Roots

My wife requested I write this down and share it. It is embarrassing and complex, but I feel like writing it down may help put the final nails in my dysphoric coffin, without me inside. It might work, it might not, but I am ready to face this head on, even if my dignity takes a hit, because I think understanding and expressing the roots of my dysphoria puts me on a path that leads to the end of my dysphoria’s control over me.

I have talked to trans people who were able to put their dysphoria behind them.At times it feels like a pipe dream. At times it feels obtainable. I have more to lose if I don’t see how to work through this.

Because we are so close to its 15th anniversary, let me start in the middle, with September 11, 2001. I lived less than a mile away from the World Trade Center in Downtown Manhattan. My room had a direct view of the towers. It got two hours more sunlight each day after the towers fell because it was literally in their shadow. I was too close. I could see the jumpers without any magnification.

That day was the worst day, as you can imagine. And yet, it was a profoundly amazing day as well. It was glorious in one single way. It was such a profoundly tragic event, it caused a catharsis within me. I suddenly realized there were bigger problems in life than my dysphoria. 9/11 was so enormously overwhelming, it rebooted my brain and I lived for about three years without being a prisoner within my own, full blown, dysphoria.

I am not alone. Huge life altering events temporarily relieve dysphoria for many trans people. The birth of a child for example, or the death of a loved one.

I wouldn’t have found my wife, if it weren’t for 9/11 helping remove my head from my ass, albeit temporarily.

The dysphoria came back though. It came back with a vengeance. More than once, it has tried to kill me. It has come closer to killing me than those terrorists ever did.

And I am beyond ready to go down fighting. One of us needs to go, and if that means I have to tackle my dysphoria head on, and risk another crippling bout if I fail, then so be it.

I have learned that hormones too, keep my dysphoria at bay. And yet, I am just pulling out of a 6-8 month long dysphoric bout. One of the worst dysphoric bouts I have suffered.

I lost my insurance, doctor and access to medication for three months at the start of this year and that was all it took to succumb to yet another extended dysphoric bout. Having someone EXTREMELY close to me, hit me with overt and extended transphobic bigotry at the time sealed the deal. I got hit at my weakest point in years and the hit connected. And like that, I lost my ability to think critically and communicate logically for the better part of a year. Dysphoria is a mental illness. I am a lunatic when a bout takes control of me. It is like being a passenger in my own life. It is tragic, terrifying and crippling.

When I recover, I am able to begin the process of peeling the layers of the onion away, gaining control of my dysphoric triggers, and making myself stronger and less vulnerable to future bouts. This has become my life’s work.

And I always come back to one pivotal day. A day I wrote about at length in my post, A Woman’s Prerogative… but even then, I didn’t see the whole picture. In fact, until this blog, I have only been able to explain all the pieces logically ONE other time. That was earlier today to my wife, who immediately told me to write it all down and share it.

Until today, it had been a topic that was taboo around my home, for what should be obvious reasons, as it concerns my heartbreak over a lost love my wife never knew and could never fully understand. When you are still hung up over events surrounding rejection in a past relationship (and I use the term relationship lightly because it was only me, and an imaginary, emotional relationship with a woman who denied me at every opportunity), your wife is not the first person I suggest you consult.

Over the years, I have leaned heavily on friends who were there in the room on the day when dysphoria took over my life (until September 11, 2001 gave me some reprieve). Those friends aren’t very helpful because of my traditionally lackluster ability to explain things concerning this subject to them. They, understandably, get the impression that I am unwilling to let the past go. They don’t understand that I am doing about as well as I can do, by the time I have peeled the layers of the onion back to the point where once again, I can address that KEY moment in my life.

This story involves theatre, acting technique and whatnot, so at times I will have to teach you some extremely oversimplified bits and pieces of acting lessons (if you aren’t one of my countless actor friends) just so you can properly follow along. It is kind of entirely important.

The story begins around September of 1998, I had completed my BFA the year before and finally moved away from Utah to attend acting school at Circle in the Square, in Times Square NYC. An actor’s dream.

I was a hopelessly romantic, formerly fat, cockeyed optimist of a young man… very much still a virgin, and about 23 years of age at the time. My virginity was overwhelming. I knew I SUCKED at flirtation and asking people out. Why? Because I knew I was trans and really don’t have a dominant bone in my body. I had countless crushes, and failed attempts at even getting to square one with a woman. Nothing is less attractive than desperation. I was as good looking at the time as I have ever been, or ever will be again… but I didn’t know how to be a man near a woman. I wasn’t wired to work that way. It brought me immense shame. And I was extremely closeted and ashamed of being trans at the time, too.

Looking back, I think my shame of being a virgin may have been such an overwhelming thought that it helped keep my dysphoria at bay.

In Alan Langdon’s acting class, at the start of the school year, we did a quick first scene which he assigned us all, Harold Pinter’s, “Trouble in the Works”, which we all did a fairly poor job at performing… such was the difficulty of this delightfully funny and absurd script. Pinter makes Shakespeare look easy. I have grown to love Pinter and playing Pinter, perhaps more than any other English language playwright.

After that scene was done, we were told to pick a new scene and a new scene partner. I don’t remember how Elisabeth and I ended up together. I remember respecting her mind and thinking she was cute. I know we struggled a bit before settling on a scene from Clifford Odets’, “Golden Boy”. I knew little of the playwright, the script, or Brando’s performance of the role in the movie version.

We picked the scene and got to work.

Our teacher had already mentioned how music could open you to new emotions, as a tool to connect with the text, and my character, a boxer and violinist was ripe for music… in fact, in the scene’s stage directions, he whistled a tune I imagined to be an unnamed violin solo. So together with my scene partner, we went to the classical music section of the Times Square, Virgin Megastore and asked the salesman to suggest violin tunes for me to whistle. He highly suggested, Meditation from, “Thais”, a song that to this day, to me, represents everything beautiful in this world. Go ahead and give it a listen. This blog will still be here when you are done.

See? Gorgeous. It may be perfection.

So, I recorded the song to a cassette tape and had it on my Walkman on eternal repeat. It became my routine. New York City baby! With the most beautiful song as its soundtrack. Focusing on a character so madly in love with a woman, a mobster’s moll, he wins her heart, against all odds, and they drive away to escape together as young lovers. Only to die offstage, in a car wreck. It is an interesting, more contemporary spin on, the classic, “Romeo and Juliet” themes.

Through all this, and it didn’t happen all at once, I found myself falling in love with Elisabeth. I had been in love before, but like they say, this was different. It was love on steroids. I don’t know if I have ever felt anything as wonderful as being in love, and not telling her. Just feeling the love. And the song on my Walkman. And being young, optimistic, and studying acting in NYC. It was everything an artist dreams of.

The day of the scene came, and I remember leaning over to my teacher, Alan, and asking him, “Is it common for an actor to feel in real life what their character is supposed to feel onstage?”

He was obviously surprised by my question because, I suspect looking back at it, I had kind of cut through the two years off classes he was going to teach us and somehow just cut to his entire thesis. His reply was starkly haunting in tone, like an old man passing on his wisdom. “It is uncanny.”, was all he had to say in return. Not only was it common. It was uncanny.

