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[the sound of music]

January 28, 2013

So, I’m finding that my taste in music has changed in a somewhat significant way since starting HRT. I have to wonder if there’s science behind this. Over the past few months, what had become almost a general disinterest in music during the past several years completely changed to cravings to listen to bands I haven’t given a thought about since high school.

And that’s just it: I have an interest in loud, fast-paced, poppy songs that don’t necessarily scream “talent” in their presentation. It’s a craving for simple, yet familiar songs. This reminds me of what it was like to be 15 years old, finding a single song on a record, repeating it incessantly.

I have to wonder if this is something common among others on hormone replacement therapy. I have to wonder if this sudden resurgence in interest in music that I’ve long since ridiculed myself for ever liking in the first place has to do with the altered brain chemistry of my hormone-riddled mind. I have to wonder if I’ll experience a similar “now exiting puberty” change in musical taste similar to when I was 19, getting into obscure music and then eventually no music at all.

If this is the case (I can only speak for many current experience), this might give some insight into why bad music sells so strongly among pubescent teenagers, with a chemically-triggered predisposition towards familiar sounds, which would suggest radio broadcasters have even more power over teen listening habits (if even possible) than previously thought.

This interests me because, growing up and in college, I majored in music business. What better general business insight than to be able to tie a chemically-driven biological reason to industry income?

Have any other trans people experienced similar changes in audio preference after starting HRT?

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I haven’t really felt motivated to go to the local trans* group that meets 2x/month. It’s not that I don’t like the people there (I do!); it’s more that I feel like I still don’t quite fit in. I feel like I’m (personally) too male-bodied at the moment, not far enough along in my transition to really feel like I’m “one of the girls.” And sometimes, I feel like I’m “not trans enough” for wanting to fit into the gender binary, just wanting to be a woman and not somewhere in-between on the spectrum.

I sometimes feel like the frustration I occasionally feel is discredited by the fact that most people in my life (friends, family, etc.) have been extremely supportive of my transition so far. I know I’m lucky for that, and that’s what makes some of the waves of dysphoria even more confusing: shit could be worse. I know others have it worse. I acknowledge that. But that “…if it makes you feel any better, (insert something worse than what you’re going through here),” stuff has never made me feel better, just made me get frustrated with the world. (example: “I just got a C on this test.” “Well, if it makes you feel better, I got a D.” – no, that doesn’t make me feel better, it just makes me feel sad about both of our grades)

Anyway, this little update really has no point. Life’s going okay, I’m surviving, I’m being patient, waiting for my time to come.

[HRT update: 100 days]

January 18, 2013

100 days, 100 photos

To be sick is to be dysphoric. Nothing quite knocks one’s level of self-confidence down quite like being sick. For the past week or so, I’ve been dealing with what I have dubbed “the cold of my life.”

I’ve been sick before, obviously, but there’s something about having a cold that leaves me feeling more helpless than usual. You’re not sick enough to truly warrant any medical attention, drugs or care from others around you; yet you’re operating your life at (maybe) 75% its optimal rate.

I can’t shake this. I’ve been coughing non-stop for days, sniffling and sneezing, too. My co-workers cannot help but leer at me in that “whatever you’ve got going on over there, don’t you dare spread it,” kind of way. But I take my DayQuil, tough it out, and power through the day. Truth be told, I probably should stay home from work, but, again, a cold just seems like such a tiny thing to shut down my life for.

As the cough rages on, my throat becomes hoarse, making my voice low and raspy. Hearing my own voice is just adding insult to injury.

“Oh, you’re feeling physically ill, body? Here, let me throw in a side of vocally induced dysphoria to top you off.”
“You know, self, you can be a jerk sometimes.”
“I know. You’re quite welcome.”

Here’s to appreciating health when we have it.

Today marks 3 months on hormone replacement therapy for me (0.25ml weekly estrogen injections, 200mg daily anti-androgens). I’m not certain how I feel about my progress so far. I mean, there are certainly some noticeable changes in my physical appearance, but I don’t know, I suppose I had hoped for something more drastic by now. Yes, I’ve seen some breast growth, my skin is softer, etc., but I’m just not quite at the tipping point of where people will go, “AH! You’re a girl!” on a regular basis. Oh, well. I’m still early in this game.

On another note, I met with a manager in my company’s human resources department to discuss being transgender, transitioning on the job, etc. It went… fine. Essentially, I’m going to want to knock out a few things here and there before I end up transitioning at work (name change, mainly). The human resources rep told me about how our insurance covers major trans-related medical costs (therapy, hormones, and even SRS/GCS) just as it would cover any other medical condition. Wow, that’s pretty neat, and apparently, 2013 is the first year they’re offering such coverage.

My company also offers the ability to transfer me to any office of my choosing worldwide (they have 1,200+ offices). While I would certainly want to wait until I’m a little further down the road before packing up and moving across the country (or world), it might be a neat option a few years down the line, to be able to work somewhere where I wouldn’t be known as “the trans one.” Either way, pretty neat.

All-in-all, I need to develop a more complete plan of workplace transition, and set up another meeting with this manager. From there, hopefully I’ll get this squared away shortly, and start being me.

I almost feel obligated to say this to every person I’ve met over the past 6 months or so.

[the 8 year old]

January 7, 2013

Growing up, I went to my mom in tears asking, “when will it get better?” I went on to explain this deep sadness that consumed me (an 8-year old consumed by sadness is kind of a sad vision), that just enveloped every part of my being.

