One Month Post-Op

May 25th was my surgery day, so we find ourselves at one month post op.  I am noticing that I feel better, seemingly, in leaps and bounds now.  The last real bit of soreness or muscle discomfort comes from the part of my pecs that connect my chest to my arms, and only if I am reaching really high do I feel that burning sensation I used to feel with almost any arm movement at all.

There is still some residual swelling under my armpits, and this swelling is hard to the touch–perhaps this isn’t swelling but my burgeoning pectoral muscles?  Unlikely, but I can dream!  My nipples are still a bit askew, but are getting closer and closer to even.

I am putting Vasoline on my nipples twice daily, putting a small non-stick bandage over them, and wearing a sports bra to keep them in place, because as you can see in the pictures, I am developing some sweet red welts in reaction to the tape I was using to keep the bandages and silicone strips in place.  I go topless when I am at home, but when going out or to bed I wear the bandages and bra over the greased up nipples.

Dr. Medalie’s nurse advised me to wear the silicone strips on the incision lines for 12 hours a day, and of course longer won’t hurt, but given that I have to put a bra on to keep them in place, I just wear them overnight, and for a few hours in the morning before the shower, to get my 12 hours in.  This goes on for at least 3 weeks, maybe longer, depending on how I feel about it.

My mood is stable, and fine.  I have less than a week before I go back to work, and for this I am glad.  I look forward to my regular routine and to getting some of my strength back that I built up from the kind of physical work I do.  I also look forward to getting back into the gym–albeit at much lighter weights than I was using pre-surgery.  And regular paychecks will be pretty sweet, too.

One Month Post-Op Pictures

For comparison, this was the first time we saw my new chest, 6 days post-op:


Overall, I am pleased with the results so far, with the understanding that I have a lot more healing to do before all is settled by way of “results.”

Be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli

And Now, the Response from Aunt C:

Less than an hour after sending the coming out email to her, My oldest aunt writes, 

“I will always love you no matter what…It is sad to know you felt you had to keep this from us all this time….Yes, we never talked about your sexuality but hell, it’s none of our business..I think we just always knew and just never mentioned it…You are you and we love you….

I just don’t want you to get hurt anymore…You are such a Blessing to our family!…Relax, things are fine with me and Uncle J…I just don’t care much for Eli…How do you pronounce that….Love you so much…don’t worry…”

And then, 20 minutes later, 

“Don’t worry about Uncle M and Aunt R…They are with you all the way!…Aunt R is going to write you she said tonight but you know how she is…Just wanted to give you Thumbs UP!! and J”

And five minutes later, 

“…just another quick note…Aunt R and I said if we only were able to talk about this sooner, you would have had a much happier and supportive life…But I guess that’s part of the [our last name] Side, we just don’t discuss things…

I hope now you will be able to relax and not worry about what people say…We are all with you E and always have been…Love..C and J”

I wish I could take some of this and spread it around to the kids that don’t get to hear this form their family.  I am a grown-up and don’t need this much support, I could make it with much less.  I am overjoyed and sobbing at the love my family has for me, their ability to see past anything and love me no matter what.  But I want to give some of this to the kids that don’t get it, the runaways, the abandoned, the kids that take too many pills and slit their wrists because their families throw them out like trash.  I am a good person and I deserve this love but I don’t need it all and I want so desperately to give some of it to the kids that don’t have anyone.

Be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli

And Now I Feel Like Throwing Up Because…

…I just came out to the rest of my family*

In this letter:

I am writing you today to tell you about some important and exciting changes coming up for me. I wanted to tell you about them in a letter because I think these things will be easier to understand and process in this format. A letter lets you think about what I am saying without being put “on the spot” or feeling pressured to respond.

You know I have always been a tomboy–always been interested in sports and playing outside rather than playing with dolls or having tea parties inside. I loved going fishing with Grandpa when I was little, and always wanted to do everything he was doing. Well, just like I never wanted to wear make-up, and never wanted to wear dresses, I have never really been comfortable in this body I was born in. What I mean is, I’ve never felt comfortable or right being a girl.

