Thursday, 10 December 2015

Starting HRT

On Monday, for the first time, I placed a tablet containing 2 mg of estradiol hemihydrate under my tongue and let it dissolve. I found myself thinking: Huh, I guess I'll probably be doing this every day for most of the rest of my life.

The pills taste slightly sweet.

Honestly it doesn't seem like nearly as big a deal to me as I once would have expected it to. I'm certainly very happy about it, but it's less of a giddy excitement and more just a calm, contented sense of peace. (Though, perhaps not unusually for a girl at the beginning of puberty, I do occasionally find myself wondering how long until I have boobs, lol).

I'm DIY-ing things for now. I saw a doctor at a walk-in clinic in August: he put me on spiro but wouldn't give me a prescription for hormones until I saw a psychiatrist. And the psych's waiting list was nearly a year long. So I faced a choice: start HRT without medical supervision, putting myself at risk of liver damage and thrombosis; or wait a year, putting myself at risk of self-harm, substance abuse, and suicide. Those are two very different types of risk but it seemed like the odds of me coming to serious harm in either case were roughly equal. Given that, I of course chose that the option that involved not being completely miserable.

And before you start worrying about me, let me assure you that I'm being very careful here. I made sure to get a blood test done before taking the first pill so that any future doctor I see will have access to what my natural hormonal levels were. I intend to get another blood test after one month— (I haven't quite figured out how to get the referral for that yet, though I imagine that simply going to a walk-in and explaining my situation to a doctor is worth a try). I'm not taking a high dose, 2 mg/day is on the lower part of the recommended range for someone like me. And of course, I will try to get proper medical supervision as soon as possible. I just think it will be easier start HRT first and then find a doctor I can work with, rather than having to convince a doctor to let me get the treatment I need.

I've heard several trans women say that they didn't know for sure that HRT was right for them until after they were already on it. I'm only on day four so perhaps it's no surprise that I haven't had any such magical moment of clarity just yet. At this point what convinces me that I'm doing the right thing is how horrified I am by the thought of stopping— I don't even think I could. But now that I think about it, that's how it's always been for me. When I started presenting in a more feminine way I had doubts whether that was right for me until I considered going back to my old presentation and I realized I wouldn't even be able to. Likewise my horror at the thought of asking people to call me by my old name again is, more than anything else, what convinces me that I need to go by Ashley. And the thought of going back to a male hormonal mix makes me feel the same way.

Huh. Maybe that is my "magical moment of clarity." And it happened just now writing this. I guess that's why I'm a blogger. :)

Well anyways, time to start thinking about the next step: banking my sperm before they all shrivel up and die. I'm not 100% certain I'll want biological kids some day, but I am 100% certain I'll at least want the option. Better get on that posthaste!

Thursday, 19 November 2015

I'm Facebook official!

My existence is now 100% certified official on Facebook. Last week I finally changed my name and pronouns on there. And gosh does it ever feel good to be able to check Facebook and not have to see my old name all over everything. Yeah!
It was sort of on a whim, to be honest. I hadn't really planned ahead of time when I was going to take that step, and wrote probably the one of the worst "coming out" status ever. It went like so:
Alright, so I was I planning on waiting till I was a little further along in my transition to change my name on Facebook, but it's friggin bugging me seeing my old name on here all the time, so Ashley it is. For those that don't know, I've been using that name within the trans community for about two and half years now, and in my day-to-day life for just over four months. So yeah... I'd really appreciate it if you could try to refer to me by that name instead of Tyler. Thanks! :)

Oh yeah, and PS: I'm trans, for anyone who hasn't figured that out yet.: P
Heh, pretty terrible. The thing is, I wasn't even thinking of it as a coming out. I had long since largely stopped caring about the distinction between out and not on Facebook. And by this point I felt like everyone to whom I actually "owed" a proper coming out had already gotten one. (And perhaps I was mildly resentful of the fact that I'd felt like I owed that to anyone in the first place.) So I saw this less as letting people know that I'm trans and more as just explaining why my profile suddenly had a different name. And, you know, so that the next time I came up on someone's feed they wouldn't be like: who the heck is Ashley??

Of course I got lots of "likes" and supportive comments. My paternal grandmother left a comment saying "whether you are Tyler or Ashley, trans or otherwise you are our grandchild and we love you." Awww. ♥

I also got a bunch of questions in my inbox. Most of them were good or at least reasonable. For example, one of my aunts asked me if I had any advice on how she should explain it to her children, or if there was anything specifically that I wanted her to say or to not say, which is like the best freaking question ever seriously I wish everybody asked questions like that. I also got one kind of weird question from someone who was wondering if I was still a Christian and if so, how I reconciled my "transgender existence" (his actual words) with the bible. (If you're new to this blog, I have a dark mysterious past as a conservative Christian, but left the faith several years ago and now identify as a non-theist or atheist.) So I told him that I wasn't a believer anymore, but also pointed out that the bible doesn't really talk much about trans stuff anyways. He also asked what it was like growing up trans in the church and I gave kind of long-winded reply about how it actually totally sucked and how much better it could have been if I'd been raised in a church that was queer\trans-affirming.

