Photo Comparison: Face Shape on T

So, it’s been just over six months on testosterone.  And although I already posted a vlog on the topic, I wanted to do a face comparison, pre-t and now.

Let’s get right into it: this photo was taken 2 weeks before I started testosterone, in mid February (as you can tell by the lipstick doodle that is peeking out on my chest)–

Heartbreaker

Heartbreaker

And this one was taken today, 6 months and a few days on testosterone:

Nice lighting, bro.

Nice lighting, bro.

I do see a bit more definition in my jaw.  Also, check out the rad difference in my biceps.  Lefty was always the weakling, but righty is on the money.  My chest is also definitely filling out in the way I’ve always wanted it to, not that unfortunate way it ballooned in junior high.  You can also see a lot more muscle in my pecs and around my shoulders now versus six months ago.

Speaking of hearts and face shapes, here’s some graffiti I saw while out on the town today:

So sassy.

So sassy.

All in all, not too shabby.  Dare I say…I’m getting a little beefy.

Be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli

2nd Birthday

Guess what my new state-issued ID calls me…

A New Man

Portions have been blurred to protect my sexy identity.

This morning I had my court date at Daley Center, and it was crazy easy.  I was nervous  because I knew nothing about the judge, and he could deny my request, and all that money would have been for nothing and I would be stuck with my girly birth name.

We got to the court room early, and waited outside for Hunter, the TJLPI volunteer who was going to sit with me and be legal support.  He’s not a lawyer, but he has been though the name change process himself, and was familiar with the proceedings.

There was one other person there, a woman trying to change her name, and her situation put mine in perspective.  She hadn’t filled out her paperwork.  She couldn’t remember how to spell her name, and was uncertain what year she was born in.  Watching her in front of the judge was just heart wrenching.  The judge, thankfully, was very kind.  He tried to help her, and clearly wanted to grant her request, but as he put it, “What kind of judge would grant a petition to someone who can’t verify their own name, or birthdate, or birth place?”  She was obviously mentally unstable, and I was thankful for Hunter and the judge this morning.  They both were really kind, treated her respectfully, and tried their best to help her–she just didn’t have all the necessary information.  Oh, and some other dude there, who seemed very much of sound mind and body, didn’t even bring any paperwork with him: he just showed up to court empty handed and in blue jeans–dafuck is wrong with people?

When my number was called (there were only a handful of us in the court room–this room was for name change petitions only), I approached the bench and was sworn in.  But the swearing in was for naught: the judge looked at my petition and judgment order, my birth certificate and xeroxed copy of my state ID, then glanced up at me and said, “Well, this all appears to be in order,” and then indicated that I should go sit back down.

So I did.

The judge got up and left.  The bailiff declared that court was in recess.  I sat in awkward silence, not sure what was happening or what signal I was waiting for.  A few minutes later the clerk called my case number again, wrote “ok to certify” on the bottom of my petition, said, “Here ya go,” and handed it back to me.  And that was it.  Elias Michael was born.

Hunter, Kae, and I went down a few floors to get the judgment order certified.  We had to get multiple copies certified because places like the Social Security Administration and the DMV won’t take some broke ass xerox copy.  They want the real deal:

Embossed like a boss.

Embossed like a boss.

After paying ten bucks a piece, I had multiple uber legit state documents proving my new legal name is, well, legal.

So we walked across the street to the Thompson Center, which in Chicago is a super futuristic mall with a food court and DMV in the basement.

From the ground up: Philip K. Dick's DMV of the future.

From the ground up: Philip K. Dick’s government office of the future.

After the first clerk refused to accept my printed-from-the-internet electric bill as proof of residency, and the second clerk got all lippy in my face about shit he didn’t understand, I finally talked to someone that treated me like a person.  He was totally cool, said my electric bill was a fine piece of corroborating evidence of my residence, and so thoroughly understood where I was coming from that as he said “Now, Elias,” he pointed down at my gender marker and asked, “is this changing today too?”  I said no, and he said, “Oh, that’s fine.  We get you guys in here all the time.”  And suddenly I felt much more at ease.  I’m not happy with my picture on my ID, but no one is.  What’s important is the name.

So of course the legal name change is just the tip of the ice berg.  Now I have to change my name with:

-Student Loan Companies

-Utilities

-Credit Card Companies/Banks

-Previous Colleges

-The Public Library

-The IRS

-My Landlord

-Credit Reporting Agencies

-My Veterinarian

-My Oncologist/Other Doctors

-Netflix

-Amazon

-The Sun Magazine (my one and only magazine subscription)

And the Social Security administration for a new SS card.  And that, in turn, is what I need to change my name with my employer.  Oh, and I’m sure lots of other places I’m forgetting.

But, all in all, today was a good day, a success, and there was a nice cool breeze that came along with it.

In closing, my first birthday:

Gangsta.

Gangsta.

And my second:

Birthday 2.0 comes with a hot  girlfriend, and a better hair cut than 1.0.

Birthday 2.0 comes with a hot girlfriend, and a better hair cut than 1.0.

Cheers, and be nice to yourselves!
Your Pal Eli

6 Months on T Update

Hey!  Here’s a video update!  Sorry I don’t look into the camera, as I’m not sure where it is on my phone I should be looking.  Also, this video is long, please enjoy as much or as little as you would like.  It’s mostly about testosterone and mental health.

