Saturday 14 May 2016

At work

It's definitely time for me to start thinking about when and how I'm going to transition at work. Outside of work I'm now living as myself pretty much full time and am pretty much fully out. And the further along I get in that process, the more difficult it becomes to keep hearing my old name at work, not to mention having to sign it on paperwork. On top of that, the number of co-workers who already know is steadily increasing: there are five whom I know for sure know, plus who knows if some may have heard rumours or guessed.

I recently got gendered correctly by a customer. I do powder coating, which is a method of painting metal products. My company does a lot of work for a lot of different clients. Yesterday, because he likes to jump the gun, my boss had called a client to tell them their order was done and ready for pickup without first checking in with my department. In reality one of the pieces had some flaws and needed to be re-painted. So the customer walks in to the shop with one of the shippers while I'm there sanding down the bad area on this piece, and I hear him say: "Oh, what's she doing? Is she still working on it?" At which point I look up and explain the situation and apologize, saying it'd probably be ready in about an hour.

It was a perfectly normal, mundane workplace interaction, but it felt so nice to get a brief reprieve from the constant misgendering. I was smiling about it for a while afterwards.

Yup, pretty soon I need to have a chat with the management about how exactly we're going to go about this. My strong preference is to keep everything low key and not make a big deal of it. Once that's done I'll have basically finished the social part of my transition. Hmm... I guess next I'll start focusing on the whole legal name change thing. There's always a next step, isn't there?

Saturday 26 March 2016

Back on track

It really sucked having to stop HRT at the beginning of this month. Unable to get a prescription, and having difficulties importing what I needed to self-medicate, I ended up going off both hormones and blockers for about three weeks. That ended on Thursday when, to my tremendous joy, I saw that a parcel had come in the mail for me and knew immediately what it was: my sweet lovely little blue pills. Praise Iravan! (Iravan being the patron deity of trans people in Hinduism.) I'm now back on spiro and estradiol and everything feels right with the world once more.

And not only is my HRT back on track, so is my progression towards getting a proper prescription. I went to the doctor today for the results of my blood test and everything was in healthy ranges. He's going to refer me to an endocrinologist, he just wants to find one who specifically deals with trans issues. He said he'd look around at who's available and get back to me on Monday.

In other news, yesterday I went out on my first actual proper date as a girl, which was kind of exciting. As it happens, the girl I went out with was kinda like really super awkward. Like, I thought I would be the awkward one when it came to dating but not in this case lol. That's okay though, it was still fun. It feels good to be getting out of the house and meeting someone new, too. I think we'll probably hang out again. :)

Sunday 20 March 2016

I peed!

Well I passed another little transition milestone earlier this month: using a multi-stall washroom as a girl for the first time. Up until then I'd managed to avoid the stress of doing so through a mix of presenting androgynously enough to use the men's room, strategically planning my pisses ahead of time, and just plain old holding it in.

(And once, if I'm being honest, lifting my skirt and drunkenly pissing in an alley, next to one of my cis dude friends who'd gone with me for solidarity. We were walking to a bar and we'd just been talking about how I'd still be uncomfortable using the washroom there but really needed to go. At first he was like, "you know any girl who has problem with you in the women's room is a bigot, right?" but then he was like, "screw it, let's just go piss in the alley" and I was like, "okay." Ashley is a classy lady, folks.)

But anyways, this time none of those options availed me. I'd gone to see one of my favourite bands, Nightwish, with my brother and sister-in-law. I'd gotten myself all prettied up with makeup and stuff for it too. Between the two opening acts it became plain that I'd have to do something about my bladder. And so I went and milled about where the washrooms were for a while stressing out about it, wishing there were a gender neutral option, and occasionally checking my face with my pocket mirror to make sure I had enough makeup on that people would be able to tell what gender I was supposed to be. That last one's ridiculous of course, but I was really nervous.