I was shaking uncontrollably by the time it was our turn to finally do our scene for the class. My love for her was physically impossible to contain. To others it looked like fear. To me, it was adrenaline. I knew we had to finish this scene before I could finally tell my partner how I felt about her. I wasn’t going to ruin our scene by telling her before we were done. I could not wait.

We did the scene. It was ok.

I don’t have the clearest memories of her first, second, third, fourth, fifth… etc. rejections. She was gentle, at least at first, with a logical, “We shouldn’t date people in our own class.”

Perhaps, it was my being fed up with being a failure at love and an eternal virgin. I don’t know. But I just could not accept that rejection. I didn’t believe rejection was even an option when my love for her was so loud and so clear.

I didn’t go full stalker, although I did come close.

I know. When a woman says, “No.”, a man is supposed to respect that. I wasn’t unwilling to accept it, I was entirely unable.

Around that time, my assigned mentor who was a year ahead of me in school, asked what scene I was working on in Alan’s class. I told him and he almost went white. “You better remember your lines. Once Terry finds out you worked on that scene, she will never stop making you do it for the rest of your days at Circle.”

Theresa Hayden was the elder stateswoman of the school. She taught method acting. She did her early work with The Group Theatre. At the time, she was nearly eighty, and had a world hardened wisdom about her. Eyes that could see through your bullshit and a mouth that would call you on it. I saw more people reduced to puddles of tears and fits of rage in her class than perhaps in all the other acting classes I have taken combined.

I was always absolutely terrified she would just see I was trans and call me on it. Outing me in front of the class.

And of course, one day in her class she asked, “Has anyone worked on some Odets?” and reluctantly, Elisabeth and I raised our hands… and we were sent up to do our scene. It was torture.

We did our scene for Terry a total of three times that year. The second time was the doozy.

Months has passed since Elisabeth’s rejection. Looking back, that was about as close as I ever got to letting go of it while in school. And once again, we were asked to do the fucking, “Golden Boy” scene.

Midway through the scene, I forgot all my lines.

This particular exercise in scene work in Terry’s class was a demonstration of retaining memorized lines for months at a time, even years. In part, it served to show us that we could retain text over long periods of time by remembering our emotional state from prior times we worked on it. It sounds crazy, and it also, works.

Terry recognized my lapse in memory for what it was and asked me why I was holding back. I panicked, lost, I burst into tears and said, “Because I love her, and she doesn’t love me.”

Oh how young and stupid I was.

Obviously Elisabeth was PISSED to be dragged into my troubles like that. Outed to everyone as a person who had rejected my advances.

And I realize now, that WASN’T even why I was blocked from remembering my lines during our scene. I was blocked because I knew getting up there together would only make me feel my love for her again in front of others and I was already well passed ashamed of it. Trying to move on. My love for her over all this time had just continued to grow and grow, like a malignant cancer. What was once just blossoming, New York, youthful infatuation with someone cute had grown into something so grotesque, even I knew it wasn’t right.

By the time my love for Elisabeth had peaked, it was nearing the size and scope of the boy in, “Equis'” love for horses. Not only did I want to be with Elisabeth, I wanted to BE her, body, mind and soul. I wanted to give up my life for hers.

See? Fucking nuts. Even for a trans person. That is not sane. I mean, it isn’t uncommon for a trans woman to covet their partner’s say, boobs, ovaries and vagina… but to want to BE them, body, mind and soul? That is not common, even for us slightly weird trans folk. I was losing touch with reality, and because only I can see my own thoughts, and this was entirely new, I had no way to know something was off. I thought it was just that first love and heartbreak thing almost everyone else goes through too. I thought, because I was an old virgin, that was why it hurt me more than the average person. I was wrong. I was going insane, and having to resurrect this scene and the feelings that surrounded performing it, it was the perfect storm.

And that day, right there in Terry’s class, in front of everyone, full blown dysphoria took over my life. That is precisely when it took control.

After that event, I auditioned for other schools trying to work out a way to transfer and get away from Elisabeth for the both of us. No school would have me. I wore my dysphoria on my sleeve in those auditions and professors knew at a glance I was damaged goods. Not ready for prime time. Not like I had been the year before.

The following year, Elisabeth and I were moved into different classes for what I can only assume was to protect her from me… which helped in some ways and hurt in others because I knew I was to blame. If only I had kept my love to myself, perhaps it would not have turned into this uncontrollable cancer. It limited our time together, but it was unavoidable that we would work together at times. Dance class. Plays. Shit we could not control.

And the cancerous love I felt for her continued to grow in part because I could not cut her from my life. I knew I had to let her go, and my friends were constantly there reminding me to let her go, like an Idina Menzel chorus from a animated Disney feature. Like I didn’t understand that simple fact, like I hadn’t already tried to let her go, or at least get away from her. It was around then, for the first time in my life, I started to feel suicidal on occasion. Suicide could kill the cancer.

I know this is a story about me, but please, if you haven’t already, acknowledge how cruel and unfair this all was to Elisabeth. A brilliant, talented person with the magnetism of a movie star. A young woman, in the prime of her adulthood just trying to live the dream like everyone else. I see it now. I understand. She had NO need for me and my cancer in her life. She was being smart. She was protecting herself from me. Imagine how terrifying I must have been to her.

At the time, I didn’t know about dysphoria. I have since become quite the expert. At the time, I was undiagnosed and out of control. By the end of my tenure at Circle, I was a suicidal, chain smoking, cocaine addict. Anything I could do to escape the cancerous love. The harder I tried, the more impossible it became.

These 17 or so years later, I ask myself what should I have said on that day in Terry Hayden’s class and the answer that comes to me is entirely different from the one I gave. It wasn’t about Elisabeth. It was my virginal dysphoria twisting a wonderful feeling like love into something grotesque and frightening.

Wanting to be someone, body, mind and soul? That is fucking textbook insanity. Before it came out, front and center, my dysphoria was already destroying my ability to feel regular human emotions like love correctly.

When Terry asked me why I was holding back, my real reason was, “I am trans, and hiding it and not talking about it is driving me insane. I am not thinking clearly. It terrifies me.” I still would have broken down in tears. The class still would have seen what looked like a miraculous acting breakthrough. And seventeen or so years ago, I would have started my path to transition, skipping the endless suffering. I could have had girl friends instead of just trying and failing to get a girlfriend. Woulda, coulda shoulda…

Instead, I blamed love, and dragged an unwilling partner down with me. Trying to steal her away from the mob so we could drive away to somewhere safe. And in a way, it resulted in my death. “It is uncanny.” Yes Alan, it is.

If you don’t leave it on the stage, the emotions you should have released can follow you everywhere else you go.

That is the Method. That is part of the reason why method actors can seem so devoutly religious about their craft. It is partly why they can be so reverent towards their teachers.  It is like a tangible form of magic and it happens every single time you act, if you do it right. All you do is follow the Method.

Not me though. On that day in Terry’s class, I stopped being able to Method act. I mean, I still have access to it, but it is not the first tool I consciously reach for. It became too hot. Too near. Too painful. And I didn’t know HOW to always leave all that on the stage. How could I?Hell, I am only just now learning how to put this into words that I think most people will begin to understand.

So, of course, by the end of my schooling I had things like cocaine addiction to peel off my onion, slowly, meticulously, removing the layers of dysphoric damage so I can get to the root of it all.

