How to Be an All-Inclusive Gender Thread

Congratz! Interested to see how they look, of course.

They look very very boring. Maybe I'll come up with a picture, we'll see.

In other news, today's QC made me laugh out loud.

This is a fantastic article: Navy Couple Recounts Tough Decisions (OutServe)

Edit to add: Today's important jewelry tip: For your first earlobe piercing, if given the choice between studs and captive bead rings, go with studs. It will save some angst the first time you say to yourself "I should figure out how these work" and spend the next 30 minutes trying to get the bead back in place. (I also had to trim my nails short to do it--tiny metal beads don't leave much maneuvering room.)

Edit edit to add much more interesting things:

I picked up some studs at Target, "just in case".

While I was there, I also picked up some new jeans and a new button-up shirt, both in smaller sizes. I decided to try jumping down to size 8 from size 12, because the size 12 I have has been a little big in the waist for a while. I figured if 8 was too small even in these stretch-denim jeans, I could aspire to wear them some day. But as it turns out, I can squeeze into them pretty well! I think it might be a different story if they had a higher waist (I think they're mid-rise).

On the shirt, I decided to try going down to a men's medium shirt, and I think it works well at least in this cut.

Long story short: I'm closing in on 50 pounds lost, getting to around 160 pounds (which I think is the weight I last was my Sophomore year of High School) and... um... wow. It kind of makes a difference!

I'm looking forward to hormones. I highly suspect that I won't be able to keep wearing these sizes at some point in the future. I really don't know what's going to happen, there--and I'm sad that it will probably take years to really find out.

My current measurements (for the numbers that I most pay attention to, anyway) are as of today (Februrary 10, 2013) approximately:
16" neck, 37" bust, 36" underbust, 32" waist, 37" hips, 21" thighs, 16" calves.

When I first measured those on October 2, 2012, they were:
17" neck, 40.5" bust, 39" underbust, 37.5" waist, 39.5" hips, 24" thighs, 17.5" calves.

Right now, my hips are pretty bony although my butt hasn't decreased as much as I had feared, which makes me happy. So, I figure if I gain a little rounding out in that area, and some development upstairs... and hormones get my spare tire to finally give up the ghost, and reduce the musculature around my neck... I could end up with a pretty pleasing shape. Not a size 8 by any means, but I think that I might end up pretty close to a size 12 across the board! That is so unbelievably [em]normal[/em], which is awesome.

And that... really actually surprises me. Where I started out, I was looking at size 12-14 bottoms and size 16-18 tops. And, the way my weight loss went, I felt like my bottom sizes were dropping but my top sizes were pretty much be staying the same--after all, there's a lot of rib cage up there, and my rib cage is not exactly small. But, the changes up there have just been slower, not non-existent. I didn't really expect the medium mens shirt to fit well at all, and the fact that it did is what made me decide that I needed to measure again and re-evaluate.

So... go me! I'm feeling pretty tremendously positive about my body-shape prospects, now. There's still all of that nasty hair stuff to deal with, but... Wow.

Wow! Great progress, and it sounds like you feel really healthy while doing it, too! That's always my first thought when I hear about weight loss. As the child of two overweight parents who always struggled with it, I am very aware of how hard it is to make the kind of progress you've made just in that area, not to mention the other parts of your life that are changing. Great job!

So going back to that link - as someone married to a Navy vet (corpsman represent!) and works for Veteran's Services at a college, I'm really saddened to see that story end the way it has.

From that article, it sounds like Morgan is way better off now than she was back a few years when she made the decision to not re-enlist. And there's really no reason to not take her back, aside from some asshat's personal agenda

Yeah. Essentially, that all comes down to continuing policy on the part of the DoD. DADT didn't do anything for transgender folks, essentially. I think that the hand-wavy nature of the reply makes it pretty clear, however, that there's really no good excuse for that policy to continue. I can only hope it will be less of a fight than DADT was. At least the VA is doing a decent job for trans veterans. But it's still rather sad, considering trans people are rather more likely to join the military than cis people are.

Whee. So, I have my doctor's appointment coming up in a few weeks. Getting things together for that. I haven't been to a doctor except for emergencies since high school, really. Which is pretty bad, and one of those "getting over my need to ignore my body" important things I'm doing. I suspect there'll probably be some time spent on evaluating my current health before doing anything, but I hope it won't be too long before I can start hormones. I came across this doctor's name online as someone who's trans friendly, and since then a local trans acquaintance mentioned him, and my therapist recommended him. His kid is apparently trans, so... yeah. Probably best-case scenario there for understanding.

