aidenonymous: (gender)
I've had a roller coaster of a week and really didn't want to write this, but I'm hoping I'll feel better getting it out.  tl;dr I've once again blown an opportunity to have gender not be a big deal in every aspect of my life and am not happy about it.

cut for abusively negative self-talk )

I did a lot more self-care today though.  I cooked two (vegan) meals for myself with enough leftovers to get halfway through next week without spending too much money and eating things I said I wouldn't.  And I got a new binder that's a lot more comfortable for long days and looks like an undershirt so I don't need an extra layer under my grown-up clothes in the heat.  I'm going to go to work tomorrow because I know being a badass at science will make me feel better about myself.

EDIT: update )
aidenonymous: (gender)
I've been having pretty bad chest dysphoria since starting my new job, and I'm going to put my money where my mouth is and do something about it, even though I'm hoping to get top surgery some time from mid-December to mid-January.  Since I'm probably going to be able to get top surgery at a hefty discount due to good health insurance, I should be able to affort to give away all my binders when I don't have breasts anymore.

The nature of the dysphoria is making this challenging.  I feel like I have to bind harder than I should because I'm androgynous but trying to be seen as male at work where people don't necessarily know I was ever anything else, so I need to make first impressions that are unambiguously male.  I'm not having breathing problems or pain so bad that I can't work, but I've been known to hurt myself with binding so need to be careful not to do that.  I'm having dysphoria when I unbind at home due to my chesticles having less volume but the same amount of skin.  I'm worried they'll deflate to the point that I will no longer qualify for peri with Dr. Fischer, which upsets me quite a bit.

I did some experimenting in front of the mirror, and in an oxford shirt, I can get away with the Extra Comfort Sports Bra in size M, although I have a problem with things not staying put because it's so big on me, and the feeling of uniboob is sickening.  I do get pain in my ribs if I wear the size S ones for too long, plus I still need to re-adjust with one of them because the material is so slippery.  EDIT: I do wonder if I'll grow into the M if I actually start working out again, or if a new one would be okay because mine's old and stretched out.

Even though I'm disinclined to try another bra hook closure binder, these look promising both because of their price and because they have elastic on the non-hook side that I think will make it less harsh on my body.  Plus, colors are fun.  q-:  I'm not crazy about the binding material basically just being a strapless band-type thing attached to the inside of a tank top though because I'm afraid I'll bulge out the top.  I'm not sure whether I'd need a size M or L either.

[livejournal.com profile] cobwebsinwhite suggested this, and it looks like it might be just what I need.  I have no way to measure myself right now but think I'm about 32" around, yet I'm still inclined to get the "youth" size from their other storefront because of a couple reviews saying they run big.  I like that it could look like a regular white undershirt under a lightweight dress shirt, too.  This seems comparable except twice the price.

Part of me wants to keep getting sportsters, and I need to remind myself that they really aren't any safer in terms of my criteria.  I'm really tempted to get another one of these even though I have to re-adjust a few times a day to keep the chesticles from getting too close to each other.  If I do it, I need to move quickly because they're no longer in production and there aren't many left.  I'm also considering this one, especially because the reviews compare it to other Underworks binders.  (Side note: I hate that the model in the photo is wearing a padded bra though (you can see it from the back) and isn't the guy in all the other photos on their F2M storefront.)
aidenonymous: (gender)
That's me alright.
I made a decision today. )

I also picked up my inhaler from the pharmacy today.  My endo sent the script electronically because albuterol isn't a controlled substance, and I didn't see until today that I'm supposed to use it four times a day.  My previous inhalers were either for emergency use only or twice a day, so either this is a different concentration or my asthma is way worse than it was before.  Also, I used it and didn't feel immediate relief.  I'm still coughing up mucus all damn day and apparently making a wheezing sound when I do it.  I'm going to try to make an appointment with my GP just in case my endo was wrong about the congestion, since that's a problem I'm more familiar with.  I guess I have trouble believing that the feeling of not having enough air in my lungs is caused by constricted airways rather than fluid build-up just because that's happened more to me over the past four years.

I chickened out on picking up my prescription for T.  I have about a month's worth of 1% gel left in the pump, plus over a month's worth in packets.  When I got to the pharmacy, I asked if I had refills on the 1% pump and they said yes and started filling the prescription.  My insurance apparently thinks one box with two pumps is a 60 day supply (when it's actually a 120 day supply), so they won't let me fill the prescription for the higher dose until late August, after I move.  I should be excited about starting the higher dose, but I'm actually really nervous.  I feel like I have a good thing going here and don't want to fuck it up by increasing the dose.  I can fill one and then have the other mailed to me in NYC but haven't yet decided which to fill first.  I've had enough difficult decisions for one day so will deal with this one tomorrow.

Oh, also, I told my Ph.D. advisor-to-be that I'm transferring and he's happy for me!  He didn't even ask me to terminate my contract.  I feel badly about spending his start-up-money when he's not getting a Ph.D. student out of it, but he didn't take up my offer, and I could really use the cash right now.  He had some advice about who I should work with, and I'm glad that it was advice I was already taking.  He actually wanted me to get started with someone there right away, so that's what I'm going to try to do!  I was actually drafting an e-mail for faculty at the new place before I heard back from my advisor, so that's a good sign that I'm not totally incompetent, right?  Okay, actually going to sleep now.
aidenonymous: (gender)
I had an endo appointment today.  I finally spoke up about this cyclic mood swings nonsense.  I'm ashamed that I can't just rely on stoicism to get through it, and I wish there were another way to solve the problem because I otherwise like the pace of changes on my current dose.  My endo thinks switching to shots with an equivalent dose won't make a difference.  She said that with compounded cream, the minimum dose necessary to stop periods is twice what I'm currently getting from gel.  She wanted to just have me double my current dose of 12.5 mg, which is what she prescribed when we met for the first time, but I talked her into switching me to AndroGel 1.62%, whose smallest metered dose is 20.25 mg, a tad lower.  The fact that I can negotiate my prescriptions with my endo is really cool, BTW.  She questioned my info about the effective dose being different for the new concentration, so we simultaneously looked it up on our phones.  It was pretty funny.

In any case, I hope this is worth it.  My insurance covers any AndroGel, so at least it'll be worth it in terms of cost.  I don't feel like I really need any more changes, but I'm not willing to add female hormones to my body if they come with a risk of breast growth.  I can deal with more masculinization (wouldn't complain about it in most regards), just don't want to get changes fast enough that I feel dissociated from my body.  I wonder if I should have advocated more strongly for shots, because then I'd have more of an ability to fine tune my dose instead of taking whatever Abbvie offers me.  Gel is pretty fantastically easy though, and this is still lower than what my endo calls a "low dose" for trans guys, so maybe I'm making a big deal out of nothing.  I think I have enough AndroGel 1% to last until I move, so I'm going to wait a bit to start on the new stuff, at least until I figure out what I'm doing about top surgery.  I think my endo would be okay switching me to shots if I called and asked, but then I'd have to learn how to do it on my own when things are pretty crazy anyway.

This appointment had some other notable moments.  My blood pressure was totally normal.  It was a relief because at Dr. Johnson's office, my blood pressure was actually high.  The only other time I've ever had high blood pressure was when I was having an asthma attack in a hospital.  So now I know for sure that the culprit was indeed car sickness and I am not in earnest developing high blood pressure.

My endo was really concerned about my lungs though.  It was an early morning appointment, and I had a productive cough from when I woke up until a couple hours after the appointment.  It's been like that for over a week.  I told her I thought it was from binding too much at PTHC, since I've otherwise been cutting down substantially by working from home whenever possible and obviously not being very social outside the house otherwise.  She took a listen and kept coming back to the lower part of my right lung.  She asked if I was binding and tried putting the stethoscope under my binder in the back because it sounded "muffled."  I wasn't even binding very hard, just wearing a sportster.  Anyway, after asking me to breathe ten different ways, she concluded that my chest is not truly congested, but she can hear my asthma.  It wasn't really on my mind because I use my inhaler once or twice a year just for emergencies, usually triggered by cigarette smoke.  She expressed approval over the news that I'm in the process of making top surgery happen but didn't tell me I absolutely needed to do it, something that would have been preferable because it would take the decision out of my hands.

To lighten the mood, I'll end with the fact that my endo said my voice was definitely deeper than it was the last time we met (in February?).  [livejournal.com profile] alifjiim also said my voice was deeper than he expected when he visited last week.  (I have a couple half-written posts about PTHC and meeting super-cool internet people a couple weeks ago, swear I'll finish those up sometime soon.)  I also met a few people at PTHC who said my voice was deeper than they would have thought given my low dose.  I don't remember if [livejournal.com profile] theirearlystuff said anything about it though.  Did I ever mention that my father is a contra-alto?  My voice might be the deepest of all living males in my family, and it's a bit lower than my cis male partner's voice.  I'm pretty satisfied with that.  (-:
aidenonymous: (genderqueer)
I kinda fell off the internet again.  I was really burnt out and barely made it to Spring Break.  I restarted T the week before break because I was a nervous wreck.  By then, I'd been having negative effects from stopping for about two weeks, and I couldn't cope anymore.  I'm going to make a T update kind of post about the whole thing, but the short version was that it was not pretty.  I basically got to the same point I was at when I started, unable to function without it.  I'll admit though, the first ten days or so were a valuable and hardly excruciating experience (that I have no plans to repeat any time soon).