Be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli

Train Wreck, Coming Through:

When I couldn’t sleep, when I really couldn’t sleep, when I was wound up from worry or fear, I would get angry, first, and then I would cry.  And then I would feel better.  And then I would fall asleep.  By the time I feel asleep, I would usually only get a couple of hours, but they were good hours, deep hours, really restful hours, and I would feel ok when my alarm went off.  Sure, a little sad I couldn’t sleep for longer, as I was really enjoying the sleep I was in, but I at least felt like I got a little rest.  My eyes wouldn’t ache from the lack of rest, nor would I get that headache behind my temples and eyes I frequently associate with lack of sleep.  If I had a night where the neighbors were too loud, or my cat wouldn’t leave me alone, or my thoughts wouldn’t leave me alone, if by 3 or 4 or 5 a.m. I could just give up, dissolve into tears, and then pass out, it was a good night.

I still get those nights: like tonight.  I wanted to get to bed early, because I have been having trouble sleeping for weeks, and I thought if maybe I gave myself like, 11 hours before having to get up, maybe that would let me relax and not worry about not falling asleep.  So, I worried, naturally, that I wouldn’t be able to sleep.  I read, and got sleepy, but as I felt myself starting to drift off, I felt that falling feeling, and woke myself up.  I do this repeatedly.  Then I start thinking about all the things I have to be afraid of in my life: what if the testosterone is fucking up my liver?  When is the cancer going to come back?  I am losing my will to write, I am wasting my life, I am a huge disappointment.  I’m losing my vocabulary and passion for learning at an alarming rate.  What is wrong with my brain?  What if my cat falls out of one of our open (but screened in) windows in the middle of the night?  My chest feels tight, what if something is wrong with my heart?  I can’t save my mother, my root canal is probably infected and wrecking my jaw bone, I think there’s one of those creepy centipedes on my bedroom wall…

And after about an hour or two of this, this loop of self doubt and fear and anger, that’s when I just get so tired and mad I cry.  It’s an angry, quiet cry, one that is satisfying, but not one that would wake up K.  And then I forget, for just a moment or so, all the things to be upset about, and I fall asleep.

But I don’t seem to be able to cry anymore.  I try to force it, I get really upset, I dredge up all the worst shit, the worst outcomes and least possible scenarios, and then, nothing.  I just lay there, looking at the ceiling.  So I take out the ear plugs, and walk into the living room and turn on the computer and I don’t feel the same fear I used to, I mean, it’s still there but now it’s coupled with this new “I don’t give a fuck” sensation.  At first, it felt good, like I was growing emotionally or something: like I’m not crying like a little bitch, so this must be a better, more mature self loathing.  This is progress.  No.  I think maybe this is depression.  I’m sure the testosterone is having a lot to do with why I can’t seem to cry anymore.  It feels very much like I just can’t get over the falls, as it were, emotionally, enough to bawl.  I feel just as upset, but now I get angry at my sadness.  But I’m also just tired of being angry, so I don’t feel like taking the rage out on anything–it just dissipates.   But then the thoughts resurface, the emotions well up, and I start the whole ugly process all over again.

My sex drive seems to be residing in the pre-t range, and after some recent professional setbacks, well, I just feel like I’m tired of trying.  I’m tired of writing things that aren’t good enough, I’m tired of working for recognition that doesn’t materialize.  When I was younger, in school, I did good things, I was always on the top of the hill, as it were, winning awards and doing well and being recognized for it.  I had a community and a purpose and was learning interesting things.  I’m in a slump, obviously.  And I think, this must be what depression feels like.  It’s a bit different from anxiety: it’s not nearly as manic and physically painful, and so in that way it’s kind of relaxing.  But it ain’t great, either.  The idea of having depression is just another problem to worry about.  It’s like I’ve been stepping in dog shit for twenty years, when suddenly I notice I occasionally step in cat shit instead.

K and I had a chat about this mess tonight, and she had some helpful things to say.  As most troubles are, this issue is about perspective: I can’t keep judging myself based on a scale I no longer participate in or believe in, that is, I don’t actually believe there is anything wrong with working in a grocery store, reading for pleasure, and paying my bills on time.  Actually, that sounds like a pretty good life to me.  But to outsiders, I must look like a pretty big disappointment: hot shot grad school leads to the destruction of my self esteem and retail labor.  Nice job, dumbass.  But I do believe I am a disappointment, to myself.  All I wanted to do was be a fucking English teacher.  It’s not like I wanted the moon.  I just wanted to not get cancer when I was 29.  I just wanted to be born in the right body.  I don’t think I was aiming too high.  But I did get cancer when I was 29, I am transgender, and no, my chosen occupation didn’t want me.  And all that shit hurt.  It still hurts.  It keeps me up at night.

I want very much to learn how to give myself a break.  I want to look at the clock on the computer and see it is 1:04 and be ok with that.  I want to stop judging myself and stop creating these self fulfilling sleepless nights.  I want to unclinch my jaw and believe my body is healthy.  I want to take a cue from my cat and my girlfriend and sleep for more than four hours at a time.  I want to learn how to let go.  I want to be able to watch my breathing for more than an inhale before I forget it and retreat back into my brain.

I want to blame all this on the testosterone, but I know better than that.  I think the testosterone is exacerbating trouble that has been brewing under the surface for a long time.  And in that way, presumably among other ways, it is healing me.  Testosterone is forcing me to look at things I have been ignoring for a long time.  A sleepless night won’t kill me.  And look, I actually wrote something, too.  Guess I’ll go back to bed and think about global warming.

Be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli