Wednesday, April 2, 2014

I'm coming out and I want the world to know...

As the weeks went by I've became more and more emboldened with my transition.  I started buying more clothes, and started laser hair removal.  On Christmas of 2013, I told my best friend about my transition and he was more than accepting of the new me.  At this time I had a small subset of people that knew my secret, but I was starting to get antsy to be myself without hiding.

At this time, I was working at a client with whom I was not at all happy. I wasn't about to add to my stress by worrying about weird looks from people because I was wearing makeup, a wig and women's clothing; not to mention the bathroom situation.  As a consultant however, I knew I could let the company that I work for know about me.  I figured we could start working towards a solution where I could continue to work for them but I could also be allowed to be me.  I did just that and they've been spectacularly supportive of me.  There was just one problem.   They wanted a transition timeline. They wanted to know when I'd be officially changing my name and my gender marker and all that. We talked about having me interview as Claire but the HR director wanted me to have an official name change before doing that.  I wasn't sure I was ready for that but whatever.  I discussed this with my Mom and she became very upset.  This was the beginning of the end of my secrecy.

Starting back shortly after I came out to my Mom I created a new Facebook page, and added many of my friends from the trans* support chat room I was spending lots of time in.  I didn't dare add a single person from my "real" life to that page.  It was completely separate and "safe."  One day, after a terrible day at work, I got home and checked out "Leah's Facebook" as I was apt to do from time to time.  I stared in shock at the friend request I saw before me... it was for <My Mother's Name>.  "Did she know that my oldest sister could see this?  Certainly she did", I thought to myself.  So I got on the phone to warn my mother of this and to tell her of my terrible day at work.  When my Mom answered she wanted to first hear about my day so I told her all about it.  Then I told her about the friend request. She said that she knew that my sister could see it but that is was ok because she told her.  She told both of my sisters.  I was trying to get my hands underneath my jaw to pull it up as she explained to me how the two of them reacted to hearing they had a new little sister.  To summarize what she said, it did not go well.

"Ok, " I thought, " now thats over with.  The whole family knows now."  I was actually quite upset that my Mom had told them without asking me first, but the relief I had from knowing the deed had been done was enough to make me feel better about it.  When asked about why she decided that now was the right time to do this, she said that I had "forced her hand" because of all the talking I'd done about changing my name and how I had felt like she was hiding me from the rest of the family.

A few weeks later another slap in the face occurred when I'd learned that my Mom had taken it upon herself to tell my entire extended family about my transition.  Again, without consulting with me first. This enraged me at first, but quickly I had become even more emboldened.  There was no reason to hide anymore.  Finally, I changed my name on my "real" Facebook page, changed my gender to female, and posted a picture of myself looking pretty as my profile picture.

I am a woman and I am proud to be.  I've finally arrived...

It's been far too long folks...

It's been way too long since I last posted, and that is because there has been a ton of crap going on in my life.  I've been too distracted and / or depressed to post here.  There is a lot to update all of you on though so here it goes.

For the love of God don't tell your sisters:

My Mom and I have always been close, far closer than my Dad and I.  My mother was the first person (besides a friend I knew was LGBT friendly) that I told that I was transgender.  I got completely blitzed out of my mind drinking and I blurted it out over the phone at like 2:30 am on a Friday or Saturday night.  I was bawling my eyes out.  My Mom told me that she didn't reject me, and that she loved me no matter what,  That at least had helped calm me down enough to go to sleep that night.

She came up to visit me the next day and we had a long talk.  I explained to her about my feelings I'd had in one form or another for the past 35 years of my life.  After that conversation, she went home and I had felt a sense of relief that she knew about what was going on with my life.  I'd gotten the impression that at some point she'd reveal this to my father and my two sisters.

A week or two later I emailed my Mom pictures I'd taken of myself after having a makeover at Sephora.  If you have one of these in your area definitely check it out.  In the email, I made a casual joke about the pictures giving my Dad a heart attack.  Thank God he didn't have one, but I was shocked to hear that he broke down crying.  In 35 years, I've never seen that man cry, not once.  I didn't know if I should be happy that he could show such emotion, or sad that I'd "done this to him".

I want to point out that, there was absolutely no reason I could not have spoken directly to my father about this.  I would have liked to.  For some reason, however, it always seems like our family has functioned on a "chain" of communication.  An example was when I was in second grade and my class went to see native american burial mounds in my home town for a school field trip.  I was scared of the toilet flushing at that age, so you can imagine how terrified I was to hear that parts of skulls were being fashioned into face masks by these mound builders.  I was terrified.  I went to sleep that night (or perhaps several nights later) and had a nightmare or simply couldn't sleep.  I went out into the family room and started crying, telling my Dad about just how scared I was of the "bad Indians".  I sat on his lap and cried inconsolably. I think he held me though I don't remember.  A few weeks later I was still scared and I went to ask my Dad, "Dad, did you tell Mom about my 'thing'?"  He responded with, "What? You're still scared of that? No, I didn't tell Mom"  I still don't even recall why I didn't tell my Mom in the first place.  