As I have gotten older I have come to know more about myself through my own reflection and through therapy. And while I used to think that the way I inhabited my body was “enough,” that I was content enough to wear boys clothes and watch football on t.v. and have a butch attitude, it’s not enough anymore. It’s not all of me, it’s just a part of who I am, and I don’t want to pretend anymore. I want to be myself honestly and fully. And to do that, I can’t stay in this body the way it is right now.

I am what is known as transgendered: that means, I see my gender not as girl but rather as a boy. It has always been this way, as long as I can remember, even back to my earliest memories, I thought of myself as a boy. But it has taken me a long time to accept that part of myself. I have spent a long time being afraid of what other people would think or say, and I don’t want to live my life in that fear anymore.

It was very hard for me as a little one to try and reconcile the way my mind thought with the way my body looked. I was a boy in my brain but a girl in my clothes. That was very scary for me, I didn’t understand it, and I didn’t see anyone else like me, so I kept it a secret because I thought there was something wrong with me and I might get in trouble for it. But now I know there is nothing wrong with me, some people are just this way, I was born transgendered. And there are a lot of people like me in the world.

With an all-girl body I feel like a fake, a fraud, and I have always been uncomfortable with it. So I have made some decisions recently. Since doctors can’t make my mind match my body, they remedy the difficulty of being transgendered by matching the body to the mind. So on May 25th I had what is called “top surgery.” That is, I had my breasts removed to have a more male looking contour to my chest. I am healing very well and am happy with the results. To others around me, you can’t really tell too much of a difference (my chest wasn’t that big to begin with!), but to me, I feel much more at home in my body, I feel much more at ease and I feel more like myself than I ever have.

Also, I am in the process of legally changing my first name to Eli, and I will change my middle name to M——, as that is what mom always said she would have named me if I was born a boy. I will keep the last name R—–, of course.

K is supportive of my decisions, and we have been talking about this for over a year, as I have been discussing this change with my therapist also. I have many friends who know about my transgender identity and support me.

I have already told mom and dad and S, and they are supportive of my choices. Also I recently told cousin V and she has also been very understanding about these changes. Tomorrow I will send aunt V a letter, since she doesn’t have email. I have chosen not to tell T— or T– because I have little to no contact with them.

Lastly, I wanted to share this resource with you: PFLAG is a well-respected national organization that has put together this brochure for friends and families of transgender individuals (click on this link):

Reading through this document helped mom understand better what it means to be transgender, and what it means to have a family member who is transgender.

I understand this is a lot to take in, but I love you and I wanted to be honest with you about who I am. I want you to know I am here to answer any questions you may have. And I want to reassure you I am the same person I have always been, I am just being honest with you about a part of myself that I have been hiding for so long. I didn’t want to be afraid anymore, because you have always loved me, and I have no doubt that you will love me anyway, transgender or not.



* I am not telling certain uncles, because they are all but out of my life.  I did send this letter to two of my three aunts, who I have always been close with, and who have been instrumental in raising me.  I come from a large family: my mother is the youngest of 8.

Got This Little Number in the Post Yesterday:

From Medalie’s office, and notarized:

Do us a favor, ignore the shit job I do of blotting out important details, or inserting any graphic into any photograph I post on this blog. We are all lucky I can crop an image.

Discuss: how do I feel about this?

I am glad to have this letter, in my pocket, in case I decide to go ahead with the gender marker switch from F to M.  But I am not so sure I feel like an M.  Let’s talk about my irrational fear of changing said marker, then suddenly, and for the first time in my life, being arrested and thrown in general population incarceration in a male prison.  I would undoubtedly get my ass raped off.

K, by way of assuaging my fears, reassured me I would get my ass raped off in female prison too.  Thanks, darling.*

She also points out this fear is likely covering for some more rational fear, about not seeing myself as male.  And that is it, I don’t see myself as male.  I round to male for the sake of society, but I am not yet ready to round on legal documents.  I’m still in the process of changing my name legally, and while it might be easier to do it all at once, well, I’m just not ready, and I’ll be damned, if after three decades of hiding my tranny ass**, I’m going to start rushing now.