Of course I'd been intending to eventually change my name for some time, but what finally pushed me over the edge and got me to do it was, of all things, wanting to add a new friend who's only ever known me as Ashley. Remember my previous post when I said I might have a date with a girl I met on the internets? Well, she and I still haven't gotten a chance to hang out yet for various reasons— she had family visiting, I was busy, she was sick— but we've been texting for a while now. I went and found her on Facebook, but felt super weird about sending a friend request from my old name. Hence my new-found motivation. (Afterwards she was like "aww you could've just added me before, I wouldn't have cared...")

Anyways, we're planning on getting together this weekend, so hopefully that works out. Oh, and I should mention that, of all the bizarre things, we discovered that we have the same birthday— how weird is that?! So now we're already planning on having a joint birthday party, even though it's not till February. :D

It seems I'm going about transition in totally the "wrong" order, at least according to the traditional trans narrative. I'm now fully out (except at work) and I haven't even started HRT yet. Sometimes I can't help but feel that people are going to expect me to start looking "more female" soon, when in reality that's probably still a fair ways off. But whatever. Obviously there's no right or wrong way to be trans— doing it this way works for me, and that's good enough. :)

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

I'm still here (and I'm on spiro now!)

It's been a while since I updated this blog, but I'm still here and not dead. And also I'm taking androgen-blockers.

In the last week of August I finally got around to seeing a doctor about the fact that I'm trans. Ironically what actually compelled me to go to the clinic was a bad skin rash, but I figured since I'd be there anyways I should bring up my trans-ness. (This is in keeping with my uncanny ability to put off doing important things, like seeing a doctor, until I absolutely have to do them).

I went to a walk-in clinic because I don't have a regular practitioner. After checking my ID and healthcare card, the receptionist asked what the issue is.
"Uh, well, actually it's two things," I said. "The first is a skin rash..."
She made a note of that.
"And the second is that, uh, I'm transsexual and—"
She stopped me right there. "I'll just put down 'personal' for that, okay?"
"Uh... okay."

 Wow lady, way to make me feel weird.

Thankfully the doctor himself was a lot more professional about it. He asked me a few questions, but they were all ones that made sense— how long have you felt this way? have you been experiencing depression?— that sort of thing. He gave me a prescription for the androgen-blocker spironolactone, which I've been on since then, and a referral to a psychiatrist I'm supposed to see before I start HRT.
He said the waiting list for the psych would likely be close to year (ugh) and that the current psychiatrist was retiring soon and someone else would be taking over his work, so I should be proactive about contacting their office. I figured I'd probably call them in the next couple of days.

And then the depression hit. Apparently one of the side-effects of spiro is that it can exacerbate depressive symptoms. Beginning a couple days after I took the first pill and lasting for a couple weeks I had possibly the worst depression I've ever experienced. Needless to say I did not call the psych's office during that time. That's also largely why I stopped blogging.

But I guess after a couple weeks my body just got used to the drug or something, because I gradually returned to my normal baseline emotional state, which is a much more mild and intermittent sort of depression that I can usually manage.

Now I just need to phone the psych's office and see if I can still get put on the waiting list even though my referral is for a guy who doesn't work there anymore. I'm not really sure how all that works.

Other than that there hasn't been much noteworthy stuff in my life in the last couple months, but things are, for the most part, going well. I got moved to the afternoon shift at work, and while it sucks not having my evenings free I've found I enjoy the actual work a lot more: the shop's almost empty so I don't have a bunch of bosses looking over my shoulder telling me what to do, I mostly get to just do my own thing. Last Sunday I had a really nice Thanksgiving dinner with my parents and brother and sister-in-law: my contribution was the apple pie, which actually turned out quite well (and only my second time making a pie from scratch too). Today I cleaned and tidied my house and bought some cut flowers for the vase on the table and now it feels all nice and homey for a change. And at some point in the near future I probably have a date with this girl I met online (we said we'd go out for coffee or something, but haven't set a place or time yet) so that's kind of exciting.

Altogether I feel like I kind of have a handle on this whole "life" thing. I suppose I should enjoy that while it lasts. :)

Monday, 10 August 2015

Nouvelles lunettes

As of Saturday I can finally see shit regardless of what gender I look like! That is to say, I got a new pair of glasses that don't make me look totally like a man, lol.

If you only know me through the internet you probably didn't even know I wear glasses. The fact is I actually wear them basically all the time, but with my old pair I always took them off for photos 'cause I really hated how they made my face look. I'd often take them off when I was presenting female, but carry them with me in case there was something I wanted to look at. It was annoying having to choose between not feeling ugly and being able to see properly.

Well, I shouldn't have that problem anymore, check it out:

I gotta be honest with you lot, I think I look pretty darn hot in those photos. :P

For comparison's sake, here's how I looked with the old pair:

Yeah... it's a big improvement. I'd had that last pair for three years: needless to say I was still trying to be a man when I bought them. (And they did look good on my face in a masculine way when that's how I was presenting myself).

Incidentally, I posted those first two photos on Facebook. It's funny 'cause I'm still not technically 100% out on FB, but I've obviously stopped giving a shit— I mean like my bra strap is showing for goodness sake. It'd be pretty hard to misread all those gender cues.

