HRT: Year One (a/k/a The Breast Is Yet To Come)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Wow... a year. It hardly seems possible.

It seems like just a moment ago that I was standing in my bedroom for what seemed like an eternity, staring at those pills in my hand <>.

And then... the journey began. :c)

I'm afraid I don't have any great insights that others haven't stated far more eloquently in their own blogs. But I suppose I *can* talk about my experience; after all, I have the market cornered on that much, I suppose. :c)

I recently had a conversation with a longtime friend when the subject of my transition came up. His family physician is a MTF transsexual; he has been with her since before she transitioned.

My friend had recently taken his daughter to her for several appointments, and told me that he had noticed a number of similarities I share with her. I was curious, so I asked him what he meant.

"Well, you carry yourself differently now. There are certain mannerisms and gestures you both use that are... really feminine, I guess, for lack of a better term. And they're things you never did before. I can tell that they're unconscious, too. You're just doing what feels natural to you.

"I can't explain it, but it was always obvious that you were fighting something, even though none of us could figure out what it was. And now you can tell that you aren't fighting it anymore.

"Most of all, you seem really comfortable in your own skin, for the first time since I've known you. And that's a long, long time. You’re... content now.”

Several other friends said essentially the same thing recently. I certainly like myself for the first time in my life. It would not be an exaggeration to say that I *hated* myself, in varying degrees, until last April, when I finally knew I couldn't fight any longer, and that I had to transition.

A friend who is already full-time told me recently that as my transition progresses, I will find it harder and harder to maintain any semblance of him, and that the need and desire to let go will become more and more overpowering.

I am already finding that to be true. I get both incredibly jealous and frustrated as I see women out doing their daily business, and I still have to present as him.

What makes it both tolerable and maddening is knowing that I’m making progress towards the day when I can let go. I so, so badly want to be there NOW. To simply wake up as myself, without having to live a double life.

 But of course, it doesn’t work that way. So for the time being, I have to focus on what I can do this day – today - to realize my dream. And to keep in mind that these incremental steps will eventually get me where I want to be.


That same friend has remarked that, in her opinion, transitioning is 75% mental and 25% physical. My therapist, M, agreed with that, and said that she has been impressed by how far I have come on the mental side of my transition.

So much has happened in the past twelve months to make this already arduous process even more difficult:

I was laid off (literally the day after receiving my letter to start HRT) and unemployed for nearly six months.

I moved to a new state to begin a new job on less than two weeks notice – all while dealing with three broken ribs and a bruised disk in my back that only just now have fully healed.

Six weeks after starting that new job, I was informed that my group would be moved to a new office, more than doubling my commute time, and making my transition exponentially more difficult, in terms of access to my doctors, electrolysis, and more.

To make matters worse, this has been easily the worst job I have ever endured. Every single step of the way has been as difficult as possible.

And because of the uncertainty of where I would be working, I wound up spending eight months living in the one place where I absolutely should NOT have been: my parents’ house, the site of so much trauma in my life.  As my therapist M kept warning me, this was a toxic situation that was bound to end badly.

And it did.

It isn’t surprising, in retrospect, that I wound up collapsing from exhaustion and missing two weeks of work as a result. I am still recovering, physically and emotionally, from that experience. I learned a hard, hard lesson; take care of yourself, because no one else will.

One result of that endless stretch in purgatory (as I thought of it) is that I am behind on the physical side of my transition. Living with my parents, I literally had my guard up at all times. In addition to reverting to my old, unhealthy pattern of repressing my emotions (which is infinitely more difficult when you’re transitioning, needless to say) I couldn’t do ANYTHING in terms of my appearance.

I couldn’t dress as myself.

I couldn’t try different looks, to see what works best.

I couldn’t start badly needed electrolysis.

I couldn’t work on my makeup skills.

Or my voice.

I’m strong-willed, which can be both good and bad. On the positive side, it has allowed me to get through these difficult months, just as it gave me the mental toughness to endure the ceaseless stress of being transgendered all these years.

However, in the past – as in pre-transition past - it also meant that I wouldn’t even allow myself to try wearing makeup, or even dressing up. I suspect I knew that doing so would open Pandora’s Box, and simply overwhelm my carefully constructed defenses.

