Here we are in February 2013, then, and in a week’s time, I’ll have been transitioning for 2 years. Significant things tend to happen to me on 24th February, and that time 2 years ago, I’d just spent a weekend in Bristol with friends, found myself wondering why I felt so out of place listening to an LGB choir I used to belong to singing We Are Family… and told a friend “This is it, I’m not doing this any more, I need to transition.”
I’d been thinking about it for several months before that, but that was just because I’d been so firmly convinced that I didn’t know what I wanted, I felt obliged to take the time first.
Anyway, within 2 months I’d had my first laser session and my first appointment with a gender psychiatrist. Five months later I began taking oestradiol (I’m sticking with British spelling, I like the connexion to Oestre) and anti-androgens.
Here we are in February 2013, then. I’ve changed every bit of legal paperwork I can change to reflect my female gender and my chosen title of Ms. I’m out to everyone significant now, even to my landlords at the pub I live above, as of last month. The only people I still haven’t told that I want to tell are the nice folk who run my local wholefood shop!
There have been a few hiccups in my hormone treatment – last summer, I had a horrible testosterone spike when I was taken off anti-androgens, so I put myself back on them. Since then I’ve been having triptorelin injections, which do the same job better than the tablets did. But my oestradiol levels didn’t go back up very high, and for the last 6 months, I haven’t seen any change in my boob growth.
A couple of weeks ago, I got to see the doc at the gender clinic, after a much longer gap than was normal (not his fault). He decided to up my oestradiol dose, and my boobs are already growing again. I’m particularly relieved that my right one is growing, as it’s a lot smaller than the left, due to something I’ve after 50 years only just found out is called Poland’s Syndrome. Smaller bones, some undeveloped or missing muscles in my upper right quadrant (especially the large chest muscles). And a smaller nipple!
What I’m finding fascinating is that after a lifetime of being more or less self-conscious about my asymmetry (as a teenager, I felt that I must be sickening to look at), my transition is making me look more and more symmetrical – I’m losing muscle bulk on my left side, and gaining fatty tissue on my right side where there was just skin and no muscle before, so I really do look as well as feel more like my true self, more balanced.
The other significant thing in my conversation with the gender clinic doc was that I mentioned how the more my body feminises, the more impatient I get to have my GCS (Gender Confirmation Surgery, also known as Sexual Reassignment Surgery, but I don’t like the implication that someone else is reassigning me). The doc could see that what I needed was reassurance and some information. He told me he’s very happy with my progress and my “outness”, and he told me a piece of very good news.
In April, there’s a big change in the NHS system in England and Wales, where regional funding bodies known as Primary Care Trusts (PCT) are being disbanded. This is a very good thing, from the gender clinic’s point of view. Up until now, everything they agreed to do for each of their clients – hormones, laser treatment, surgery, etc., even taking them on as clients in the first place – required them to apply to a board at the PCT for funding, and then wait for that board to convene and make decisions and allocate money. From April, the clinic will simply have a budget, and it will allocate that itself. So I’m to be referred to a psychiatrist in April for a “second opinion” on my female nature and transition, which is a requirement for surgery. As soon as he gets this, the doc will refer me to the surgeon for a consultation, and as soon as that’s happened, I’ll be on the surgery waiting list.
I had been under the impression I’d be very lucky if I saw surgery before next year, but now I’m told it could happen as soon as September.
I am deeply happy to be told this, and for the affirmation that went along with it. Of course, I’m not counting my chickens, anything could happen. But it’s funny how being told this, and also having my oestradiol dose upped, has made me settle more easily into myself once again. And a consequence of this is that I’m getting more strangers gendering me correctly, which still surprises and quietly delights me.
A curious thing (though not entirely unexpected): I’ve told my friends that this might be happening sooner rather than later, and I’ve noticed them mostly taking me more seriously as a result. The power of the Clinical Voice From Above. It has, however, clearly in a couple of cases unsettled friends all over again, as they’d sort of had it in their minds “Oh well, that’s not happening for a while yet…” and were not entirely dealing with me and where I’m headed. So lots of interesting conversations lately!
Meanwhile, in the world of me and PTSD and EMDR (and other 4-letter acronyms…) I’ve now had 4 sessions of EMDR, and I can definitely feel myself (and others have noticed me) changing. I am more bold, less of a “victim”, and am starting to be able to contemplate one day being fit for work again in the future. I’m just beginning a distance-learning course to get properly qualified as a proof-reader, something I’ve been doing untrained for over 20 years (I seem to have a natural talent for spotting wonky patterns of spelling, punctuation, or sense) but getting this qualification will mean I’m much more employable at this. I also have some currently still nebulous possibility of working on a team with other Buddhist women near here, helping them to run a therapy centre they want to put together. It’s very affirming to be invited to be part of a women’s collective, cultivating an ethical team-based livelihood. And would mean I wasn’t just sat on my own with my page-proofs all the time!
I suppose I’m saying all this to say: despite the insane flume ride that the last 2 years have been, I feel more and more as though I’m getting at last to grow into my female body, as my female body grows on me. Two and a half years ago, I was (I still can’t think of another way to describe this) visited by a goddess with peacock feathers in her hair, who helped me to wake up and step out into my woman nature. Here I am, pretty damn awake and out, and the world is bearing more witness. I’m more grateful than I can say.
I have this funny habit, for a proof-reader, of posting my blog-things and then reading them through properly and correcting errors. In my defence, it’s very hard to proof-read your own writing…]