Let’s talk about my other concerns:

– I just had surgery a month ago, and I feel like taking this transition one step at a time, especially since these steps are irreversible (surgery), or a huge pain the the ass to reverse (name change and gender change on legal documents).

-I’m not even out to all my family as trans.

-I’m not on T, and on some level, that makes me feel that I don’t have a right to claim male status.  That I am not a “real” man.

I came across this on Joe’s Transition: “I identified as genderqueer for awhile after coming to the realization that I was gender variant. To this day I still have a hard time feeling like I’m ‘a man.'”  And this, from a person who sports some sweet facial hair and goes by the name Joe.

This bit from Joe made me feel better, like I could go on T, I could change my name, I could look to the world like a man, but still see myself somewhere in the middle.  And it also made me think about how the reverse is true: I can feel like a man, be a man, without T.  Which means, if it’s right for me, there is no reason to not change my gender marker.

I’m going to sit on it for a while, think about it.  It’s funny to consider how this process might be so different if I was in my 20’s: if I was 24, and out as trans, I think I would be rushing to the endocrinologist, gleefully and defiantly changing my gender marker and name.  But now, in my old(er) age, I am more reflective about it.  Maybe I’m easer to scare now, maybe I’m more mature, whatever the reason, it just doesn’t feel right to skip off to the DMV to get a new ID, complete with new gender.

Or is this “new” gender really the old gender, the authentic gender, the original that has been denied for so long it now feels, in light of my honest acknowledgment of it, suspicious?

Be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli

*But she’s right, you know.  I might be tough on the outside, but those bitches*** would eat me alive.

**Please don’t be offended, I’m just spouting off some dumb shit on my blog and am using the term “tranny” in playful way, in reference to myself only.

***I mean this in a respectful way, as in tough as nails.  As in, a strong character.

Silicone Strips: Soothing and Scorning

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen and folks reading this.

It is 3:09 a.m.

Why the hell am I not sleeping?

Let me explain: Yesterday was my four week post-op* mark, and so I was allowed to stop covering my whole chest with those horrid bandages and could move on the just smaller bandages over my greased-up nipples and cover the incision lines with silicone strips.

The nurse at Medalie’s office was great, and gave me a sheet of silicone that could be cut into strips, told me that sheet should be enough for the three weeks Medalie recommended I wear them, and also told me if I needed more to just let her know and she would mail them to me.  This is a kind and generous offer, because those sheets are pretty  dang expensive otherwise.

So first I started by taping them to my chest overnight, which worked ok the first night.  It was a bit uncomfortable having such thick silicone taped in place on my chest, but it seemed to stay put ok, at least while I was in bed on my back.

So yesterday morning after I showered I decided to try using my old binder/compression bra to keep the strips in place, and that worked well too–I was less concerned about the strips peeling off from the tape’s lack of conviction, and the bra seems to apply just enough pressure to keep the strips in place.  But then I noticed my skin just under the incision lines, where the band of the bra sits, was itching like mad.

I took the binder off for overnight, and went back to the tape for the night.

I woke up about a half hour ago to myself itching the hell outta my chest and trying to rip offthe tape and silicone strips.

I got out of bed, pulled the strips off my chest, and started applying aloe and vitamin E oil to all the itchy parts, fighting desperately to not rip the irritated bits off my chest with my bare hands.

Normally, I’m much…whiter.

Dear readers, any suggestions for how to deal with this problem?  I see the silicone strips are already helping in the healing of my scar tissue considerably, but the way I am adhering them to my body is insufferable.

Be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli

*I understand yesterday I also posted something titled “three weeks post-op” and while it is true, the pictures shown there are from three weeks post-op, they were posted online a day before my four week mark.  Apologies for any time-warp confusion.

Another Major Award!

Well friends, I have finally been awarded the prestigious Tell Me About Yourself award.