And the root of it all, was that day in Terry’s class.

Now, imagine you’re my wife, and I start talking about this one time when I tragically loved another woman, and how that experience haunts me to this day. How would you feel?

Imagine you are one of my former classmates and I hit you up with a drunken Facebook messenger diatribe about that time in Terry’s class. Wouldn’t you want to continue keeping Elisabeth as far away from me as possible? Keep her safe from me?

In Terry’s acting class, when she addressed the oh so notorious, emotional recall, that oft misunderstood, bread and butter of Strasberg’s acting Method, she always said we need to give peak emotional experiences a full seven years before they would be reliably useful for us on stage. It sounded odd at the time but with age comes wisdom. With age and time, comes acceptance. Until you can accept a past peak emotional event, it is almost useless. A fresh memory, if used to say, help you connect emotionally with the text, may not be reliable tomorrow. Why? Because using a fresh memory helps you work through it, thus changing your interpretation of it. It changes how the memory impacts you. Also, a new memory can be too hot, prompting uncontrollable and unpredictable emotional outbursts that cripple your ability to retain control on stage.

By now, I know seven years is an arbitrary, average number. By now, I can feel when a past event is ready to be used for acting. It has to do with assimilation, understanding and acceptance. You have to get past it before you can reliably come back to it.

When we did our emotional recall project in Terry’s class, I struggled to come up with one single seven year old, peak emotional experience. I had to use my grandfather’s death, which was closer to six years old at the time. Such was my privileged and sheltered upbringing in Utah.

Well over seven years after 9/11, for example, I know the memory. I know how it makes me feel. It is not particularly useful as an actor, because it is not full of the emotions you would expect it to be full of. Again, for me, it was a release from dysphoria. A catharsis. Something I have learned is quite common for people in war zones. Since you aren’t dead, you feel more alive than ever. Odd. Unexpected. And there it is now, properly aged and ready for use.

Fresh memories can be triggers. You know what I mean? You are suddenly put right back into the emotions of a situation without any control.

Those 7 year old memories are reliable. They mature like a good Scotch. They don’t trigger uncontrollable emotions. They are accepted fact. The emotions they bring up can be used by an artist to help put that emotion to voice and text.

Actors reading this, if you have not studied Strasberg, in many ways it is an alternative to vocal technique. Vocal technique is incredibly useful and in ways, far more specific than Strasberg’s method alone, and also, far more technically difficult because you are not substituting your own life experience for your character’s, you are easing some of the most tense muscles in your body to allow emotions to flow freely through your voice and out, to the audience.

But some things are just archetypal. Like a first kiss. EVERYONE’S first willing kiss shares the firstness and the kissness in common. You know? There is something universal about a first kiss.

The Method can be SUPER efficient, and it can really help with fast paced projects like auditions and film shoots. In a play, when used expertly, it connects an audience with the actor in a way only method actors like Brando in his prime, or Phillip Seymour Hoffman whilst alive, could pull off.

So WHY, after seventeen or so years, do I keep going back to this day in Terry’s class? Why has it continued to trigger me for so much longer than seven years?

Simple. It is the root of my dysphoria and I can only process it properly when I am not fully dysphoric. I have not had seven years of non dysphoric time to process the root of my dysphoria.

I keep being drawn to it, like a moth to a flame. My friends who were in class that day must think I am playing with fire. My wife, for years, thought she was competing with my ideal, lost love. It almost ruined our marriage. It has ruined several friendships.

Over the years, I have attempted to contact Elisabeth myself, only to be met with blockades that only things like an ocean between us and a Facebook block feature can provide.

What people don’t realize, and I am just coming to terms with it myself, is I can only process that day, my single most peak emotional experience, in a class ironically intent on teaching us to use our peak emotional experiences onstage, when I have cleared all the other outer layers of my dysphoric onion. My time to process this root of my dysphoria can be fleeting. All the time, I am growing new layers of my onion, and they are trying to cover the core root.

The way I see it, I have had about six years of non dysphoric time, a few years after 9/11, a few years after starting hormones and the occasional, engaging acting gig. The right project always makes my dysphoria go away until completion.

And finally, I am starting to put this whole mess together. Finally I am understanding it and coming to terms. Finally, I accept it.

When I say Elisabeth’s name to people who knew me at the time, and when I say it to my wife, I can feel the immediate sigh. I feel it before I see it or hear it. They think I am still responding to her rejection and trying to win her back.

No. At first, I too thought it was that, and God knows I did keep trying to win her back, long after the fifty seventh rejection. I eventually came to terms with that. Years ago. Before I started transition. I get it. I accept it. I have, much to my own surprise, moved on. And I feel terrible for dragging her unwillingly into all of this.

I am TRYING to confront and process that time in my life so it fades away, like peak emotional experiences do. When it does, I theorize I will have creative control over my dysphoria and it will no longer control me.

Time IS of the essence here. Eventually, if I keep falling into dysphoric bouts, the dysphoria WILL win. My perfect survival record will not hold through many more of them.

And I am so close to processing this all emotionally. I mean, here I have explained it clearly to people who aren’t necessarily lunatics, trans folk or actors. Something I was incapable of doing just last night.

About last night. Fuck. I contacted a friend and asked her to contact Elisabeth on my behalf. She freaked the fuck out. I freaked the fuck out. I got drunk. Classic.

I have addressed my addiction to the point where often, I talk about it in the past tense, but I am still prone to the occasional alcoholic binge. I know how I get. It is ugly. Not mean. Not in a Hulk-y way. I just don’t quit. I keep beating my points over and over with a relentless rhythm. And usually, I sober up eventually and feel ashamed.

This time I sobered up to an epiphany. I explained everything to my wife and she finally understood. It was never about Elisabeth. She was an innocent victim of my undiagnosed dysphoria before I had a modicum of understanding as to what I was dealing with. She was the first in a long line of victims just for being too close to dysphoric me. She was more than just in the room where it happened. I dragged her in and even blamed her for it. I shamed her for it. I moped around, making sure everyone knew how sad I was because of her rejection.

I blamed my teachers too. Lashed out at them. Blamed the Method.

And yes, I even blamed myself, which for some reason never rang entirely true although it is entirely my fault.

It was the early signs of dysphoria. When my love went beyond regular love and became some illogical, fantastical obsession. And then, it was full blown, undiagnosed, bat shit crazy dysphoria. Something nobody knowing what they knew then could have prevented. Not me. Not my teachers. Not Elisabeth.

So, here I am.

This is me.

Dysphoria is my psychosis.

Today, I am not dysphoric. So I have to drop everything and write this all down. It is that urgent. It is that important. I need to know this makes some kind of sense to others before I can trust it to assimilate into my collection of past, peak emotional responses. It has to add up. It has to make sense, otherwise it takes longer to come to terms with. I need the memory to fully mature. I need to conquer the triggering effect it has had on my life. I have to understand what tangibly happened on that day in Theresa Hayden’s classroom.

