Post-Transition

Come, You Chicken Fat, Come!

t’s interesting to see how, after almost a year, estrogen is reshaping my body.

Besides some (not nearly enough) boob growth, I seem to have a bigger booty, my shoulders have gotten smaller as I’ve lost muscle mass* (yay!), and I’ve now got underarm chicken wings** — I’m probably one of the rare women who’s glad to see the latter.

* The Olympics will let trans woman compete in the women’s divisions after two years on hormones, because their muscle mass is equivalent to that of cisgender women.

** The underarms are the third area women tend to accumulate fat, along with the hips and thighs.

Random Encounters With Potentially Outing Myself

Had a celebratory dinner at a French restaurant where the service is… languid. So I when I asked the waiter for more water, I mentioned that I’m taking a medication that makes me thirsty.

What medication? I tell him. What’s it used for? I pause. Do I tell him that it’s used by trans woman to block testosterone? While I can blend well in a crowd, in up-close interactions I just assume people know that I wasn’t born female-bodied. (There’s a few too many tells.) Usually it doesn’t matter and they treat me as a woman. But outing myself in a random encounter is really uncomfortable — Transgender Day of Visibility be damned. Not explicitly outing myself lets me hold on to the illusion that maybe, just maybe, they’re seeing me as the sort of woman I’d love to be, but never will. Which is kind of a fucked up feeling, but there it is.

So I simply say it’s a diuretic. It turns out he’s just curious because his wife is also on a diuretic to counteract water retention issues. He has no idea he’s asked a triggering question.

That’s what life while trans is like. Random encounters where you have to decide whether you want to be out and proud, or whether you want to just enjoy a quiet dinner in peace and not have to deal with Teh Tranz.

Whatever Tomorrow May Bring

Tomorrow I’m going back to work, and I’m nervous AF about it. (I’d love to take another month off and finally get that recharge time, but I can’t afford to do so — especially since my short-term disability claim has disappeared into the black hole that is the California EDD.)

To a large degree I shouldn’t be worrying. My company, my manager and my co-workers have been nothing but supportive, and I even went to work as a woman for two weeks in December.

But…

That was like a beta test. Many of my co-worker were leaving early for extended holiday vacations, I was out of the office a lot to take care of legal ID changes, and I was just wrapping up a project and didn’t need to interact with other people very much.

Now is the final “shit gets real, really real” step in my transition.

Women get judged far more of their appearance and behavior in the workplace, so there’s that. But I know that — consciously or not — I’m going to be scrutinized about how well I “do woman.”

Will they deep down truly see me as a women? I now really get why it’s common for trans people to switch jobs post-transition. Make a clean start. Somewhere where people will likely know that I’m a woman who’s trans — but don’t have history seeing me as a man.

Then there’s the whole issue of how women are treated differently in the workplace — there’s undoubtedly a huge learning curve about how to handle that. Threading the balance of being authoritative without being seen as a bitch (a particular issue for me because a big part of my job is getting buy-in from stakeholders and the engineering teams I work with), how to handle being talked over, raising an idea and having it ignored until a man says it at which point it’s the best idea evah. And all things I don’t know that I don’t know about.

All I can do is what I’ve done to do date with my transition — keep pushing through. People have called me brave, but honestly I don’t feel brave. I’m just doing what I need to do. But it’s so damn tiring.

Looking forward to a time when I can live life without having to be “brave.”

Mourning the Life I Didn’t Have

Sometimes I am an un-ironic delicate fucking flower.

Today the gender dysphoria hit hard — I’ve been having bouts of crying all afternoon and yet to reach that cathartic cry.

The trigger: my hair. Or rather my my utter inability to style it. I’ve never had long hair before, and being raised as a boy in a household without sisters has left me without even a second-hand knowledge of what do to with it.

It’s times like these that I feel like a 12-year-old girl, on the verge of womanhood and not quite sure how to do it — except that I’m in a 52-year-old body, lacking many of the essential life styles of being a girl/woman that most my peers learned through osmosis by that age.

The head knows that, yes, I’ll learn those skill — albeit having to do so on an accelerated pace (and thank you to all who’ve offered to help).

The head knows that the past is the past, and that I need to focus on the years going forward being able to live as a woman. Especially now I that have fewer years in front of me than behind me.

But the heart is still mourning those lost decades of my life. The girlhood I’ll never have. The young womanhood I’ll never have. The female body — the young female body — I’ll never have. The female friendship and companionship of girlhood that I’ll never have.