Anyway—in connection with that, I've started trying to figure out what I need to do to start talking to my employer about being trans. I've changed my everyday presentation somewhat, but since I'm bald, I can probably pass as male as long as I want. But I've definitely noticed the occasional "hrm?" look from people noticing some accent or another. Probably trying to figure out "gay or metrosexual?" But... once I start on hormones, I definitely want to be done with feeling like I have to dance around things if anybody asks me about something. It's one thing to not go out of your way to tell people. It's quite another to feel that you have to go out of your way [em]not[/em] to tell people.

I know my employer has a solid policy on gender identity, and as I've mentioned before the local and county laws are also in my favor. But those don't really help me figure out who I need to [em]talk to[/em]. I did some looking around, and I'm still kind of up in the air, there. The two people it seems to make sense for me to consider talking to are: a) My direct manager, or b) The head of HR for the department.

I suspect that talking to my manager would go perfectly fine, but I'm a bit anxious at the idea because if it were not to go perfectly fine, I kind of wish I'd already kind of got things squared away for both of our sakes, so there's no question of impropriety. On the other hand, talking to the HR manager for the department gives me the screaming heebie jeebies, but as far as I can tell it's basically him or random person in HR who would have to go talk to him anyway. There's nobody who's called out anywhere as "this is the person to come talk to when you have an HR-related issue that isn't a benefits question, a harassment complaint, or a need to hire someone."

It's kind of annoying and frustrating. I kind of wish there were someone obvious I could talk to outside of the immediate organization without going way way up the food chain. (Like: Instead of just the HR manager for the department, the associate vice president of HR for the University way way up.)

Right now, I'm sort of thinking that the best path may be to talk to my manager, even though it's a bit scary. And let him work his way up the HR chain, since he can go in with "one of the people I manage has this issue" until he reaches the right level, which is at least a little less precise than "I have this issue".

I don't know. I have some time—I think I want to wait until after I start hormones to do this. Just not very long after. I'll surely talk to my therapist about stuff when I see him next week.

I just wish it didn't make me break out in a cold sweat. I know that I'm pretty safe. But that's not enough to make me feel totally safe, and like I'm exposing myself to ridicule and rumormongering if I handle things poorly. The "worst case scenario" of "suddenly I don't have a job" is pretty much [em]not[/em] going to happen. But the worst-actually-possible-case still doesn't make me happy.

Things like this shouldn't be so scary.

I just proposed to my (now fiance) last night, and while I spent almost the entire day in a fog of euphoria and totally aware of how in love we are and already talking about future plans, the moment of actually asking the question and receiving the answer still had all my adrenaline pumping like I was scared as hell. Just want to point out that there is:

scary because we are afraid of bad consequences


scary because this is a life-changing event that you are losing the ability to completely control afterwards

Not to minimize the former, but the latter will always be scary even when it's a good thing like proposing to an awesome girl with whom I want to spend the rest of my life. Even when the bright bright future is here and telling your HR rep or manager you are trans is not a problem I'll bet it will still be scary as hell. Which is pretty natural.

Again, not to minimize the former, which may still be the case. Hope all goes well when you do it!

I'm going back and forth on my recommendation, but I'm leaning a little more towards just going straight to your HR Dept Head.

At the end of the day, HR is there to get the most out of each resource, which is why they handle hiring, benefits, and all that other jazz. They'll be the ones best equipped to come up with a plan, and help break the news to your direct boss and the rest of the chain that needs to know. Since there's no call-out to "here's the HR person to talk to about these things", it would usually mean that your HR Dept Head is more of a jack-of-all-trades, and able to handle anything that bubbles up from the department.

As for the doctor thing, I've been there too. Just started seeing one last year after 10 years of not going for anything. Sounds like you've done a ton of research and have a lead on a good doc for your situation.

Yeah. A little bit of column A and a little bit of column B.

It's difficult to characterize. I think it wouldn't be nearly so terrifying without the worry of bad consequences. I'm okay with changes in the way people treat me—that's part of the idea, after all. But I'm stressed out by the worry that everything's going to turn into some stupid blown-up complicated mess, when to me it's somehow at once the smallest and most important thing in the world. Having it be a big deal makes me unhappy. Having it be something other people are worrying about makes me unhappy. I just want things to be quiet so I can get on with my life.

That's why I think the HR route would be best.

You're still you. You're still there to do the job that you do.

I'd start with HR, stress that this is happening but you want to rock the boat as little as possible, and the should be able to help shepherd you from there.

Also, by starting with HR, it helps build up some defenses from any negative backlash. You'll have documentation from day 1 should anything negative happen at any point.