I slept through most of the break and basically got nothing done but felt somewhat refreshed at the end.  I'm pretty much abandoning the project I've been working on for the past six months, which puts me at risk of not being able to take my comprehensive exam at the end of the summer, but I don't feel like I have much of an option.  Right before break, I made an appointment to talk to the head of the grad program and explained the problem.  It's not that I don't have time for research.  It's that I have only a few hours each day of peak mental productivity, and I can hardly get anything done like that, at lest not on something so abstract.  At our meeting, he told me that my advisor had just contacted him asking if I was alright, and he'd told her to go easy on me.  It's not what I want, but it may be what I need.  I don't know if this is awkward or expected given how I came out to him, but we have not said a word about it IRL and barely a reference has been made in e-mails.  Related: I need to write a coming out letter to my advisor and have been putting it off for almost two weeks. . . another thing I need but don't want, apparently.

words about my chest )

Anyway, I don't want to go into this unless I'm confident I won't regret it, even if my regular doctor, endo, and therapist are falling over themselves to write me a letter.  I don't know what I'm going to say to the surgeon when we meet, but I have six weeks to figure it out.  Maybe the surgeon will turn out to be a really good salesperson and totally win me over.  In the meantime, I should do that work I was doing before it occurred to me that I'd think better after getting this out.  I'm hoping I'll have enough spoons to catch up with folks here a bit this weekend.
aidenonymous: (gender)
Well that was easily the most thorough groping I've ever gotten before.  I dealt with it, but there's no way they didn't know what was under my clothes.  My hopes of avoiding the scanners so that at least the results of the pat-down would be unshareable between unprofessionals were also dashed.

When I asked to opt out of the scanners (everyone at that check point had to go through them), Agent 1 asked for a male assist on his walkie talkie.  Agent 2 waited a bit and then said something inaudible to Agent 1.  Agent 1 had a brief, inaudible exchange with Agent 3 behind him and repeated his request into the walkie talkie.  After some waiting, Agent 1 waved me through the scanner and met me on the other side.  He introduced me to Agent 4, who was responsible for the actual groping.  The groping was everything I feared, lots of attention on the chest and crotch (in spite of my request that they be sensitive there), almost entirely using the front of his hands, and running his hands under the collar of my T-shirt as well as the waistband of my pants -- he could see my binder, feel that I lack male external genitalia from both the front and back, and could feel that my chest was lumpier than could be excused.  This was the first time in years that I wished I'd been packing; I don't even own a soft packer, so it's pretty significant if I feel like I need something in my pants to be male enough.  Anyway, I'm glad I asked for it to be done in the open, because the only thing that could have made it more uncomfortable would have been to be alone with Agent 4.

When we were just about finished, Agent 5, the manager, walked over and shook his head and hands and stopped Agent 4.  He asked to see my passport and asked me to pronounce my name and then started chastizing Agent 4 for giving me a pat-down, asking who authorized it.  Agent 3 was implicated -- she was the one on the other end of the walkie talkie telling Agent 1 that I should get a male assist when he was unsure.  Agents 3 and 5 argued and several times checked against my passport, Agent 5 insisting that my name was clearly female and Agent 3 countering that "she presents herself as male so she is male."  (This is actually TSA policy, despite what the manager seemed to believe, although I suspect I could have gotten out of it by pretending to be a butch woman.)  He repeatedly asked me if I was male or female, and each time I pointed to the sex marker on my passport and said male.  I offered to give them my therapist's letter but they didn't seem interested.  When they finally stopped arguing, I had to endure a bit more groping and then could leave.

That was actually not the first gender-related incident of the morning.  When I checked in, my passport wouldn't scan, so a ticket representative had to verify that the information I entered matched my passport.  She didn't notice the sex marker, although I believe it would have been flagged if my passport did not match the information associated with my ticket.  She asked me to pronounce my name, I believed because it was difficult to accept that my appearance could be associated with it.  I asked if it was necessary, and her tone changed to be more interrogative, and I grew frightened, so I just said it.  She said it was very pretty and let me go.