If I'm going to be that out on FB it brings up the question of why I haven't changed my name on there yet: my account is still under my birth name. I guess the main reason is that I still haven't told my parents that I go by Ashley, and I don't really want them to learn it from Facebook. It's kinda weird that I've been out to mom and dad for well over a year now and, as far as I know, they're still not aware I even have a girl name, let alone what it is. I definitely need to have that conversation with them and probably should have done it already. It just feels weird, like I'm rejecting something they gave me, and so I keep putting it off.

Anyways, that was Saturday. On Sunday afternoon I went to a friend's birthday get-together at a park. There were a few people there I was friends with, one person I'd only met a couple times, and then a whole bunch of people I'd never met before. I went as myself and it was the first time where I was meeting lots of new people and introducing myself as Ashley.

I wore a vaguely hippie-ish skirt and stuck a bow in my hair, which was fun. :)

This event confirmed something for me that I suspected would be the case: that while I am more comfortable around people as a girl than I was as a boy, I am definitely still pretty socially awkward. Sure enough, changing gender does not change me into a confident extrovert who loves meeting new people. I just went from awkward boy to slightly less awkward girl.

But I think that's actually a good thing. The point of transitioning isn't to become someone else, it's just to become yourself. If who I am is awkward and shy around new people, then maybe that's who I should be.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Coming out more (and female Tylers?)

Good news! I came out to a bunch of folks on Facebook recently, and it went very well. (Well actually, this happened like three weeks ago, I'm just really slow at blogging stuff apparently). I'm now out to most of the people I'd be likely to see on a typical day, except for at work. I'm also out to most of the friends I really care about. I wrote the following status update, changing the privacy settings so that only the ones I wanted to come out to could see it:
Hi friends! Okay, first of all, only a few people can see this post. Some of you I've specifically talked to about this, while others of you I'm not sure how much you may know or have guessed. But regardless, I wanted to put this out there so that we're all on the same page, and more importantly because I want you all to know me as the person I actually am. :)

So yeah, I'm transsexual. The very short description of what that means is that I'm actually a girl on the inside. I'm guessing that's probably not a huge surprise for most of you, but if it is, well, there you go. :P Anyways, I've started the process of changing my body to better match who I am. So far that just means getting electrolysis for my facial hair, but I do hope to be on female hormones some time in the not-too-distant future, and eventually living full time as a woman.

In the meantime I do intend to start presenting myself as female more often than I have been, simply because I find it profoundly distressing pretending to be a boy all the time. In light of that I do have a request to make from all of you. Within the transgender community I've been going by the name Ashley for the past couple years now, and it seems to have stuck. So, when I'm in girl mode, if you could try to call me by that name instead of my boy name, it would be seriously deeply appreciated. Likewise if you could use feminine pronouns (ie, "she" and "her") to refer to me instead of masculine ones, that'd really be super. (When I'm in boy mode you can use my old name and pronouns if you prefer, I don't really care that much).

Now, I know it's pretty weird to just change which name and pronouns you use for someone, so please take whatever time you need to get comfortable with it, and don't worry if you screw it up. If you're ever not sure what to say, just ask, I promise I won't be offended or anything.

And please, if you have any questions about trans stuff in general or about my own experience with it, feel free to ask. I know sometimes people have trouble understanding this stuff (even I did, and I've had to live with it my whole life), so I'm definitely willing to explain things in more detail if it'll help.

Making a transition of this sort is kind of a big deal in some ways, so I hope I can count on you all for support. :)
And the response has been very positive. One guy sent me a message saying he was checking to see if I could have kept my old name when he found this. It's the Urban Dictionary entry for Female Tyler, as in, a girl named Tyler. "Female Tylers are very rare and if you come across one you are a very lucky person," it reads. That and apparently they're also "extremely skilled in the sheets and so wild they'll make your head spin." Ha! That gave me a pretty good laugh. And to be honest, It actually made me feel a little better about my birth name. I've never liked the name Tyler, even before I knew I was trans. But just knowing that someone out there thinks it's a "cool" name for a girl, somehow that kinda helps. (I'm definitely still sticking with Ashley, though. My old name represents too much for me to not change it.)

Of course I also got all the more usual responses of "I'm so happy for you" and "I'm so proud of you" and "you're so brave," all of which were certainly appreciated. I do feel a liiiitle weird being called brave because I don't really think bravery is what drives someone to transition— often it's more like suicide prevention— but I think I knew what she was trying to get at so I accepted the compliment.

One friend commented on the post asking if she could call me Ash and I just about died with elation. A nickname based on my girl name? That's like the best thing ever!!! ^-^ It took a great deal of effort to respond with a calm "Yeah for sure! :)" instead of "Oh my gosh yes please call me that!! :D"

The best parts of all this are that I'm now getting to hear my real name outside of the internet, and that even when I'm presenting as a male there are a bunch of people who know that's not who I really am. Together that makes all the gender issues so much easier to deal with. I feel like, overall, I've been doing pretty good lately, but that doesn't mean the dysphoria isn't still an issue. Last Thursday I felt totally kicked in the gut by it and ended up spending basically the entire evening just lying in bed watching transition slideshow videos on Youtube. That was instead of going out to an event with friends, one of whom I haven't seen in a long time. So that was pretty shitty.