My fear of suicide has caused me to take drastic measures like growing boobs… and another drastic measure, recently asking a friend to reach out to Elisabeth on my behalf. To tell her I understand what I did. That I never stopped searching for the roots of the problem and that I think I almost have it conquered. I asked to see if Elisabeth could finally reach out to me. Something I had stayed away from for quite some time, because I know the harm it has done in the past. I just think some sort of acknowledgement from her would help put this behind me. Just a smoke signal. An aknowledgment that we are now 40 and in different places with our lives. A sort of totem.

I know what dysphoria can do now. I know it will kill me if I don’t kill it first. It makes me want to move fast when I am able to see the root of the onion.

But that desire to see some

kind of a sign from her, once again, in my own special way, negates her fucking right to say, “NO!”

I see her name pop up on Facebook on occasion, unbolded, because she has blocked me from ever talking to her again. And it crushes me. It reminds me of all the damage I did to her.

I see how our old class dispersed in a way none of my other theatre classes did. And I feel like I broke the fucking wheel. I feel like I broke our ensemble. I broke the circle.

I didn’t rape her. I never hit her. I didn’t stalk her. I came very close to what you would call stalking, but I never followed her or went places I was not invited.

What I did was negate her right to say, “NO!”

And behind rape and stalking, right behind them in fact, is that. A woman gets to say, “NO!” No questions asked.

I didn’t realize at the time how my actions, all masculinely douchey, and frightening have been like for her and those closest to both of us.

To me, I was a submissive trans person in crisis and with a broken heart. To me SHE had all the power.

To her? I had to be one of the WORST men.

I do want a chance to connect with her. To tell her I am still working on it. To tell her I am so close to being through this I can taste it. That I am on mile 25 of the marathon. That I am exhausted. And that my love for her, not the gross kind, the real kind, has evolved, deepened, ripened and matured. It has helped me keep pressing through at times when I couldn’t do it alone, because I don’t want to hurt anyone again like I hurt her. That I have learned and still am learning from all this mess.

And I get it. It probably won’t happen. Nobody has more claim to their rights and reasons to avoid me. Nobody I have ever known. And it all happened because I loved her madly. Literally. Madly.

It may take longer without her acceptance than it would with it, and I have tangible reasons to fucking need to move this process through as quickly as possible before another layer of onion grows and I must peal it off yet again to get back to the root of the issue.

And…

I have to respect her right to her, “NO!”

I hope this sheds some light on why I have been so fucking slow to work through this and why I must keep going back. It is the keys to creative control over my dysphoria. I have to play with fire, because if I don’t while I can, it will consume me. The same thing that prevents me from putting my essence, my soul into my acting, is also what wants me dead. It is me or the dysphoria. I am fucking done sharing my life with my dysphoria, and having to take responsibility for all the terrible things I have done whilst batshit crazy, or recovering from an extended bout of being batshit crazy, that fucking sucks. It is like taking the fall for your evil twin.

Much gratitude to my wife, because she patiently listened to and understood this all for the first time today, once I finally was able to provide a logical context for her, and she showed me the importance of writing it all down and sharing it with others. Being able to explain it is a HUGE step in coming to terms with it. Thank you, Shmoopy.

Elisabeth, wherever you are, I am deeply sorry.

Aloha,
Tori

One of the Guys

I hated being a guy but sometimes I miss being one of the guys.

I was talking to a friend who is also transitioning and the discussion moved towards how our relationships with others have changed. It mostly was about our male friends. Our experiences are quite similar. We are relating better with women than men. Men are becoming harder and harder to figure out in spite of all our experience in men’s shoes.

My relationships with most men have changed vastly. Only a very few have remained much as they were before.

One close friend told me a few weeks ago that I had changed. I am like a different person now.

The discussion that followed really shook me to the core.

He was speaking honestly and from the heart. He was not being mean. All the same, it seemed like a mark of the end of our relationship. I hope it isn’t.

But shit, I have been in transition for over a year and a half now. All the while, I have been the star of my own movie. I guess I had moved past worrying about the impact my transition has on people who are close to me. This reminded me that it is a bit of an adjustment for everyone.

To me, I feel like I have changed very little. That may come as a surprise. But, I started transition with the same consciousness I have today. Whatever it is that makes me a unique and living human was never rebooted with a brand new operating system. My brain is still my brain. I started transition as me. I remain me.

Transition is SLOW. I always say it can be like watching paint dry. Perhaps my personality has changed far more than I had thought.

I think there is more to it though. Other people’s perception also plays a HUGE role. To some people, TOLERANT people, simply viewing me as a woman or a trans woman completely changes how they feel they should relate to me.

Obviously, men tend to treat women differently than they treat other men. Men, usually heterosexual, commonly avoid friendships with women. The friend zone is a bad thing according to most men. Femininity holds far less value In male circles, and women are easily ignored or talked over. The whole dynamic is different.

Then, there are the guys who have become flirtatious. What a bizarre, confusing form of flattery to someone like me who is not used to it. Many men though, only know how to communicate to women through flirtation. It rarely means anything besides the person likes me and is trying to express it.

There is just a general distancing that has evolved over time. I am far from the only trans woman who has experienced this.

The longer men have to wrap their head around my transition, the less they see me as one of the guys. They forget what it was like to hang out with me. They replace these memories with new thoughts of me being a trans female.

My relations with women have evolved too. These differences were far quicker for me to notice.

Many trans women talk about how women start behaving differently around them shortly after starting hormone replacement therapy. It just becomes easier to talk with women within a few weeks, even for those trans women who have not come out.

Obviously, part of that is the hormones. Hormones are like drugs. Men and women are all stoned out of their gourds, they are just high on different substances. Thinking whilst high on estrogen has to effect how a person interprets other people on estrogen.

The next thing is pretty cool. I think it is partly pheromonal. One of the first things to change on hormones is how you smell. That musky to foul male scent I could not always shake was replaced with something far more mild and female. I do not smell male anymore and I suspect that really changed how women act around me. Why do I think this is the case? Because before I came out but shortly after starting hormones, female strangers, female cashiers… etc. started talking to me. Just small talk. It started happening far more frequently than it did before

Finally, my sex drive plummeted in those first weeks on hormones, so I was more likely to communicate with women without that awkwardness of wanting to check out her tits while knowing I shouldn’t.

By the time I came out, I was already relating differently to females and they were relating differently to me. This has only become deeper since then, to the point where I now think I understand the women I talk to better than the men.

The main thing I think coming out did, was it showed women how I too embraced my feminine side. I did not think less of women, like many men seem to. We were on the same team.

So, back to my friend who thinks I have changed, and I am almost a different person. I guess I have changed. I guess I am like a different person. I guess he is right. I don’t know if things will or ever can return to how they used to be. I don’t know if I want them to.

All I know is, I still do occasionally miss being one of the guys… but I love transition.

Aloha,
Tori

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Homosexuals vs. Trans

Being accepted as trans can be a struggle, even amongst the LGBT community. Much of it is rooted in miscommunication and misunderstanding. It is ironic how much understanding transition brings me, at the cost of others failing to understand me as a trans woman.

It really does not matter if you are in a minority or in the majority, bullying begets bullying, and trans folk fall so low on the discriminatory totem pole, there are not many people left to bully but our own self. Walk a mile in my heels and you will understand, I am sure. Then again, I bet most of you know better, because society has already told you what the general consensus happens to be when it comes to trans folk like me.