After that first incident, I wasn't feeling too confident gender-wise and really had to pee, so I just went to the women's, although I did hesitate in deciding which door to go into.  Luckily the restroom was totally deserted, and I didn't run into anyone.  I did use a men's room later on before my flight (stupid coffee!) and didn't interact with anyone there either.

Ugh, so that pat-down, still preferable to the scanners?  Perhaps not.  I will request a female agent from now on and ask for it to be done in private if I am originally assigned a male agent.  It wasn't so much more traumatizing because the agent was male rather than female, but the nature of the pat-down was what I had feared.  I'm grateful Agent 4 was professional about it, since he must have known almost immediately that something was up, and he didn't say anything about it to me.  At the same time, I don't know if my more thorough pat-down was an expression of the agent's curiosity about my unusual anatomy, or something sexual directed at a female, or if it was just standard procedure for those perceived to be male.  I'm inclined to complain to the TSA about it, but there's nowhere quiet in the airport and my phone won't work in Canada, so it will have to wait until I return.
aidenonymous: (gender)
I feel guilty that I haven't been posting recently.  I've been tyring to let work take over again but I keep getting sucked into mindless web browsing (mostly Reddit).  I'm feeling really unmotivated even though I'm consciously excited about my work.  I've also been dealing with my best friend outing me and trying to repair the damage to our relationship and my relationship with his parents.  That's really a matter for a separate post.

I also filed my passport application yesterday, although things hardly went as planned.  The postmaster didn't even notice that I'd checked the M box and never asked for my letter.  He also didn't notice all my ID was expired and made sure to comment on how "pretty" I am and address me as "miss" at least once per sentence.  I called the State Dept. afterwards and they said they'd contact me if anything was missing, and I'm worried that it will delay my passport application by enough that I can't go.  The silver lining is that I was approved for funding for the trip.  /-:

The past week or so has been awful for dysphoria.  I've been down on myself about my body -- I'm not gaining weight, but I am gaining body fat due to not getting out and doing anything. The rate of misgendering has skyrocketed, although that could be due to a combination of office drama (and horrible officemates who love reminding me that they think I'm female), the process of changing documentation (and interacting with godawful bureaucrats who don't even notice the sex marker I select because I'm so obviously female to them), and a general loss of confidence (which has led to a feedback loop).

I'm sure it's not helped by the fact that I haven't even had the spoons to bind regularly -- I'm small enough at this point that it can't be the biggest reason why I'm not passing, but it must contribute -- and have been going home early just to get out of having anything more than an undershirt on.  Just having anything on my chest is making me think about it too much to focus on anything else, and as long as I'm alone and not moving, I don't even notice that anything's wrong with it unbound.

On top of everything else, it's been really hot here for the past week, to the point that I'm arriving at work drenched in sweat.  If AndroGel can't be washed off for 5 hours after application in order to be fully absorbed, I'm pretty sure my effective dose has decreased.  This could explain my voice plateauing higher than its lowest so far (although definitely lower than when I started), something that's been bothering me a lot and contributing to the problems of the previous paragraph.

I ran the idea of doubling my dose by my partner, and he was really not happy about it.  He thinks I've had more emotional issues since starting T.  I was afraid he meant anger or mood swings, but he clarified that he meant my ADHD has worsened and I've been practicing more avoidance of responsibilities.  I talked with him about it and he was reasonably understanding, mostly because double my current dose is the same as the dose I was actually prescribed, but he still wanted me to wait until I talked to my therapist.

However, today was especially difficult due to having to interact with my peers in my home department, and the dysphoria was keeping me from getting any work done.  So, starting today, my 51st day on T, I'm taking the full 2.5 g.  Since today is also my 9 year anniversary of dating my partner (yeah, we got together really young, definitely not expecting this relationship to last so long), I wanted to talk with him first and make sure he could handle me doing this now (and he said he'd be okay), so the doses are about 8 hours apart.  Until it cools down enough that my sweat won't immediately wash off a decent fraction of it, I'll be applying two pumps in the morning. 
aidenonymous: (sulu)
I spent today in San Francisco and was consistently read as male.  I was "gentleman" when buying lunch, "lad" when I looked lost, and "man" when talking with strangers in a bar.  In San Francisco, where people are pretty used to differentiating between butches and men!  I feel pretty damn accomplished about that.  (-:  Oh, and I wasn't binding, and I didn't make any effort to keep my voice deep (although at least the first two instances of being correctly gendered were before I said anything), and I was wearing what are technically women's shoes (but they're Tevas and look pretty unisex anyway; I just bought them because my old ones are extremely worn out and I couldn't find my size in boys'/men's).  Anyway, still feeling like a success here!

