A personal announcement, emphatic thank-you, and cheers to Fedora.

I'm really encouraged by stories of people who transition later in life. In the case of Ms. Siperstein, she didn't come out to her wife until she was in her 50's and I don't think publicly transitioned until later. It's really easy to fall into a mindset that if you didn't transition by X or Y point in life that it's too late for you, you missed your chance. Really cool to see people defy that.

Today's note:

I found Voice Feminization - Fundamentals of Your Feminine Voice the other day. Decided to purchase a copy of their audio recordings to use for a reference while doing voice practice. It's a little goofy, but good stuff. I feel like it could be better informed by phonological principles, since (among other things) I'm a language geek, but it's pretty solid and I feel like I can round out the practice with things I think are useful based on the phonetics of English. I suppose that their more off-the-cuff approach to that sort of thing makes more sense considering most of their audience hasn't studied linguistics, though.

Came out to the last person on my "people I want to tell ahead of anything" list today. Everybody else is either "they'll find out when it becomes appropriate" or my dad, who I've spoken of before. For my dad, I figure I'm going to wait until I visit over the winter holidays (which is the only time of year I tend to visit family), and ask him to go on a walk with me some evening and talk to him about it. Like I said before, I don't expect much of him... and that means the holidays might be messy because of it. But he deserves to know, and he deserves the chance to be better about it than I expect him to be. So... prepare for the worst, hope for the best.

Going to meet Transpitt people on Saturday. Admission interview at Persad a week from Monday. I'm really hoping now to start on facial hair removal shortly after that. Hopefully I can get some pointers from people at Transpitt and Persad on that.

(I won't have seen a therapist yet at that point, I expect, and I want to do that before fully committing to transition. But... I'm pretty sure already, and it's not like I would miss shaving. If it's possible to grow facial hair somewhere, I probably do, and my skin is too sensitive to shave more than once every 2-3 days without breaking out in a nasty rash. So even if I were to miraculously change my mind after starting that, I'm pretty sure I would not be sad.)

And so it begins.

I just recently had a buddy I've know for many, many years come out and tell everyone he was undergoing sex reassignment surgery. He has wanted to be female since he was a child and had been taking hormones since he was 20 (he is now in his mid forties).

He is one of the last people in the world I would have figured wanted a sex change. He's married to a drop dead gorgeous Ukranian woman, has a cute young daughter, and while not a macho, deer hunting, beer can crushing on the forehead man's man (please note the sarcasm), he was very, very good at hiding any traces of this part of his life.

I'm happy for him (soon to be her) but it was quite a shock. I don't know if our friendship will survive in its current form... probably not since I don't really have any female friends now and never really have as an adult... but my friend does have my support. He actually thought I was one of a couple of friends that would never speak to him again once we found out, because I'm a pretty conservative guy in most aspects of my life. Another of his friends is pretty flamboyantly gay and, being in the media biz, hangs out with all kinds of "alternative lifestyle" folks. He was so weirded out by the idea of the sex change that he isn't speaking to my buddy anymore... just couldn't handle it.

So I guess the point I was leading up to is this - yeah it's scary to have to tell people you've known for a long time about heavy stuff like being homosexual when people didn't know, or wanting to change genders, but you may be surprised at who is OK with it and who isn't. You will definitely find out who your real friends are!

Just remember with your friend that they're still the same person they always were--just presenting themselves a bit differently. I think that in some ways that's one of the hardest things to wrap your brain around, sometimes even for the person involved: This isn't a new thing. They've always felt this way. They've always seen themselves this way. They will always be the person who lived the life they lived leading up until now. It's just that they're choosing to show the world more of the truth about who they were that whole time, and they're choosing to do the really life-changing thing of living under a different set of rules (because men and women [em]are[/em] treated dramatically differently from each other in every culture ever, and ours is no exception to that.)

Your friend may choose to leave certain attitudes and behaviors behind and to pick new ones up. She'll be trying to figure out how she wants to interact with the world, now that she's chosen to live in it openly as a woman. But she'll also be carrying forward with all of the past you have together, and will probably enjoy most of the things she used to enjoy. (Although some trans folk do try to aggressively leave their birth-assigned gender behind completely by rejecting a lot of stuff. But if she's been living as a man for this long, even while taking hormones, I kind of doubt that she has that sort of attitude. Any aggressive girliness will be a temporary thing, making up for lost time and figuring out how girls are supposed to act. A lot of trans women go through a "teenage girl phase", but it passes.)