For my own safety, I have begrudgingly lumbered like a bull dyke back into my China closet. I HATE it, but I am insolvent, unemployed, and I do not know enough about the community I have moved to, to go in guns a blazin’, and paint the town trans. Fortunately my head is in a good place, so the need to hide myself externally is not overwhelming my ability to be myself internally. I guess guy clothes are like my burka right now.

I hate it. I have made so much progress this last year, only to be set back like this, and there is nothing I can really do about it right now. I have to bide my time and hide my shame.

Now, several people have told me, “Nobody is stopping you.” including my wife. I appreciate what they are saying and I appreciate the support.

I am just learning to trust my female intuition and it tells me this is neither the time nor the place to be flamboyant with my transition. I am stuck here, out of necessity, and by God, it better be short term.

I overheard a conversation last night where a guy was talking about how he’d recently been hit on by a gay man. Everybody with him rolled their eyes in understanding. He went on to say the gay guy came up to him like, “‘Hi-ee, what are YOU doing here?'” in a stereotypically effeminate voice, “So, I set him straight.” he went on to say.

My first thought was, “Well, I doubt you set him STRAIGHT.” and my next, “What does that even mean? Set him straight? Did you reject him or beat the shit out of him?” then, “Does this gap-toothed douche-nozzle even know the difference between being hit on, and someone just trying to spark a conversation?” and finally, “Is he just saying this because I am near, and he can tell I do not fit the norm?”

Intuition.

The need for men to be masculine here, is ingrained in the culture.

I heard similar things in Hawaii, but only rarely and typically in hushed tones. Here, that type of thinking gets socially reinforced by folks all the time, to the point where gays stay underground, and still there are pricks so insecure in their masculinity, that they have to prove how un-gay they are by telling stupid stories like that one. I mean, how dare that gay guy even talk to him!?!

And I realize, homosexual people frequently disregard trans folk while trans folk are left looking up to them on the fucking discrimination totem pole. It is time to say the obligatory, “Not all homosexuals.” I have SO many supportive people in my life and many of them are so far from straight, they look like a spiral.

I also realize, within this group that guy was telling his story to, was one very good looking female. Sure, I could see her agreeing with him, at least externally, but I imagined she was also thinking, “Get over it, dude. I get unwanted advances all the time and I have to navigate them without being seen as a total bitch!”

But yeah, in past posts, including one about the TERFS (trans exclusionary radical feminists) and another about the use of the word, “Tranny” in gay circles, I have already explored how there are some very vocal groups within the homosexual community who are happy to keep trans people below them. Bullying begets bullying.

In spite of all this horse shit, I am discovering something. Unlike that homophobic turd, I am finally and totally secure in my own masculinity. I guess that is an unexpected perk of finally embracing my true femininity. It is a luxury most men, including many gay men, may never have.

Aloha,
Tori

Boobs 3: Super Size Me

My posts about boobs have received the most hits of anything I have published on this blog, so like Hollywood, I figure I’ll cash in and make another sequel.

Before transition, I read many blogs and watched a number of v-logs about transition, and I confess, I was not that interested in what they had to say about life or politics, no matter how much I liked the person making the posts, I wanted to hear about their transition. I wanted to chart their results with hormones. Emotional changes also fascinated me.

Now, I am on the other side. I am transitioning and blogging all about it. I have touched upon all those subjects already, but perhaps it is time to return to them. It is harder to do now.

The fact is, like so many trans bloggers before me, my transition has become my normal life. It has lost much of its new car smell.

So, like those bloggers that have come before me, I have been making the types of posts lately that never really interested me when I was researching transition. I have many types of audiences, many of the people who read this blog are trans, and I have to imagine a large percentage of them are wondering if they should transition and what it feels like.

The profound changes of my first six months have slowed. They have not stopped. Not at all. They have slowed though. Some changes feel like they are done. I feel emotionally female now. That took nine months or so to develop but now I feel like I am there. Now I just have to learn to deal with these emotions which is a skill set I never needed before. I have said it before, but I am saying it again: I now understand why teenage girls are batshit crazy. Those emotions come on fast, and it takes many years of experience to learn how to process them all.

I sometimes argue with my wife before pausing, pointing at myself and saying, “Oh yeah, I am a teenager.” It is something we both forget from time to time, and often it is the only reason we are arguing about something. I am suddenly immature, at least emotionally.

Other changes are just really slow. My body keeps softening, my body hair is reducing and lots of other stuff. Really though, once I noticed it happening, the excitement faded quickly. My body still feels like my body. My mind has time to adjust to these changes as they happen. Every few months I notice how far I have come. Recently I have seen my waist size reducing, or perhaps it is the areas above and below my waist getting bigger, or both. Nevertheless, it was an example of a realization that a LOT has gradually changed and I hadn’t even noticed.

When I look at the fur I could grow on my arms and legs pre transition, I feel like I am looking at someone else. But inside my head, I just feel like me. I don’t really know what I expected, but I guess I thought it would feel different, so drastically different I would feel like a new person. I don’t. I feel like me. I feel more like me than perhaps ever before. It is a wonderful thing. It assures me that transition is a net positive but, in hindsight, it is not as exciting or adventurous as I thought it would feel. Part of me thought I would become someone else. To put it into theatre terminology, I was assigned the role of male at birth, and now I am playing a new role, a female role, but I am the same actor.

I can hardly remember what it felt like before hormone replacement therapy. I don’t wake up in the morning, shocked that I have changed so drastically. Those of you that have gained and/or lost a bunch of weight can probably relate to what I am talking about here. It is gradual, and almost impossible to notice from day to day.

And then, there are my boobs. Holy moly! They are noticeable. Every day. Every hour. I keep having the same thought, “Holy shit! I have tits!” When I wake in the morning, “Yup. Still got boobs.” When I go to bed, “My ladies are cold. I should probably cuddle them to sleep with my warm arms.” When I run, “Ow! Not wearing the right bra.” When I sit too quickly, “Ow! Not wearing the right bra.” When I jump, “Ow! Not wearing the right bra.” When I am wearing the right bra, “I can’t wait to take this fucking torture device off!” When I accidentally brush a nipple in a public place, “Ooooh, that was nice, should I do it again? Wait. Did anybody notice? Fuck I am nipping out! Stop it ladies!”

Speaking of nipples. They keep growing and getting more and more erogenous. I still can’t quite describe the feeling. It is sort of like feeling cold, but just on your nipple, but the cold feeling is wonderful and other feelings radiate outward to interesting places.

I had often heard that trans women could expect to have a cup size that was roughly one size smaller than their mother. It is true that trans women often have smallish breasts, but after some research, it seems that is more because most of us transition after puberty and already have our male frames. We are generally taller and have wider torsos.

Boob size is genetic and you have to look at BOTH sides of the family, and not just mom and dad. Sisters, aunts, cousins, grandmas. That may give you a rough estimate of what to expect, but even then, it is just the luck of the draw on top of it all. And again, genetic females tend to have smaller frames which can cause their breasts to appear bigger than a comparably endowed trans woman’s.

Recently, trans children are being put on puberty blocking medication if their parents allow it, and they are able to go through puberty when they start hormone therapy without having the residual effects of another puberty. Trans men grow tall and wide, trans women get their hips and small shoulders and remain shorter in general.

