Coffee talk about transitioning, in more ways than one…

If you and I were to sit down together for a cup of coffee I would have lots to fill you in on – about life in a new city, my marriage and my handsome husband.

I would tell you first that moving from the East Coast to the West almost a year ago was one of the hardest decisions of my life, but I’m so glad I made the leap. Despite the timing of that massive change happening exactly around Carver’s start with hormone replacement therapy, our life here feels bigger, and brighter and far more adventure packed than ever. Our move has given us a new start in many ways, both personally and professionally. I would say, all things considered these last 10 months have gone remarkably well, but I’ve learned something vital about being the loving partner of someone who is transitioning.* (I expect this would apply to more than just a transition on the gender spectrum given our simultaneous shift in cities all at the same time.)

There are really three transitions going on.

  1. Carver’s
  2. Mine
  3. Our marriage

CARVER

I’d tell you that no matter the day or time, there’s no one in this world who is more proud of Carver than I am, I suspect probably even more proud than Carver is of himself. I love seeing him evolve into someone who is so much more comfortable with who he is. I love feeling his body change and his eyes light up when I tell him how I see it and feel it.

I’d show you these on my phone from the other night as I was watching him converse with a friend:

  

and smile because I have always seen who he is, but I can tell that he’s feeling (and seeing!) himself more now too.

I’d tell you that his voice is deeper and he’s finding his own in that depth. I’d tell you that his body is changing, more firm, more muscle and leaner hips. He’s physically stronger and I can see how much he enjoys how his body responds differently now to his hard work in the kitchen and in the gym.

I’d tell you that his silver fox hair is always freshly barbered and coiffed and he’s finding his way with a razor now that his salt and pepper facial hair is a thing. I’d tell you that my heart still skips a beat when I’m waiting for him to meet me and I spot him coming towards me.

ME

I would admit to you that I was rather home sick when we first arrived in here on the West Coast. There were tears and a whole lot of emotions. I was anxious about all the newness. I was a little scared of all of the unknowns. All of those emotions came a time when my newly less emotional husband wasn’t so sure what to do with me. To make matters ever more complex that homesicknesses came along with lots of fresh insecurities for me.

  • Would Carver on hormones still love me the same?
  • Would our marriage make it when so many marriages when one partner transitions do not?
  • Would we find our way through the giant shift in communication that were experiencing?

I would lean in over that cup of coffee and confess that those first 5 months here in the city weren’t easy for me. I’d tell you that Carver and I had some very serious conversations (or maybe lack of conversations is a better way to describe it…frustrated silence that had us staring at each other unsure how to pin point exactly the problem or what to do on some nights).  I’d share that in all honesty Carver’s transformation has sparked a personal transformation for me too. I went from someone who felt quite sure of her partner’s communication style to someone who felt like she was getting to know a new person all together when it came to things like every day conversations and decisions. I’ve had to find new places to compromise and a new style to process my own thoughts. I’ve had to find space for understanding as I discover my husband’s new approaches all the while trying not to think it was all just in my head or that I was somehow to blame because I was too emotional about it all.

I would also say quite frankly there is a personal identity challenge as a partner when it comes to gender and sexuality and how the world starts to see you. Those judgments can come fast and furious sometimes and figuring out how and when to advocate for your spouse (for example when they are misgendered) can feel daunting some days. I’m grateful that we live here in Canada where people in general seem more open minded and certainly less threatening than we have experienced, especially while travelling.

I’d tell you that despite all of this change going on and my own personal insecurities coming out of the woodwork in all of this, for me Carver’s transformation has never once made me question our marriage. I love him for who he is and him feeling more himself than ever just makes me feel like my love has grown along with him. My love for him didn’t have anything to do with his gender when we met and it still doesn’t.

OUR MARRIAGE

Of all of the challenges I thought we’d experience in our marriage this year it was the one I never anticipated that has had the biggest impact:  the communication shift after Carver started hormone replacement therapy. We are still working through it but it’s easier now. But that is one I didn’t see coming.

It feels much more like we’re on the other side of a lot of this now. Like we’re both finding places in our personal transitions through this that are meeting once more in the middle. We make sure we take the time to talk to one another. Even when it feels challenging, even when I’m emotional and trying to make a decision and Carver isn’t sure what to do with me as I process. We work at being open and patient and are careful to try and listen even if it’s frustrating. We plan time together and we have both found new friends separately and together that have brought us sounding boards and support through this roller coaster year.

