A podcast addendum

For 2 hours 43 minutes and 21 seconds the computer had recorded me speaking into the mic on the headset I wore. 2 men and I had during that time had started off talking about the family and children separation crisis on the border with Mexico, then after that came an interview oriented section where I talked about being a trans woman, how that affects my political views, political issues that affect the trans community and more. After I requested a bathroom break following a bit talking about bathroom bills and their toxic effects, we finished up the late night recording of mostly me leading a discussion on how the blockbuster 1999 film, The Matrix, can be interpreted as a transgender allegory and my belief how that helps to make it a landmark film not just for its visual effects and stylized camerawork.

Now that I’ve written all that down, I understand why it feels that even with how the three of us spoke for that long, I can look back and think of so much else I could have liked to say. Some of it was caused by my inexperience with such a medium and I did not anticipate how fast time would move. It’s also now a weird thing to have listened to some of the recording I made of my voice, one which I’ve been trying my best to move into a higher register and learn to inflect my speech in the way women tend to do. Truth is that during the recording I abandoned that, it’s hard to focus on that when you’re trying to remember all of what you want to say, even when you have a somewhat disorganized sheet of reminder notes on paper by the computer.

And of course when I have listened to me speaking on that recording, I’ve gotten to take the uncomfortable inventory of how often I use verbal tics like um, so yeah, you know when I speak. I’m sure though that practice, better familiarity and greater comfort over time, those can be reduced.

All that now written, please let me write down things I feel are critical and which I left out:

Please never use transgender as a kind of verb. Transgendered is also largely frowned upon by the trans community, it implies that we somehow got converted into being trans and many of us after we make our transitions come to understand ourselves as having always been the gender we now live openly.

So it’s best to say trans man, trans woman, trans person, etc. We prefer that when you write those down you keep them separate. Let me explain: I am a woman who is trans. If a woman wishes to describes herself with other modifiers like race, sexual orientation, religion, etc, English doesn’t mash those together. We don’t write blackwoman or gayman. So don’t do that to trans people.

Regarding pronouns and names: If you remember me from the past when I participated on the OOTP and OTBL message boards with my usernames from that time, I ask that you leave those usernames in the past. It took me many years to come to grips with my identity and then I spent a good bit of time trying out names that pleased me. I selected the name Izabela some months before I came to my decision to transition, I had chosen it for how I had always felt it was a lovely and beautiful and I very much wanted that for myself. When trans people choose their names, respect their wishes to be addressed with them.

For me, it’s not that I’m particularly dysphoric about the name my parents gave or the usernames that I have used for internet message boards, it’s just that by now with where I am in understanding myself and life, those names just don’t feel the wholeness that I have now with Izabela.

Please use she and her for my pronouns, even if you should talk about things I have written on the message boards before my transition.

Finally a note of thanks to Hollis for letting me participate in the discussions he’s been doing with his political podcast, Talk Democratic Dysfunction. I have listened to a good number of them, but maybe a couple of months ago I messaged him on Facebook about I felt it would be really good if he were to have more women come on, if possible. I know the environments of OOTP and OTBL are largely populated by men, but it seems important to me that women are given a chance to speak their voices, especially seeing how they are increasingly joining the Democratic party.

Hollis did point out he had had a woman on the fifth podcast, Red State Blues with Jessi Boyer and it’s a good one to listen to. But he also then surprised me by extending an invitation to me to come on and that was something that I needed time to come to grips with. Obviously, if you listen to the podcast that has me, I have a fairly deep voice and I’m still practicing the ins and outs of making my voice more feminine sounding. Plus I had some trepidation about people linking up the me of now, Izabela, with my old usernames.

Time and a bit of gentle nudging by Hollis kept slowly opening me up to the idea that I could overcome the terror and nervousness about doing this. But most critically perhaps was a couple of twitter discussions that unfolded in the trans community there and in which I tweeted some too, about the idea of representation and how the increasing visibility of trans people has helped many of us to make the decision to escape the closet and live as ourselves.

That, along with the sense that the political situation for so many under this Trump presidency is growing ever more awful for so many including those of us who are part of the LGBTQ community, led me to saying yes and asking what I needed to buy for my computer.

I decided it was important for people to have a chance to listen to a trans person speak, to hear some how being trans has affected me politically and also realize that I’m just as human as them even if having a bit of an uncommon wrinkle in what makes me me. Also seeing how that nearly 50000 people have registered as members of the OOTP boards and knowing what the current estimates of how prevalent trans people are, there have probably been around 250 trans people who have registered at OOTP. Some of those might still be in the closet and like Neo in the Matrix have that splinter in their mind driving them mad.