The point of this is that once again, I was scared of reactions and so I found my channel of communication.  This time it was my Mom.  I was allowing her to speak on my behalf, even though I actually wanted to be the one in control of telling people about me.  She had made it clear that she didn't want to tell either of my sisters because my oldest sister is pregnant is is considered high risk.  If she told my middle sister, word would most definitely reach my oldest sister.  My Mom thought the shock would be simply too much for my oldest sister to handle.

I began to feel like I was being hidden...

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The power of estrogen compels you...

Fast forward to today.  Since September 2013, I've lost over forty pounds and I'm feeling better with each day as I step into my new skin.  I've been seeing my therapist weekly since October and with her support I've decided that one of my first steps in becoming myself is to begin hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

So you might ask, "What is HRT?"  Well HRT is where, with the help of a doctor, you lower your bodies "natural" hormones and replace them with the hormones of your preferred gender.  In my case, I'm taking medications to lower my testosterone levels and increasing my estrogen levels via supplementation.

As of today's date, its been three days since I started taking the estrogen supplement and about a month since I started taking what is called an "anti-androgen" which is a pill which reduces the bodies testosterone levels.

I don't really expect much yet.  My doctor has me on a low dose of both the anti-androgen and the estrogen.  I do already sort of feel more tranquil and less anxious already.  I see her again in three months and we will do some blood work and likely raise the levels of both medications.  Buckle up Claire, its going to be one hell of a ride!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

This is my story...

My name is Leah and I was born male.

Around October of 2013 I was barely living my life.  I was spending almost all my money on going to the local bar, four to five times a week, and was drinking myself into a stupor every time I'd go.  I was relatively new to the city in which I reside;  my social life consisted only of the "friends" I would at the bar.  "Friends" that I would never spend time with outside of bar.  I tried making friends at work, but I could never really connect with anyone.  I was lonely, depressed and had extremely bad habits.  I overate, over-drank, overspent, and smoked like a freight train.  Almost daily hangovers and sour moods caused my work as a software development consultant to suffer greatly.  In retrospect, I suspect the only thing keeping me from killing myself was taking a very powerful antidepressant.

My love life was non-existent.  As a morbidly obese young man I was always self conscious about my appearance.  I rarely made an attempt to approach or date women.  Occasionally I'd work up the courage to ask a woman out, or for her phone number, but it always ended very badly.

But... but... you've got to love yourself first!:

I kept searching for some kind of trick, to make the women to whom I was attracted fall for me despite the feelings of self-loathing I had within myself.  I can't count the number of times I've had conversations with my guy friends about why I couldn't ever get a girlfriend.  "You've just got to be yourself!  And have confidence man! Thats all it takes."  I had always just figured that it was because of my weight that I couldn't find a relationship.  My friends disagreed.  So I tried acting more cocky, tried to be more funny, and tried to have interesting stories to tell these women.  I tried to exude confidence from a place of complete emptiness.  I tried to be more "manly" and after twenty-eight years of life with no facial hair I finally grew a beard!

I knew I needed to lose weight for my health and to find the kind of girl I was looking for but I just couldn't get started and stick with it.  I kept holding on to the belief that I was just not being confident enough, manly enough, to attract a woman and I only needed to work on improving my confidence and to express myself more masculinely.  I'd seen the enormously fat yet slightly muscular cocky guy get the girl more than once.  I thought that was who I needed to be.  Yet, I knew that just wasn't me, I wasn't that person at all.  Not even close.

"Men" have needs:

Over the course of my life starting from my teens up to just months ago, I had become addicted to internet pornography.  With pornography addiction, like all addictions, you have to keep cranking up the stimulus.  I had always been a "novelty seeker" even from an early childhood age.  As the novelty of a type of porn would wear off, I had to keep trying to find the "next fix" of novelty to gratify my sex drive.  I would look at some really crazy stuff but nothing illegal or fundamentally immoral.  All of the "novel" things I would search for, with the exception of a few outlying choices, had one thing in common.  The common theme was gender differences.  I'd watch fake "hermaphrodites" making love to each other. Or a man, or woman and a "she-male" having sex. "But... she-males have a penis! Thats gross, you're gay!" you might say.  Well, I've always chalked that up to the "novelty" factor.  After all, women aren't supposed to have penises right?

Before I finally left porn in the dust, I had returned to what had turned me on the most since I was 12 or 13 years old... imagining that I had the body of a female.

Knowledge is power:

These kinks I was using to self-gratify were extremely disturbing to me.  As a man, I'd asked myself, "What?! Are you gay?" I was a "man" after all.  I would also ask myself, "Why would a anyone who was born male want to be a woman?  Like so much other anxiety in my life I simply shoved into a box in my brain and when on about my daily life.