I’d like to thank the academy. But they have done little to support this award, so I won’t.

Of course, there are responsibilities that come along with garnering such an accolade, so, in accordance with the TMAYA regulations, I post the following:

Here are the rules:

1. Thank the person who nominated you

Thanks Deanna–what a doll you are!

2. Tell the world 7 things about yourself that you have not yet shared.

1. When I was born my mother wanted to name me April Rose–boy was she off!

2. I actually love to hand wash dishes! (I am stealing this one from Deanna, because it is true for me as well.)

3. I took the SATs in 6th grade.  I scored 600 verbal.  I don’t remember my math score.

4. When I was a kid I wanted to be one of two things when I grew up: an animator for Disney, or a firefighter.

5. I have never broken a bone.  But I have had scarlet fever.

6. I have seen Korn eight times in concert.  At one of their shows I bruised 6 ribs.

7. I can recite the prologue of Romeo and Juliet verbatim.

3. Nominate 7 fellow bloggers and let them know. In no particular order…

1. Chestless and Beyond

2. Joe’s Transition

3. Maybe a New Leaf

4. The Adventures of Ashdarlina

5. The Oddball Mentality (Because J.C. just loves to be social! ;))

6. Transmogrifying, and…

7. Smash Brown!

Be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli


Since I’ve Been Gone/Three Weeks Post-Op

Please excuse my absence, as my best friend got married, and it was K’s birthday, so I was busy for about the last two weeks or so with living my life away from this computer.  It’s funny, I think a lot of this living life away from the computer has been going on, as many of the blogs I follow on WP have similarly titled entries as of late.  Things popping up on my feed like, “I’m Still Here” or “Where Have I Been…” or “Where in the World Is…” or “Been a Minute” and this little gem are all I have been reading lately.  But I think that’s what summer does, it wakes us up and reminds us to go outside, we plan weddings and picnics and just generally like to let the sun touch our faces.  I’m glad you all have been busy being somewhere else than in front of your computers.  But I am glad to be back, as well.

First, let’s talk moods.  I’m feeling much better!  I will end this post with a week three update and as you all will see, I am healing up pretty well.  My strength and range of motion are coming back now in leaps and bounds.  Yesterday I even laid on my stomach briefly as I read this book.*  I still have to sleep on my back, but I am able to lift my arms (almost) fully above my head when rinsing my pits in the shower.  I am able to twist my torso to a much larger (but not full) extent, and pulling doors open is no longer a problem.  I am still being quite careful, as I do not want to stretch the incision scars, and I am still a bit tender and swollen around the area next to my armpits, but overall I am pleased with my progress.

At week three, I no longer have to bandage up the incision lines, and I have started the silicone strip process.  These I hold in place by wearing, ugh, my old compression bra.  It’s not so bad really, considering the alternative: taping the shit out of the thick silicone strips to get them to stick to my chest.  What a pain in the ass that was yesterday.  Also, I still have to Vaseline up my nipples for another week, then I will switch to aloe or shea butter to keep them moist, or perhaps I will keep on with the Vaseline routine for the full three weeks my incisions have to wear their silicone strips–we’ll see how it goes.

Also, I think getting out of the house, going home and seeing friends and just being in the world with people has really been the most help when it comes to my mood.  I have stopped in to work a few times and it was really nice to see some of those people, to be in that environment.  While I was home in Chicago I was able to have a face-to-face meeting with my therapist, Dr. M.  We have been having phone consults since I left the city for Massachusetts, and it was good to see her in person.

Three Weeks Post-Op

And now, for the show:

Still a bit swollen around the edges, and still a bit red and crooked, but I’ll take it!

Right side close-up. This was the struggling purple nipple, look at his comeback!

Ready for his close-up, Mr. Left Nipple.

The red splotches you see around my chest are from the tape used to secure the bandages over the Vaseline I** have to slather on the incision lines and nipples, to keep them moist and stretchy and happy.  So far, the first two weeks post-op have been the hardest for me, physically and emotionally.  I imagine there will be other forests to traverse in this process, but I am sure glad to be out of that particular thicket.

