Shout Out to Uncle M!

So, I was talking to my aunt R on the phone this morning.  It’s the first conversation we’ve had about me taking testosterone.  In fact, besides my trans coming out letter I wrote to her, it’s the first time we have spoken at all about my transition.

Aunt R told me her husband, Uncle M*, was reading my blog.  Hi Uncle M!

I have been a bit of a coward–a little timid about bringing up the whole trans thing to my Aunt R.  She has always been so sweet to me, really the nicest person in my family, and there are a lot of great people in my family.  But I just couldn’t bring myself to say “transgender” or “testosterone” to her on the phone.  It skeeved me out.  So, I just kept ignoring it.  But today, Aunt R called me up and said, “Uncle M has been reading your blog and we just wanted you to know we’re on your side and we love you and just want to give you a big hug.”

HOW COULD I HAVE BEEN AFRAID OF THIS WOMAN?

Surely it’s not my aunt that I was afraid of, it was the fact that it’s no fun discussing your personal gender business with your relatives.  I wouldn’t have to do this if nature got it right the first time around, but, well, fiddlesticks!  I guess I’m just going to have to put my big boy pants on and be a grown-up about this.  I am so glad she brought it up, since I was too busy acting like a child.  I feel the air has been cleared a bit, and it’s good to know now that when I see them next, with a deeper voice and looking harrier, they’ll know why.  I feel good about this, and ultimately I think the only reason I hesitate to talk to my family about my transition is because I have no practice at it. Also, it is a private matter, and my family is good at respecting each other’s privacy.  And I have no idea how much they want to hear about it, so I have been practicing not speaking about it unless I’m asked directly about it, but then I wonder if they don’t bring it up because they think I don’t want to talk about it because I haven’t brought it up…Gah!

So now that I know my uncle M is reading this, I feel the need to clean up my language a bit.  And I am suddenly embarrassed by my, ahem, titular choice.  But it’s one that was meant to encompass my top surgery journey.  At the time of naming this blog I had no idea it would be anything more than a record of that surgery.  And so, because it is fitting and evocative (and people like to read the evocative) ultimately, I stand by the title. 😉

But I will try to keep the swears to a minimum.

Be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli

*An aside about my uncle: uncle M used to be a mechanic.  For a long time he and my aunt fixed up houses and sold them.  My uncle likes Nascar and The McLaughlin Group.  He has one of the all time best laughs. He is soft spoken and has good hair.  I will someday write a longer post about him, but for now, let’s just say he is a good role model, and if I could be any kind of man, I would want to be one like him.

So Incredible:

Linked from Your Pal Eli:

Transforming Love

Fraternity Raises Funds for Brother’s Transgender Surgery

When I think of groups organized around gender (Boy Scouts, Fraternities, etc.), I sometimes first assume those groups are intolerant. I recently read that the Boy Scouts of America had “tabled” their decision on allowing homosexual participants. Helllooo!!! When I picture the frat brothers of my days as a “Little Sister” of a fraternity, well, these guys made homeosexual slurs a daily routine. That’s why I was delighted to read about a fraternity that not only WELCOMED their transbrother-but STEPPED up for him as well! AN IMPRESSIVE STORY!! Please click on the title above to read as well as watch the young man’s video of thanks!

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Five Days on Testosterone

So, a while back I gave you a teaser post with this image:

IMG_0931This is the epigraph to Conn and Hal Iggulden’s Dangerous Book for Boys.  It occurred to me that maybe I had missed some important boy shit (since I was socialized as female).  I decided I should go back to the beginning and cover my bases.  So, I am going to use this dangerous book as a guide, and I will post my findings on MLWT.

I wanted to start this week, perhaps with a video on making paper airplanes, but my sick ass has been sick, and my “first week on testosterone” voice just sounds like an unrelated laryngitis.  Earlier in the week, as my voice went huskier, I tried to convince myself it was dropping, although I knew there was no way that that was what was happening.  I wanted to see if I could trick my body into doing it.  No dice, and no voice, for two days now.  So as far as my first week changes go, there are none.  That makes a lot of sense to me, as I was expecting none.  Wait, my leg was sore as fuck for two days.  So I guess I got that to look forward to for the next 50 years.  Cest la vie.  My next shot is in two days.  I’m planning a step-by-step testosterone injection guide, so look forward to that, my darlings.