Now we’re coming up on 10 months here in our new city, and Carver’s first anniversary on testosterone. We have navigated personal hurdles and marital hurdles. We’re finding our new ways of communicating. I’ve given him approximately 46 testosterone injections (a physical assist in his transformation that I’ve really come to appreciate being a direct part of), and I think our marriage is stronger now than ever.

It truly feels like the perfect time to celebrate Carver’s legal name change documentation by introducing myself as Mrs. Carlson officially for the first time.

We’re currently on mail box watch…

LASTLY

Over our last few sips of maybe cold coffee, I would leave you with this: if you or anyone you know is in a relationship embarking on a transition together, I’d say please know you’re not alone. I felt terribly alone when this all first happened for Carver and I. I didn’t know many transgender people, let alone married couples who experienced one partner transitioning together. But since then I’ve been introduced to lots of amazing people who can relate, including those whose marriages continue happily despite the extra craziness (in the kindest way possible) that one partner’s transition can bring. I know first hand it means more than you know to feel like you’re NOT the only one and that your marriage isn’t doomed. In fact, it may just be a reason to hold on tight and discover what the transitions will bring you, your partner and your marriage.

 

 

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Happy six months to me…

You guys can you believe it’s already six months since I started T?

I know riiiiight?

Time seems to be flying by.

But here we are a little past the six month mark and even though I still feel like the changes are not very noticeable, Mimi and other people are reminding me that there are indeed changes that are happening. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I know the changes are happening but in the overall sense they are slow going.

I thought it would be kind of fun to do a “hey this is happening” or a “nope, not yet” check in following the “what to expect” time line that the Trans Health Information Program put up on it’s website (also a little plug that if your trans* identified and you need a good information page, THiP is a good place start). Lots of good information happens over there and while it’s a BC Care provincial page it’s a helpful place to get info for care in your area.

 

The effect will be on the left with notes from THiP on the right then my check in below…

Effect

Notes

Increased sex drive

Usually starts in 1-3 months

For me this is a yes, but because sex in general is a little wonky for me there are still some major bumps in the road. I mean, I’m definitely thinking about it more…which is more than I was doing so we’re calling this a win in my books for now. I’m hung up on the fact that I may think about sex like a man (whatever that means) but when it’s time to get down and dirty I’m still a biologically born female and that feels strange…

Monthly bleeding stops

Usually happens within 2 – 6 months

You may still be able to get pregnant even when your monthly bleeding stops (note: it is not safe to take testosterone while pregnant)

Reversible change, if you stop taking testosterone

YES!!!!! It just actually happened in month 5 and I couldn’t be more pleased. However, I’m pretty sure I’m still experiencing PMS at about the same time as I would if it were the time of the bleeding.

I know some of this might feel like “Fuck Carver TMI brother…T….M….I” and for that I don’t really feel it necessary to apologize but will say that as uncomfortable as I am talking about it, some of this is really important because we never talk about this stuff. We walk around ashamed and secretive about the changes happening and are too afraid to ask questions because maybe so and so is getting some of the “benefits” before so and so and then it becomes this stage of peacocking over transitions when in the end we’re all just trying to be a better version of ourselves.

The next one may be a TMI for  you so just be prepared to be like “OH FOR FUCKS SAKE…”

Bigger  clitoris*

Usually starts in 3-6 months

Reaches full size in 1-2 years

Size typically ranges from 1-3cm

Likely permanent, even if you stop taking testosterone

I’ll just say yes things are doing what they should be doing and it’s kind of cool.

More facial and body hair

Usually starts in 3-6 months

Maximum effect in 3-5 years

Gradual growth of mustache and beard

More, thicker and coarser hairs on abdomen, arms, chest, back and legs

Likely permanent, even if you stop taking testosterone

You can see facial hair if your standing next to me…There is a 5 o’clock stubble by the end of the day. It’s not anything to shake a stick at but I do have to shave now at least once a week because it just looks odd having a face full of stubble that isn’t growing into anything substantial. I still don’t hate it, but I reserve the right to hate if it ever becomes something more than what it is right now.

Oily skin and acne

Usually starts in 1-6 months

Maximum effect in 1-2 years

More acne. May permanently scar

You can take medications to minimize this

Not a permanent change if you stop taking testosterone

No acne but man is my skin oily as fuck! It used to be really dry but no more. Also the blackheads…I know it’s gross (again not apologizing) but I never had them before (well not after HS at least) and now they are abundant. I really liked the way my face felt prior to whiskers and oily skin/black heads so I’m having a hard time not feeling like this is bullshit having to go through puberty at 46 (now 47). It does, however, give me an excuse to buy fancy man soap so I’m really only complaining so I can keep buying FMS (fancy man soap).