But that's the key thing: It's not that "he" is soon to be "she". It's that she has always been a she, the whole time you've known her--you just didn't know it. Imagine that this whole time she had a girl's body, and was only forced into playing the part of a man for some reason--a witch cast a spell on her as a child so that the evil king wouldn't know she was the princess spoken of in prophecy, etc. etc. Sure, she was constrained by her role to act in certain ways to conceal her identity, but that doesn't mean she was behaving in all ways contrary to her deepest opinions and beliefs. Now she's decided that it's time to stop, but when she wakes up (or woke up) on the day she chose to start presenting herself to the world as a woman, she's only one day older than she was when she went to sleep.

She's going to be trying new things, but she's the same friend you've always known, just in her second regeneration. So take it one day at a time, and learn about how she changes as she learns about herself. No preconceptions, don't assume anything--just a friendship evolving, as all friendships do.

Went to the Transpitt meeting tonight, and it was nice. Most of the folks there are indeed older cross-dressers rather than transsexuals. I had a "big sister" for the meeting to tell me about stuff, and when we chatted a bit my lack of interest in dressing up was a little awkward. But the woman I met before was there, and I talked with a couple of other trans women there, and their wives. Got a couple of email addresses. So, it went pretty well. I was about at my socializing limit for the night after the meeting broke up (I am a total introvert), so I passed on heading to a local bar afterwards and came home.

I expect I'll join and go to more meetings. It's likely to remain a little awkward with the cross-dressing emphasis, but it's good to have more TS women there. It's one of the first things you can find when you start looking online for local trans people around here.

Edit: It just occurred to me how marvelously funny it is to be concerned that I might feel peer-pressure to dress up in a more femme way.

First of all, congrats!

From one introvert to another: I'm just now stepping up my involvement in some live theater groups around here, and my introversion/social anxiety has been bad enough to require medication. I've made friends and enjoyed myself at them, even if sometimes I'm still the wallflower. I now make every after-party possible in order to enjoy the camaraderie that takes place there. They really can be great things for us introverts.

Whether you do or not, it's great to see you moving forward and looking for your own happiness. Congrats again!

Hypatian wrote:

It just occurred to me how marvelously funny it is to be concerned that I might feel peer-pressure to dress up in a more femme way. :D

Oh, the irony.

It might just be my own personal tastes at play here, or else my experiences are sui generis, but I find that there's a point where being too feminine actually hurts your chances of passing. Sometimes the really femme outfits and accessories can just highlight the things that aren't quite right with your body and mannerisms where a t-shirt and jeans are a lot more forgiving. Maybe it's just that I associate really femme clothes more with drag queens than with any genetic women I know, but they make you stand out more than anything.

Then again, I'm also from a part of the country where women don't generally wear a lot of makeup or dresses. I've had women from Texas and parts of the South describe Colorado as being a land of tomboys. Fine by me.

Is it similar to the uncanny valley effect, where as you try harder, the remaining seams seem more glaring?

Yeah, there's definitely a limit. And I'd say from some of what I saw last night that non-TS cross-dressers are perhaps closer in spirit to drag queens than to trans women.

Talking with one of the other trans women there, I told her that while it felt awkward from my side, I also had a lot of sympathy for where the non-TS folks are: Someone who's considering going through transition has an end in sight. Things may not go super well, and passing may not ever be a really achievable goal, but we're going to reach a point where we're pretty much fully integrated with ourselves. Someone whose gender identity remains on the male side of things while having a tremendous need for feminine expression is in a very hard place where they're probably going to be living a double life for a long long time. That has to be really hard and scary, and some of the women I met last night have been doing that since the 90s (and in one case, the 80s). Sure, they're never going to have to deal with the stress of going "full-time" and finding out how all of their colleagues and friends react to the change. But that comes at a real cost.

(And as someone who is TS, I feel that going "full-time" may be a scary step, but it's also a really rewarding one. That's where I want to be, after all.)

Tanglebones wrote:

Is it similar to the uncanny valley effect, where as you try harder, the remaining seams seem more glaring?

That's a good comparison for it.

There's also the question of body types and knowing how to dress yourself for the shape you have. Male to female transsexuals and cross-dressers often end up with inverted triangle body types: broad shoulders, narrow hips, and a smaller bust. That kind of body shape is flattered by certain cuts and types of clothing that draw attention away from or toward different areas.