So I hope that if any of them listen to this podcast, they can see me doing my best to say that being trans is a good thing and that making the transition, while scary and sometimes difficult in a culture still quite hostile towards trans people, it is the best thing I’ve ever done for myself and these past 6 months of when I have now been living fulltime as the woman I am are genuinely the happiest I’ve been in this world.

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This entry was posted on July 9, 2018. 2 Comments

Dear Mom

It’s been a while since I last wrote you, a letter in which I told you about how I was a daughter and not a son. Much has changed since then: I finished telling all my siblings about this and you will be pleased to know that they have all stood by me. I’m a lucky girl there, there are so many stories, too many stories of family members who reject those of us who are transgender.

About 8.5 months ago I finally cleared all the hurdles and gates to be issued prescriptions for hormone therapy. May 26th, you can note this in your calendar as being my renaissance day and it is a mostly slow but amazing magic that I see unfold before me. Although let me tell you that very quickly with how the spironolactone knocked out a good chunk of testosterone in me, that provided me a palpable relief from the tension that had run through me ever since first puberty. Then also the estradiol quickly boosted my sense of smell and taste. I’ve put on about 12 pounds since renaissance day, although as you might imagine I’m still slender enough. I’m not entirely happy about the slight bit of paunch to my belly, but the rest of the cushioning is accumulating in places that make me happy to see.

I still think about you a lot and sometimes I cry some that I never summoned the courage to tell you while you were yet alive. But don’t worry, it’s not too frequent and I’ve also discovered a new magical kind of crying, one that I had only experienced a few times in the years of testosterone. So often now I’ll have little cries for happy things, good news, seeing this girly face taking shape in the mirror, when I wake up and find the 2 cats, Brinkley and Sanouk, snuggled near me. And so much more. I think it’s an effect of estrogen, which at times I almost think if alchemists had any sense, they would have tried adding estrogen to lead and it surely would have made gold…

Of course, it’s been an odd progress at this individual level while it very much seems to me this country of ours is going backwards in some ways. I remember how during 2016 I thought it was a sad thing that you wouldn’t get to see the first woman president of the United States be elected. But it seems misogyny and other forms of prejudice coalesced under the banner of this current president, enough to draw an inside straight of sorts and sneak out a victory in the electoral college. Numbers after the first year of this unfortunate presidency have shown an increase in the amount of violence directed towards members of the LGBTQ community.

So far I’ve been lucky enough not to have encountered any direct discrimination. But at the same time, I always keep a nervous eye out around me when out in public, especially if I head further west of where I live and more into what might be called Trump country. He is awful in so many ways, his words and tweets endorse prejudice and bigotry towards others, his example emboldens the worst among us to feel justified in their prejudices and likely helps to create an atmosphere that encourages bigots to act out in sometimes violent ways.

On the other hand, I’m a very lucky girl and HRT is having very strong effect on me. Some of it is the simple luck that my face never became super masculine in the first place and I now understand that is one reason why I probably looked younger some than my age, as I had retained more boyish features. Now HRT has been taking those boyish features and making them more girlish. If only it also removed facial hair…

But what that means is I can often be passing when I go out in public. Oftentimes now I’m taken as a woman and it’s been a weird adjustment to so often now have men almost rushing to hold doors open for me when going in and out of stores without automatic doors. So that probably makes my life as a trans girl much easier than for trans girls who don’t pass so well. There is still a lot judgment made towards others based on appearance and more masculine appearing trans women can be treated awfully and disrespectfully. Some of that is from the residual bias towards us taught by the years of when trans women were little more than jokes in movies at best, monsters at worst.

Last night I went to a meetup for trans people and one of the women, who’s about 10 to 12 years older than me and who will probably always be obviously trans, talked about her frustrations that it was causing for her at her job. Because of that, she is being pressured not to be herself at work and the clients she serves can be hostile towards her. This is a social level problem and it frustrated me some that someone there said that she just had to rise above it all. Yeah, well, you can try to do that, be the better angel, but sometimes all it means is that you end up losing anyway for no valid reason and you become a victim of prejudice.

This is enough for now. I won’t ask you to describe for me what it’s like for you now. It’s probably well beyond my poor imagination and perhaps language is wholly inadequate to describe such truths, if they exist. That’s what I sometimes I feel like when I try to describe for others how it is I know I am a woman, in spite of this penis. But sometimes it is the fierceness I feel about it, just a certainty down in that center of me, from which all of me radiates. Now that I am full time, I try to let that show more and more and I am happier for me. I finally truly exist in this world, in this society, finally I’m growing into the woman I was meant to be.