But that just means I need to keep moving forward. So let's see... I've been getting electrolysis for almost four months now, I'm currently in the process of socially transitioning... what's next? It's time to start thinking about hormones. It's time to talk to a doctor and get this girl some estradiol.

Friday, 10 July 2015

Teaching and sisterhood

This story starts off on kind of a sour note, but it has a good ending so figured I wanted to share it with you guys. Remember about a month ago when the whole internet was abuzz with Caitlyn Jenner and that magazine cover photo of her?

Oh God, there's Jenner everywhere!!

Yeah I'm glad that's over too. But anyways, right around the peak of that, a cousin of mine wrote a very unpleasant anti-trans rant about the whole thing on Facebook, stating among other things that "Bruce" would never be a "real lady." This particular cousin happens to be someone I generally like so I resisted the urge to simply comment "Fuck you, [name]" and unfriend her. Even so I figured I should still address it somehow.

By the time I got around to commenting, several others had called her out on it and she had already apologized for the tone of her post, if not exactly it's content. I responded the only way I really know how to respond to these sorts of things: by making a joke. "Well that's a shame," I wrote, "I'm sure when Jenner began this transition her fondest hope was that some random ass person on the internet would think she was a reel wummin."

After that I made a few brief comments addressing some specific things that had come up in the massive thread which had by then been spawned. I didn't explicitly say I was trans but I did use the word we to refer to trans community so it couldn't have been too hard to figure out. And then I left the thread, because it's not my job to educate people and I had more important things to do with my time than write an essay on why trans identities are legitimate.

But then something interesting happened: my brother started commenting on the post. Now you need to understand, Carson almost never does anything on Facebook. The most recent item on his wall is from... *checks* ... January of 2014. So it was pretty unusual.

His first comments seemed to be more along the lines of "Being a decent person and respecting someone's pronouns is more important than whether someone's really a man or woman." (Which is nice but like, I dunno, maybe a little patronizing??) Carson's always been totally supportive of me and has always accepted the fact that trans-ness is a thing, but I feel like up until this happened he'd never really made a huge effort to actually understand it. But now he was trying to explain it to someone, and he needed to know what he was talking about, so he started texting me questions. And I did my best to answer them.

He and I ended up having a long texting conversation over the course of a couple days, going over a lot of the details of what being trans is and why it makes sense to consider trans people as the genders they say they are rather then what they were assigned at birth. I think he gained a much better understanding of the whole thing, and this understanding was reflected in his continuing comments on the ever-growing Facebook thread. He ended up quoting one of my texts (saying it was from "an actual transwoman" he knew), as well as linking to this academic paper which I'd sent him.

And he got through to her.

The next day there was a PM in my Facebook inbox from the cousin who'd started the whole thing in first place. I won't quote all of it, but to condense it somewhat, she wrote:
I feel I owe you an incredibley earnest apology. I spoke from my emotions when I posted that status and didn't give it nearly enough thought with respect to how it would come across and how it would disrespect you and many others. [...] When I realized just how much my comments had the potential to hurt, I felt, and still feel, so wretched. You are so gracious to even respond, honestly. [...] I would love to hear your thoughts on this stuff. To hear it from someone who lives it is really, I think, would give a clearer picture to someone like myself.
That's nice, eh? I thanked her and accepted the apology, (while being careful not to downplay how hurtful the original post had been). She specifically mentioned in her apology that Carson's replies had helped her understand things better. I think it's really cool how I had the opportunity to teach my bro and he in turn was able to teach our cousin, not to mention anyone else who may have been following the thread. It was also nice for me to not be the one on the front lines, so to speak.

But the perhaps the best part of the whole thing, as far as I'm concerned, is that during the course of Carson asking me questions, this happened:

(And yes, I took this photo with my camera 'cause I couldn't figure out how to just take a screenshot with my phone. Don't judge me.)
I've been thinking for some time now that at some point I would have to address with him the issue of whether I was his brother or his sister. I was kind of hoping it would just come up naturally, and it did! Definitely glad about that. :)

Friday, 12 June 2015


Guess who attended the Pride parade with her friends last Saturday? Me!

And I mean the actual me, not the boy I pretend to be sometimes. That's kind of a big deal: this was the first time I've gone out and done something fun with my friends while presenting myself as a woman.

I had been quite certain for some time before that I was going to this thing and that I was going as myself. Of all places, being at Pride in the wrong gender would be absolutely heartbreaking. I just wasn't sure if I'd be able to find anyone to go with, but as it approached some friends of mine sounded interested and we made plans to meet there.

The night before I painted my nails in the colours of the transgender pride flag. I actually had to look up on the internet what order the colours go in, lol.
Then Saturday morning I woke up and set about choosing an outfit. Part of me wanted to wear something a little slutty, since, you know, the whole "I never got the chance to be a teenager" thing that trans women always say, and Pride's the kind of place where that wouldn't be inappropriate. But since this was going to be the first time some of my friends would be seeing me as a girl, and since I wanted that to seem reasonably normal to them, I opted for a more ordinary outfit: a long brown skirt, a stripey purple top layered over a brown camisole, and my cute black flats. Once I got there part of me wished I had dressed a little more queerly, but I'm sure there will be other opportunities for that.