Deepened voice

Usually starts in 3-12 months

Maximum effect in 1-2 years

While your voice may deepen, other aspects of the way you speak may not sound ‘manlier.’ You can work with a speech language pathologist to achieve this, if desired.

Permanent change

This is by far the most significant change. It’s definitely different and it is definitely deeper. Since it’s only been 6 months I’m assuming it will continue to change but right now I’m very self conscious as it often cracks (especially when I’m laughing or trying to talk loudly) and I’m still getting used to the sound of my own voice. If you’ve ever watched the old Little Rascals television show:

froggy

That’s sort of how I think I sound. Some days I’m okay with it. Some days I could go without saying a word because it sounds so different. I still have quite a few “feminine” tendencies when I speak. For example whenever I say “thank you” my voice raises in a (for lack of a better word) subordinate manner. So I’ve been working on a more firm tone as if it were a dad or male teacher saying thank  you. Basically I think our voices inflect according to with whom we are having a conversation. Female to Female / Male to Male / Male to Female / Female to Male we change our pitch to convey a message and for me I’ve got the Male to Female part down (I think), now it’s working on the Male to Male intonations…it’s okay if you’re confused or want to refute this last bit of information but it makes sense to me and right now that’s how I’m trying to understand this voice of mine.

Emotional changes

Your overall emotional state may or may not change; this varies from person to person. You may find that you have access to a narrower range of emotions or feelings. You may find that you become irritable, frustrated or angry more easily. (If you are injecting testosterone every two weeks, your emotional changes may be the result of your fluctuating testosterone level. You may want to talk to your doctor about switching to weekly injections.)

I’m for sure experiencing a “narrower” range of emotions and since I’m also bring aspergers onto this playing field that means the range of emotions was pretty narrow before I started T. During the 5 weeks of a raised T level (remember it was 37 the last time I had it checked), I was way more irritable but didn’t know it until Dr Z lowered the dosage and put me back in a “normal” range (I had my levels checked this week and down to 25nmol/L). I’m feeling much less irritable and a little more patient (though Mimi might say differently).

So there you go…that’s the six month check in.

In other news I did sit down with Dr. Z today to begin the paper work for Top surgery. Because I’m doing stuff in Canada I have to follow the steps laid out by the Province. BC is much faster about moving people along but it will still be another year or so before I take that gurney journey to a flat chest.

Good news is that the paperwork (fingers crossed) will be submitted barring any hiccup waiting for my MSP (medical service plan) number and in a few months I’ll be getting a call for a consultation.

For now I can just buckle in and enjoy the ride at a steady pace.

5 months (and a week)

tHard to believe it’s already been 5+ months since I took my first shot of T.

I’ve settled in quite nicely here in Vancouver since arriving in September. The most significant thing (besides finding a semi-permanent home and steady work) that has happened is finding a trans-friendly doctor to keep track of all the goings on when going from Tara to Carver, from Her t0 a closer version of Him.

When I first got here, I got a lot of good advice to look into Three Bridges as a jumping point for getting hooked up with the right people. It can be nerve wracking to see a new physician just in general but then add the fact that I am so new on this journey that I didn’t even know where to start and needed to have my T levels checked (cause you know I wanted to up that dosage something awful). They were pretty awesome. That first initial sit down with the nurse led me to getting on the wait list for a physician that just opened up their patient log for trans* identified persons (hey that’s me!)

That led me to Dr Ziedler and the South Hill Health Center.

You guys…a doctor that specializes in working with Trans* patients!!!!

How fucking awesome is that?

It took me well over a year in Halifax just to sit down with someone to talk about going on T and another year before I was even given the RX for T and here I am in Vancouver less than 3 months and already sat down with Dr. Z twice. *slow clap* Vancouver *slow clap*

Remember that time I decided to up the dose to .4ml because I thought it was lame I had been on .25 ml for a while and most of the people I know on T said they were at .5ml pretty quickly after starting? Then remember that time Dr. Z discovered that because I was on the lesser used (more expensive…thank you supplemental insurance) kind of T, my dose is twice as strong so the .25ml is equal to the .5ml most transguys use? So essentially for the last 5 weeks I was taking .8ml of T in a 4ml dose…Ha! Good times my friends, good times indeed.