Be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli

*Don’t judge me.  It’s quite the naughty seasonal read.  Give yourself permission this summer to get lascivious.

**I am slathering nothing on.  Let’s be clear, K is doing all this work and I have just yesterday started putting the goo on myself.

Trans Resource

I am not super happy about the idea of people on HRT without the careful supervision of a doctor, but we do live in a country that forces our hands, so with cautious consideration I reblog:

Tips for Trans Men

Via Project Queer


Anyone who plans on taking HRT without a prescription from your doctor (via ordering on-line or some other method), this website has all dosages, amount of times you take daily, the specific names of the prescriptions, how you administer them, all the “red flag” side effects to look out for, etc. etc.

Please pass this along!


Full Article >>

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And Finally, Our Hero Arrives at the Root

Transphobia is an insidious creature: a little seed is planted in a brain, when values are still forming, and the seed imbeds itself in the garden of nuances that build this little person’s character.  The transphobic seed is nourished and encouraged by an environment thriving in transphobic opinions and caricatures*–that seed sprouts and thrives in a land fertile with examples of how loathsome the transgendered person is.

When we are little we are taught men who wear dresses should be laughed at–they are the butt of a joke.  A woman who wear ties is a sickly imitation of masculinity.  And there is something not just culturally abhorrent about this behavior, but vaguely immoral as well–so this seed gets buried at a very instinctual level, one which (often times) escapes the cold eye of logical inquiry, in the same way that religion, for many people, falls outside the realm of scientific questioning.  Transphobia is second nature for many people, like a belief in God or a disgust for feces.  We are conditioned to believe this is natural, healthy behavior–believe in a higher power, find disgust in transgendered behavior–therefore many of us never question it.  So like so many other -isms and -phobias, transphobia sometimes escapes the analysis of even the most liberal thinkers.

Transphobia sneaks in under out analytic faculties cloaked by the insidious catch-all of “normality.”  It’s just natural to dress and act your birth sex, it’s normal to act aggressively if you have a penis between your legs; and it starts at a very young age, after all, boys will be boys!  And if they are not boy, then they are sissy.  This transphobia seed burrows deep like a lyme ridden tick, and is encouraged through all the varied means by which we transmit our societal norms.  Because if it is normal to adhere to the cultural expectations determined by your birth sex, then any other thought or belief or behavior is abnormal.

We don’t know why some people are transgendered, maybe it’s hormonal imbalances in the fetus, maybe it’s the lack of a good male role model as a young child, but as long as we keep thinking of transgendered people as mentally ill, it will always be seen as a defect, as a lesser model, as a human lemon.  To feel that way about others is one troubling degradation, but to feel that way about yourself encourages a whole host of other problems.

So when I look in the mirror, and I see my new chest, and I listen to myself in that first second of recognition of my body, what I hear is what have you done to yourself, freak? and I just hear a whisper of it, just for a moment, but it is long enough to derail me–my mood, my identity, my self-esteem.  It is enough to make me question whether or not I made the right decision.  But then the critical faculties kick in, after that initial emotional reaction, and they say your chest is healing well.  You are healthy.  You are going through a difficult transition and all these emotions and fears are part of the healing. And I know I’m right, but that first response kick-in-the-teeth is deeply troubling.  It’s quite painful to look in the mirror and hear, ringing out of your own head: you are damaged goods, kid.  You are sick to do this to your own body.  Something is deeply fucked up about you if you have to mangle your body like this to feel normal…and there’s that goddamn word again, normal, and I know it’s some internalized transphobia coming to the surface.  I know I have made the right decision.  I know I have always wanted this chest.  But I have three decades of cultural norming to undo, and that is a much more trying obstacle to overcome than a surgical procedure.

Be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli


* Take, for a minor example, the fact that transphobia and transphobic are flagged as being misspellings while I type this.  A word to define our oppression is not even acknowledged.