The parade route was only two blocks from my house. I walked there and, with a bit of texting back and forth, managed to find my friends. I was meeting four people there: only one of them had I had a proper coming out talk with (and that was back when I still identified as a crossdresser), another one I was confident knew I dressed as a girl sometimes but we'd never specifically discussed it, the other two I didn't know how much they knew or guessed. But when I got there, no one even batted an eye at my presentation, like it was so normal it wasn't even worth mentioning. Which was the best possible response, as far as I'm concerned.

I may not be "officially" out to very many people, but I make basically no effort to keep my identity a secret, so I guess it wasn't much of a surprise. Plus, my friends are all pretty open-minded to begin with. I am so grateful to live in a time and place where I can just be myself without necessarily having to worry about all the logistics of coming out beforehand. As great as that is though, I still hope to come out to these folks pretty soon: they've seen me dressed as a girl, they may as well know I identify as one too. I'm sure they won't be surprised then, either.

The parade itself was pretty cool, although I didn't manage to get any good photos. The Society of Edmonton Atheists had a giant Flying Spaghetti Monster and signs that read "Smile, there is no hell!" It got pretty quiet when they went by so, being the non-believer that I am, I made sure to cheer extra loud. (Of course atheism has nothing specifically to do with Pride, but neither do any of the many churches and other religious groups that were also represented, so I think it was okay).

After the parade the whole festival moved to a nearby park where they had like entertainers and food vendors and all that stuff. We walked there and got some lunch. Wearing layers and a long heavy skirt turned out to be a bad idea: it got up to 27°C (81°F) and I was sweating like crazy. But it was still a lot of fun hanging out there.

The un-cropped version of that photo is the five of us sitting at a picnic table— (I don't want to tell everyone about this blog just yet, so I had no way to ask if I could put their faces on it). The next day I kept going back and looking at it almost in amazement, like Wow, that's actually me, just hanging out with people like it's no big deal.

Afterwards three of us walked back to my house (well okay, one of those guys is my roommate, so his house too) and watched the soccer match between Canada and China, which was actually taking place right here in Edmonton, which seems crazy to me, but whatever. By that point the clothes I'd worn had become pretty uncomfortable, what with the heat and the fact that my push-up bra was digging into my sternum— (it works fine when I wear actual breast forms, but because those would've shown over my neckline I'd settled for balled-up socks this time)— so I changed into a lighter skirt and t-shirt and a more comfortable bra. Had a couple beers, grilled some veggie hotdogs, enjoyed the beautiful weather...

Later in the evening we met back up with the other two people we'd been at the parade with, plus two friends of theirs I hadn't met before, and we ended up all going out to a bar and dancing. Here's the thing though: by then it was late, I hadn't shaved since the morning, and that fact was becoming pretty obvious. I really didn't want to go as a beardy girl, so I had to make a quick decision between switching to boy mode and going with them or spending however much time it would take to shave and redo my makeup and then meeting everyone else there. I wasn't even sure where we were going, so I chose the first option.

And like, dancing's still fun, even in the wrong gender, but I felt weird about it. You see, there was this girl I met there, and I danced with her for a good chunk of the evening. After a few songs she and I were dancing together in a manner that was, like, fairly sexualized. And on the one hand, it's a positive thing that I'm finally starting to feel comfortable expressing my sexuality: between my gender stuff and the conservative Christianity I practiced for so long, I've had a shit ton of issues to deal with to get to the point where I can do something like that; (granted, I've still never actually had sex with anyone, but I'll get there eventually). But afterwards I realized: she obviously thought I was a boy 'cause that's how I was presenting, she's most likely straight, and she probably would not have been into that at all if she'd known I was actually a girl. Ick. It made me feel really gross, like I'd deceived her.

I don't want to do that again. What I do want now is to go out dancing as a girl, and preferably at a queer venue where I can meet queer girls. That's like, on my list of things to do now.

Still, in spite of that little hiccup at the end there, overall it was a fantastic day. Definitely can't wait until I get to just be me all the time. :D

Tuesday, 2 June 2015


Oh dear, I've sort of been neglecting this blog lately, but I've got a bunch of different things I want to write about so hopefully I'll be getting back into it.

Let's start with my ears— specifically that I got them pierced last weekend! That's something I've been meaning to do for ages and only just now finally got around to, and I'm very happy with how they look. :)


The actual piercing didn't really hurt much, but at the end of day, once I'd kind of forgotten about the new bits of metal in my head, I carelessly took my shirt off and was like OHGODWHY...

I guess pierced ears aren't really a gender thing per se: lots of boys have them and lots of girls don't, and even before I began questioning my gender I'd considered getting it done. But they do give me the option of sticking feminine jewelry in there, which is just one more cue I can use to help people read my gender correctly, so that's nice.