I waited until the next act was almost about to come on so that there wouldn't be many people in there, finally said "okay" and walked in. And amazingly, Janice Raymond didn't leap out from behind a stall, labrys in hand, ready to defend the sacred temple of womynhood lest it be profaned by my rod of male energy. In fact, nothing happened. As soon as I was in there I realized I'd been making a way bigger deal out of it than I needed to. It was just sinks and stalls: exactly like the room I was used to minus the urinals. The two people who were in there didn't even look at me. So I went pee and washed my hands and got back to my spot just as the second act was coming out on stage.

The concert was awesome, even though we were pretty much at the back. Afterwards the three of us went out to Denny's for greasy middle-of-the-night food. Fun times.

The three of us waiting for Nightwish to come on. \m/
A few days later I was at a dive bar singing karaoke with a large group of people I mostly didn't know for a friend's going away party. I did the whole thing again: being nervous about it for a needlessly long time, wishing there were a gender neutral option, and then just going and being like, oh yeah, this is no big deal. Presumably this will become a mundane thing soon enough.

It kind of blows my mind to remember that most people go through their whole lives without ever having to think about which washroom to use. I imagine that must be nice.

Wednesday 24 February 2016

At the doctor

Okay, so I went to see a doctor today. On the bright side, it looks like I won't have to be gated by a psychiatrist to get the prescriptions I need. I explained to the doctor that I'd been taking hormones for two and half months and that the change in my mental wellbeing had been both huge and positive. That seemed to convince him that I'm trans for realsies. On the not-so-bright side, because he's concerned about my safety (and/or an asshole), he won't prescribe me either spiro or estradiol until I see an endocrinologist, and he won't refer me to an endo until I get blood work done.

Huh. It's almost like he suspects my long history of ignoring doctors' instructions and generally trying to game medical system. Which makes sense I guess, I did just tell him I'd been taking dangerous prescription drugs without any medical supervision for two and a half months.

(In retrospect I kind of wish I'd argued with him a little on the spiro at least. I mean for goodness' sake, spiro is routinely prescribed for things like male-pattern baldness and acne, it's not like it's a "big deal" the way estradiol is. Maybe if I'd told him I was worried about my hairline??)

In any event, I was able to schedule the blood test for tomorrow; hopefully things continue to move along at a decent pace. I'm pretty optimistic that the waiting list for an endo will be significantly shorter than the waiting list for a psych. (The doctor I originally saw wanted me to pass through the psychiatry gate, which had nearly a year-long wait, which is why I started self-medicating in the first place).

On the one hand, I'm happy that there now seems to be a path ahead which is at least manageable. On the other hand, I've now been out of spiro for over a week and will run out of estradiol next week. So unless the waiting list for the endo is really, really short (and obviously it won't be) I'll probably have to make one last sketchy online drug purchase and just hope it doesn't get stopped by customs again. Sigh. :(

Oh yeah, and incidentally: when I told the doctor I was trans, he asked if I was transitioning to male or to female, which was kind of amusing, and, in a way, encouraging, to me. Sometimes I forget that my assigned gender isn't just obvious all the time.

Thursday 4 February 2016

It's back

Welp, guess what's back in my life? Depression yay!!! </sarcasm>

I had a pretty good run there for a few months, but it looks like I'm back to lying in bed fantasizing about killing myself in different ways. That's how I spent Monday evening anyways. Not the healthiest use of one's time, I'm sure.

Then on Tuesday I got hit with kind of a bombshell: the government seized my order of spiro at the border. And yes, I know that's a risk of buying drugs without a prescription, I know those laws exist for a reason, and I know that if I'd been making more of an effort I maybe could have found a trans-friendly doctor by now who'd be willing to prescribe me what I need. But for a known risk it still felt like a punch in the gut. What the hell am I gonna do now? If I halve my dosage I have enough for almost a week. Maybe my best bet is to hit up a walk-in clinic again, that is how I got spiro the first time after all.

Oh yeah, and attached to the official document the government sent me was this paternalistic little epistle warning about all the dangers of buying health products online. Among them was the fact that "buying drugs on the Internet may also pose financial risks. In the some cases, the product ... could be stopped at the border by Canadian authorities." Yeah... thanks I figured that out.

Okay, I wrote the above on Wednesday. Afterwards I took some time to do some catharsis, and I've been feeling a little better since then.