Yeah, that was more-or-less my original train of thought on the issue months ago when I first thought about things. Right up until I started trying to figure out who to talk to, anyway. Then it just sort of became "Do I really want to try to figure out who the right person is?" I think that part of the problem may be being part of a fairly-large somewhat-separate-with-its-own-identity sub-organization inside a very-large organization. For some reason, it's that cut-off between the two that gets to me. It might also be the shift between the very university-centric culture of the larger organization and the more corporate-style culture of the part I'm in. There's a distinct gap there which makes me feel weirder at this level than I would in another part of the university. Very odd. The university-wide rules do still apply, though.

Anyway, that's probably where I'll plan to go. I suspect I'll keep worrying about it, though. I'll just try not to let it be stressful worrying.

College Health Plans Respond as Transgender Students Gain Visibility (New York Times) Lots of positive stuff here.

Today's episode of the Nerdist podcast features Shadi Petosky, an animator who's in transition

Last night I started making a list of things I want to do when I am more in tune with my body (in no particular order):

1) Something I'd already thought for a while is that I'd really love to get a tattoo. I was never really quite sure what I might want, but I've always really wanted one. But, the thought of it just didn't work with me having such antipathy towards my body. So, that's one thing I thought about rather early when I started thinking about "what if I weren't hating my body? What then?" Anyway, a few weeks back, I finally thought of a tattoo I'd really love to have: a picture of Hypatia of Alexandria in an art nouveau style (think something in the mode of this piece by Alphonse Mucha), probably mid to upper back. My mental image of this is awesome. Someday having a body I'll feel like I can adorn with it, and finding the right artist... that will be an adventure.

2) I'd love to get into parkour. Again, this is something I've wanted to do for ages and ages, but feeling so blah about my body made it tremendously difficult for me to even imagine getting into the shape I'd need to do it. I have no idea where one would do parkour around here, but I'm sure I can find out. This is something for me to look into once I've been on hormones for 4+ months. (Yes, I [em]am[/em] still paranoid about putting on male-pattern muscle, why do you ask?)

3) I want to start doing aikido again. I'm pretty sure I've mentioned this before. I've not considered starting it yet, for the same reason mentioned above. But, I definitely definitely expect to do this once I reach my "I am cool with exercise now" point. I am a little anxious at the idea, because I'll almost certainly have to be open about my trans status. (Ukemi while wearing a wig? Probably not so much.) If I'm given trouble about it, I'm pretty sure that local non-discrimination in public accommodation laws would apply... but having to bring that into things would pretty much make everything awful. But still, I'm going to give it a shot as soon as I feel ready.

Edit: Also, I'm listening to that Nerdist podcast now. I generally don't do podcasts, but it's pretty good.

Edit edit: I take that back, this is [em]awesome[/em]. So many "yes, yes, that!" moments.

Awesome! It's fun to share your excitement vicariously.

I'm in a similar place as far as tattoos go. I've been slowly building towards getting one lately and I wish I had as clear a vision as you do of what I would like to have. I guess I should just start absorbing wholesale geek / music inspired art for a while until something like the unformed image I have in my head appears to me.

Now that I'm back from my work trip, I can expand on things a bit.

First, my "things I want to do" list is interesting, because it's really just about having wishes and dreams again, and feeling like I can act on them.

That's something that came up as one of those "Yeah, that!" moments in the podcast: the whole problem of not being able to see yourself in your dreams, either literally or figuratively. I haven't had a [em]sleeping[/em] dream where my self was in it for a really really long time. Shadi mentioned a similar thing, and how amazing it was to finally be in her own dreams. I kind of look forward to that. And, on the other side, the whole concept of dreams of the future as being able to imagine yourself being like something... that's kind of a prerequisite for acting on such desires. And if you can't see yourself in them, well, that's a big big problem. That's where I was for such a long time, and now... well... finally getting over it.

The other thing about the things to do list is that it grew out of me asking myself "okay, things are [em]moving[em]! I can actually imagine what I might be like without wincing. Now, what kind of girl do I want to be?" This is both similar and different to my "What does it mean to be a woman?" thoughts before. I've moved beyond the basic questions now, and on to how they pertain to me, personally. What kind of [em]person[/em] do I want to be? Obviously, I'm me, forever and always. But there [em]are[/em] things that I've held myself back from because I just couldn't imagine them. Stuff related to body issues is obvious. But overall, what kind of person do I aspire to be? What dreams that I've aborted short of even really thinking about them can I take back up? What new dreams might I have? What's the overall theme of me?