I don’t mean to romanticize being a young girl/young woman, because I know all too well how painful those years could be for the various women in my life. And yes, I know women can be just as shitty to each other as men can be, albeit in different ways.

But it’s still hard not to feel like there’s a void in part of me that will never be fully filled.

Failure Is Always An Option

Unsuccessful experiments in blending in….

I had another electrolysis session this morning, which meant I couldn’t really wear foundation, contour or blush the rest of the day until my skin calmed down again.

So I tried wearing workout tights and top, with a hoodie, while getting brunch and running errands. Sporty girl who’s just done something athletic and therefore isn’t wearing make-up,* right?

Well I got”sirred’ twice and I got “the look”** more than few times. Not unexpected, but it’s still always a bee sting to the heart.

At least it was useful as a calibration exercise….

If a number of trans women seem “excessively” femme, it’s because we often have to send unambiguous signals about how we want to be gendered. And being able to blend in can be an issue of emotional — and sometimes physical — survival.

* I did have on mascara, eye liner and shadow, plus lipstick.

** It’s usually a glance held too long, as people are trying to figure out what gender I am, or why “a man in dress” is out on the streets.

I’m On The Right Track Baby, I Was Born This Way

Forgot to check the mail yesterday, so when I got caught up today I discovered I’d received my new birth certificate! (Yes, I literally jumped for joy.)

I’m just really lucky to have been born in a state that will change your birth certificate. Some state require major surgery first. Some states won’t let you change it all — and the Talibaptists are pushing for more state to prohibit it.

Like the “bathroom bills,” it’s part of an attempt to legislatively harass trans people out of (public) existence. Since it forces trans people to out themselves when getting legal ID that requires birth certificate (e.g. a driver’s license or passport). And given the state of things it might not be long before we’re all carrying around our birth certificates just to be safe.

Back In The Saddle Again

So the welcoming from my team was quite sweet. A balloon reading “Welcome Back!” at my desk and a card signed by all my co-workers. Friendly receptions from other people I’ve interacted with.

But just to clarify last night’s worries…

I knew my immediate team would be fine. (I actually rarely work directly with my team members, rather we’re in the same team because we all do the same job.) It’s more about transitioning to being a woman in the workplace, because women are treated differently, particularly in the tech industry, I work with different teams and stakeholders as a big part of my job. So how I’m being treated as a woman at work is something that’s only going to reveal itself over time.

As a cynical friend of mine observed, I’ll know I’ve made it when the 20 percent pay cut comes through.

At Least There is Symmetry

Final dinner in Argentina, at the same restaurant where I had my first lunch. Steak, of course. (At least there is symmetry.)

Has it really only been a month? It feels like a lifetime ago.

Tomorrow morning I head off for the airport. Flying to Panama tomorrow. I have to change planes there anyway, so I’m stopping there for a day. A chance to rest, and maybe to a little sightseeing. Then back to San Francisco International on Thursday night, arriving close to midnight.

Feeling Gravity’s Pull

So today was the first time in week that I wasn’t out in public as a woman at least part of the day, and I’ll be so again tomorrow night and during the weekend.

Admittedly, it’s atypical circumstances. I was at the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend, Thursday through Monday, had a get together on Tuesday, and a show on Wednesday (with another tomorrow night), and another munch on Saturday where I go as a woman.

But it’s interesting to see how over the weekend how routine it became in the morning. Get up, do shave arms and legs in addition to face, put on make-up.

In Vegas my burly family treated me as if I was a woman — even when the desert dryness and all the second-hand smoke in the casino (where BHOF was at) had me sounding like a hoarse Bea Arthur. Though there were a few instances of trans objectification from some of the women — the exotic, unicorn kind of thing. Well meant, but still a bit othering.

As usual out in public I didn’t attract any particular attention; I’m sure there was probably the occasional stare, but nothing that set up my threat-dar. Then again it was Vegas an a trans woman in a sparkly dress is far from the weirdest sight walking around the casino.

OTOH, what’s also notable is that I didn’t have a “pink crash” on Tuesday when I had to go to work in guy-mode. There was a bit of the “glitter crash” that a lot of people get — similar to the sort of “con crashes” that happen to attendees of other conventions, where you’re amped up for a couple days, and fairly sleep-deprived by the end of them.

But there wasn’t a sense of dread of having to go to work as guy-mode. Would I have rather have gone to work as a woman? Yeah, I would’ve. But I was OK with going as a man, even if it didn’t thrill me.

So, as I think I’ve said before, there’s a pull toward the feminine — but there’s not a push away from the masculine. Which is one reason I don’t just go ahead and transition.