After 5 weeks I had my levels checked and the T levels are through. the. roof. Normal range for Transguys is around 28nmol/L…mine? 34nmol/L. Yep, time to pull back on the reigns a bit and lower that dosage down to .3ml

I’m okay with the lowering of the dosage. I don’t know if upping it caused a jump in masculine features but there were some noticeable differences between month 3 and month 5. The first one being facial hair. I’m still not hating it, though right now it’s fairly minimal. I pluck the hairs while I’m driving to pass the long commutes and shave once a week (to be honest I probably could get a way with shaving twice a week at this point). It’s not a lot but way more than I’m used too and people can see the whiskers when standing a little farther away than before.

The big change for me is my voice…

I’ve waited so long for that drop and boy did it ever. I go between sounding quite throaty in my speech to cracking like a boy going through the height of puberty. It’s changed so much so that I’ve become quite shy and super self-conscious about speaking in public. As soon as I start to speak, I have a thought process that goes a little like the following:

Whoa, is that my voice? I kind of like it. Man I can feel the vibrations in my throat. It’s like my voice is vibrating my entire head. Is this normal? Fuck, it’s too deep. It doesn’t match my outward appearance. Why are you still she-ing me if my voice is much deeper than what is a typical female sounding voice? I’m not doing enough. Wait a minute, I’m doing plenty. Stop talking. Did it just crack? My laugh sounds terrible. Maybe they think I’m sick or have a cold? 

Play that tape over and over and eventually having day to day conversations with people can get tiresome. Being an interpreter presents it’s own challenges and I find myself handing off any long stretches of “voicing” over to colleagues.

I’m not even sure if I like my voice right now. Funny how I miss the sound of my previous voice even though I was super self conscious of it for as long as I can remember. When you live with something for 46 years, letting it go (even when it’s the right decision) can be tough. It’s only really been the last 6 weeks that I’ve become super conscious of the changes so of course I need time to adjust. Mimi and I made a birthday video for our nephew this week and hearing my voice from that outside perspective while watching the video gave way to a “that voice and that body” don’t line up quite right.

Mimi and I have had more than a few conversations about emotional changes as well. I’ll be the first to admit that my reaction time to things is shorter. My patience towards her and other events in our life has changed (hopefully temporarily) and at times I’ve felt pretty crappy as a husband, a spouse, a life-partner. I don’t know if it’s out of frustration for how the world is having a slower time catching up to my gender pronouns (because the body is slow to catch up and well they just aren’t paying attention), or my self consciousness of the changes that have happened and continue to happen or if its because of the higher dosage that last 5 weeks…

I’ve been kind of a jerk and that’s not cool.

Like way not cool.

I take a lot of pride in caring for my wife. Wanting her to feel important and loved and needed and in general to feel like a kick ass cool person to be around. I’ve not done a very good job of putting her feelings in the forefront and hopefully putting this out there in the world to see will help me get back to a place of caring for her in the way she deserves.

My next appointment with Dr. Z is in 5 weeks. That’s when we officially begin the next step of this journey and start prepping for top surgery. The wait is long (over a year) but maybe the universe will intervene and speed things up a little. I can always pay for it out of pocket (8k – 10k) and do it sooner but for now I’m okay with the waiting it out process.

Until next time…

upping the dose…

shavingWhen I was blogging about weight loss, it wasn’t uncommon for me to blog on a daily basis. Logging food and exercise. Talking about the emotional ups and downs of trying lose weight. Just putting shit down because so much was happening all the time it was easier to leave it all “Here” rather than carry it around out “There”.

There was countless information out there that I was always trying to gather: new recipes to try out, new tips on weight loss to examine and just looking for a community of people that were doing exactly the same thing I was and either struggling at it or kicking the ever living ass out of it and either way I wanted to know their story.

When I started this blog about transitioning to the more gender congruent identity, I thought it would be the same. I’d blog regularly about the changes happening, I’d talk about the emotional ups and downs and find a shit ton of information out there in the trans* world and find that community of people I was so desperately looking for.

It’s been 11 months since I started this blog and just over 4 months since starting T and there have been a collective eleven posts made. That’s not a whole lot of action if you ask me. Unfortunately the “system” is mostly to blame since there was more than a person should have to endure of the “hurry up and wait” method of giving care.