On an unrelated note, I just finished reading Nevada by Imogen Binnie and I absolutely loved it. Like seriously, if you want to read a novel with realistic, complicated trans characters, you should check this book out.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

A new old friend

Tara was a friend of mine back when I was in high school; (not her real name, by the way). She and I were never especially close to each other back then, though we were probably as close as we could have been. I kept a certain amount of emotional distance between myself and everyone else in those days: this was partly intentional and partly it just sort of happened. I think it may have been similar for her. We were part of the same friend group so we hung out a lot at school, but I can count on one hand the number of times we spent time together outside of school. By the end of grade 12 we'd mostly drifted apart. Facebook didn't exist back then so we lost touch after graduating, and I moved away from my hometown a year later.

In the time since then I would think about her on occasion, about how interesting and different she'd been, and how I'd never really gotten to know her. Back in February, sort of on a whim, I found her on Facebook and sent a friend request. We literally hadn't seen or heard from each other since our class' graduation ceremony in 2005, but she accepted it and we started catching up. We've been communicating fairly regularly since then and we've become good friends: definitely better friends than we ever were back then. We stayed up till 4 in the morning (only 3 am in her timezone) recently talking about a girl she has a crush on, among other things. So yeah, she's a new old friend.

Perhaps part of what's made it so easy to connect this time around is the discovery of what we have in common, (and I don't mean our mutual interest in Japanese culture). The thing is, when I knew her in high school, Tara was living as a boy. She only started transitioning last year. Imagine that: we were once two closeted teenage trans girls, eating lunch together nearly every day, struggling with the same unspeakable thing, completely unable to reach out and help each other. That's denial for you.

This was me in grade 10. Holy Jesus.
This is now the second time that someone I know from a non-LGBTQ context has started transitioning. (The first time I wrote about here). It makes me think that when people say they don't know any trans people, they probably just aren't paying attention. Which, I suppose, is just fine.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Hair removal and happy thoughts

This morning I had my first ever session of electrolysis. And wow, is it ever great to finally feel like my transition is moving forward! Since getting home from it I've just been feeling really positive and optimitic about life in general. :)

The actual procedure wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be. From what I'd read on the interwebs I was expecting a fair amount of pain. But of all the hairs we got done today, only two of them even hurt a little: the rest were nothing worse than an uncomfortable pinching feeling. So either I've got an unusually high pain tolerance or an unusually good electrologist, but either way I was pleasantly surprised.

Granted, she only worked on my cheek today. I suspect that the chin and especially the upper lip will be worse. It also probably helps that I'm not on HRT, as apparently estrogens tend to make your skin more sensitive.

I took this picture as soon as I got home. By then most of the redness had disappeared,
but you can still see a little discolouration in the middle of my cheek.
We scheduled my next appointment for one hour next Saturday. I don't really like the idea of doing electro every single week though. In the future I think I'll see about doing longer sessions less often, like maybe two hours once a fortnight.

They say that galvanic electrolysis permanently removes 99% of treated hairs on the the first treatment. That means that, statistically speaking, all 15 hairs we got to today are probably gone for good. It's not much, but that's the first permanent alteration I've made to my body for the sake of aligning it more closely with my gender identity. And for that I say: yay yay yay!!! :D

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Two stories involving drugs

I have some pretty bad phone anxiety. And yes, I know it's irrational but hey— some people are afraid of bugs, some people are uncomfortable in crowds, and I get anxious talking to someone I can't see: that's just the way it is. So, a while ago, when I emailed the electrolysis clinic I wanted to go to, I wasn't too thrilled when they mentioned in their response that appointments could only be made by telephone.

Two weeks ago I finally worked up the courage to make the call. I already had the number in my contacts, so I could avoid having to dial it when the time came, (dragging out the process by dialling always makes my anxiety worse). It started ringing, my heart raced faster and faster, my breath came in short gasps, and then— voicemail. I panicked and ended the call. They did call back a few hours later, but by then I was hanging out at a friend's house and opted not to take it.

After that I was sort of kicking myself for having such an inconvenient hang-up (no pun intended). It seemed ridiculous that a goddamn phone call could be such a big obstacle between me and transitioning. So, a week later I tried again, but this time I enlisted some help of a chemical nature. That is to say, I did a shot of vodka beforehand; it made a big difference. While I probably still seemed a little awkward on the phone, for the most part I actually felt fairly calm. We set up a consultation for this coming Saturday.

In a very real sense I've been transitioning since I first allowed myself to question my gender identity, but this will be the first step towards physical transition, so I'm pretty excited about it. Excited and just a little bit scared.

To whomever invented distillation, thanks for the courage!

On the subject of mind-altering substances, I tried psilocybin mushrooms for the first time last Saturday. Prior to that the only recreational drugs I'd ever done were caffeine, nicotine and alcohol. Like, I've never even smoked weed, so this was a pretty new experience for me. Me and a couple of good friends took a small dose each, put Heart's Dreamboat Annie on the record player, and just had a really groovy time. It was a very positive, horizon-broadening experience, and definitely something I'd consider trying again at some point.

Saturday, 21 March 2015


I like to keep my nails painted. It started out as just for fun but it's become an impotant part of my appearance. Sometimes my pretty nails are the only thing there to tell the world I'm something other than a gender-typical cis male. This is the usually case at work, where I wear grubby old clothes and forgo makeup.

