a more feminine manor than most people have known me to express myself, but I really am happy to take things as they come.
As an actor, it is a great relief to no longer need to act like myself. I do not need to act male, and therefore I have no real desire to act female. I am content, at least for the time being, to just discover who I am now the cloud of testosterone has cleared.
I have no intent to present as anything but what people will see me as. If people see me as a man, why would I go to great lengths to present as uber femme? That would make people including me uncomfortable, and of course, there is always the bathroom issue. On the other hand, if I ever reach the point MTF trans folk call, “Male fail” why wouldn’t I present as female? Again, people would not see anything incongruous.
I am in no hurry for any type of surgery, and sexual reassignment is not a requirement of my transition, not now at least. Other common surgeries are breast augmentation (BA) and facial feminization surgery (FFS). Breast augmentation is pretty self explanatory. FFS includes brow reduction, chin reduction, jaw softening, Adam’s apple shave, nose job and hair plugs… not every MTF needs every surgery to look or feel female. For best results, it is often suggested that a trans person let the hormones do their work for a couple years before deciding on cosmetic surgery. Hormones can work magic in the subtlest of ways. Many MTF’s are blessed with a visit from the boob fairy, and a general softening of their facial features, even an hourglass figure. Over time, fat does redistribute, and the results vary from person to person.
The only cosmetic thing I know I will pursue is facial hair removal. Once you grow a man beard, it never stops growing until you zap it. Five o’clock shadow and razor burn on the neck are sure fire ways for people to recognize someone as male.
The other thing, is voice. It is possible to speak with a woman’s voice, but it does take a lot of practice. A convincing female voice tends to answer any question someone may have.
So… I think I have blogged enough for today. I covered some big topics. I hope you found it worth your time.