Lots of genetic girls have this shape, too, so those kinds of clothes exist, but a lot of the more femme stuff you'll find in stores, especially if it's for women and not teens, is cut for a figure with hips. Transwomen also tend to be taller than genetic women, which raises its own sorts of issues with waistlines, skirt length, and so forth. If you take someone who's 6' tall with broader shoulders and narrower hips and stick them in a dress cut for someone who's 5'6" with wider hips, things aren't going to look right. All the wrong parts of the taller person's body will be emphasized, which can give them away if they're trying to pass.

A more tomboyish look helps alleviate some of those issues because they're a little more versatile and a little more flattering to an inverted triangle body shape. The problem with that look is that it doesn't feel as feminine. I'm not a cross-dresser, so I can't speak to that part of it from personal experience, but if I had to guess, I'd say that someone who is male but trying to express a feminine side to themselves would really want to express that in a really strong way. Super femme clothes and makeup can make you feel really feminine even if you don't necessarily end up looking convincing. That might be what cross-dressers are after but that's not necessarily a goal of someone who is a transsexual where passing is a higher priority.

Bought some simple women's canvas flats today, for occasional kicking around in. Not eye-catching, so I can probably get away with wearing them out. Also saw some cute heels, but decided I didn't really want to do that right at the moment. I don't really have anything to go with them, and I'm not really prepared to add to my height. 5'10" isn't super tall, but 5'10" in heels kind of is.

Intake interview on Monday. Still pretty calm about that. I mean, it's whole [em]days[/em] away. I'm sure I'll start to get heart palpitations by Sunday night.

Small steps!

Hypatian wrote:

Bought some simple women's canvas flats today, for occasional kicking around in. Not eye-catching, so I can probably get away with wearing them out. Also saw some cute heels, but decided I didn't really want to do that right at the moment. I don't really have anything to go with them, and I'm not really prepared to add to my height. 5'10" isn't super tall, but 5'10" in heels kind of is.

Intake interview on Monday. Still pretty calm about that. I mean, it's whole [em]days[/em] away. I'm sure I'll start to get heart palpitations by Sunday night. :)

Yay! Page me when you want to get into female-trade-secrets stuff. I bet Amoebic and a couple others will want to join that party too.

LiquidMantis wrote:

Small steps!

Taken in some nice new shoes!

clover wrote:

Yay! Page me when you want to get into female-trade-secrets stuff. I bet Amoebic and a couple others will want to join that party too.

Hehe. I'm sure I'll be in touch, eventually. It may be a while. Still working on the basic stuff I learned back in high school (shaving, nail care). I don't think I'll be ready for many secret-girl-club secrets until I take care of the things that long-time members don't need to worry about ("how do I permanently remove thick masculine facial hair?" and "how do I fill my body with estrogen and decrease testosterone?" being the primary concerns.)

I think the first thing I'll eventually want advice on is "what hair styles might work well with the shape of my face?" But that's going to really have to wait on some further weight loss and hopefully the effects of hormones. Hope hope. (From what I hear, the counseling center I'm going to follows version 6 of the WPATH standards of care, which means it'll probably be at least a three month wait from when I first go in until they recommend HRT (version 7 basically says "if it's clear they understand what they're doing, let them do it"). Although I've also heard that they're loosening up, since apparently a lot more trans people are coming to them these days. Which is interesting.) Anyway, I figure that means I'll hopefully be approaching my desired weight and a few months on hormones around Easter. Which is kind of auspicious. Anyway, that's when I figure I'll really start feeling comfortable trying to girl things up a bit. Everything until then is just sort of preliminary.

If Mixolyde reads this thread (I have no idea if he does), we had dinner the other night while he was in town for training, and he can testify to how very far away I am from appearing even vaguely female. I've taken a few pictures, but the iPhone front camera is [em]really[/em] crappy in poor lighting, so I need to keep trying. I should have asked Mix to take a shot of me. :p

Check list for things I should do to practice even though I don't feel comfortable: 1) Get a new P.O. box (not because I feel weird receiving packages at home, but because receiving packages at home sucks if they ever want signatures while I'm at work, or if my neighbors decide to open them. >_> I guess they really didn't want a Star Trek pizza cutter, although they did check it out.) 2) Order a couple of reasonably nice wigs. (I was tempted to go into the seasonal Halloween store and look at their wigs while I was shopping today, but I've heard that those wigs are really [em]really[/em] awful.) Mainly to get used to wearing them, but also just to generally figure out what I can do with them. 3) Get some make-up and start practicing with it to start getting techniques down.

