Reflections on Trans Day of Visibility

Today is the annual Transgender Day of Visibility. A day dedicated to celebrating trans people while we are alive and appreciating trans excellence.

But for many of us, this year feels particularly hard. While we have recently enjoyed many of the benefits of being more visible in media and politics and the allyship we have gained from intersecting communities, that visibility has also come at a high cost. Violence against trans women of color is at an all time high. And the political right has chosen to make our identities a wedge issue, pushing forward hateful and harmful legislation across multiple states and at the federal level. The horrendous laws in Arkansas, Mississippi, South Dakota, and Tennessee have targeted trans teens in particular, excluding them from sports and gender-affirming care.

If you are cisgender, I encourage you to take some time this week to read about the issues facing our community right now such as the scientific evidence supporting trans youth in sports and find ways to act to support your trans colleagues, friends, and trans youth across the nation. As a starting point, I recommend reading this brief article from The Nation about how Visibility Alone Will Not Keep Transgender Youth Safe. I also encourage you to find transgender-led advocacy groups to donate to such as Seattleā€™s Gender Justice League and the grassroots Trans Women of Color Solidarity Network Fund.

Missing the old days

Today I’m really missing the days back before I realized how much dysphoria I had where the sex with my factory installed equipment was still good. Once I started estrogen, the sex was just never the same. But my brain and body were so much happier that it was a worthwhile tradeoff.

I’m glad I have what I know are the right parts now, but I am also sad to be still stuck in this period of time where sex is ultimately just frustrating. I know it will probably get better but the waiting is so hard!

Looking back

Sometimes it’s helpful to look back and realize how far you’ve come. I ran across some photos recently of a vacation I took in 2016 and I was shocked at how hairy I used to be and how different my face looked. It is really a testament to how well laser hair removal works that I don’t really have to think about that much anymore. I used to have a very full beard and now I have shaved once in the last 2 months. It is such a relief to not have the constant dysphoria-inducing shadow on my face from stubble. And I’m so thankful that I had the resources and support to make all this expensive hair removal happen.

2016 me
Me today

A hard reality

I know I probably shouldn’t be writing when I’m tipsy but here I am anyway. And it’s time for me to say some uncomfortable things about surgery.

Right now I’m kinda regretting having bottom surgery. I know this period of no orgasms is supposed to be temporary but it’s been 4 months since I’ve had that release and I’m beyond frustrated. I really wish I still had my old parts so I had a reliable way to get off. Instead I just have to keep throwing different toys against this clit-less vulva and hope something finally happens.

I don’t know if things would be different if I still had my clit but I am terrified that this anorgasmia will last forever, especially with its loss. It has always been my biggest fear and this waiting game is wreaking havoc on my anxiety.

Anyway, that’s where I am. Hopefully I won’t be there forever and someday I’ll unlock the magical orgasms I’ve always dreamed of. In the meantime I’m going to try to keep focusing on the wonderful reduction in dysphoria and hope the rest catches up.

3 Month “Graduation”

I had my final post op appointment in person today and got some confirmation and a little reassurance.

I was correct. The tip of my clitoris did in fact fall off. My freak out was totally warranted and it wasn’t normal.

The good-ish news is that my nerve bundle is still intact just under the skin and I should still be able to orgasm, though it may take another 6 months to regain enough feeling for that to happen. The lack of sensation at this point is completely normal. Eventually I’ll just have an erogenous zone there where a clit usually is, it will just be harder for people to find.

I am definitely disappointed. I feel simultaneously like I haven’t fully processed it and that I kinda did process it several weeks ago when it happened. But as long as I can eventually orgasm, this surgery will still have been worth it. The reduction in dysphoria and the euphoria I get from being able to pee properly are a significant improvement. I just wish I didn’t have to be the one with the weird complication.

Otherwise I’m healing well. They treated the granulation tissue spots with silver nitrate and sent me home with a cream that will clear them up so they stop bleeding. I’m making good progress with the dilators and hopefully it should be smooth sailing from here other than waiting to have orgasms. Crossing my fingers that those eventually work right.

What is it like to be cis?

I’ll admit it. I don’t understand cisgender people. It’s hard for me to imagine what it’s like to have an uncomplicated relationship with gender and have a body that doesn’t need extensive modification to work with your brain. But just because I don’t understand doesn’t mean I go around villainizing all cis people and telling you you’re invalid.

Yet that’s what it’s like being trans. Everyone from children’s authors to radio personalities think they can attack us without repercussions. They tell us we can’t possibly know what our experience is and that we are somehow anti science for just existing.

I’m thankful for all of you who take the time to read my blog posts or educate yourselves about trans issues. It means a lot that you try to understand.

I am a walking contradiction

I am a woman and I am nonbinary. I am female and have a body shaped by testosterone. I am a femme and I am a tomboy. I am androgynous but I’m not gender neutral. I love my femmes strong and my mascs gentle. I am a racist and an antiracist. I am disabled and ableist. I am a radical and a pragmatist.

I am a person of opposites and contradictions. I break boxes even outside of the boundaries. Life isn’t black and white but it’s not all gray either. It is the opposites and the variety that make it interesting.

I contain multitudes. I am a walking contradiction.

8 Week Update

I’m now 2/3 of the way through the recovery process from bottom surgery and this week I seem to have really turned a corner. Before I was going through 2-3 pads a day and now I’m down to 1. The discharge is almost gone and even during dilation I’m not draining fluid.

The pain is also almost gone now and my energy is starting to return. I still can’t lift things or get in the hot tub but I’m able to do a little more around the house like cooking meals and cleaning. Work has been going well and I’m getting a lot done at half time. My mood has also improved this week now that my brain has energy (and I’m spending less time on Facebook).

I still can’t feel my clit but I think it’s there and just happens to have a low profile. It worries me a bit but I’ll hopefully get reassurance at my post op in a month.

Pet Peeve

I would never tell another trans person what words they can use for themself but can I rant for a minute about one of my terminology pet peeves?

I fucking hate the term “MtF” (Male to Female transition)! I was never a male and it wasn’t my transition that made me a female. I was assumed to be a boy and later a man based on the shape of my genitals at birth. That’s why we have the term AMAB (Assigned Male at Birth). But that didn’t make me a male. That was one aspect of a broader human personhood that was then generalized to dictate how I should act and label myself.

I have always been a woman. My brain developed that way and no amount of growing up a tomboy would make me a man. My transition has helped bring my body into alignment with my brain and that happens to follow a pathway that outsiders may perceive as changing me from a man to a woman. But they are wrong.

I am a transgender woman. I am AMAB. But I am NOT MtF.

When does transition end?

Now that I’ve completed the biggest step in my transition and relieved a major source of dysphoria, my mind is once again turning to the question of when my transition is “over.”

I look in the mirror most days and don’t recognize my face. Yes, it is significantly better than it was even a few months ago but the face I see doesn’t look like a woman most of the time, especially without femme accessories added. It doesn’t really feel male either which is progress, but I still don’t feel like me.

I find myself pondering whether facial feminization surgery (FFS) is something that I should consider. Or if it is hopeless to expect my face to ever be something I enjoy. Do I just need to work on self acceptance, or do I need to make bigger changes? Do I have an unreal image of myself (dysmorphia)? And is that rooted in internalized fatphobia?

None of these are questions I have answers to yet. But I am trying to have compassion for my brain. And remind myself that “passing” as a cis woman isn’t the goal or even achievable. I will always stand out in a crowd and maybe that’s ok. I’m fat, loud, and mostly unapologetic. And people can take that or leave it.