Also I find myself a person of much fewer words these days according to Mimi. I was never big on talking in the first place (a male trait I was born with possibly, but hard to know when you also factor in Aspergers and a dysfunctional upbringing of “we don’t talk about things”) but it seems I’ve gone from saying very little in person (cause you know I can blather on in a blog post) to saying practically nothing when having any kind of discussion. This isn’t a bad thing as we are both discovering, just something to be aware of when we do attempt any sort of “you and me in this moment right now”

I think another reason I’m not blogging much about the changes is because I’m not as aware of them externally. On more than a few occasions I’ve had people see me after not seeing me for a bit of time and say “whoa, you look ( and/or sound) different”. I’m not going to lie here; I feel like I’m missing something. I mean I hear the audible changes in my voice but that’s about it. Granted my facial hair in the last couple of weeks has started coming in a little faster and are doubling and tripling in number pretty quickly (enough so that I’m shaving at *least* once a week and within 24 hours those whiskers that were just shaved are noticeable) but other than that I’m not taken aback by any changes.

Mimi says I stink more…

Okay that might be one change I have noticed and sometimes I’m having to reapply my deodorant during the day to keep the stink monster at bay.

Oh and I’m snoring more but I’m asleep and don’t notice it (sorry Mimi).

The point here is this shit is slow.

I’m okay with that. Some days I feel like I would like to wake up and not have to worry about whether someone’s going to she/lady me…okay wait a minute, let me rephrase that: Everyday I wake up and worry about it but right now I feel like I can shrug it off more because for whatever reason, they don’t see me the way I see myself and that’s not for me to take on. I’m more brave about correcting people (in fact I did it today to someone giving a lecture in a class when they referred to me as she when talking to a class about working with an interpreter) because for fuck sake I’m standing in front of the class in slacks, a button down, suspenders, some kick ass socks and a pocket square…HELLO!!!!!

Sometimes you get she’d and you can’t figure out why and that’s okay. I don’t need to try harder to make them SEE me. Sometimes I get called buddy with a firm hand shake and that makes me feel like a million bucks because I’m not doing anything different in either of those situations. Some people get it. Some people don’t. I will correct when I feel like (or let my wife do it in that ever so sly way she knows how) and I will let it slide when I feel like it.

In other “what’s happening in Carver’s world” news; I’ve finally sat down with my new family doctor here in Vancouver. I like them. I’ve been fortunate when it comes to putting together a good support system during this transition. Right now I feel like that support of medical professionals is falling into place. This doctor focuses on trans health (and the family members of trans patients) and basically knows the ins and outs of getting whatever resources I might be interested in. We talked about dosage and come to find out what I thought was a low dose to begin with was in fact NOT. While I appreciate the help to get started I got in Halifax, I feel like certain information should have been shared when it wasn’t (just general knowledge stuff). I’ve been thinking this whole time my dosage was lower than most because it was half the amount that most trans* people’s prescription. But what I found out today is that the type of T I’m using is twice as strong in levels than the more commonly prescribed T. So when someone say’s “I’m taking .5cc of T” and I say “Oh I’m only taking .25cc” I’m actually taking the same dosage. What this means is that three weeks ago when I doubled my dosage because there was an assumption that I was taking the most common prescribed T and was now on par with most trans* people on a HRT (hormone replacement therapy) regiman, may actually be too much.

(insert grumbly face here)

My new doctor has said at this point to just continue with the .4 dosage (which is equivalent to a .8 dosage with the other type of T) for a few more weeks until its time for blood work and we can adjust from there. This kind of information is important to tell people when they are starting an HRT regimen. I’ve had more than my fair share of other trans* people comment on how low that dosage was but they were comparing it to their own regimen and I didn’t know any better.

Note to any other trans* people reading this that are starting out…know what kind of T you’re using and why your dosage is the way it is!!!

As a household we’ve started to reign in our food choices as much as possible. Finally settling in to our new place and no long term travel plans in the immediate future means we can get back to creating in the kitchen instead of looking at a menu. I got weighed in today and wouldn’t you know it…205lbs. Whether that’s travel related or T related, it’s a little more than I was anticipating so I need to wrap my brain around that for a bit then make some changes. I’ve downloaded the C25K running program and am ready to get back to running even if it makes me cranky as fuck right now. It’s humbling going from being a marathoner to being out of breath after running for 60 seconds but you have to take that first step, even if it’s a baby step.

Baby whiskers….

Baby runner…

Baby boy…

Everything has a beginning.

7500 miles and a new city…

Funny how you expect things to be when going down a certain path.

Funny how rarely that path is ever how you expect it to be.