At my session on Saturday with M, my therapist, I mentioned that I have been surprised at how little electrolysis has hurt so far, particularly now, as she works on my chin and around my mouth. Similarly, having my eyebrows waxed for the first time last week was also not nearly as bad as I feared. (They look pretty good, too, if I do say so myself. :c))

She replied that I was so used to enduring mental pain that physical pain was, and seemingly still is, relatively minor by comparison.

There may be some truth to that. After all, on two occasions I discovered that I had been walking on a broken foot for what my doctor estimated was months. And I once played baseball for over two hours on what turned out to be a fractured ankle. I still remember the ER doctor’s astonishment when he showed me the X-rays, marveling that I could even stand, let alone play baseball.

At any rate, now that I am, mercifully, on my own again in my own apartment, I have a great deal of catching up to do on this front.

I have already begun the preliminary stages of working on my voice. (Perhaps the only good thing about my endless daily slog to work is that it will afford me a lot of time alone to make what apparently are quite disconcerting noises and facial expressions as I work on my voice. No, I will NOT be posting the results on YouTube anytime soon. lol)

I also plan to visit a MAC store – hopefully this week, if I can squeeze it in around the holiday bedlam – to begin learning makeup skills.

I have so, so much to learn, and as quickly as possible too. Two friends who are already full-time have both told me that a) the one year mark is when their physical changes really took off, and b) that I am already well-ahead of where they were at the same point in their transitions in terms of my appearance changing.

Becoming comfortable presenting as myself, therefore, is crucial. As my best friend F has remarked, I don’t want to reach the point where I am ready to be myself emotionally… but not be ready physically to do so.

I think that determination I have exhibited in the past will help me overcome this lost time and catch up. When you get down to it, it’s really just a matter of working hard and being really, really determined. Fortunately, I’m not afraid of hard work. And I am very, very determined once I make my mind up. :c)

In terms of where I am physically, I guess I’m not the best judge. I still see “him” when I look in the mirror. Others, however, tell me that the changes are striking. Even my sister, who, as anyone who reads this blog regularly has ascertained, tells it like it is from her point of view ;c), says as much.

My electrologist, M, tells me that she sees noticeable differences each week when I come in. About the only change I do see is that my face seems both softer and a bit narrower than before. As my friend J recently put it, she sees my cheekbones starting to show, and my face becoming more sculpted.

The electrolysis no doubt helps. I have been going for just under three months, and M, my electrologist, is thrilled with our progress so far. My cheeks are almost entirely clear. And after this week’s session, hopefully my chin will be as well.

Because of my broken ribs and bruised disk, I only recently got the all-clear to resume working out at a gym again. All I could do was walk, which I absolutely love doing. But with my long commute, the amount of time I could devote to it was not nearly what I would like.

I finally, finally got to join a gym this week, and went both yesterday and today. It felt so, so good to wake up sore today. :c) My stamina, needless to say, is nowhere near where it was pre-injuries (when I would either walk or go to the gym literally every day), but I will get there. It will take a few months, most likely, but that’s OK. The results will be worth it. :c) And I am excited to get back in shape as I hit the one year mark and, hopefully, my transition picks up the pace.

I don’t really see any other physical changes as of now. Joking blog post title aside, I still possess what my electrologist M affectionately refers to as my “baby boobies.” lol Considering my build, that isn’t surprising, I guess.

For the past few months, it basically looked as if I had pecs for the first time in my life, which, as I have joked, made the transition worth it right then and there. But now I have advanced beyond that stage, although I would hesitate to call them breasts yet. We shall see what the next year brings.

As my friend told me, this next year will be intense, crazy, and surreal – all at the same time. I will feel have to learn that I have changed, and are changing, even though it seems as if nothing is different. I cannot wait to find out where I will be in my transition one year from today.

Stay tuned!


I would like to wrap up by thanking everyone who has made the past year the most amazing year of my life: my friends, old and new, and my sister, who is my biggest supporter. Thank you, one and all; I love you all very much!

Since this is a special post, I will post a few songs from some favorite artists of mine. No relation to the theme of the post, necessarily; just a little treat to myself for this anniversary. Enjoy!

First up, of course, is The Boss:

Next are my former Seattle neighbors, Pearl Jam:

Big Country:

And, last but not least, a beautiful song from Daniel Lanois:

See you next year! :c)


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.. Best wishes! Exactly where are your contact details though?

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