For me the best catharsis comes from listening to that heavy metal music I seems to like so much. I'll start out with some dark, sad songs (like this one), move on to songs about dealing with the shit in your life (like this one), and finally end up at songs that are upbeat, positive and optimistic (like this one). And it really does make a difference. I hope everyone has something in their life that does for them what metal does for me. It's definitely more than just a "favourite genre" to me, it has helped me so much over the years.

After that I had enough motivation to tidy the house a little (it had been a nightmare, now it's slightly less so) and to load the bread machine and set the timer so I'd have bread in the morning. Accomplishing a couple small things helped me feel a little better too.

I'm definitely still in a depressive episode and definitely still running out of spiro, and both of those things suck. But they seem less completely daunting now then they did before. Thank the gods for music.

Tuesday 19 January 2016

In which I lose my shit over baby bats

I've now been on hormones for six weeks and I am very happy with how it's going. Before I started I wasn't 100% sure about it (and I think that showed in my previous post a bit), but there is now no doubt in my mind whatsoever that HRT is the right choice for me. It's hard to even say what's different but I just feel... better.

Predictably, the physical changes have been very small so far. Sometimes I see my face in the mirror and think it looks a little rounder, other times I think I'm just imagining it. There definitely has been a bit of breast tissue growth, but it doesn't look like boobs yet— my chest just looks slightly "puffy." My nipples are a little bigger and a lot more sensitive than they used to be. And that's about the extent of it. And yet, even though my overall shape is barely any different than it ever was, somehow it just feel different to be in it. I am much, much more comfortable with my body than I've ever been before.

The only makeup I'm wearing here is a quick smear of lipstick. The fact that I'm happy with a selfie that didn't involve a ton of face effort is a testament to that increasing comfort.

There have been some mental changes as well, though they're a little harder for me to put my finger on. One thing I've definitely noticed, which I was not expecting at all, is a stronger, more visceral reaction to cuteness. It first happened a couple weeks ago: I was hanging out with some friends and for some reason the topic of conversation turned to bats. I brought up a Youtube video of orphaned flying fox pups being wrapped up in blankets. Watching something like that when I was hormonally male I'd have gone "Awwww cute!" and had a big smile. But this time it was more like "OH MY GOD YOU GUYS I ACTUALLY CANNOT HANDLE HOW FLIPPING CUTE THESE BATS ARE!!!!!!" It caught me completely off guard, but it felt like a good thing. Since then I've found other trans women on the internet describing the same experience, so it's not just me. Perhaps the perception that girls, on average, have a greater appreciation for cuteness than boys do has a basis in biology.

I'm still looking for a doctor, but I am so glad I chose not to wait for the medical system to let me through its gates. I'd still have at least half a year of misery ahead of me if I had. At least another six months until I could feel this good about my body or lose my shit over baby bats.

On another matter altogether, I didn't post anything about the holidays at the time, but I'd like to mention them briefly. It was a pretty unusual Christmas this year, both for myself and for my family. My mom was sick and in the hospital for a few weeks, my brother and sister-in-law were out of town, and there were (and still are) some other ongoing issues in my family that I won't get into in the blog. On top of all that, my parents got rid of their dogs, who were also family to me, around the same time. So it sort of felt like everyone was everywhere.

Anyways, I ended up not having any plans on Christmas Eve. I was getting ready to spend the 24th sitting at home alone and drinking, which was a bit of a bummer, when I got a text from a friend. Remember a couple posts ago I mentioned meeting this girl online with whom I was supposed to have a date or something? Well, we never did go out thanks to one thing or another coming up every time. But she sent me a message wishing me a "Merry Christmas Eve!" We started talking. It turned out she didn't have any plans either— she was intending to sit at home with her cat and drink. Since that was basically what I was going to do, we decided to do it together. I drove over to her apartment and we drank and listened to music, and then she taught me how to use a bong and we got stoned and we watched Mean Girls. Not a typical Christmas Eve for me, but lovely all the same. :) I left her place early Christmas morning (after crashing on her couch, nothing exciting lol) to meet up with my dad, then he and I went to visit mom in the hospital. Not a typical Christmas either, but parts of it were very nice in their own way.

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!