A journey to San Francisco to become no less than Me. (BLOG REBOOT: Former site of Hairy Legs.)

Archive for August, 2009

Fucking with my hormones.*

(*And for your information, I happen to very much like how the first word that anyone reads on this blog will be “fucking” as long as this is the latest post, and anyone who finds that offensive probably shouldn’t be mucking about in this territory anyway.  This post gets explicit.)

Hormones.  How long throughout my adolescence I thought the whole hormone stigma was a cop-out for people who can’t deal with their emotions in a healthy and rational way!

To be fair, looking back, I went through more of a boy-puberty than anything.  At about 13, I hit a sex drive amp-up that pretty much took the forefront of my mind.  It was then that I started wishing for a fuckbuddy.  I wanted a girlfriend, a boyfriend, ANY friend, that would, above all, have the drive of a sex-starved orangutan.  I didn’t care about looks as much as personality (read: a horny personality.)  And for years, because I was a repressed, shy little boy who was humiliated by being forced to wear skirts every day and socially awkward because of an overbearing religious lifestyle, I kept that to myself.  During a considerable chunk of my freshman year, I couldn’t concentrate during class because visions of humping danced through my head.

I also discovered masturbating at about that point.  It became like a drug, to the point where I’d be so wired by sexual tension throughout the day that, often, I’d come home and the first thing I could think of was running to my room and jerking off.  I remember a point in my adolescence where the average j.o. tally for the day ran around 5.  When you think about it, it’s not that hard to imagine, since not being limited to a “reload” time ofen led to multiple sessions.  Waking up with the proverbial morning wood almost every morning, it became the “best part of waking up.”  Returning home from a school, off to the bedroom with ya.  And most of the time I couldn’t fall asleep without getting it out.

It became a very comfortable and integral part of my life.  It was really the only emotional need that was overbearing, and since I could take care of it in a private and non-intrusive way, I considered myself a very rational and unemotional person.  For many years I didn’t cry about anything, ever, not even at my mother’s funeral.  I could always think things through steadily and come up with a reasonable solution at the end.  I never experienced PMS and thought that girls just used it as an excuse to be dramatic  And looking back from this end of things, I guess I had more of a testosterone mental setup than anything.

Enter sex.

This was where things started to shake apart.  I began to realize the difference between orgasm and fucking, where an orgasm was a physiological reaction that released feel-good chemicals, reduced stress and put me in a generally happy place for a little while, while fucking was an above-all important psychological need.  And not just sex.  Lying there and taking it, bottoming… well, it felt nice if I was in the mood, it gave some intimacy, which was okay, but I could get all that if I wanted it through snuggling.  The physical act of fucking something, topping it and dominating it, was an all-important stress release mechanism that was so bittersweetly close to what my body and mental map needed that it took me into a new emotional place, where screaming, laughing maniacally, and even crying were permitted.  My beautiful partner gave me all that and more when I gave him a desperate bootycall last year, and the rest, as they say, is history.  Most people don’t build relationships based on sex, but as fairly simple, male-minded creatures who each needed nothing more than sex, our relationship couldn’t be better.

But back to fucking.  It almost became humiliating how obvious my emotional need to have a functioning dick was.  I’d be there on top, humping and fucking furiously, almost completely unaware that the phantom sensation of my missing dick was, for all intents and purposes, unreal, lost in my passion and frustration, so close to climax and yet so far from the physical act of ejaculating, and right there, where the tension between how close I was and how far I was reached critical mass, I’d lose it.  I’d reel into a kaleidoscopic paroxysm of mania and lose control of my reaction, yelling, sobbing, and generally throwing a fit.  I came to the conclusion that the only way for my body to physically come was through my tear ducts, and tried to cope with the embarrassment of my sexual inadequacy and the emotional issues on top of it without falling into a complete wreck.

I wasn’t doing so hot.

My gender dysphoria, particularly in an area so important to my mental health as sex, started taking over my life and, paradoxically, the more I realized I was meant to be in a man’s body, and the closer I came to trying to right this wrong, the more emotional I got.  But it generally remained in the bedroom, up to a certain point in time.