So next week it is!  I have a few video series in mind for MLWT.  Eep.  Like most folks, I dislike myself on camera, but I think I will like to look back over these changes someday.  I enjoy seeing the videos of trans guys going through their transitions.  It is great to see them come into themselves.  I love the nuances, not just how their bodies and voices change, but their mannerisms too.  And I want to give back to the community, and I want to have a record for my own account.  And so here we go.

Be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli

Oh Shit!

I did it.

IMG_1031

In the foreground, a band-aid covering the injection site.  In the background, a cat with a cone on her head. She is healing a cut on her ear. She is also not camera shy, and believes herself to be beautiful no matter her state. She is inspirational in that way.

Let’s back this train up, to before I took my pants down.

This morning I went to my doctor at Howard Brown.  We went over my numbers: liver functioning great, cholesterol numbers awesome (being vegan works!), good blood sugar business, and my testosterone is pathetic and completely normal for a cis-gendered female–it’s floundering at 38.  After all is said and done, I will level off at 400-ish, which is within normal cis-gendered male range.  So my doc wrote me a script for the T and needles and told me that when I returned with my supplies a nurse would show me how to to do the injection myself, and I would have my first shot today.

Wait, what?

I thought maybe they would give me my first shot, and maybe I would come back next week for a supervised self-injection.

After we talked numbers and my preferred method of delivery (intra muscular injection), I got the informed consent papers to sign, along with my Rx for testosterone and needles.  K and I went two doors over to the pharmacy* and procured said goods.  Then we went back to my doctor’s office.

We sat** in the waiting room for a few minutes while I mulled over my life up to this point.  And I freaked out a bit.  It felt surreal, as though I had no idea how I got to this particular moment: who was this person, this person about to put a needle in his (or is it her?) leg to change his looks and his gender and what the hell was I doing there?  Who was driving this body?

I was driving.  I already did all the thinking and deciding, back there, over the last few months, and it was the last few decades that put me in this particular room, at this particular moment.  I was never female.  I took a longer breath, and let a little air back into my thinking, and I felt better.  Then they called us in.

The nurse took me though the steps of giving myself a shot*** and then handed the needle over to me.  Although I wouldn’t consider myself needle phobic, I have never given myself a shot before, and never even watched someone else give me a shot.  I always turn my head away: I just assumed I might jerk at the point of injection, so in order to not complicate matters for the injector, I just didn’t watch.  So before we came in today I decided that when I gave myself my shot I would take a deep breath, count to three, and on three exhale and inject.  Simple and effective.  I knew I couldn’t ruminate on it, or I would chicken out or fuck it up.  I just didn’t think today would be the day.

In this little room, I have practiced the process and understand the steps, and the nurse is there to correct me if I miss a step, but is otherwise just patiently waiting.  I take the plastic tip off the needle used to draw the testosterone and…slip and poke myself in the palm of my hand.

Dumbass.

Dumbass, surrounded by wilting images of femininity.

So, the nurse had to get me a new needle because now that one was contaminated.  Oh well, confidence unshaken, I carried on.  Needle in hand, sitting on the examiner’s table, I told the nurse I just needed a minute to gather my thoughts.  I took just that, a moment, remembered to breathe, took one breath in and stuck the needle in my leg.  Then I exhaled.

“Wow, you just did it,” said the nurse.

Wow, I just did it.

I pulled back on the plunger, there was no blood, so I injected the testosterone.  It was way easier than I thought it was gonna be, and I think I did pretty damn well for my first try.

So this guy is my new date every Thursday:

Sexy.

Sexy.

I am doing once weekly shots of .5ml.  I think there are different ways to measure that, but I know this is, according to my doctor, a “standard American dose.”  Please do not take anything I type here as medical advice.  THIS IS SIMPLY MY OWN PERSONAL EXPERIENCE, WITH A DOCTOR TREATING MY OWN PARTICULAR BODY AND ITS SPECIFIC CHEMISTRY.  PLEASE SEE A DOCTOR FOR ANY AND ALL MEDICAL ADVICE.

After I stuck myself, the nurse put a band-aid on my leg, and left me to put my pants back on.  K watched the whole process, as we both feel it important for her to know how to administer the shot also, although I feel it my personal responsibility.

As I was pulling my pants up, I noticed a funny feeling, it was of course, partially the endorphins, partially the elation, but I was also unmistakably happy.  I felt, for the first time since I started thinking about taking hormones, that it was undeniably the right decision.  I think that feeling of assuredness will grow stronger as the weeks march on.