My mom, trying to figure out what was at the core of this sadness, asked, “what makes you feel this way?” I told her how sad, lonely and isolated I felt; how I felt like I was different, and none of my classmates liked me. I told her that no one ever invited me over, and anytime I’d invite them over, they’d say no. I learned rejection at an early age.

[Edit: growing up, I felt so alone that my parents actually bought me a net that would bounce a baseball back to me. This way, even though I didn’t have a friend to play catch with, I could do it on my own.]

“Just think, in a few years you’ll be in Junior High, and you’ll meet some new friends,” she said.

Came and went without improvement.

“Just think, you’ll be starting high school soon. These are the best years of your life!” she said.

Came and went without improvement.

“Once you get to college, the world is yours,” she said.

Came and went… and I had enough. No more waiting for the world. I sunk into a depressive state, becoming a recluse. I skipped classes and drank until I passed out. I self-harmed, hoping that it would either cause me to snap out of it, or that it would just inflict enough damage to end it all. Needless to say, it didn’t end, but neither did these feelings.

Leaving college after 3 semesters due to a nervous breakdown, I moved back in with my parents. Despite not having a curfew, I remained home in my room for days on end. I hated everything about me. I hated how lonely I felt.

After 6 months, I transferred to a college near my parents’ home (should they ever need to get me in the event of another breakdown). There, I finished my degree, doing my best to suppress the dark feelings. They never left.

Finally, here I am. Still the 8 year old kid at heart, still being patient for life to turn around (and I think it’s starting to).

Talking about my confidence, happiness and general quality of life, one of my friends said, “sometimes you’ve just got to fake it ’til you make it.”

Right now, none of those three categories are at the level I’d like to see them at, and so over the past few days, I’ve been trying to “fake it”: acting like my appearance isn’t a constant source of anxiety, acting like I am okay with my current “boy mode” situation at work, acting like I’m on top of the world. The reality is, none of those feelings are genuine. Looking in the mirror and seeing a guy looking back at me makes me feel nauseous, going to work as a guy and being called my birth name is simply torturous, and quality of life isn’t near what I’d like, either. In time, though, I know these things will change: I’ll become more feminine, I won’t have to boy mode it to work forever, and I’ll eventually learn to truly love myself (which is saying quite a lot, as my starting point was a place of deep self-hatred). So, in the meantime, I need to just do my best to get by, avoid moping, and just live.

This is a concept I’m familiar with. In many cases in life, I really, truly had no clue what I was doing. But, I’m still here, succeeded in most things I’ve put effort into. At my current job, when I started there, they’d ask “how familiar are you with working with bulk sheets? Have you ever used this particular ad serving client?” Both answers were, honestly, “no, I have no idea what I’m doing.” Rather than let on, I simply spent time outside of work getting myself to the level I’d like to be at for those skills. And now? I know those skills like the back of my hand, one of the best analysts in my department.

So, I know that “faking it” can have positive outcomes. Here’s hoping that same concept works as an overarching life philosophy.

Out of boredom, I went through and listed out milestone dates in my transition on my Google Calendar. I realize there are pros and cons to focusing on these dates, as it’s not like, “I just hit day # x, woo! *instant changes*” From one day to the next, it’s not like I can really tell a difference in appearance. But, anyway, here are the dates:

  • 1/11 – 3 months HRT
  • 1/18 – 100 days HRT
  • 4/11 – 6 months HRT
  • 4/28 – 200 days HRT
  • 5/28 – anniversary of coming out as trans
  • 7/11 – 9 months HRT
  • 8/6 – 300 days HRT
  • 10/11 – 1 year HRT

Anyway, while I wait for HR to get back to me about setting up a meeting to discuss my workplace transition, I’ve found one thing that makes me feel oddly better about being in boy mode at work:

There’s a homeless guy who stands outside the Walgreen’s at Michigan & Lake, who, for whatever reason, has gendered me female for months. Every time I walk past, it’s something like, “spare change, young lady?” So, when I’m feeling particularly dysphoric, I occasionally walk out that way, and without fail, I get correctly gendered. (I know, that’s super weird of me, but hey, whatever keeps the dysphoria at bay, right?)

So, I’m waiting on my work’s HR department to get back to me with some details regarding their policy when it comes to trans individuals transitioning at work. I sent an e-mail to HR, outing myself as trans, in December, and I’ve been waiting (patiently/impatiently, whatever) for them to get back to me with some firm details. So far, all I’ve gotten is a note that they’re still on this, and that they’ll want to set up a meeting.

It really doesn’t matter if they get back to me today, tomorrow or next week. I’m still going to hold off on transitioning on the job until I’m a little more confident in my appearance, voice, and just overall passing ability. (note: I know that the ability to pass is somewhat pointless, given that a.) everyone I work will/will see on a daily basis will have already worked with me during the time I presented as male b.) yadda, yadda, yadda, passing shouldn’t mean much, and c.) I don’t often interact with anyone outside of our office)

currentAt first, I was thinking that maybe I should transition at the beginning of March, but, really, that’s less than 2 months away. I’ll only have been on hormones for 4.5 months at that point. Then, I thought, maybe I should hold off until April 1. That’s no good, either. The last thing I want to do is show up as me on April Fools Day (*womp womp*). May? Maybe May 1 would work. I still have no idea.

What I do know is that I hate coming to work in boydrag every day. I hate that everyone here only knows me by my birth name.

Balancing my comfort presenting as myself at work vs. the discomfort I feel by having to present as [birth name] is an interesting balance. Hopefully, sooner, rather than later, the balance will shift to the side of “comfort as myself,” and I’ll be able to freakin’ do this.

(picture is from yesterday… still not quite there yet…)