Enter birth control.

Up to this point, everything had been naturally occurring.  My emotional roller-coaster had been due to the increasingly obvious need to be in my proper body.  But now, stupidly, I threw something else into the mix.

You see, me and my partner both love sex in all its various forms so much that, often enough, I’m willing to take it the traditional way, as long as I’m feeling confident enough in my own gender that having sex with the wrong body parts doesn’t rock my mental boat.  I generally prefer your traditional gay buttsecks if I feel like bottoming, but sometimes it’s just easier to work with what I was given.

Well, to that end, and since one of my longest and most gripping phobias is pregnancy, we decided that being responsible with our condoms was not enough and opted for birth control.

This was the worst idea I ever had.

I chose to go with Depo, which is a birth control shot that works for 4 months without having to take any pills.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.  I’m notoriously bad at remembering to take pills, and since at that point I was convinced that hormones are such a psychosomatic and easy to control thing, I was confident that it wouldn’t affect my mental state in any way.  One of the other things that I flouted was that once you take the shot, you’re STUCK with the effects for a third of a year and there’s nothing you can do about it.

I underwent one of the most horrifying transformations of my life.  I’m not sure what kind of hormonal cocktail is in those shots, but I’m convinced that it kicked my estrogen production into overdrive.  The fatsacks on my chest decided to grow half a cup size, my figure feminized as my waist slendered and my hips packed on fat like fucking camel humps, even developing stretch marks.  And the worst thing was what it did to my mind.  I took this shot five months ago and I’m just barely beginning to remember what it was like to be rational.  For the first two months, I didn’t even connect the dots and realize the shot was the cause.  I just thought I was going insane.  My sex drive dropped off the face of the earth for no adequately explored reason, which confounded and horrified me.  For the first time since I was tiny, I knew what it was like to not want sex every waking moment, and it was unbelievably uncomfortable to the way my mind worked.  (Also, though I guess it could be considered a good thing, my compulsion to masturbate dropped to only once or twice a week, though in itself it was a frightening sign of things drastically changing in me.)  When I was challenged with something, I’d become frustrated and overreactive, sometimes screaming something in response before I even realized what I was saying; a stark contrast to my previous mode of thinking any response through before letting it out of my mouth.  I was bitchy and moody, getting angry over the stupidest, most inconsequential things, and my relationships with people were falling apart.  It killed my social confidence, and while I outlashed at the slightest provocation, my initial aggression and assertion waned.

It was the worst thing I have ever been through, and when I realized it was the result of a compound in my body that would be gone in a matter of months, I praised Jesus (in spite of all the things that man has done to fuck up my life in current society).  My head has been clearing slowly but steadily, and though I still have the occasional irrational backlash, I’m definitely feeling more stable these days.

Enter the Pill.

***

Other methods.  What can I say?  I’m on medicare and it only covers the shot, the IUD (which we tried and failed to insert), and the Pill.  I have a prescription for it sitting down at the Rite-Aid pharmacy and I’m scared shitless to go pick it up (as if, just by touching that demonic little round case, I’ll be turned into a raging psychobitch again).  Of course, the major benefit is that, if I don’t like the side effects, all I have to do is stop taking it and wait for it to filter out of my system, which will be more a matter of a week than several months.  But after that horrible experience, I don’t want to be like that even for one more day.  Of course, I have to factor that into my terror of having a living alien spawn inside of me, growing and sucking off my life force, and then clawing its way through the most unwelcome part of my body into the world to guilt-trip me into figuring out what to do with it.  Fuck that, all of it.  The entire idea has been completely unsavoury to me since the first time I heard where babies come from, and I’ll have none of it.

I guess it’s off to try these stupid, evil little pills.  Last resort.  If it does what I hope it won’t, it’s back to condoms and hoping something doesn’t go terribly wrong.

