Month: December 2015

Am I the Last to See?

Had a good show last night at one of my regular burlesque shows — albeit just lip-synching (I’m not sure it’s really “drag” anymore…) a really raunchy Christmas parody song that’s become a holiday tradition at the show. (In fact the producer made a point of booking me for it, after we didn’t quite connect last year and I didn’t do the show.)

Afterwards, as he was counting up the money to pay me out, the producer mentioned he’d been talking about me with the producers of “Body Political” show, where I did the “Clothes Make the Woman” act (that’s about my experience of transformation). He said he’s found “my journey” over the past couple years to be fascinating to watch — seeing the change from [boyname] to really committing to being Joie,* including seeing my photos from the most recent BurlyCon (where I was there as a woman the entire time, including traveling to and from Seattle). He meant it in a complimentary “being true to yourself” kind of way.

It wasn’t really the time have a deeper conversation, and we got interrupted before the discussion went any further. But it got me thinking, am I the last to see what other people are seeing?

* “Joie” is how he knows me; like the drag world, there’s a lot of people in the burly world who I only know by their stage names.

But I Like Armor, It’s My Thing

I Like Armor I've my thing

Last night I did a lengthy massage session with a friend who’s really excellent massage therapist.

After she’d been working on me for a bit, she asked if I trusted her with body. Yes, of course, I said (we’ve been sexually intimate in the past). She said everything was locked up and it felt like my body wasn’t willing to let go. Later on she added, it felt like my body was trying to hold everything together. Still later on she was working very deeply on my thigh and asked if it hurt. Only a little, I said, and she was amazed because something that people typically find pretty painful.

Some of it is 30 years of accumulated computer hunch — my body is so used to muscles that are permanently on that it feels normal. Some of is accumulate stress from various non-trans stuff. Some of it that I am trying to hold things together as it seems like I’m doing more and more than just meandering toward a possible transition.

But it also got me thinking about the ways I’m become distanced from my body. Especially in light of the “Nothing But Light,” photoshoot where the photography commented afterwards how my body language was guarded and tightly controlled throughout the shoot, and how I never eventually loosened up like her subjects usually do.

Some of it is the sadly “normal” indoctrination one gets growing up masculine: “boys don’t cry,” “walk it off,” etc. Don’t feel emotions, don’t feel weakness.

Some it is not feeling at home in my body as it now. For years it was more of generalized body dysphoria — my body was just a meat sack to carry my brain around. More recently it’s been more specifically gender dysphoria, in particular not having breasts and hips.

But some of it is a physical manifestation of the emotional armor I’ve girded myself in. If I don’t let anyone in, I can’t be rejected by them. If I tightly control myself, no one will see the gender that’s leaking out; no one can hurt the scared little girl inside who’s trying to figure out what she wants to be when she grows up.

Getting the body to loosen up is something I’ve been working on for nearly the past two years. I’ve made progress (I’ve having far fewer neck/shoulder/back problems these days), but there’s still a long way to go. I suspect it’ll take even longer to reconnect with my body. In some ways I’m not even sure where to start.

(Cartoon added retroactively, because damn, it fits.)



Accidentally Outing Myself

Had lunch today with a co-worker who’s a fashionista (actually went to fashion school, although she’s doing something else). So we’ve enjoyed talking about clothes, which in turn led to a prior lunch.

I’d mentioned that I’ve been building a winter wardrobe (implicitly a women’s winter wardrobe from comments I’ve made) and just today I mentioned I was trying to learn how to do the scarf thing. Plus, as I’ve mentioned, I’ve worn nail polish to the office for a while now, stud earrings and started wearing my hair the way my stylist was experimenting with on Friday.

So during today’s lunch she asked if I had a special someone in my life (she’s married, so it was more of “getting to know you better” friendship question). I said I didn’t, and I wasn’t really looking at the moment, and anyway I was a bit of a specialized taste. “Why?” she asked. I’d been leaking gender enough with her that I just decided to come out. “Well as you’re probably guessed, I’m trans.” “Really,” she said, “I had no idea.”


Fortunately, it went well. She was very accepting. We talked a bit about Teh Tranz and me, and it turned out that she had an uncle who lived as woman (though reading between the lines, the uncle didn’t do any surgeries, legal name changes, etc.)

I don’t expect Teh Tranz to be a major topic of future conversation with her — as I told her, I’m not going to deny if someone asks, but I hope it’s the third or fourth most interesting thing about me — but it is nice to have someone I can be open with.

Face the Face

In a case of fortuitous timing, I got the assessment and photo simulations back from the woman who does the Virtual FFS site.

The good news is that she thinks the top half of my face is not very masculine to begin with (she couldn’t evaluate my lower face very well because of my jowls).

Her recommendations weren’t unexpected — the two big ones are a nose job to remove the hump on the upper bridge and make the tip less bulbous, as well as lowering the hairline. She also recommends removing the brow bossing, and having a lip lift since I’ve got a relatively long distance between the top lip and nostrils.