So, yes, a B cup on a 6′ 1″ trans woman with wide shoulders will be harder to notice than if they were 5′ 2″ with the proper proportions. They are still B cup breasts.

Well, sigh… at last measurement, I am a 38 D and still growing. On my 5′ 7″ frame, I have knockers and they are obvious.

They are pretty much impossible to hide if I want to hide them and sometimes I do. I present androgynously most of the time just so I don’t have to deal with the hassles of trans shaming in public, and while I am gendered male most of the time in those situations, I am getting used to strangers talking to my chest with a slightly confused look on their face.

In Montana, strangers are generally nicer to me when they think I am andro than when they think I am a trans woman, even when I have obvious breasts. Small town people are funny.

On a side note, one major thing I have noticed after moving here and presenting this way most of the time is the lack of female conversation. I was starting to feel at home with my female friends in Hawaii, but as long as I am seen as a straight male, women behave differently around me.

I certainly understand. Here, it gets drunk early, and the frequently intoxicated men will talk to anyone, male or female, and tell them what they think. There is a danger in the air. Most of it is just youthful hooliganism. It is clear though, that you have to be careful around here. It is more socially acceptable to mistreat women in public here than where I was. I have seen the occasional lesbian couple but gays are noticeably absent, at least so far. Basically, my desire to present as my female self does not trump my need for safety as I learn the unique quirks of the place we now live. It will not become our permanent residence. I can probably wait it out, or at least learn the ropes of this town before I out myself.

Back to boobs. Wow! They are no joke. The funny thing is, they are a big deal and no big deal at the same time. They really just sit there all fatty and squishy. They are not on my mind ALL the time, but when they are, they are just SO quintessentially female. I can’t deny it. Others can’t deny it.

They are boobs. They have milk glands. They have leaked before. I could nurse if I had the right hormones running through me, and some trans women do this to ween their children, which I am sure weirds some of you readers out but really, when you think about it, that is just using boobs for what they are there to be used for. Trans breast milk is just breast milk.

To be fair, the leakage I experienced was not exactly milk, but rather, a common discharge from my developing glands and ducts. It was cool and surreal. I could probably still make it happen if I squeezed one hard enough, but they are now so large and soft it HURTS too much. Also, I have been warned by other trans women not to get in the habit of making them leak or they will just learn to keep leaking and that could get embarrassing.

Here’s something to ponder: Growing boobs HURT. They don’t hurt ALL the time, but any kind of pressure on them will bring pain. Hugs can hurt. Bumping into things hurts. Sleeping on my belly hurts.

The pain typically means they are growing. I have talked to many cis women who say their breasts hurt as they developed, and several who said theirs did not. Trans women seem to be MUCH more likely to experience growing pains in their breasts. I wonder why. Does having a male chest for all those years lead to extra breast pain during development?

I have noticed that when I am running low on estrogen and need a new shot, the pain greatly reduces only to return again a day or two after the shot.

Some women say the pain never really goes away but most say it fades quite a bit after they have reached their mature size. In other words, the pain means they are still growing. There is something oddly comforting about that, but then again, at this point, it is also frightening.

I used to worry if the pain left for a few days, “Oh no! Is that it? Are they done growing?” Now, well, they can stop growing, thanks. I am at the size where I can see them becoming quite an annoyance if they don’t settle down soon. At the same time, I am vain enough to think, “Well, one more cup size would be nice.” Really though, I am starting to understand why well endowed women complain so much about their breasts, the weight, the looks, the way people treat them because of their hooters. It is quite humbling to be on the precipice of joining the big breasted club. It was humbling when modestly endowed cis women started complaining that my breasts were larger than theirs. I still have a fairly large belly and yet, my boobs stick out more. The width of my torso causes my breasts to rest a bit more to the sides than most women’s. Besides that, they are really looking like normal boobs now.

My wife recently took a picture of them (it was deleted immediately after I saw it, no pics for you) because she wanted me to see them from her angle. All I can say is, “Wow!” I had no idea. They really do look different from the fixed perspective of my head. From her perspective, they were unmistakably what they are. Boobs.

I see them in my shadow, altering how I look. I see them in the mirror although I am almost always standing and facing myself which makes them look less three dimensional.

I have boobs. This fact is changing my life. I am surprised at how much it does.

I always said, I didn’t care what size I got. I would not get a breast augmentation surgery because I feared I would lose sensation, a fear I have with gender reassignment surgery too, but I am still leaning towards having that part done. Boobs are real and female. My penis does not have that authenticity, not to me. I just never thought I would be on the cusp of breast reduction surgery, if I needed to have them surgically augmented.

I ended up in a bit of an argument at a trans online forum when I told them my cup size was a D at 12 months. One of the trans ladies did not believe me. Refused to believe me. She swore it was not medically possible. Not only is it possible, it happened to me! Full disclosure, I still prefer C cup bras because I fill them more symmetrically but the measurements (both my wife and a professional) read D or slightly larger.

I made a comment about my breasts last night to my wife and she said to me something like, “I really didn’t pay as much attention to my development.” I found this very interesting and enlightening. I guess to her, growing boobs was just expected. Inevitable. Perhaps a rite of passage. They are more to me. They are a miracle. I spent too much of my life thinking they could never happen. Not without magic. Now I have them. They are real, they are spectacular, and they ain’t done yet.

Aloha,
Tori

To Be, Or Not To Be

The holidays were full this year. My wife and I have been moving back to the mainland, and spending time with family which, considering the current temperature outside, means this blog may eventually need a new title. We ain’t in paradise no more.

But that story is for another day’s blog post. Today, I wish to talk about the news of Leelah Alcorn, a young trans* teenager who took her life and left a suicide note online blaming her family’s lack of support for her decision.

The trans* community is up in arms right now, in part, because some of Leelah’s last words implored that we make sure her life and death had meaning. The note she wrote hit close to home for many transitioners including myself, as we know what it is like to feel suicidal. People always say suicide is a selfish act. I used to agree. Now, I understand it is often an act of hopelessness and even selflessness. When you feel your existence is the root of everybody else’s problems, suicide can seem like a helpful, valid, and even gracious option. Remove your own life, you remove everyone’s troubles. That is how it can feel when you are in the middle of a suicidal bout.

Then, Leelah’s grieving mother made a Facebook post announcing the death of her child and all Hell broke loose. The mother called Leelah by her male name and used male pronouns through the announcement, and the trans* community went apeshit. Some of the reasoning for getting upset was sound. Leelah’s parents did send their child to conversion therapy so she could learn how to, “Pray the trans away”. They took her phone, her social life, and cloistered her like Rapunzel, for her own good. These actions her parents took were probably based in a Fundamental Christian hope that they could save their child’s chances at eternal life, but Leelah’s suicide note makes it sound like those actions ultimately motivated her to step in front of that eighteen-wheeler.

But, Leelah was not out as trans* to very many people. Some of her friends knew. She told her parents once. Most of the people in her life had no clue so, why would even the most supportive mother out her child on a Facebook death notice? Leelah was not out, she never got there. I think the outrage against the mother for using male terms is a bit out of place. It is a sad situation. I know, if my mom had outed me without my approval, I would have been upset. I also know transition would have been made much more difficult without her approval.