In other news, my Frog Bra replacements from Les Love Boat arrived and leave something to be desired.  The size S of this is too big, enough that the elastic doesn't hold it in place and it rides up in the front.  I'm trying to exchange it for a different item, since getting it in a smaller size isn't an option, but if anyone here has a ribcage that's about 30"-32" around (and an overall chest measurement no more than about 36", I'd say) and has been looking for something like the Frog Bra for "lite" binding, definitely let me know.  Meanwhile, the size S of this is too small, though not unworkably so.  I was hoping it would be more forgiving like the Frog Bra, but actually it's pretty damn tight, like a real binder. . . not exactly what I was trying to get, but it will still be appreciated.  *sigh*

EDIT: Bah, the Extra Comfort Sports Bra is tighter than any other binder I own, including the Wide Coverage Short Binder I outgrew when my lats expanded from rock climbing.  If they don't let me exchange the High Performance Sports Bra for a different model, I think I'm going to try to exchange the Extra Comfort Sports Bra for a size M and hope someone will buy the High Performance Sports Bra off of me.  )-;  This is going to be expensive, and I'm moving so it's also going to get real complicated real fast.
aidenonymous: (chekhov)
I've been meaning to check up on my body fat percentage since I outgrew two binders from upper body muscle gains, and I finally got around to it today while playing hooky.  The Internet tells me pretty consistently that I'm at about 20% body fat right now (which is considered "athletic" for a female but only "acceptable" for a male).  In December, I estimated it was about 25% ("acceptable" for either sex), so I feel pretty accomplished; I'm about half way to my six-month goal in under four months.  I was feeling badly about losing weight while trying to gain weight, but even though I'm underweight for the second time since I turned 18, I have something to be proud of.  (EDIT: Upon further research, it looks like gaining 10lbs in six months was rather unrealistic to begin with.  Given my female hormonal situation, it should take me twice that long to gain that much weight, and that's if I pay a lot more attention to what and how much I eat.)

And it's shit like this that makes me conflicted about T!  If I can work hard and see results, and the process of doing so makes me feel good about my body, do I really need T?  When I look in the mirror, I don't see a woman/girl/female anymore, and, in spite of very real and fairly regular bouts of dysphoria, I'm satisfied with that.  I realize others don't see me the way I do, especially once I open my mouth, and I'm not sure if I'll handle that better when I'm on a college campus again, or if it will only worsen as I continue to age out of androgyny.  But I don't even know why I'm trying to find reasons to delay T in the first place when I know it can help me become more than just satisfied with myself.  The letter is right in front of me, but I can't bring myself to grab it!  And I'm afraid to discuss my uncertainty with my therapist in case he decides he can't give me the letter because I'm not 100% sure I want it right now.
aidenonymous: (chekhov)
By about a month ago, my shoulders grew enough that I could actually wear my Tri-top without the neckline showing through clothes.  As of a week ago, they've grown enough that I had to un-modify that binder so it wouldn't give me welts in my armpits.  (It still doesn't look great, what with the bottom hem sticking out through clothes, but it definitely doesn't need the shoulders taken in anymore.)  And today, I had to retire my most favoritest binder because it's too damn small for my hulking shoulders.  First world problems, y'hear!


Notes mostly for my own reference )
aidenonymous: (chekhov)
I just read something that really resonated with me.  I wanted to post some excerpts that I strongly identified with, just to record them somewhere.

emphasis mine )

my response )

*sigh*  That ended up being more depressing than I'd hoped.  Anyway, back to proofreading my personal statements.  Happy New Year to anyone who's reading this!
aidenonymous: (Default)
No, I'm not really that much of a humbug.  I wanted to write a summary of this year, because it's been a rough one for me.  But, some parts were so bad I couldn't write much about them.  Stupid emotions!  So, here's the short version. . .
lightning-speed summary of 2010 )

Anyway, the start and end of the school year is a much better delineation between years for me, so I can pretend it's not that big of a deal that I can't get my shit together about last year.  More seriously, that's actually the reason why I'm not making many New Year's resolutions, because I've already planned a bunch of big changes for when I have less on my plate during my gap year, after I graduate this spring.  I only have one resolution, and that's to get into gender therapy, because I'm a mess right now and need some outside help.  It doesn't sound like much, but with my insurance and history with therapists, it could take most of the year. . . wish me luck!

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