Love from your daughter,
Izabela

Everything Evolves And Is Ongoing

I am not transgender.

Huh? What? Huh? What does she mean, this person I’ve sometimes read their blog posts and maybe checked out her twitter feed and followed her there even. For more than a year and a half now she has embraced the term to herself and taken claim of a new name and her womanhood. Her last therapy session with the psychologist was rather celebratory in nature, that she had begun working as herself and had fully exited the closet…

So let me explain the way in which I can see myself as not being transgender, but just simply me. Culture surrounds us, immerses us always in its slowly evolving conceptions, mandates, memes, and more. The culture in which I was born took a look at my genitals when I was born and said, “Boy!” I was then raised with expectations that I was a boy who would grow up to be man. Stuff like getting to play baseball and go out into the woods were some of the better parts of that.

There was also the part which said while I could pretty well go ahead and do boyish things to my heart’s content, I needed to avoid things considered girlish. The culture then was even more strongly divided into a gender binary and because of that, I had very little, if any, freedom to explore another part of myself, the part that thought it could be a lot of fun maybe to play with dolls too and wear clothes other than pants and t-shirts.

Such an artifice creates this idea of transition, that one needs to cross over from one side to the other. As such, if you can follow where I’m getting to, it’s only because of a dominant cisgender perspective, that people like me who reject the gender label assigned to them at birth because of anatomy and decide to take on the other label later on in life, are to be given this prefix trans- to say that we have crossed genders.

But I don’t think that’s inherently true. My gender has always been what it is, it was only made incredibly difficult to discover and accept and take hold of. I have really not transitioned my gender over the past few weeks when I started working as myself or the day that I broke down and cried two times because of the mass murder committed at the Pulse Night Club in Orlando, Florida, or the first time I told a person other than myself that I liked women’s clothing so much I wanted to wear it, or the first time I ever bought a dress, or the first time I borrowed a dress from my sister, or the times when I would have dreams of being a woman or a girl.

I was always me and certainly events have done much to shape me, but I strongly feel that the basic sense of me, this basic sense of womanhood has always been me. So when looked at in that way, suddenly the term transgender seems rather shallow, more of a nod to the cultural framework than my genuine self.

For the time being calling myself a transgender woman will have to do for its level of recognition and for how it is at least fairly free of negative cisgender bias in their use of it, although if the media continues to use it while constantly doubting whether or not we truly exist or merit equal rights and protection, that may change in time too. And I’ll certainly tag this post as transgender to make it more easily findable for those still working their way out of the closet.

I am transgender and I am not. The latter phrase is much more me than the first. I hope that in time more will come to understand that than our still evolving cultural framework and language are able to handle.

HRT, 6 month brief review

A lot has been going on over the last week and a half. I’ve got potential blog posts in draft status right now but am not entirely happy with how they unfold, so maybe eventually I’ll get them into a shape I like and will post.

3 days ago was my 6 month HRT anniversary. In the meantime since then, I’ve bought a couple pairs of women’s jeans, some new skirts and tops, a pair of ankle boots with a small heel, a couple of sweaters, a red winter hat that makes me look amazing, some new lipstick and some nail polish. Haven’t used the nail polish yet.

After 6 months, I think HRT has been very kind and generous to me. My face has shifted significantly, I’m starting to develop a pretty nice butt and I’ve filled up the a-cup bras.

On Monday this week, I got my eyebrows waxed and the woman did an incredible job. She put a good arch to them and my eyes look really feminine now, especially with a bit of eyeshadow and some mascara to make the lashes a little longer looking.

Then this morning I went back to the stylist who trimmed my hair back in mid-August and to whom on that day I had handed her a note explaining that I was a transgender woman still semi in the closet and where I was looking to eventually go with my hair. She was wonderfully friendly and did a great job with the trim, so I went back to her today.

Today we turned my hair to a lighter shade of blond, much more like what I had when I was a kid, before 1st puberty and testosterone turned my hair to a dirty blond. After the coloring and then washing my hair, she used the blow dryer on it and for that, I was turned away from the mirror. The other 2 stylists walked by at one point as she was nearing finishing the drying and said, “Woah, her hair is looking really good!”

I had to resist turning in the chair and taking a look.

When she was done, removed the apron from me and turned me for my first look in the mirror, I was stunned beyond belief. I loved seeing the light blond hair and how my hair continues to look more and more like a woman’s hair. And based upon all the new hairs I can see sprouting up since starting HRT, rogaine and finasteride, in a couple years time it seems likely to be even better.