Then, there is the blame game. Many trans* advocates are blaming Leelah’s death on her parents. Many anti-trans folk are blaming her death on the progressive LGBT agenda brainwashing her into thinking she was a female. As I see it, Leelah killed herself. That may sound cold but nobody pushed her in front of the semi. The driver didn’t kill her. She killed herself. She wanted to at that moment. She acted on her desire. It resulted in her martyrdom in the eyes of some and her damnation in the eyes of others. It is amazing how many people claim to know what a person’s death really means. Humans really like to think outside the box, even when it comes to things like the afterlife, of which they truly have no clue. Bible thumpers, frequently seem to forget how vague The Bible really is about what will and will not allow someone into Heaven. Ultimately, it is up to God, according to that book, and the decision will be made after one’s mortal life has ended. Anyone who says otherwise, under the veil of Christianity, is probably selling snake oil even if they do not realize it.

Trans* advocates are not much better. First, any advocate tends to be full of utopian ideals be they LGBT, Christian, political or whatever, and well… Utopia is not a real place, it is just something people can strive for but they will never get there. It is the proverbial carrot and we can choose to chase it if we so desire but we will never catch it and eat it.

Trans* advocates can be as judgmental and hate filled as those they blame for Leelah’s death. It is a shame, because every time you blame someone else for a person’s suicide, you are squandering a teachable moment.

Really. Tell an anti-trans, Fundamental Christian that you hope they die and burn in Hell for causing Leelah’s suicide, and see if they go, “You know, you’re right. I am so sorry.” Or, if they go, “Your sinful hate confirms my negative suspicions about perverts like you.”

Some people are set in their ways, but most opinions can be swayed with patience, intelligence and compassion… even if they sway just a few degrees and not a full one hundred and eighty. It is a slow road, and any progress made can be lost the moment someone starts blaming them for the suicide of a child, or telling them their faith is wrong (a losing battle, as how would a non-believer know any better than they do?).

So, Leelah is dead now. Her parents are being made into villains for trying to protect her eternal salvation, because they didn’t know better and didn’t learn enough about their child, a trans* person’s plight to take her dysphoria as seriously as Leelah herself did. People on all sides are blaming various parts of society for her, “Murder”. It really is a sad clusterfuck.

She was seventeen. In less than a year, she would have been able to transition without her parents approval. I wish I could have met her. Calmed her. Advised her to be patient. Transition is a long road for anyone. A year can feel eternal when you are suicidally depressed. It is a drop in the bucket though, in the grand scheme of things. It is a shame that her suicide is what ultimately made that year into an eternity for her.

Aloha,
Tori

First Traniversary

One year on hormones. Wow. In many ways, it feels like a decade. A mostly happy decade.

First off, thank you readers. This blog began as a public journal so I could educate and explain things to those people close to my heart. Many told me I was the only trans* person they knew. More than one requested I help them understand what my life has been and currently is like.

Over time, readership has increased and many people I do not know have started to follow the blog. Several are transitioning themselves. Many others are considering transition and have reached out to me in the process. A large percentage are just reading the blog out of human interest. Your feedback and support have been the wind in my sails. Thank you all.

Now, I get to write this blog for many different audiences. They come in all shapes and sizes. Weeeeee!!!

One reader kindly suggested I take this transition thing up with, “Jesus of Nazareth”. Well, according to The Bible, Jesus’ father put us all here. My life is mine to live as it was given to me. We can tally our collective sins when this life has passed, if it comes to that. I do not claim to be without sin and, I do not intend to throw stones. Transition has kept me alive. I gladly embrace the extra time it has given me, and vow to continue learning how to be a better person in this life. Perhaps that effort and the renewed love of living afforded by transition will be rewarded in the next life. No living person knows for sure. That is why we have this wonderful thing we call, “Faith”.

Perhaps, consider the parable Jesus told in The Gospel of Luke about the man who was robbed, beaten and left by the side of the road. A priest and a man from the tribe of Levi walked right past him. It was a man from Samaria, or if you will, not a REAL Jew, who finally decided to help this victim.

While on the cross, Jesus forgave a criminal nailed to the cross beside him and promised they would each see each other in, for lack of a better term, Heaven. Jesus’ last reported words were a request to God, his father, that he forgive those who had crucified his son, because they didn’t fully know what they had done.

Jesus did not seem like the type of person who would really mind my transition, and if I ever need to take it up with him, I will do so with my head held high. Until then, I will live the life I have been given to its fullest, and I am excited to see how it all plays out. I promise to do my best with what I have been given to work with. That is all any of us can really do. If it comes back to haunt me in the afterlife, please do not gloat. Gloating is SO unbecoming.

Moving on…

I wish to review many of the changes, experiences, ups, downs, and all arounds that encapsulate this transitional past year. This will not be as linear as some of my posts, sometimes it will be more like a checklist. It is not my preferred style of writing but a story type post would be too redundant for my tastes. I have already told the best stories of the past year in prior posts.

Also, you may notice, I am blogging less frequently lately. There is simply less to report right now. Sometimes things happen and change at a rapid pace. Sometimes they do not. Transition ebbs and flows. Big things lie ahead but they do not all happen at once.

Time has slowed down because I have stopped to smell the roses. I enjoy life so much more now, so I do my best to pay attention rather than letting it slip through my fingers. In many ways, it is like I am a teen again. I am going through another puberty. The one I always wanted. Yes, puberty sucks. Yes, I decided to have another one.

I am getting used to this whole transition thing so I am not as amazed by every little new thing. Getting softer is not as groundbreaking as feeling soft for the very first time. Getting big boobs is not as amazing as feeling the first signs of breasts budding.

Speaking of, let’s talk boobs, shall we? They are getting pretty big. My wife took me to Victoria’s Secret to get measured and I am sized at 38 D. I bought a C, but my boobs are at least four inches wider than the rest of my upper torso. It is kind of frightening believe it or not. I always wondered if they would be big enough for my liking, now I fear they may never stop growing. Be careful what you wish for. These genes are boob genes it seems. The boob fairy has blessed me. There is a pride and a legitimacy that comes with breast development. “Oh, you think I should use the men’s room? Suck on these, bitch!”

We always find things to complain about. My boobs are no exception. They are not yet mature and they don’t exactly point straight ahead (bras help). Also, much of the fat is deposited on the side boob so they don’t look quite as large as they are. It is hard to explain. Still, boobs are cool.

They often hurt like Hell, so they are not done growing. Eeeeep! At the same time, they are just boobs. After the newness wears off, they are just kinda’ there. They are erogenous, especially the nipples and I hate to say this but, the feelings are nothing like I expected and words do not quite do it justice. I always wanted to put nipple sensation into words. Alas, not today. Not to my exacting standards of excellence. The sensations are not cripplingly good but they do venture out into the rest of the body if I pay attention to them. They are not (yet) orgasmic like some lucky people’s but they are a great addition for the good feels. They are also forgettable if I am paying attention to anything else. They are just there for the most part.

Breasts are no joke. There is no real hiding them anymore. They are far more sensitive to the slightest touch than my male chest ever was.

If my boobs were to vanish tomorrow, I would notice immediately and long for the missing sensoral feedback they provide. They feel like me now. They are my new, floppy, bouncy appendages.