I waited until the start of my second week at this job to wear nail polish. I went with pale blue. Of course people noticed and there were a couple of weird looks at first, but no one said anything unkind and we just got on with what needed to be done, which is basically what I expected to happen.

Now, recall from my previous post that I'm working at the same company as my mom. Last Sunday (so, the weekend after my second week of work) I got a phone call from her. After a rambling, apologetic preamble she asked me if I could stop wearing nail polish at the job, for her sake. She said that people were joking about it and that it hurt her heart to hear their comments.

I told simply her that, no, I would not stop painting my nails, that people making comments had nothing to do with me and that I wasn't the problem there. I also pointed out that just because people make jokes doesn't mean those jokes are mean-spirited.

It slipped my mind at the time, but I also should have told her that referring to me as a "lady" (which apparently is what some of them were doing) isn't even remotely an insult— that's just a somewhat accurate description of my gender identity. That's fine by me.

Anyways, she told me that obviously it was my descision but she just thought she'd ask. We said "good-bye" and "love you" and ended the call.

Then about half an hour later I got a text from her. It read:
Hi i need to apologize. Dad just explained why it was soo inapropriate for me to ask u not to be yourself. I truly am sorry. Dad was really upset with me but he was right. I should have thought first before i called u.
I texted her back saying I accepted the apology and telling her not to worry about it.

It means so much to me to know that my dad gets this stuff, and that he's willing to defend me. You see, he used to say a lot of weird homophobic stuff when I was growing up, but he's changed a lot between then and now. It's a change that's been especially apparent since I came out. And clearly my mom learned something important that day, too.

People grow and people change, and thank goodness for that. :)

Sunday, 8 March 2015

I got a job!

After four months of unemployment, I finally found a job! Er, well, to be honest, I didn't really find it, it sort of fell into my lap. The company that my mother works for had an opening I was qualified for, and she just so happens to be the HR manager, so I got it that way. I'm a little uncomfortable with how nepotistic that seems, but a job's a job, right?

I've been there a week now. On the one hand, I'm stoked that with money coming in I can now start electrolysis without having to worry about my finances. Yay yay yay!! On the other hand, it turns out that I already slightly hate the job, so that's not as cool. It's powder coating metal products, which is okay, it's just that it's yet another industrial labour job and I was really hoping my next one would be something different. That and the hours are longer than what I want to be working.

The other thing that's weird about it is that every single woman who works for that company works in an office. All of the actual labourers are men— (well, except me of course, but I'm kind of in disguise). And like, I get that there's some heavy lifting and the whole testosterone and upper body strength thing, but I've worked alongside women at jobs that were a lot more physically demanding than this one. And it's a big company too, so it's not just the effect of a small sample size. All that makes me pretty sure that male privilege was a factor in me getting the job, which would be uncomfortable enough if I were actually male, but it feels even weirder as a trans woman. Not to mention that it sucks being the only girl, since I generally relate more easily with women than men.

Rosie the Riveter could do my job no problem.
Part of me wants to keep handing out resumés in the hopes of finding something that suits me better. But I'd feel bad quitting right away when it was my mom who hired me, especially since the company's already spent money getting me certified for various safety things. Another part of me, (the defiant part), wants to stick it out through the course of my transition, just to prove that yes, a girl can do this job. And another part of me, (my guilt complex), feels like I ought to be more grateful for the work when so many people in this world have a hard time finding employment.

So yeah, I guess my feelings on it are somewhat complicated, but for the time being I will probably be powder coating metal.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

A dream

Last night, before going to sleep, I lay in bed watching Youtube videos. Somehow I ended up on that speech Debi Jackson gave about supporting her trans daughter that went viral last year. Hearing it again made just as choked up and tearful as it had then. What followed was an unquiet sleep.

I was in what might have been my parents' house, except the layout was unfamiliar. In what seemed to be a living room, my dad sat on a couch watching TV. The room flickered with that television glow. My mom and I stood off to one side. In this dream world I was out to my mom but hadn't told my dad yet. As he flipped through channels, suddenly there appeared on the screen some kind of crossdresser or drag queen. In disgust, he hurled some disparaging remark at the image, the way I remember him doing when I was a child. But this time, I flipped out.

"Fuck you!" I screamed, "why the fuck would you say that?!" And I didn't stop there: a long torrent of curses followed. When I finally finished he looked at me, totally baffled, and asked: "What— what's this all about?"
"Because," I said, quietly and with a great deal of effort, "I'm... trans."

His face changed suddenly to one understanding. He got up and walked towards me, and as he did, both he and the room grew huge while I seemed to stay the same size. By the time he reached me he was so tall that he had to get down on his knees so we could be face to face. And then I realized I was a small child. A girl, in fact.
"I'm sorry," he said, and he drew me towards himself in a big hug. "I'm so sorry, I didn't know."
"It's okay, dad" I said. "I'm sorry I yelled at you."

And then I woke up.

It took me a few seconds to realize: No, wait. I'm already out to my dad. And he doesn't say homophobic stuff like that anymore. Of course it was only a dream: neither me yelling at my father nor the two of us hugging are things I can imagine happening in real life. But jeez, it seems like I have issues.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Good people

I'm not sure how ended up having such good people in my life, but I'm so glad I do.

