Gender Euphoria Tipping Point

I think between my bottom surgery and facial feminization from hormones and hair removal, I’ve definitely passed a tipping point. I now experience far more gender euphoria than dysphoria. So much of my daily existence before was spent actively ignoring parts of my body and now I can actually relax into my body.

Thank you to everyone who has helped me get to this point through your emotional and financial support. Having a wonderful community around me has kept me going through the hard parts of transition.

Glow-up

When I first started my transition, I looked pretty awkward. I was deeply uncomfortable in my body and finally had language to name it what it was – dysphoria. I tried a lot of things in my early days including some ill fitting thrift store clothes. I heard later that my ex got a hold of those photos and was mocking me for them with her mom.

But the joke’s on her because she didn’t get to stay around long enough to see me become the beautiful, confident woman I am today. The last few years the combination of estrogen, surgeries, and hair removal have really worked their magic and I’ve had a serious glow-up. I finally feel like myself and I’m so much happier (especially without her transphobic energy in my life).

I have three lovely and affirming partners and more love and support than I could ever have imagined in my life. I often wish that I could go back in time and show myself what I would become when I finally shed all the shame. I would have made very different life choices if I had known my worth and not listened to my ex that I was so weird that no one else would love me.

I still have a long way to go in healing and personal growth but I know that I am on the right path and I’ve surrounded myself with good people to keep me there. Thank you all for your love and support that brought me this far.

Graduated from Pelvic Therapy

Today I “graduated” from pelvic floor physical therapy. Based on the referral of a fellow trans person, I was able to find a great place near my suburb where the provider seemed knowledgeable about trans neovaginas. She was great and helped me learn to differentiate between just activating the “quick” muscles and activating the deeper, longer holding muscles. For the past couple months I’ve been doing a lot of work to learn to activate them along with my core muscles more instinctively.

It was definitely weird at first because it involved “internal cueing” where she would hold a finger inside me to tell me if I was doing it right. There were also these fun adhesive sensors that go near your asshole that can tell you how strong you’re contracting. A very interesting experience overall but a useful one.

The original reason I went in was because I was having urinary leakage after peeing and I think we’ve determined that it was a physical problem. There is a little pocket by my urethra that tends to hold in a little urine after peeing and I basically needed to learn to wipe effectively since my labia are pretty large.

Anyway, that’s all probably TMI but hey, that’s what this blog is about!

Sexual Adventures

Content warning: Explicit discussion of Sex

This week I decided to have some adventures and sleep with a couple cisgender straight men. In retrospect, Pride Month was probably a weird time to suddenly choose that but as a friend pointed out, exploring my bisexuality is a form of Pride too since I usually only sleep with women and other trans people.

Overall, I’m glad I tried it and it was really affirming to quickly and easily find non-fetishizing straight men who found me attractive. But the sex was kinda “meh” for me. Like it was fun to try something different but it didn’t get me even close to orgasm. I was really hoping that it might kick on my G-spot but I think instead, it solidified for me that I like the kinds of sex I’ve been having better. This may be something I try again in the future every once in a blue moon but mostly to add variety rather than fulfillment.

Straight sex

As I’m thinking about potentially having sex with cis men soon, it’s really weird to think that this is now considered straight sex. And how different that meaning is for me now than what straight sex meant for me 5 years ago. Really makes you question the whole concept of straight vs queer sex and the idea of that as a dichotomy. But at the same time, I think it is important to be clear that a straight man can have sex with a trans woman and that doesn’t mean they’re gay. It’s all complicated and hopefully someday no one will care but here we are.

Smelling like a girl

3 years later and still, one of my favorite parts about being on estrogen is that even when I’m sweaty and gross I still smell like a girl! It was one of the first changes I noticed and one of the most psychologically beneficial for my dysphoria.

9 Month Post-Op

This week marks 9 months from my bottom surgery and I just had a post-op check in with the surgeons office. Overall healing has gone well other than the very notable exception of my clit falling off. Dilation is easy now and I can go down to every other day if I want. I’ve gone though all the sizes they gave me and even ordered one bigger. I managed to get all the granulation tissue (bleeding spots) to heal up and there hasn’t been any discharge for several months.

I do still have some urinary leakage after peeing which is annoying so I’ve started going to a pelvic floor physical therapist and I’m doing kegel exercises at home. Having a physician put their finger in your vagina every week certainly takes some getting used to! I’m hoping it also helps with sex because I can get up to the edge of orgasm but I still can’t crest that peak which is eternally frustrating. The doctor says that’s still within the realm of normal but I’m at the average time that it usually takes so I’m getting more anxious about ever being able to fully enjoy sex.