What else? My skin is much thinner and has smaller pores. It is translucent so it has a different coloration than it did before transition and you can see more of my veins and arteries. Yuck.

Muscle atrophy is real. Without testosterone I am becoming much softer and weaker. I embrace this change but it does come at a price. I still think I am as strong as I was from time to time only to learn I am not. My changing strength is something I am still learning to gauge.

I love feeling soft. Male clothing is sometimes too rough for my skin now. I thought women wore soft things because they were just, well, feminine. Not exactly. My skin often needs softer fabrics now.

I am getting some serious junk in the trunk and back fat around the hips. I can’t tell where my old butt used to end. It is getting pretty big. Male pants fit differently now.

My complexion has totally changed. I am much less greasy and far less prone to zits and acne. Yay estrogen!

I smell like I am female. I have a vastly different body odor and it is WAY less stinky.

I cry happy tears. I cry sad tears. I cry while laughing.

I frequently seek out the company of females and now more easily relate to them, while I frequently struggle to continue relating to men.

I am far more open, honest and loving.

My dysphoria has completely lifted.

I am doing much better in social situations now. I am finding comfort in my new skin and care FAR less what others think of my transition. They don’t like it? They can pick a boob and suck it!

My junk has shrunk more than if I had just done the Polar Bear Swim in Alaska. That may disturb some readers. Not me. It makes tucking WAY easier. That shit used to be SO uncomfortable. Now, it just… well, it just is.

I am embracing being non-binary. That means I enjoy being male at times, female at others, and in general, far more androgynous. I am currently gender non-conforming but I am still moving towards female. Who knows if I will get there, or just decide to stay somewhere in between? I know this is confusing to many people who only see the world in male or female. How lucky they are…

Then, there are are  other things about being Female that I am growing to hate.

Every single man I have just met, who thinks they can ask me about, “The surgery” before getting my fucking name. Buy me a drink first! Seriously!

Makeup. Grrrrrrr! It helps SO much but it is a royal pain in the ass at times.

For that matter, getting ready for anything takes forever. Sharing one bathroom with another female means that going anywhere together and showing up on time has become an exercise in futility.

Removal of body hair is time consuming torture. It does not matter how you do it. Feeling smooth is worth it though.

Bathroom lines SUCK! Especially when someone waiting with you may not want you in their line (this especially seems to happen when I am in front of them and “taking their place”). Look at it this way: why would I wait in a damn line, if I truly belong in the express lane?

Bras are extremely uncomfortable in most cases. All my life I wanted to wear them. Now I need to wear one and I just long to take it off. The grass is always greener…

I now understand why so many teenage girls are fucking nuts. Female emotions take time to understand and live with. You think women are emotional? Watch it from my side. It does not matter where I am in my hormonal cycle, all my decisions and reactions seem logical and sound until I look back at them and go, “Wow, I was really running low on estrogen that day!” or, “I had just had my shot! No wonder I could not stop crying!”

My body hair is reducing but not fast enough. My chest hair is like 80% gone. My belly hair remains. Back hair has vanished. Leg and arm hair has become female. Pit and pubic hair has changed in texture and thickness.

My metabolism is female now. It has slowed to a crawl compared to before. Fat goes to new squishy places. The only reason I seem to burn fat at all right now is my body is changing so rapidly and that does take energy. Teens eat and sleep a lot, and that energy is put into puberty. I am like that right now.

I crave weird things. I think it mostly comes down to salt. The medication I take to block testosterone also makes me need more salt and need to pee a lot. I crave pickles, soup, chips and hot sauce. All these things tend to be very salty. I also crave SPICY things more than ever before. It is weird. I crave my next meal while I eat my current one. Om nom nom nom!

Dreaming has changed. Dreams are now far more realistic, more current and yes, I am female or in transition every single time. I do not remember being male in a dream since before transition.

Reading this back, my most profoundly significant changes are sensory. Things look different, taste different, feel different, smell different, and yes they even sound different. From the inside of my cranium, my senses have altered. Wild.

There you go. My one year update. Transition is weird.

Aloha,
Tori

Brave

I am getting the hang of this transition thing. It should come as no surprise that there was a lot of anxiety leading up to the decision to transition. What if it ruined my life? What if nobody accepted me? What if? What IF?? WHAT IF???

It is hard to view things in terms of right and wrong. I do not definitively know if transition was the right thing to do and I never will. It sure seems better than the alternative seemed at the time.

I wish transition was more socially acceptable. It is frightening being me at times. That is an unfortunate consequence. The positives do outweigh the negatives, believe it or not.

People frequently tell me how brave I am. It is an unusual compliment considering my bravest act happens to be growing boobs. I am hardly alone in the brave and risky world of boob horticulture. People all over the world grow them. People seem to like boobs. Of all the sexual primary and secondary characteristics male or female, I would venture to guess boobs are the most popular. We are all born attracted to boobs. And yet, I am brave for growing them.

I have learned to take the compliment. People tell me I am brave for many reasons. Some just do not know how else to show their support. Some really think I transition for the thrill of it. Some recognize the risk involved in the real world for a woman like me. I do not feel particularly brave. I know people who surf the North Shore in Winter. THEY are brave! And yet, I do not know one of them who would dare do what I am doing. It does not mean they aren’t brave. It means they aren’t trans.

Gender dysphoria is so depressing, I do not know many trans folk who went, “You know, I am brave enough to do this crazy thing.” rather, they tend to come to the realization, “I can’t NOT transition.” The decision to transition is more often than not, a cathartic, “Fuck it!”

Even then, there are obstacles. In so many ways, I realize how easy I have had it. I frequently wish I had started this process sooner but, when I chat with people who transitioned 15-20 years ago, when I last considered starting, I realize how hard they had it back then, and I find myself thinking, “You are so brave!”

Being trans is still easily misunderstood, but compared to the turn of the millennium, laws and understanding have come a long way. Also, I am older and my peers are older. I have to imagine that in this day and age, with social media and, the maturity that comes with nearing forty, things are much easier for folks like me than they were not too long ago.

Even now, depending on where a person lives, they may not have options that make transition an easy option. Gatekeepers (psychologists that withhold allowing their patients to transition so they can make more money by continued treatments) can now be bypassed by going to a doctor who practices informed consent. The thing is, there are not always doctors nearby who are willing to treat trans patients without a psychological diagnosis. That blows my mind. How does a psychologist determine if I am trans enough to transition? How do I know I am trans? How do you know you aren’t? I just know it with every fibre of my boobs… er… being. Every fiber of my being.

There is no bravery in being born trans. Just the condition of being wired differently than the average person.

I do not talk about this much in this blog, but I practice gender fluidity. I am frequently in, “Guy mode”. I do this for many reasons but one of them is I really am not that brave. When I am alone, I find it safer to go out as a man. A man with long hair, long nails and waxed eyebrows, boobs… but still, a man. Also, I have a ton of male clothing and most of it fits me better than my female clothing. I get self conscious easily, so lounging around in shorts and a t shirt is frequently more relaxing.

Now, I do not socialize in, “Guy mode”. I am out to all my friends and the vast majority of them remained. It is less frightening being myself when surrounded by people I know than when I am alone in the wilderness of the public eye.

Aloha,
Tori