Of course, all of this confirms to me that testosterone is the Good Idea of the Year.  I’ve been to one end of the spectrum and it scares the living shit out of me, and being fairly convinced that I’ve been living closer to the other end of the spectrum naturally all my life anyway, I’m just more at home there.  Besides, it’s possible that I’ve always naturally produced more testosterone than usual anyway.  My physical body has some evidence to it.  I’ve always had broad shoulders (one of my friends once said I had a “man-back”), heavy musculature and strength that surpasses any female (and a lot of guys) I’ve ever had the chance to arm-wrestle.  I’m a little hairier than your typical bio-female and I’ve always craved far more red meat and general protein than anything else. And oddly enough, when I’m really in domination macho-man-mode, my boyfriend says he thinks he can see a little bit of five-o-clock shadow, which is really strange because I thought I saw it before but decided it was too silly to bring up.  I mean, I don’t know if it’s possible to be so mentally male in a certain moment that your body puts out an extra shot of the corresponding hormone and it causes a slight physiological reaction (especially in facial hair, which would be doubly weird because it apparently goes away after a little while), so I think he and I both are probably just seeing what we want to… but it’s enough to make you wonder and dream.

Of course, my biggest fear is the whole hormone-reversal bit, in which you get too much T in one dosage and your body amps up the estrogen to try and balance it.  Or anything else along those lines.  Or even that T will make me as crazy as that Depo shot did, which I seriously doubt but still fear to an extent anyway.  Long story short, that experience with the Depo has made me very wary of fucking with my hormones ever again, but in the long run it’ll probably just make me more cautious, which could be a good thing anyway.

Fuck it, why do I always try to make the ends of these things positive?  That shot with the Depo SUCKED ASS and that’s all there is to it.

One large leap for a transman, one tiny step for transmankind.

If you pay close attention to the way I mangled that quote, it’ll all make sense by the end of this post.

Today, I just made the first huge jump in my personal journey.  I went in for an intake at the hospital to get in with a psychologist for gender counseling, which means that probably by tomorrow (if the nice lady keeps her word) I’ll have a gender therapist!

Today was fucking awesome.

I could barely keep my lunch when I walked in to the reception area.  In fact, my first move was to turn around and walk out.  I know this area isn’t too friendly to “alternative lifestyles.”  But I stopped at the door, turned back around, and marched myself back in there.  Or rather, tiptoed myself back in there.  It was kinda late in the afternoon when I showed up, and the room was empty and abandoned as Antarctica.  Nobody behind the desk.  I could hear the wall clock ticking, and for the first time, I was really uncertain of myself.  I felt cold and alone and unwelcomed, and I began to wonder if this was even the time or place to start.  I looked around; random fact sheets hanging on the walls like they have at every clinic, none of them pertinent to me, boring magazines with names like Lifestyle and HomeMaker or whatever, no bell at the desk to let them know I was there.

I felt weirdly displaced.  I would been more comfortable at a mime convention.

Then the receptionist popped out of fucking nowhere from the back, slamming the door as she came in, nearly making me jump out of my skin.  I found my feet and regrounded as she addressed me.  I was determined not to fall back on my “making pleasantries” nice voice; this, I asserted to myself, was not the time or place to convince people I was “normal,” or a girl.  It was time to be myself.  I brought my strained speaking voice back down into my chest from where it was hiding out of fear up in the top of my throat and looked her in the eyes, trying to keep my gaze or voice from quavering.

“I was told this was where I could come to have an intake done,” I said, probably with more oomph than I needed.

She looked me up and down and said, “Yes?”

There was an awkward moment as neither one of us could figure out what information the other person wanted to hear.  I was afraid she was going to ask for my name and date of birth and all that, and I really didn’t feel like saying my legal first name.  I think she probably wanted me to say my name without having to ask, for some reason.

Finally, the stalemate broke as she handed me a clipboard with about nine thousand sheets of paperwork and told me to bring it up when I was finished.  At that point, the real tension and awkwardness faded and I pretty much felt confident the rest of the time.

Now, somehow I hadn’t thought of having to do paperwork, and when I saw all the places I was going to have to fill in my name, I shuddered.  Plus I’d forgotten to bring my medicare card.  Luckily, she said she’d be able to run my social security number and bring that info up for me.

