Moving on

Oct. 6th, 2015 03:57 pm
aidenonymous: (gender)
I want to make myself keep posting because I'm hoping it'll be good for my mental health.  (My new therapist isn't the sort to tell me what to do outside of therapy, and I'm glad the impulse to write is coming from me.)  I've been a mess for about two months now, and it didn't look like it was going to get any better until approximately two days ago in special-appointment-weekend therapy when I decided to stop blaming myself for what happened.  That is a big deal.

Anyone reading this is probably wondering what it is that happened that I was blaming myself for.  As seems to be a recurring theme in my life, something impossible and terrible happened to me.  And as of two days ago, I decided it wasn't my fault.  If it had been, I would also have the superpower of prescience because some things can't be anticipated because no one has the knowledge that they could ever occur in the first place.  I made progress by accepting that fact, and by not holding myself to an unreasonable standard of mistrusting others regardless of circumstances.  I've still got a bad case of the "why me?"s and persistently wish I could go back and do things differently, but letting go of the tremendous guilt has already made a big difference.

I guess I really just don't want to start at the beginning because of the degree to which it involves admitting I made a big (but possibly unavoidable) mistake, which is a shame because it's usually the best place to start a story if you want it to make sense to anyone else.  I don't know how much I care about getting feedback on this.  So far whenever I've tried it hasn't actually led to any relief of my feelings on the matter.  But a PM from a friend here made me feel a lot better than telling two IRL friends, so maybe it will help to talk with people here.
aidenonymous: (gender)
about T )

In other news, I have very little to report indeed.  I went to therapy yesterday and didn't have much to discuss, most of it about me trying to reinvent my image when transferring (eep) in a couple weeks because things with my mother actually went fine.  Passing as a teenage boy isn't going to be enough if I want colleagues I'll be meeting for the first time who know I'm in my mid-twenties to perceive me as male, plus I've been kind of wanting to dress my age for a while now.  Academics (in my field especially) dress incredibly informally, but I'm pretty much at the extreme end of that, and I think it would do me good to have more confidence in my appearance.  It's not really going anywhere, but I feel like it should.

Bias

May. 19th, 2014 06:18 pm
aidenonymous: (gender)
Last year, I judged a science fair, and the experience made me doubt my own sanity.  I judged the same fair this year, and it to some extent restored my faith in humanity, or at least in middle school science teachers.  At the same time, it made me question my own misogyny.

The way this fair works is that all the students have qualified in a local fair so they all get a prize, 1st, 2nd, or 3rd at this fair.  There's no limit on the number of students who can get each ranking, and they're not judged against each other; rather, they're judged by their adherence to objective standards.  They get 1st if they exceed the standards, 2nd if they met the standards but were no better than that, and 3rd if they really didn't meet the standards.  There were five girls and four boys in my morning session of 16-year-olds; the boys all got first, and the girls all got second.  There were five girls and five boys in my afternoon session of 13-year-olds; one boy and one girl got first, but the two who got third were both girls.  Small number statistics, I know, but something isn't right here, and I'm not comfortable with my role in it.  Also, not sure how relevant it is, but the two first place 13-year-olds were the only two in the bunch who clearly hadn't even dipped a toe into puberty.  I wonder if being a late bloomer contributed to being a science whiz because I wasn't distracted by sexuality.  That being said, I wasn't nearly as far behind my peers as those two were, just very small in general.

I had a nice chat over lunch with a graduating senior who wanted to be a middle school science teacher.  He thought I was another contestant but accepted me as male even after knowing my age.  I encouraged him and generally felt like a good person.

I expressed so much optimism in therapy.  I've been more outgoing at work since coming out.  I scheduled a meeting with a speaker to talk about science.  Career advice in my field often includes something about initiative, especially the suggestion of making appointments to chat with speakers as a way to be remembered as having come up with some ideas they'll take with them or possibly making a connection with a collaborator.  I never did it before because I was shy and felt that I didn't have anything to contribute or that my questions were stupid or because they might remember me as a girl.  I didn't let myself worry about that this time.  I scheduled the meeting and talked for half an hour back and forth about some crazy ideas for science that could be done with this guy's data, and potential problems with some applications of it, and how we could collaborate in the future.  He even told me some of my ideas were really good and that he hadn't heard them before, and I promised to send him the draft of the paper I'm working on when I submit it in a few weeks.  So, yeah, lowered inhibitions at work can be a good thing.

Correction

Apr. 9th, 2014 04:49 pm
aidenonymous: (gender)
Aah, another entry that I meant to post before I fell asleep last night!

cut for boring )
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)
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: (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: (freddie mercury)
I just wrapped up a session with my health coach, and since we talked about gender things a lot, I wanted to write something here before I forgot everything (though I did take notes, as always).  Obviously things are a lot more complicated than what I said in our brief phone conversation, but it was more than I'd gotten to say with my therapist over the last month, and I feel like it was a good start in the sense that I can now tell my therapist, "Hey, I got help from a health coach in these ways, and here's how it was useful, can we talk like that, too?"

Therapy has been going really slowly, and I find that immensely frustrating.  I initially said that what I wanted to get out of gender therapy was a decision about what aspects of transition were right for me, but upon taking that apart a bit, I think what I really want is more certainty about what parts I've pretty much already decided to pursue in the nebulous, distant future.  I think I already know what I want, but I want to be confident that I'm doing what I need to, not just indulging something optional or something that I could regret.  And I feel like I really need to decide soon, so that it's easier to just be Ilan, not Ilan who used to be [birth name] when ey registered here, when I head off to grad school in June.