I very nearly burst into tears seeing all the changes and the skill of the stylist giving me a beautiful moment today, one which made me feel beautiful in a way I thought I was never going to be. I thanked her and hugged her and gave her a good tip when I paid. She deserved that.

—-

Yesterday my coworker who knew that I was transgender since last year sent me a message that people at work were told yesterday and the reaction was positive. She said that it will take time probably for them to adjust to using a new name and pronouns.

Later in the evening I talked with her on the phone and got the fuller scoop. It sounds like it went well and so I feel less anxious about Monday when I return to work, return as Izabela and no longer have to be -deadname-.

—-

I saw the HRT wizard for a followup appointment yesterday and we went over how it was going. I told him it’s been going great and at one point I told him I now consider it as necessary as that other HRT therapy of insulin I do because of type 1 diabetes. He smiled and said that’s a really good analogy.

I asked him about progesterone. He went over what was known, not known and risks. It may help with breast development but that’s not certain. He doesn’t think the breast cancer risk is applicable to trans women because I will only need to use it 2 or 3 years if trying to use it for breast development. He warned that it could cause weight gain and depression in some.

I said, okay, let’s write me a script. I picked up the rx after my hair appointment.

That covers most of the big items, I guess.

I’m really looking forward to seeing how everything turns out a couple of years down the road from now.

—-

25 Weeks HRT, Not Quite How I Planned It, But…

I will get to the story about something unexpected later on…

So I’ve been on HRT for 25 weeks now, currently getting .2 mg estradior per day through transdermal patches and I take a 50 mg pill of spiro 2x daily. As a result I’ve seen much softer and smoother skin, fat depositions on my body and face shifting around, growing boobs, reduced body hair growth and an increase in the amount of hair strands on top of my head. Emotional and mental effects have been profound. My brain has a sense of rightness to it now that it sorely lacked for many years with only tiny amounts of estrogen and way too much testosterone.

In regard to the breast growth, as of this evening I can now report that I have filled up the cups of an a-cup bra. It took almost 6 months and I like to believe this means I have a good chance of eventually having at least b-cup size. I will be very happy with that result considering my age and other factors.

Today was my last Friday at work in guy mode. Next week is a short week, Monday thru Wednesday, then it’s Thanksgiving and I’m on vacation until December 4th, the day when I go to work as myself, as Izabela. I had a 20 minute phone call with my work supervisor today. She went over what the company I work for had been doing in preparation and how they had been talking with the medical facility where I work (the company I work for does contract work at medical facilities and hospitals). She and another person went over with me about name and pronouns and they asked me whether I wanted to have the people who work in the same area as me be brought up to speed about how I’m a transgender woman and would return to work on the 4th as Izabela or if I wanted to do that.

I asked them to do that for me. I could maybe pull it off on my own, but it lends a certain weight of authority if it is handled by hr department people, as it will signal to those being told that I have the support of those I work for. Plus it gives those being told time to start adjusting their thinking. I know in all likelihood I will get deadnamed by people, our culture is not yet adjusted to the idea that people like me change our names.

I was asked how would I react to being deadnamed and I told them that I understand people will be adjusting and nobody is perfect. I would only take exception if some time I’m given a sense that I’m being deadnamed deliberately. Otherwise I’d probably just politely say, “Izabea please” and go on with what I need to do at work.

One thing which was, I guess, amusing was when they said to me that should I ever decide to go back to being Matt, that I give them some notice about it. I laughed because, oh my god, there’s no way I’m detransitioning and giving up HRT. I said estrogen is like magic and for the first time ever since that first puberty, I feel right.

At the same time it being amusing, I think maybe it reveals how cisgender people really have trouble wrapping their head around this. They of course just innately feel their gender like I do, but they have never needed to transition, so transition to them is kind of alien to them. They don’t want to give up the gender they were assigned by the fortune of anatomy. Me? I don’t want to give up the gender I was excluded from at birth by the misfortune of my anatomy.

—-

So bowling league. The way I had envisioned it was for the team and I to tell the league officers after league on November 15th. But one of the league officers wasn’t going to be there, what ended up happening is that I wrote an email that a fellow team member than forwarded to a league officer who would be there. I laid out the schedule of things, but I guess somehow it was taken to mean that I would be coming out to the league on the 15th!

I found that out when before the league it was all talked about having a quick announcement meetup prior to league. It was kind of like “woah I didn’t plan for this tonight” in my head, but I decided quickly enough that it was okay just to get this done and get it out of the way.

The reaction from fellow league members was positive. A couple of the women gave me hugs and words of support. It’s harder to know what went on in everyone’s heads and whether there might be some in the league who might think ill or poorly of me for this.