Last Sunday I logged in Facebook to find that I had a PM from a cousin of mine. She's someone I'm quite fond of, though it's been a couple years since the last time we saw each other. She wrote:
Cousin I hope you know that we love you and support you. I don't have a clue how you're doing or the specifics of your life but I've got a very rough idea of it by what you've posted on fb. And I just wanted you to know that you're loved and supported no matter what.
I was, first of all, quite touched. It seemed like a good time to come out so I wrote back:
[name], thank-you so much for this. I never doubted that you'd be supportive, but it really means a lot to hear it. :)
Uh, so yeah, I'm transgender. Like, I'm a girl inside. :) It's been that way as long as I can remember but I was in pretty serious denial about it up until about two years ago. Since then I've been trying to figure out who I am and what exactly I should do about it. I'm not on hormones or anything yet but that may be in my future. Oh, and I go by Ashley within the trans community.
Feel free to ask if you have any questions.
And lastly, we need to hang out some time. It's been way too long. :)
In the week since then we've been messaging back and forth, talking about gender and coming out and all sorts of stuff. At one point she wrote:
I'm perfectly comfortable calling you Ashley. If you feel like a girl and want to live as a girl then you're a girl to me. [...] I'm glad you can start being yourself now, I imagine that's quite freeing.
I was smiling pretty big after reading that, you can be sure. Coming out to someone who's so unreservedly supportive is just one of the best things ever. :)

Another thing happened on Monday. My dysphoria was just awful that day and I spent it feeling really terrible. Around 9:00 in the evening hunger got the best of me and I had to leave my room, where I'd been hiding to avoid the people I live with, and venture down to the kitchen. Sure enough, one of my roommates was there. He asked me how my day was.
"Well... not good, actually." I replied.
"Ohh, why's that?"
I evaded this question, which he correctly interpreted as meaning I didn't want to talk about it. Instead he got out some good quality European chocolate he'd been keeping in the fridge, saying: "what's the point of having chocolate in the house if you don't eat it when you're sad?" And the two of us ate chocolate together. A gesture like that can really make something hard like dysphoria a little easier to bear.

And then on Friday it was my birthday: I turned 27. The day before, to mark the occasion, my parents took me out for sushi, which is one of my favourite things ever. And then Friday evening I spent with a group of friends playing a ridiculous drinking game, which was a lot of fun. (The game's called "Loopin' Louie," and if you believe the box it comes in it's for children aged 4-9. The version we played involved shots of Jägermeiſter though, which ups the recommended age considerably).

I think 27 is going to be a good year for me. I'm already planning on starting electrolysis as soon as I land a job, and I'll probably be looking into hormones some time after that. And although those things are scary, I've been reminded now several times this week that I have good people in my life— people I can count on for support, whether it's stated outright or just takes the form of commiserative chocolate (or, uh... getting hammered on my birthday). And that makes me feel optimistic about what's ahead. :)

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Just a drill

The other day I installed some coat hooks on the wall in the front entryway of my house. I got to play around with a power drill, a stud finder, a level and a tape measure; I figured it all out on my own and the results look pretty good. A few years ago, when I was in denial and trying very hard to be male, this sort of accomplishment would have made me feel like Yeah, I'm a man, gettin' stuff done. Now that identify as mostly female, it made me feel like Yeah, I'm an independent woman, I don't need a man around to do stuff for me.

It's telling (and kind of funny) that the exact same activity could have a completely different gendered significance in my mind. A woman using power tools is exerting her independence; a man doing the same thing is just being a man. That, I'm sure, is a reflection of the culture I grew up in.

On an unrelated note, I think I've decided to wait until I find a job to start electrolysis, just because I would hate to start and then have to stop again for lack of funds. I'm not super thrilled about this descision, but I'm pretty sure it's what makes the most sense.

Thursday, 1 January 2015


If you follow current events in the trans community then you probably already know who Leelah Alcorn was. If you don't, she was a 17-year-old trans girl from Ohio, a talented artist, and, most importantly, a human being. Last Sunday, in the early morning, she walked 6 km from her house to the interstate highway and stepped in front of a truck. She died at the scene, having posted an eloquent and moving suicide note to her Tumblr.

The note blamed her fundamentalist parents and their refusal to accept her as anything other than a "perfect little straight Christian boy," something she could never be. Yesterday her mother, Carla Alcorn, spoke briefly with the media, affirming that "we don't support that, religiously, but we told him that we loved him unconditionally."

I've been pretty shaken up by her death. She and I share a similar background. I don't know what would have happened if I'd come out at age 14, like she did. I think it's probably best for me not to think about things like that. By the time I did finally come out, at 26, my parents had grown a little more open-minded and were able to accept it.

I wanted to say something about her, but I'm kind of at a loss for words. Fortunately, other bloggers have been writing, and writing better than I could, so instead of my own words I will simply share two posts that I have appreciated:

UPDATE: It seems her Tumblr page has been taken down. Fortunately, someone thought to archive it on Wayback Machine, (although her oldest posts, including the above selfie, are still lost). I've changed the link in the article to point there instead.