Today was a triumph.  I am delighted.

Be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli

*For those of you not living in America, we believe it is our sacred franchise to protect and patronize markets who deal specifically in pharmaceuticals.  We also believe it is one of our most important duties as citizens to incarcerate and punish any other citizen who purchases drugs outside of a pharmaceutical environment.  We’re funny that way.

**K sat; I fidgeted.  I flitted looks at the emergency exit.  It occurred to me I could run now and never look back.  It occurred to me I was going to put a needle in my leg, my perfectly healthy leg.  I was sweating.  I was panicking.  So I stopped thinking about it.  Your panic is of your own creation.  What you allow into your head space is your own reality.  So I put some air into my lungs and shook all that crazy talk out of my head.

***I will go through these steps in a later blog post.

Peering into the Abyss. The Abyss Peering Back.

As many of you know (and many of you wished me well, and I thank you for that), last Tuesday I was supposed to have my first testosterone shot.  I chose to postpone it until Feb. 21st.

Last week I was freaking out, big time.  I was stuck in this ugly place surrounded by all the extreme and negative consequences of testosterone.  I had convinced myself I was damaged and mistaken and I was doing psychological harm and I would regret going through with hormonal transitioning.  And so on top of that I was then saddened by the idea of being stuck in my current body.

It got ugly.  Then I watched this video:

I love Dade’s videos, but this one just freaked me out.  The idea of not recognizing myself has crossed my mind.  And that terrifies me.  I think I’m just going to have to be conscious of paying attention to all the changes, the widening of my jaw, the facial fat redistribution.  I think in the beginning most trans folks are paying real close attention: we are anxious for the hormones to start making the difference we want them to make.  But I can see how, many months in, I could lose track a bit and catch a reflection in the mirror that is unfamiliar.

And so as the evening went on, I got a terrible stomach ache, which I presumed to be anxiety-produced, and decided that hey, if I’m getting so wound up about this that I’m giving myself stomach aches and calling myself names, maybe I’m not ready for T yet.

Then the vomiting started.  It was a flu, not anxiety.  So I’m lying in bed, shaking and moaning and I make a deal with God: take away this disgusting illness and I won’t go on T.  Yes, it’s superstitious and embarrassing and not a little bit transphobic, but I want to be honest.  This is me being vulnerable, damnit.

I woke up the next morning and immediately reneged on my promise.  God didn’t heal me, my immune system did, and even if God (exists and) heard me, I’m certain the creator of the universe (has more important shit to do and) is smarter than to expect payment on deals made in extreme physical duress.

But, I did feel that a little more time was needed: I wanted to write some sort of good-bye note to the old me, I wanted to get in touch with a trans dude support group, I wanted to make some plans for upcoming posts to mark, in my own way, the impending changes.  I was able to do all that, and now I feel a bit more ready.  I just felt like I was about to do this big important thing with no way to honor the old me and the impending new me.  I feel more settled now.  Not entirely, but now I can pinpoint my anxiety to the unknown, and not shit I have left unfinished.

Essentially, I am beginning to obsess a bit, obsess about the unknown, about the negative, and it does me no good.  I cannot keep watching youtube videos, expecting to find some snake oil sentiment that will cure my nerves.  There aren’t answers to my questions, yet.  I understand the parameters to my decision to take testosterone: I know the pros and cons, I am as informed as a responsible adult can be.  I have to trust that the way I have felt about my body since I was 3 years old is true.  I have to trust that we all die of something, and that testosterone alone isn’t going to kill me.*  I have to trust the professionals in my life that are telling me I am making an informed decision, and I have to trust that they will help me look for any warning signs.

I have to redirect my attention to the positive, to the likely, and away from the scary, unlikely negatives.  After all, I could get ovarian cancer and die from the estrogen in my system.  And how pissed would I be about that!

I have to keep saying, “fuck it.”  Over and over again, “fuck it.” Because I have done the research and I am ready.  But standing on this cliff is doing me no good.  It’s actually hurting me.  It’s time to jump.

So, in the coming weeks and months expects videos to start popping up on My Life Without Tits.  Expect a new feature, “Boy Experimentation.”  Expect voice recordings of poems, in different registers, as we spend this time together.

Get excited and be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli

-Matt Kailey just posted a question on his blog, concerning trans dudes and dying.  Check it here.