Clearly, I'm a gamer. At work, I can only imagine myself trying to present a professional image. But what of my own personal image? Overall, I aspire to be: A gamer. A geek. In reasonably good shape. A bit punk-rock. Still introverted and a bit shy around people I don't know, because that's just who I am--but by [em]no[/em] means timid. The new features are the "in reasonably good shape" and "a bit punk rock" parts. I've never been a fan of exercise-for-the-sake-of-exercise or fitness-for-the-sake-of-fitness. I can't imagine working out in a gym regularly, or being a runner. But I [em]loved[/em] aikido back when I was doing it, and like martial arts in general. And I've been in love with parkour ever since I first heard of it. Those aren't just exercise/fitness things to me, they're awesome things that happen to also provide and benefit from fitness.

So, that's who I aspire to be: Awesome.

The other major theme that struck me when Shadi talked about it in the podcast was thoughts about "performing gender", and a lot of internal conflict about gender in society. I've obviously thought about this sort of thing a ton--and it's really hard. On the one hand, a certain amount of the gendered behavior we see (particularly in American society) is just fashion. It just happens to be the style of how people present themselves according to gender. A few parts are physical: your body's shape conditions the way you move in certain ways. Some are hormonal: Testosterone? It really [em]does[/em] make you more aggressive. That "talking over you" thing guys do to girls can [em]partly[/em] be blamed on that, I think--chemicals prodding men into more aggressive behavior while women have no such goad forcing them on. It doesn't excuse the phenomenon, but it does do a bit towards explaining why it's so terribly common.

Myself, I've felt really conflicted about things when "trying on" various bits of gendered presentation. My body language has changed--partially through conscious effort and thought, and partially just through getting comfortable letting myself act the way I want to act. I'm pretty comfortable with that now. But I'm actually still very very uncomfortable with makeup, with wigs, with breast forms and the like--and the primary reason is that it feels terribly artificial to me. These things aren't [em]necessary[/em] for me to be who I am, even if they help other people see me as I see myself. And so I get into this sort of state of "arrgh" over that division between "these things shouldn't matter", and "but still, they do".

I imagine that's something that will continue to trouble me. I intend to present a reasonably professional image at work, for wherever I happen to be in my transition. What that means, I don't know yet. Outside of that context, well, I'm really much more of a jeans and T-shirt kind of person--and I no longer look at myself in a T-shirt and see the body behind it and go "ugh!", so I'll probably be wearing more of those this year. Finding the right balance that lets me fit into society as well as I can will take some work.

And, my final thought: Back in November, when I made my doctor's appointment to hopefully start hormones, I thought I was ready. But I was totally, totally wrong. I'm glad I've had the intervening months to think about things more. I now understand myself much better, have a much better handle on my hopes and fears, know how I feel about where I'm going, how I'm going to get there, and everything related to that. I know myself much more thoroughly--and while I still have issues to work through, and while I'm still anxious... I'm not [em]scared[/em] any more.

I am who I am every day. It's just that I'm looking forward to it, now.

And yeah, if you're interested in this stuff at all, totally listen to that podcast. It's awesome.


Today I got my hormone letter from my therapist. I had no idea how much it would mean to me to have this, even if it is just an official-ish piece of paper.

Doctor's appointment two weeks from today. I'm already excited, even though I don't expect to walk out of my first meeting with the doctor having a prescription.

Mass. Department of Education Issues Directive On Trans Students

I'm just a little more proud of my state right now.

TL;DR: The Mass. Dept of Education issued a directive last week forcing schools to "take a student's sexual identity at face value across the board".

Faculty, staff, and programs are directed to accept students based on how they identify. Activities may no longer be split along gender lines (ie: having boys and girls line up separately to leave the classroom). And a student who identifies female is allowed access to the girls locker room and to play on traditionally "girls-only" sports teams.

To quote straight from the directive, "Discomfort is not a reason to deny access to the transgender student."

Things improve every day. Sometimes, it just feels astounding. I imagine there will be years to come of fighting over this sort of thing, but still, it amazes me.

Not just a member, but a man still pledging the fraternity. That is a true example of brotherhood. Hats off to those guys.

Sometimes people are pretty awesome.

I think that's awesome

Since I have my doctor's appointment coming up in a week, I've been doing some reading to refresh my memory of the details of HRT. Just in case anyone is interested in details, I thought I'd share this slide deck which gives a pretty thorough overview of things.