But I was told that my name would be changed on the league sheets and the scoring screens above the lanes.

You know, I realize a lot happened this week…

Week 24 HRT, First Boymode Fail

I’ve been rather busy on the weekends and have written some initial drafts for posts that I decided against posting. A lot of change is happening and it’s a bit tiring for me sometimes, but that doesn’t mean that progress has stopped and I can at least tell about a recent little happening that really made me grin some.

It was Tuesday afternoon this past week, a rather dark, wet and cold day. In fact later when I did a short run to stretch the running streak to 940 days, I was a drenched rat who urged the car heater to go nuclear and make me warm and dry after my run at a little community park.

But about an hour before that, I was still at work and had ended up having to haul 9 large envelopes stuffed with papers that would need to be picked up by FedEx. So I had taken a cart down to the front entrance of the building where I worked and found myself waiting while a large number of people, both entering and exiting, streamed in and out. I elected to wait for them all to clear before herding the packages through the automatic doors. The last 2 people to enter were an elderly couple, a woman with a walker in the lead and a man, likely her husband, holding an umbrella up over her until she was sheltered from the rain by the building. He then followed her in but as he began to go through the second set of doors by which I was waiting to the side, he spotted how there were umbrella bags to his right and behind him, so he twisted back to grab one in order to bag up the wet umbrella and not drip it throughout the building.

I stood there, waiting, smiling a little, dressed in an Oxford shirt and dress pants, still a guy for all intents and appearances it would seem. Except then, as the old man fumbled some and stood there, the elderly woman spoke up and said, “C’mon, hurry up, she’s waiting!”

There was no one else but me who could be seen as waiting right then and there.

She.

It wasn’t just me waiting, it was she who was waiting. Maybe the woman’s eyes were old and not the best, but she saw enough visual cues to her that said woman and thus she saw me as a she in spite of the guy clothes.

That put a big smile on my face shortly afterwards and helped to reassure me that HRT is having some amazing effects and hopefully with me only being about 5.5 months on it, still a lot more progress to come.

20 Weeks HRT, Yin and Yang

Warning, this blog post will end up discussing bigotry-inspired violence towards transgender women.

So first there’s this. At the end of work on Thursday, I talked some with my colleague at the desk next to mine. I told her last summer about how I was going to transition and she’s been a solid friend, never casting doubt on me and she watched the NatGeo documentary done by Katie Couric which is one of the best resources for cisgender people to watch if they want to understand transgender people better. Since I got the work transition date set, ever since I’ve been thinking some about how amazing this is, something which for so long I had thought impossible.

I’ve thought about the incredible courage of the transgender women who broke open the path before me, the ones who went to their supervisors and HR departments with no company policies in place stating non-discrimination towards employees and their gender identities. So I’ve thought how amazingly lucky I am that I will have the support of my HR department and supervisor. And I’ve thought about how lucky I’ve been to have this coworker next to me as I haven’t had to feel so alone and I’ve had a way to vent some frustrations over the past year as I’ve lived this life that’s been half in and half out of the closet.

So because of that, I turned to her as we were the last ones to leave the offices that day and said thank you, my eyes filling with tears, my heart filled with a sense of wonder and gratitude that I will have this chance to live fully as myself.

—-

And then there’s this. It’s part of every trans woman’s thoughts in some fashion. For me it manifested in a nightmare overnight. I was in guy mode in it and found myself among people who at first seemed normal and safe. But then clues began dropping into the dream. A man was in it and he had a swastika tattooed onto his arm. I overheard another person make a joke about a tranny. And suddenly I knew that I was unsafe, that if it was somehow revealed that I am transgender, I would be a target for harassment and violence, maybe death.

I have nightmares like that because I hear the news and stories about women like me being killed and violated for no other reason than because we’re transgender. Our lives, when we’re not in familiar places and with those we trust, are constantly nagged by a fear that there may be that one or more, those who have been steeped in a long cultural history of prejudice and bigotry, who will think it give them justification to harass us, to attack us, to make us unsafe.

—-

I had my worst boobsmash ever this past week. In a hurry to get to bowling league, I grabbed the bag with its ball by its strap and then slung it over my right shoulder. As a result, the half-fist formed by my left hand fairly punched the developing right boob squarely on its nipple and I let out a half-scream of shock and pain. It basically throbbed for the next day or so.

Also this past week we had a day of heavy rain, the first really rainy day here in a while. The boobs really ached that day.

I also had a dream in which I saw an old high school acquaintance who I haven’t seen since high school. I caught up to her and said, “Hey it’s me” and she didn’t recognize me at all…