We talked about what changes I want from T.  I really, really want my voice to be lower and for my face to look more masculine.  I'd also like the changes to face, body, and head hair (though I worry I might regret those later on).  Ease of gaining muscle and body fat redistribution would be fantastic, but I'm not sure if I'm even thinking about being on T long enough for that.  And we talked about changes I'm less enthusiastic about, too.  I don't know if I want downstairs growth.  What if I can't ignore things as well then and spend more time being dysphoric about my crotch?  I'm also concerned about my hormonal acne worsening. 

I got to talk a little about why I've waited so long to get started on medical transition.  I felt so comfortable at school where everyone important knew I was genderqueer that the issue wasn't really forced.  Dysphoria regarding my crotch was mostly isolated to one week a month, and as long as I didn't have to wear a bra, my chest didn't bother me because I rarely left campus.  I talked about wanting facial hair and a deeper voice, but I didn't feel like I couldn't live without it. . . now that I'm not surrounded by supportive people who will take my word for it regarding my gender, I feel like I can't be perceived the way I should be without changes from T.  The health coach asked if I wanted to pass, and I said I wasn't sure, because it just seems so impossible and far away.  If I really wanted to pass, I should have already done a bunch of things like cutting my hair, right?  It was another one of those things that just wasn't an issue when I was in college and has been painful on a daily basis since I graduated and moved away, but I haven't done anything to fix it yet.

I also opened up about questioning my motives for transition -- am I just a misogynist? am I doing this for me or for other people? -- and its effect on my health given my other problems.  I'm concerned about being on T for the rest of my life.  I don't like being on medications, and I'm on several that will probably be life-long commitments due to chronic illnesses.  It seems counterproductive to sign up for more of that if less is an option.  But I can't see myself continuing to let my body be dominated by regularly fluctuating female hormones for much longer, and there doesn't seem to be an option to not have sex hormones.  I really don't know if starting T soon will help me resolve this.

I got some useful medical-type information, too.  Though genes control a lot of the hair distribution type stuff (face, head, and body), apparently voice isn't quite like that, because I won't be getting voice changes like a cisguy would during puberty, which makse sense because I know my voice has "matured" in some ways since I hit puberty the first time around.  This means that while I can probably count on not being able to grow a beard, my voice is not doomed to be the same as my father's bizzarely high voice.  It's also possible that my hormonal acne could improve on T, that I might have problems because my hormone levels are currently between the femle and male ranges, and my skin might stop rebelling if given the correct dose for either sex.  Obviously some testing is in order, but it's an option I wasn't really aware of before.

However, there was a lot that I didn't talk about that I would want to discuss further with a counselor.  One of the changes I'd really like from T is an end to the monthly reminder that I have female reproductive organs.  I feel bad about this because there are other ways to stop it that are perceived as "less drastic,"  and I've never pursued any of those for what seem like weak reasons, plus I might want to be on a low dose that only makes things wonkier.  I'd also be overjoyed to see my chest shrink further, so maybe I could get surgery by a method that's less likely to result in loss of sensation.  (EDIT: I just spent the afternoon looking at Transbucket, and I think I've got a real shot at peri if I ended up going for surgery at all, moreso if I get just a bit more shrinkage.)  One of my unsaid fears about starting T is that the changes will make my long-term partner stop being attracted to me.  He's not making any promises, but knowing that he's trying not to have to break a promise that our feelings will never change doesn't make me feel any more confident in possibly putting our relationship at risk. 

I also didn't go into my non-binary identity at all, which is a bigger deal than I generally let on.  I want people close to me to see me as Ilan, who isn't a woman or a man, but I want those not close to me to just see another guy, because if I have to choose, and I very much feel that I do, I need to be perceived as not-female, which means transitioning to male, at least on the surface.  I guess I didn't mention it explicitly to the health coach because I see him as being part of the not-close category, and I guess that makes sense since we've only met once and talked on the phone three times, but I feel like this is something I should be able to talk about more in counseling.  And because we didn't go into my non-binary identity, we didn't talk about my alternatives to T, namely more exercise, voice coaching, and other things I can do to be read as male and feel more comfortable with my body.

Anyway, we talked a bit about what I can do about getting T if therapy moves too slowly and I end up having to move before starting T.  I think that was really important to consider and not something that would have come up with my therapist.  I'm going to be making an appointment for shortly before I move with one of the sliding-scale informed consent clinics here in the Bay Area. If I get a "T letter" (probably just a referral to an endocrinologist?) before the appointment, I'll cancel and someone with an emergency will get my slot.  But if therapy never gets off the ground and I feel like I need to get going before introducing myself to my new department, I can still make it happen. (EDIT: I called the Lyon-Martin Clinic but got lost in a maze of automated voicemail subroutines.  I'll try again tomorrow with a script for what my message will say and a stimulant to back me up when it comes to following the instructions.) 
aidenonymous: (Default)
Woah, okay, I am owing this thing a huge update.  I've been getting my fair share of good news from grad schools, and I got a second job in addition to the one I just started last week.  I've also started seeing a health coach, mostly because it's half the price of therapy, and I found free therapy instead, so I'm still spending half what I'd saved up for mental health stuff anyway and hopefully I'll be eating better and continuing to exercise sufficiently.  Right, and then today I just heard back from the free therapy, which, did I mention, is free, and they apologized for technical issues that made it take so long to get back to me.  So, I've got lots of stuff to do all the time which is quite different from my usual problem of having nothing to do but wallow in self pity and give advice on tumblr.  Anyway, I will probably make a more detailed, friends-locked elaboration on this update some time soon.

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aidenonymous: (Default)
aidenonymous

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