Not that I even know what to expect. I haven't been to a doctor for a regular checkup in more than 20 years. (I [em]think[/em] I saw a doctor around the start of high school.) So, I kind of figure that things will start with figuring out the current state of my health before anything else happens. I spent an hour or so talking with my mom about family medical history the other night to have that ready. (Short story: Tendency towards diabetes in the 50s on my mom's side of the family, tendency towards heart problems in old age on my dad's side. Several various survivable cancers on my mom's side, "surprisingly" most prevalent in folks who lived down-wind from Hanford.)

Running out of things to check and double-check. I guess I should just relax until next Wednesday. And, I hope my doctor is nice. Since I found him listed online as a resource for trans people, and someone I know locally recommended him, [em]and[/em] my therapist recommended him, it should be all good. Aside from the hairy eyeball I'm sure I'll get for not having seen a doctor in two decades.

I hadn't seen a doc in 10 years when I went last January. They're much less likely to give hairy eyeballs than dentists are, so don't worry too much about that

Another resource on HRT stuff: Hormones: A guide for MTFs (via Vancouver Coastal Health. A lot of great info pamphlets on various issues here. Canada++)

Edit: And a cool blog post that came my way via G+ broadcast from someone who doesn't know my trans status: Do something useful with those recruiting emails

Hyp - thanks for the edit, totally going to do start doing that

Oh! Stuff Mom Never Told You is doing a little transgender history, in the process of listening to the latest podcast, thought I'd share! Love this feed.

School wrong on transgender girl

I had no idea Colorado already had a law in place. Apparently I need to do a better job keeping up. As with most articles posted on the intertubes, some of the comments are ignorant and scathing. Steer clear, or be ready to deal with the dregs of humanity hiding behind the anonymity of an internet post.

For all that the displays of intolerance in comments frighten and worry me, I still find them interesting. (Well, as a phenomenon, anyway--the actual comments themselves are rarely worth anything at all.)

The thing that makes them interesting is that we're really at a time here when this concept is starting to regularly come into the public eye as a real thing that requires some policies to deal with, and reflection on the part of people as to why they feel the way they do. And, we're also at a time when people feel free to vent their feelings quite publicly, even when those feelings are rather profoundly ugly.

Back when I was first learning about the concept of transgender, when I was figuring out what was going on with me, this wasn't a thing that people talked about. It [em]only[/em] appeared in the public eye as a sort of freak-show--sensationalist "OMG, what?!?" sorts of things on talk shows and the like. People didn't talk about their feelings on the issue, because if they didn't know someone personally they didn't think about it at all, and even if they did know someone personally they assumed that nobody else did and wouldn't ever bring it up. And, that invisibility persisted despite things like the prominent place that trans issues had in the Stonewall riot. (Something that's still rather invisible to most people today, despite the fact that many people have heard of Stonewall.)

Anyway, all of that makes this whole phenomenon interesting. I don't think it's more visible just because I'm paying a lot more attention--although that certainly plays a part--I think that trans people, along with parents of trans children and other allies, are much more likely today to stand up and claim their rights. More and more often (as in the case with the Colorado law), they have rights [em]to[/em] claim. And so, these stories appear in the news, and people are forced to realize that trans people exist, and a lot of the time they put their ugly gut reactions on public display. And those reactions are scary, and hearing them hurts, but... it's also very hopeful, because it means there's a discussion happening. People can see the ugliness of the reactions, and realize that it is a real problem. If they look into the issue, they'll see that trans people appear to be people just like anybody else, and how much of a problem these attitudes can be, and... that changes opinions. Slowly, but it does.

So: Better to be visible and for the ugly ideas to be visible than to be invisible and have the problem be mostly unknown... for all that the ugly ideas remain ugly.

I'm also a bit heartened that the latest comments seem to be dominated with posts from an intersex woman who's bringing up yet another side of things. Intersex conditions are another one of those "invisible" things that's connected to the whole question of gender, and in some ways it's easier to understand the problem there as a medical one than for people who have trans feelings but more typical bodies. It's harder to argue that someone with androgen insensitivity or congenital adrenal hyperplasia or the like should just "deal with it, and be the sex they were born with". They have just as many issues to deal with as trans people, and the fact that their conditions manifest in more physically obvious ways might open people up to the realization that even though differences in the brain are a lot less obvious, they're no less real.

(Note: I don't mean to lessen the travails of intersex folks, so I apologize if I have done so. To my discredit, I've only brushed the surface of issues surrounding intersex individuals as they relate to trans issues. I should fix that.)

I was going through a list of Indy games and I came across an entry called Dys4ia

It seems to be a story told through simple gameplay. Thought it might be of interest to this thread.