We’ve been on the road for a really long fucking time. 28 days. Some 7000+ miles (because really who keeps count after the first 5000). I don’t want anyone to tell me that what I’m about to say is normal (or not normal for that matter). I’m not looking for that arm around the shoulder “hey everything is going to be okay” feel good feeling. This is more about me just letting my fingers hit the keyboard and whatever comes (or goes) being okay.

I don’t really know what I was hoping for when I decided to take testosterone.

I mean I spent the year previous waiting for the province of Nova Scotia to validate what I wanted so I had a lot of time to think. Think. Think.

Which translates to: stalking instagram. Looking at other trans* people IG and making a sort of check list of what I wanted when I was going to be given the go ahead. You’ve heard me state things like no facial hair, deeper voice, more squared in the face, no on the male pattern baldness possibility and so on and so forth.

My first month on T was business as usual. I felt that first voice drop (or at least I think I felt it). Had a little bit more facial hair that I incessantly kept under control (if you see some random dude plucking chin hairs while driving, that’s probably me) and overall just let things be.

My second month was also business as usual. Learning how to advocate for pronoun usage in certain situations because most of the time people knew I was transitioning and when the misgendering did happen I was able to take a quick assessment of whether it was worth my time since getting ready to leave the area so soon. So much time was focused on getting ready for this crazy ass road trip to our new city. It was pretty easy to just let shit roll off my back because when you know you’re not coming back anytime soon and the next time you are back shit’s gonna look a lot different…well you tend to not care as much I suppose.

But that little seed of “you’re not doing enough” to present as a more male figure started creeping in. I KNOW, I KNOW….listen I get that it’s not me having to do the work cause if you stalk my IG the way I stalk other people you know really quickly I present more as a dapper (or #dandy) gentleman than lots of my male counterparts. But those changes in my face aren’t coming fast enough so no matter what I do today to present more male, my feminine face is going to give that shit away.

This third and last month has been the hardest. Being on the road meant a lot of different things. Less control of my food. No button down shirts or neatly pressed slack. No bow ties. No suspenders. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t running around in a tutu (though that might have made the trip more interesting) or running around with a rouge on my face. But every fucking day I was misgendered. Not just once in the morning and hey you can let this one go. But constantly. Pretty much every time I came in contact with someone other than my wife or friends we were meeting on our trip (and of course they get lots of transition time because I can appreciate them trying and I know this is all a process for everyone).

My little seed of “You’re not doing enough” is like a fucking weed that has overgrown my pristine lawn. I’m in the beginning of my 4th month and I still feel the exact same as I did when I took my first shot. Yes. Yes. Yes I know….it takes time. Be patient…BLAH BLAH FUCKING BLAH.

I equate it to the following: I want to lose weight. So everyday I workout and count calories. I step on the scale at day one and write the number down. 100 days later after going from never doing anything to moving and eating in a more healthy direction I step on the scale and that number is exactly the same.

FUCK THAT!

I look at other people’s 3 month mark and I see something.

me: nothing.

You might see it and that’s all find and deliciously awesome but I don’t see anything except weight gain and a few more facial hairs than I care to have and now I’m second guessing everything about everything. I never hear of other trans people saying this. Only “I feel like I’m becoming the man on the outside that I am on the inside” or “everything is more clear” or “YES! Facial hair” and I’m like “WTFAMIDOINGANDISTHISTHERIGHTPATH

*deep breath*

But….

I’ve landed in my new city. Life is still pretty fucking chaotic as we are living in a 200 sq ft space for the first few weeks until our 9 month place is available. None of my “hey I’m presenting as male as fucking possible and also did you check out me socks” clothes fit (that’s another blog post) so I’ve had to go out and buy a few sharp button downs and some new slacks so there is that to help build up my confidence again. I’m trying to navigate the Vancouver trans health system and have an appointment on Tuesday (but even the front desk person looked puzzled when I said I needed blood work done to check my T dosage….FFS). I know there is a great trans community here and once we get settled in a little more I’m hoping be in that community a little more.

I think it’s important that we as a community talk about this feeling of “wtfamidoing” feeling. I know it happens more often than we let up. We want the world to think everything about our path is where we want to go until we’re at a place that we don’t really know what we want but can’t admit it. I want other trans people to feel okay about saying fuck yhea this is hard and confusing and kind of awesome some days and kind of “is it okay to shave my legs” confusing other days.

So there you have it.

Month four…

Five better be better.

Two months…and away we go…

Its been a busy couple of weeks in between posts.