Oh, and I need to make an appointment somewhere to start hair removal stuff. I have info for a place right in my neighborhood that claims to be trans-friendly, but I've been putting off contacting them until my first visit to the counseling center.

I'm super happy for you! I love reading about your progress, and am incredibly encouraged by how you've committed to the change, and seem happier for it.

Hehe. I still keep telling myself "I want to see a therapist before I decide for sure." But I'm totally lying. I [em]know[/em] what I want to do. I think mainly I keep saying it to myself to make sure I stay calm even though everything takes so long. (Waiting until January for hormones? OMG.)

Hypatian wrote:

5'10" isn't super tall, but 5'10" in heels kind of is.

I'm 5'9", and finding a pair of cute heels that don't make me feel like a giant can be a bit of a pain. I usually wear really nice flats or keep the heels fairly short. Which works for me since I have terrible balance!

clover wrote:

Yay! Page me when you want to get into female-trade-secrets stuff. I bet Amoebic and a couple others will want to join that party too.

Yes, add me to this list!

Thoughts on heels: I'm 5'8" but I prefer tall heels (like 4-5") because I have pretty big feet and higher heels actually perch you on the ball of your foot, so to me they're more stable and comfortable for walking around than something shorter.

Also, runway models have to be a minimum of 5'10" to even get work, and those are the short ones. There's nothing more amazing than someone tall in a pair of fierce heels.

Yeah, my wife is 6' and wears 4" heels all the time.

IMAGE(http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m9oxxlA5Kg1qmbu5mo1_r1_500.png)

Bah. Image is too small to be legible, but the gist of it is a genuinely positive 1936 story about a FTM trans person.

Edit: ooops, unsolicited tips. I'll leave that out for now.

Good luck with your intake interview! I'm so glad you're willing to share your experiences in these new steps you're taking in life. Behind you 100% : )

:p Now I want to know what the unsolicited tips were!

Hypatian wrote:

:p Now I want to know what the unsolicited tips were! :D

+1

Hypatian wrote:

:p Now I want to know what the unsolicited tips were! :D

Haha, I'd misread Clover's post so I assumed it was something that had been already established. Here goes, it's totally boring! I think it was something to the effect of:

Slightly inebriated Amoebic wrote:

Hey lady, shave yo' legs for the interview! Wear the shoes! Even if you have the stumpy, hairy legs of a fat potato farmer like I do, when you're smooth-shaven it feels like you have girlishly slim and sexy legs (two things I'll never, ever actually have). It nice little confidence booster if you're into that kind of thing. : )

When I was in my teens and haughtily shunning what I felt was overwhelming pressure from society to conform to feminine standards, I developed an identity that was very...coarse. Didn't wear makeup, do my hair, wear feminine colors, shave my legs or underarms, or wear much in the way of women's clothes. However...sometimes, it still felt good to occasionally shave and feel all ladysmooth sexy sexytimes under my cargo pants and combat boots. I could maintain the façade of being tomboyishly tough-as-f*ck and still secretly enjoy something that is usually reserved as a feminine activity.

We like to have our good-luck rituals and lucky pennies to calm our nerves when we need them, so doing something that is personally and satisfyingly yours can be reassuring if you're nervous about taking big steps in life.

Giant truth here! I am not even close to girly ( even though right at this moment I'm dressed up for someone else's wedding) but even I have a couple sets of SERIOUS underwear for that.

It has nothing to do with hoping to show it to someone. Its all about how you feel about it.

Re: Unsolicited advice: Already *all* over that. Shaving legs and stuff (*almost* all the stuff, really) was a super easy and safe thing to do, since we're officially not supposed to wear shorts to work. (Boo!) Also growing out my nails. Little things can be very comforting.

I'm probably going to have to trim my nails down again soon, though. Even slightly long nails and typing do not make a super good combo, especially on the new chiclet-style Apple keyboards. (This is not something I had considered about them until lately!)

Hypatian wrote:

since we're officially not supposed to wear shorts to work. (Boo!)

Those goddamn fascists. Pants are a means of oppression.

Skirts are okay. A friend of mine has been considering a Utilikilt.