The simulations she did include all of these procedures, plus opening the orbits of the eye a little, as well as simulating the effect of hormones.

(If I lose a lot of weight, she said I may want to also consider surgery to reduce, narrow, and round the chin and reduce the jaw.)

The changes are more of the subtle side, but definitely do seem to make difference.

FWIW, besides the assessment and photo simulations, she also had advice about the types of hairline procedures that are possible, as well as what’s the best order to do certain procedures that affect overlapping areas (she does work with two plastic surgeons — presumably to do the photo simulations with them).

Obviously, it’s not gospel (and she’s careful about her caveats), but it was worth getting a POV from someone who’s a disinterested third-party.

E.g. she recommended not worrying about the naso-labial folds, even though most surgeons will try to take you into filling them even if they’re barely visible. Likewise, she cautioned against doing a chin reduction — unless I lose a lot of weight, which may cause the chin to look somewhat square — because doing so would cause me to get more jowly, since it would slacken the tension on the soft tissue (which in turn would probably mean getting a face lift).

Gimme a head with hair

I’ve been growing out my hair for the past couple months, and it’s started getting long enough that my stylist experimented tonight with some feminine styling.

Not my best look — there’s not much I can do about my hairline* — and wigs will probably always look better, but it would be nice not to always have to wear one.

* Though several people reminded me that extensions (clip-in or permanent) are a possibility

Not quite brave enough to wear it outside yet, but it’s still nice to be able to look in the mirror sans wig and see a more feminine me.

On a different note, my electrologist has been rather enthusiastic about trying to clear my upper lip. It definitely is starting to feel like there’s fewer whiskers, and today there were two finger tip-sized spots at the corners of my mouth that were totally clear. Admittedly, there’s likely to be regrowth, but it’s really nice to see progress. (There’s also two patches along the jawline, each about the size of two fingers that are more or less clear.)

Workplace Transition, No Not That…

So our CEO announced he’s stepping down next spring — not unexpected, he’s been there for years and the company is hitting a milestone that’s a good exit point for him.

But from a selfish “if I do transition” POV it’s annoying, since he’s known me for years, albeit not well, but we were a much, much smaller company when I started so I did get chances talk with him, and he likes me, and he always seem to get a kick out of me cross-dressing in costume for Halloween.

Granted having the personal support of the CEO is a different thing — and removed from the more crucial day to day interactions — now that our company is the size that it is. But it certainly wouldn’t have hurt.


Things are still reverberating from the “Nothing But Light” photo shoot I did, but I’m doing better. It was a definite (and unexpected) mindfuck.

The photographer is doing an exhibit and may post them online. It’s possible people I know may see them. I knew that going in. (I recently found out that someone I know recognized me in the “American Beauty project” shoot I did that got a lot of publicity.)

Am I OK with it? Not sure yet… I’m leaning toward leaving them as part of the project. There’s already a number of photos from my burlesque performances online, and arguably I look as much “not female-bodied” in those — albeit with the benefit of make-up.

She’ll send me copies of the photos in about two weeks after she finishes the current round of shoots. Maybe I’ll be better about then (or maybe it’ll re-trigger, we’ll see…).

As part of the project, I’m supposed to write something. Whether it’s about the experience, myself, whatever…. it’s pretty open-ended. I’ll probably be writing some version of what I posted Sunday night. About how it ended up (despite good intentions all around) being an intensely uncomfortable experience for me, and the subsequent reverberations.

Partly I think it was bit of reaction due to being at my mother’s for the Thanksgiving weekend and feeling like I had to hide part of myself. (Mom knows about the cross-dressing, drag and burlesque — she doesn’t know that I’m dual-living. Part of it was (the day after) having to let my beard grow out again for electrolysis, which has been making me more dysphoric, since I’ve got stubble four days out of five during the work week. Part of it was a bad hair day — especially annoying because the photographer was running late and I would’ve had time to fix it, if she’d let me know that.

Part of it is that I came in during the tail end of her preceding shoot with an adorable couple (both about 20) in which the male-bodied partner identified as gender queer. They were playful as a pair of puppies and clearly comfortable in their skins.

And I was fucking envious of that. Envious of how they had their whole lives ahead of them in a far from perfect, but far, far more accepting world than I had at their age. Envious of their youth, of their good looks.

It did help that the Sunday after the shoot I had another event where I put my hip pads on. When I got home I left them on instead of taking them off like I normally do, and changed into a cami and yoga pants. Looking in the mirror, seeing my (now) curvy self, I kept thinking this is what I should look like. This is the body I should have.

So yeah, is that telling me something? I suspect so…. Though I suspect it would take more than just hormones and breast augmentation, it would take a fat grafting to the hips to get the sort of curves to balance out my broad child-bearing shoulders.

In the meantime, we’ll see how long it takes for me to go out without hip pads again — something I’d just gotten comfortable doing in the last month. (At least comfortable doing in jeans, instead of the sundresses I was wearing this summer that had enough structure to disguise the fact that I wasn’t wearing hip pads.)