The honda is all packed up and this time tomorrow Mimi and I will be somewhere closer to the US border, starting out on the 28 day adventure and making our way over to Vancouver. As much as I love being here in the Maritimes and will miss my in-laws pretty immensely, there is something so profoundly exciting about moving to a new place where everyone I come in contact with will know me as Carver.

I’ve been away at Deaf camp this week. It’s a highlight of my year; going deep into the woods with 30+ kids both signing and non-signing, spending 5 plus full days swimming, doing arts and crafts, learning survival skills (I didn’t know you could eat moss) and sitting around a camp fire does something to the soul. It was a little different for me this year as last year I was just getting comfortable in my transition. I think this time last year I was still introducing myself as Tara but quickly following it with a “but you can call me Tee” and since it was camp it was just as easy to get the kids to call me T-Rex. Using the single stalled kitchen staff bathroom but still using the girls/women’s shower area. Being uncomfortable but with enough people that knew the journey I was slowly ramping up that it didn’t really bother me.

This year new campers / counselors met me as Carver. The returning campers / counselors practiced calling me Carver (but everyone knows they can still call me T-Rex because seriously who is giving up that nick name?…not this guy!) Lots of questions about “are you a boy or a girl?” and getting up early enough to use the boys/Men’s shower area because that’s where I belong but not wanting to deal with any side glances.

It didn’t feel uncomfortable to respond with “I’m a boy” or to the “before you were a girl?” (Yes) “and now you are a boy?” (That’s right) line of questioning…It didn’t feel awkward when an itty bitty said “you sound like a girl” and responding with “lots of boys sound like girls and lots of girls sound like boys but really a person’s voice doesn’t make them a boy or a girl, it’s what inside that decides

I’ve been more adamant these last couple of weeks about not letting someone “ma’am” / “lady” / “she” me. Mimi has become the champion of responding to the “what can I get for you ladies?” with a resounding “That’s my husband“. Funny too I’ve noticed that when that interaction has happened I’m still trying to soften the blow of being called out with a “it’s okay, it happens all the time” which I realize means I’m still trying to take the blame for not being “masculine” enough to pass, instead of letting someone else sit with the uncomfortable feelings of their mistake.

It’s been two months since I started T. I’ve been sick this last week with a cold so the extra drop in my voice has been an added bonus. Mimi and others have said they can see physical changes in my face which I can’t see looking in the mirror but can sort of see when looking at comparison pictures.

Top L: week 1 Top R: week 3 Lower L: week 4 Lower R: week 8

Top L: week 1 Top R: week 3 Lower L: week 4 Lower R: week 8

My Halifax doctor has nearly doubled my T from .25/ml to .40/ml every two weeks until I reach Vancouver. I’m now at a dose that I can go every week if I choose though I feel like the extra boost keeps my emotions in check a little better. When I get settled in with a new physician and another higher dose I’ll probably go weekly.

I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am to be in a city where hopefully everything happens a little faster, I get closer to having top surgery and life for Mimi and I just fall into place in Vancouver.

This next part of my post is a little TMI so if you’re not interested in the physical changes in my pants then this is probably where you want to hop off this ride and come back at another time…

 

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So there is definitely a change in my “girl” parts becoming not so girl part-like anymore. It’s not much and since I don’t spend a lot of time looking down there (ya know dysphoria and shit) it was a little bit of a shocker to see just how much I’ve grown in just the two months on T. I knew it would happen. I’ve been in relationships with other trans people so it wasn’t that much of a surprise to see the changes happening just how quickly it has started. Also my libido in general is changing…I know I’m looking at Mimi differently and the urges to “get it on” are more frequent.

A little side story….I’m not a very sexual person. I find Mimi very attractive but have a hard time acting upon any urges. Throw a little Asperger in the mix and you’ve got the makings of a person who would rather rub feet that bump uglies. We’ve worked really hard in maintaining a loving marriage with other kinds of affection rather than of the sexual kind. HOWEVER; I am definitely thinking of Mimi in more ways than rubbing feet if you know what I mean.

 

Not sure how much we’ll be able to blog while on the road but I’m sure we’ll have lots of stories about how our travels went. You can follow along our Halifax —–> Vancouver adventures over at Mimi’s instagram: Redstar5

 

~Carver

A little bit of chaos, a whole lotta love

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Mimi here. 