The anxiety, even with the antidepressants I was taking, had simply become too much for me to bare. Sometimes guys might joke around about how a guy might react to waking up the next morning with a pair of breasts and a vagina.   Basically that he'd never leave the house and would die of starvation because he was too busy playing with "himself."  I had always thought I would have reacted the same way.  That said, this certainly was not something that your average guy thought about in his daily life. Not even once a week would a guy think about this.  For me however, this was beginning to become an obsession.  I could not get the thoughts about becoming a woman, at least anatomically, out of my mind.  The only time the thoughts would seem to go away was amidst a sea of depression that cascaded over me after every orgasm I would have with these thoughts in mind.  These thoughts were so incompatible with my image of myself as man, I had to find out if there were others like me or maybe even a scientific explanation for what I was experiencing.  Finally, I googled the hell out of phrases like "sexual arousal to thoughts about being female."


In the course of my research I stumbled upon several webpages describing a psychological theory that is known as "Autogynephilia."  Autogynephilia is a term that literally means "to love ones self as a woman"  This is a mostly discredited theory that some transgender women, who are attracted to females themselves, transition due to an erotic attraction to their own imagined and ideal female bodies.  The individual who proposed the theory separated transsexuals into to two groups.

The first group were labeled "homosexual" transsexuals.  These individuals knew their self-image and identity were incongruent with their birth sex at a very young age and were sexually attracted to males. They might have been easily mistaken for females at a young age and were often considered very effeminate in their presentation. The second group were labeled "autogynephilic" transsexuals.  These individuals "realized" their incongruence through sexual fantasy using arousing imagery of themselves as an attractive female usually much later in life.  These individuals were often not effeminate in their presentation and seemed very much like every other heterosexual male.

I felt clearly like I belonged to the second group, but in no way did I feel like I was a transsexual.  I had lived my whole life as a male and that was who I was supposed to be.  I read on because I wanted to be rid of this "curse".  I googled "autogynephilia cure."  As I continued researching the theory, I found out that the "treatment" for this so called "paraphilia" was to transition to a female body and live life as a female. This concept was completely outrageous to me.  I wanted nothing to do with purses, or dresses, or makeup, or shoes.  This was nothing more than a sexual kink; a kink I wanted to be rid of terribly. The problem was, the so called "cure' frightened the hell out me and seemed like an incredibly stupid thing for a person to do to "live out" a sexual fantasy.

Reading between the lines:

As my anxieties began to grow I began to research even deeper.  I started seeing more and more transsexual women speaking out against the theory, including both those who claimed to have felt the same way I did and those that had not.  Amongst those who had professed to having had these feelings, many of them believed that these fantasies were a symptom of being transsexual, rather than an independent sexual fetish.  These people believed that their gender identity had to be expressed somehow and their fantasies were the only way it could manifest.  Learning this made my anxiety skyrocket.  I had to do something, there was no way I was transsexual!

The Breakdown:

Enough!  Something within me snapped, and I reluctantly followed the advice I'd seen over and over again on transgender related forum posts by people that sounded an awful lot like me.  That advice was to seek the counsel of a "gender therapist."  I gritted my teeth and sent an email to the first one I could find on Psychology Today's website.  She called me back either the same day or the next.  I was terrified, but I knew I should be in therapy anyways so we scheduled an appointment.

Paralysis of Analysis:

The sessions have been far to much of a blur for me to describe in detail on a session by session basis. Talking to my therapist, however, had uncovered a lot of things about my past that I had pushed aside or repressed.  These were things I didn't think about at all but were buried deep within my psyche. These are a few examples:

  • I had always felt like I was very different from other boys or other men.
  • I was always far more emotionally driven and far more sensitive than other boys or other men.
  • I have a "snapshot" memory from childhood where I was in a bath with my sisters and felt "wrong" because I had a penis and they didn't.  This bath may or may not have really happened but the memory is real. 
  • I've always feeling, even from a very early age, like the female genital configuration was the more "correct" arrangement.  I call this "penisless envy"
  • I've had at least one lucid dream, at a fairly early age, where I "punished" my sister by making her grow a penis.
  • During other lucid dreams, I'd frequently attempt to remove my penis and / or turn it into a vagina or to cause breasts to grow on my chest.
  • A huge depression hit me and has never lifted that started about the time testosterone began flowing heavily in my body (puberty)
  • I would have strange "spells" as a teen.  I'd have the feeling growing up that I wasn't "who I truly was".  I would have extreme feelings of emptiness and ask myself "Is this really who I am?" I would later find out this was called "depersonalization"
  • I've had the thought, at least once, of sneaking one of my sisters birth control pills and taking it to see what would happen.
  • I wore my mother's bra several times as a teenager.
  • I put on my mothers makeup when I was a teenager when she'd go out of town or away for the afternoon.
  • I would get pleasure from fantasies as early as thirteen years old of imagining myself as a woman. 
  • I've have feelings of "confused" attraction for females because of wanting to be with them as well as be like them.
  • Over all obsession over having a female body rather than the male body into which I was born.  

This is just the beginning of what I'd uncovered about myself.  The list goes on and on...

Finally, after a great deal of soul searching I came to a conclusion about myself.  I was born into male body but I am a woman!  I was simply born with the wrong parts!

Time for change:

I've accepted my identity and have decided to start my transition to live as a female.   From here on out I'll be recording my journey from male to female, from the facade to who I really am.  I'll share with my readers my ups and downs as I find who I truly am and hopefully we'll share a few laughs (and maybe even a few tears along the way).