Now that me and my partners are fully vaccinated I get to start dating again. I’ve been seeing someone new I met online during the pandemic and after 8 long months we finally get to touch each other this weekend. I’m definitely nervous about having sex with someone new when I haven’t even figured out my own new body parts yet but they’re trans too so I’m sure they’ll understand. I’m just glad that the waiting is over.

The Braces are off!

Last Monday, after almost 3 and a half years, I finally got my braces off! And while it has been exciting to finally be able to eat without spending the next hour getting pieces out of my teeth, the most surprising thing for me has been how significantly my facial dysphoria has been relieved.

When I first got the braces, I went through a week of intensive dysphoria so bad that I was dissociating completely out of my body and it felt like I was seeing my life from the bottom of a deep well. It was the worst. And while I managed to pull myself out of that well, the dysphoria for the last 3 years has been bad, enough so that I was afraid to smile completely, especially in photos. I’ve also been seriously contemplating whether I needed facial feminization surgery (FFS) because I hated my face so much.

But the last week has been so much better! I keep glimpsing myself in the mirror or my zoom screen and smiling instead of cringing. Even with my retainer on, I look so so much more beautiful! My face has changed so much, even in the last year, and it is nice to finally be able to see that.

BMI Cutoffs are unscientific and harmful

As I’ve written about before, BMI (Body Mass Index) is an unscientific concept that is often used to deny trans people life-saving surgeries. It is treated by far too many surgeons as medical fact, despite the vast body of evidence that it is wildly inaccurate, scientifically useless, and never intended by the creator to be used on an individual basis.

Recently, the only surgeon in Washington State, Geoffrey Stiller, formerly one of the few surgeons who would accept fat patients, updated his policies quietly to exclude people over the arbitrary and oft-used cutoff of 35 BMI. That means that at least two people close to me are now being denied gender affirming surgery without so much as a notification about the change. So I wanted to take the opportunity to share some scientific research recently published on the topic.

  1. Recent research shows that there is no correlation between BMI and surgical complication rates in trans people in either vaginoplasty (bottom surgery) or mastectomy (top surgery)
  2. “Obesity” (aka normal body variation) is very common in trans people seeking surgery (26% at Mount Sinai) and did not change despite efforts to lose weight prior to surgery
  3. BMI is not an empirically based method of denying gender-affirming surgery

Trans people should not have to bear the burden of educating providers about our care but all too often we are put in that position anyway. So next time a surgeon tells you they won’t perform surgery because of “policies”, please feel free to use this research to push back on them. Even if you don’t win a single conversation, hopefully you will plant a seed and prompt them to actually read the scientific literature on the topic. I found these articles with only a cursory review of the topic and I’m not even a doctor.

Citations

  1. Ives GC, Fein LA, Finch L, Sluiter EC, Lane M, Kuzon WM, Salgado CJ. Evaluation of BMI as a Risk Factor for Complications following Gender-affirming Penile Inversion Vaginoplasty. Plast Reconstr Surg Glob Open. 2019 Mar 13;7(3):e2097. doi: 10.1097/GOX.0000000000002097. PMID: 31044103; PMCID: PMC6467628.
  2. Rothenberg KA, Gologorsky RC, Hojilla JC, Yokoo KM. Obesity is Not Associated with Complications or Revisions after Gender-Affirming Mastectomy in Transgender Patients. Plastic and Maxillofacial Surgery. 2019 Oct 1;229(4):sup1. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jamcollsurg.2019.08.494
  3. Martinson TG, Ramachandran S, Lindner R, Reisman T, Safer JD. HIGH BODY MASS INDEX IS A SIGNIFICANT BARRIER TO GENDER-CONFIRMATION SURGERY FOR TRANSGENDER AND GENDER-NONBINARY INDIVIDUALS. Endocr Pract. 2020 Jan;26(1):6-15. doi: 10.4158/EP-2019-0345. Epub 2019 Aug 28. PMID: 31461357.
  4. Lisa M. Brownstone, Jaclyn DeRieux, Devin A. Kelly, Lanie J. Sumlin, and Jennifer L. Gaudiani. Transgender Health. ahead of printhttp://doi.org/10.1089/trgh.2020.0068

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 Seattle’s Gender Justice League and the grassroots Trans Women of Color Solidarity Network Fund.