Sometimes I get super nervous and worried about how the world sees us. Sometimes I just feel disappointed that everyone else doesn’t just see the loving married couple we are and leave all the labels out of it. Sometimes I feel like I shouldn’t write about how Carver’s transition is making me feel, like it shines a big ‘ol spotlight on the two of us for something that feels super intimate. But then I think about how much it has helped me to read the words shared by others and connect with couples who  have experienced similar stuff. So I’ll do the uncomfortable and share what’s up here. 

What is “enough”?

Carver writes about his fear of not being trans enough. It’s hard for me to understand the pressure he feels when I haven’t been in his shoes or felt the same dysphoria with my gender. But I do see the pressure. I see the influence of those societal “norms” in people who try to label transfolk. What it means for trans men to “be a man”. I wrote a couple of weeks ago how I don’t tend to subscribe to labels and I don’t believe gender or sexuality is one size fits all. I believe a person can be trans and not desire to be what some may describe the typical gendered appearance at all. I believe there is no one size fits all man or woman with gender just as there’s isn’t with sexuality.  My deepest wish for my husband is that he can shake off the expectations and find comfort with himself wherever that may land on the spectrum that is gender. Before making the decision to transition and begin hormone therapy Carver used to declare himself 87% boy and 13% girl, with that 13% having to do with requiring matching undergarments. It’s been an evolution of what feels right for him. No matter where the measurement landed then, where it lands today, and where it will land – I love him.  I just hate that he feels this external pressure to be enough. 

We met one another as weight loss bloggers. A whole concept around personal standards of health, fitness, body image. It was a different kind of transformation that we both experienced. In many ways this new transition feels like a continued transformation. The physical and the mental shifts that come along. Not just for Carver, but for me too. I know this is profound on other levels for my husband. I know Carver is likely ready for this evolution of mind and body because of where he’s been before and I know he’d say it’s partly because he has the support and encouragement to take any path he’s ready for with his love proudly beside him. But I want him to know there’s not a standard of any kind that I hold him to. If the testosterone doesn’t make him happy in the ways he expects, if he doesn’t like any of the effects of hormone therapy, if he takes T long enough for his voice to drop and stops there. That’s trans enough for me. He is enough for me. Period.  Full stop.

Timing & Communication Break Down

Sometimes the timing of this transition feels like a lot to manage because we are transitioning so many other things at the moment. Our whole lives. More specifically my life. I feel a little like someone is picking up our snow globe and giving it a serious shake. Sort and purge all of my belongings down to a dozen bins in the back of our car and relocate to a brand new city on the complete other Coast of the continent. It comes with a lot of excitement and so many things to look forward to but it hasn’t been easy all while in the midst of Carver beginning testosterone. Not that I would change either decision for a second, I wouldn’t. I’m grateful for both. But none the less, it’s rocking my world and with the moving and shaking I’ve had more anxiety. As we get closer that’s making things challenging in the communication department for me. I have found how we communicate is shifting. Whether that’s about the testosterone, my anxiety or a little of both I’m not sure. But I don’t find I’m able to feel understood as easily these days. I’m mindful of this and I think we’re both doing  our best to tread carefully and be gentle. 

Noticing some shifts

This week Carver noticed his voice sound deeper for the first time to him. I’ve noticed it for a couple of weeks now and it’s deepening more to me. I know this is one thing he’s especially sensitive about, so I’m pleased for him. It’s exciting that to see/hear the things that he’s desired are happening.

As for other changes. There has been a handful of times now where I see how Carver thinks and processes things are shifting for Carver already.

Example:

We were in the grocery store the other night and we needed some help. Instead of being his somewhat reserved self and taking a more passive route or just not bothering to wait for help at all he took immediate action and was quite commanding in his request. Not demanding or rude in anyway – just much more direct and to the point than I’ve ever seen him. Especially in a store type situation like that. I watched it happen thinking to myself – “Well, this is new!” 

Things I’m learning: Don’t ask questions you not sure you want the answer to. (Maybe this is a good rule in life and not just our marriage) Because you will get a blunt and direct answer whether you are prepared or not.

Example: 

Me: I think I disappointed you.

Him: Silence.

Me: When I say something like that I need you to respond.

Him: Well yeah, I was disappointed. Sometimes you disappoint me. 

Boom. Nothing soft or gentle about that.

Honestly as I’ve said I’m really not sure if that answer would have been so different three weeks ago pre-T given our current status of pre-moving limbo anxiety. But there it is. There’s lots of new changes happening, I’m moving along with the flow and we’re doing our very best to communicate with a whole lotta love between us.