I noticed something funny as I was filling out the paperwork- every time I was forced to write my legal first name, my handwriting got cramped and rushed.  When she came into the waiting room to get my social security info, I asked her if there was anywhere on the sheet where we could write our preferred nicknames or anything like that, because I hated being called by my first name.

“No,” she said.  “What would you like to be called, though?”

I looked her firmly in the eyes and said, “Jack.”

A lightbulb came on in her eyes, as if to say in bold red print on her forehead, “Ohhh, one of those.”   I’d chosen NOT to bind today or do anything that would really artificially enhance masculinity, such as face shading or anything like that- I was just wearing guy’s clothes.   I wanted my therapist or whoever would see me today to see what I was stuck in, what I was dealing with, and how far I had to go, so I knew I was going to get “ma’am”ed by anyone unless I corrected them.

It felt like a minor triumph, though, as she smiled and went back into the other room to run my information.

The other noteworthy part of paperwork was the section where it asked for sex.  There were four options: Male, Female, Transgender, and Other.  The only box I didn’t consider checking was Female.  I thought about checking Male but decided that might be considered purgery, almost checked Transgender and decided that hadn’t been medically “diagnosed” yet, and wound up checking Other.  They’d figure it out pretty quick one way or the other.

After I turned in my paperwork, I shuffled through the magazines and found only one that looked even remotely interesting: WebMD.  There was an article on penile implants used to help guys with ED get an erection, and I considered its compatibility with phalloplasty- I prefer the idea of metoidioplasty, but I’ve heard some gruesome rumors about the way phalloplastied guys get an erection, and this seemed like a reasonable alternative.  I was actually hoping that the lady who did my intake would see me reading it when she came in to get me, out of some weird desire for her to make the connection that penis issues were relevant to me, but I don’t think she noticed.

Well, at the risk of making this WAAAY too long by pointing out every single damn detail of the visit, we’re just going to hit on the highlights by saying she was totally awesome.  She was the first person in the professional sector who didn’t treat me like a disaster or a freak, she really listened, really seemed interested and she called me by Jack throughout the entire visit.  Even when she left the room to talk to someone else in the clinic who had seen me before, I overheard her use the proper pronouns.  I’ve never felt so respected in my life.

I mentioned, among a lot of other things, my trouble with writing my legal first name in paperwork, and when it came time to sign some MORE paperwork at the end of the session, she did something that really shocked me.  She filled in the “print name” line for me in this format- “K****** ‘Jack’ H*****,” and then told me to fill in the signature blank with whatever name I wanted to.  I don’t know why it had never occurred to me that I could sign whatever name I wanted- nobody can ever read signatures, anyway!  I couldn’t keep the grin off my face as I signed my REAL name for the first time on a legal document.  She beamed and said, “I can see how much you’re enjoying that.”  It made me feel a little goofy, but I was on top of the world and nothing could bring me down.

It’s the little things that make life worth it.

She called me a pioneer, particularly in our county, and said I was in a unique position to change people’s lives.  For the first time, I didn’t feel like a social pariah and a castoff, something to hide because people can’t deal with it yet.  I felt like I was worth something.

She said that she was going to do her best to get me in with a psychologist ASAP so they could start that part of the process.  I know that there are things that they’re going to want to work on, probably for a long time, before they even think about okaying me for HRT.  I’ve got an old record of Dissociative Identity Disorder in my file following me around that they’re probably going to root out and analyze from every angle until they’re 100% sure it’s not going to be an issue in the future, and I hear the process is longer for people who have a mental record.  That’s why I’m not afraid to start the mental health aspect of transition before I move out of town.  I know I can’t do transition here, and it’s going to be about a year before I can move (but that’s another rant).  In short, it just seems like time to start the ball rolling.

As I left the office, she saw me out the door.  I turned and waved goodbye when I got to my van, and she waved back, “Bye, Jack!  I hope to see you again!”

Hearing my name called out with absolute faith by someone I’d just met was almost enough to make me cry.

This is a huge step for me in this process.  It almost seems like it’ll get easier now that I’ve just finally pushed myself the door, but I know that’s not true.  Maybe it’ll be easier for a little while, but it’s all going to get harder before I get to the other end of the tunnel.

And in the grand scheme of things, it’s such a small thing to say- “I ALMOST have a gender therapist.” Yet, this has been one of the biggest days of my life.  I’ll never forget the 3rd of August as the first day I asserted myself as male to the System.

I told you it’d make sense.

I figured today I’d talk about hair.

It’s a good segue into something I really wanted to address, anyway- gender stereotypes and how they DON’T fit with being trans.

I plan on keeping my hair long, all my life if it suits my fancy.  I know it’s kinda one of those really traditional gender cues that, if your hair’s short and cut in a manly way, it’s easier for people to pick up that I’m a guy.  But here’s the thing.
I don’t:
1)  go around wearing what I wear or looking what I look like just to make things easier for everyone else.  I do this for ME.
2)  follow gender stereotypes, because if I think that’s what makes me a man, then I might as well just pack up and go home.
3)  want to go through transition for the sake of being a man, I do it for the sake of being MYSELF.

That’s the thing that bothers me sometimes about the trans community.  Yes, it can be fun to see yourself growing into your right gender, or it can become preoccupying, or an obsession really if you’ve been so hurt by your previous life that you want nothing more than to get away from the gender from that’s been trapping and poisoning your mind all your life.  And really, it’s all understandable.  But sometimes people become so wrapped up in “If I do this, or wear this, or act this way, or change this about my personality, THEN people will see me as a boy/girl,” with more regard to what they think other people need or want to see about them than what THEY want to do with their own lives.

And the dangerous thing about that is, if you carry that way of thinking too far, then you’re caught in the same old trap you were before, only it’s mirrored.  Your body’s right, but your personality is fake.  People are VISUALLY seeing the right person, but they’re seeing the soul of someone who is nothing more than a stereotype- and isn’t that what was wrong with your life before?  They were stereotyping you to the wrong gender because they were seeing the wrong body, but now they’re stereotyping you due to seeing the wrong PERSON.  And maybe they’re stereotyping you to the right gender this time around, but it’s for all the wrong reasons, isn’t it?

If you’re truly a man underneath, or truly a woman, then let your true self out along with that medical miracle of yours, and people will GET it.  Don’t do something because it’s the “girly” thing to do, or the “manly” thing to do, but because it’s what YOU want to do.  If you’re a guy, and you want to be a ballet dancer because it’s what you’re good at and it’s what you love, don’t let your gender stereotype demands get in the way of your dreams or you’re just a sequel to last century’s misogynistic oppression with a neat Sci-Fi spin on it.

Don’t be a cheap Hollywood sequel.

On the rather more specific topic of hair, there are a lot of guys around I look up to as being the portrait of masculinity who had long hair.  A lot of bikers wear long hair, which is more or less my thing, Don Juan deMarco had long hair (I think) and he was the greatest lover in history, so I hear…  How about Jack Sparrow?  Guys would kill to be him, girls would kill to be WITH him, and he wears long hair (dreadlocks, I know, not too often a sign of femininity) AND eyeliner.  How does he get away with it?

(Eyebrows.)

(But that’s another rant.)

I could continue.  Now, however, I’m on to short hair.  Let’s consider these masculine examples.  Little old ladies.

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a little old lady in real life who had didn’t have her hair cropped short.  I’ll just consider my point made.

Point of all this is, you don’t need to follow every gender stereotype in the book.  So often, the book breaks the rules itself.  We say we’re soo much like cisgendered people, that we’re just normal like anyone else; well, cisgendered people usually aren’t afraid to break the rules a little, because they’re usually just that naturally comfortable and confident in their gender that they don’t have to go around proving it all day.  They take their own genders for granted and assume everyone else does, too.  We should definitely strive to be that confident in what we know in our souls.

I dare you to step out and do something that defies gender, and laugh in the faces of those who would dare to try and trap you back in one of those little pink or blue boxes.

Be yourself.

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