Wait, that Girl looks like Me!

Since coming out as a trans girl, my life has been more weird and wonderful than I could ever have imagined — and I have a pretty darn vivid imagination.

I’ll begin this article by describing how miserable my life used to be, health-wise.

I had cataract surgery several years ago. Many people get that in their 70s or beyond. A friend of mine is 79 years old, and her eye doctor keeps telling her “you’re fine; maybe in a few years time you might need cataract surgery; but for now, honestly, you just don’t need it yet.” Good for her.

Using that as a basis for comparison, you might conclude that I must be in my 80s or beyond. There’s some truth to that. When anyone informally ask my age then I like to answer that, where it counts (cynicism), I’m more than 1,000 years old.

However, there is a condition called “young person’s cataracts.” I was born with that. Maybe I should take it as a compliment that for me, this condition required surgery only a few years ago. When my software business was doing well, I cheerfully funded eye surgery for two of my older friends, but ironically, when it came time for me to have the surgery, I was broke. I kept postponing the surgery. Eventually, it became pretty darn bad. My mom finally lent me the money and said “go,” and for that I’m eternally grateful.

During that time, I was a not-yet-out trans girl. I was overweight by more than 30 pounds, my blood pressure and cholesterol counts were abysmal, I had a bulging apple-shaped tummy, and I’d hurt my back, so I had to limit what I did. Plus, I was having trouble seeing. All in all that made for a very sad person. I felt decrepit.

Even so, then and now, I like girls, and I befriended a tall, blonde girl who, then and now, is in her 20s and is drop-dead gorgeous by my standards. Not just does she have a model’s facial features, but her physique is also lovely, and her shoulder-length, straight, shiny blonde hair only helped the situation along. On top of that, she was, and is, a really nice person. She wasn’t exactly shy and when she came to visit me for a few days, her dress code didn’t leave much to the imagination. She was, and is, simply lovely. I considered it almost superfluous to say so, since at the time I considered this to be so self-evident, but to my credit I said so anyway.

I was surprised by how strongly she disagreed with me. She was convinced that she was unattractively overweight. Wait, what?!

We discussed it. She pinched some of her midriff, as proof. I struggled with how to respond. Fine, yes, I conceded, she could lose maybe five or ten pounds and still look gorgeous, but she could also gain that much or more, and also still look gorgeous. To my amazement, she strongly disagreed. We finally agreed to disagree and simply enjoyed each others’ company. We are still friends, even now — though it’s a long-distance friendship.

I would think of her fondly every now and then, and I’d also think wistfully that if I’d grown up as a genetically integrated girl, I would have hoped to look like her. It seemed so futile a thought.

Finally, with much help from some extra-wonderful people in my life, I realized that I’m a trans girl, and I came out as such. Slowly but surely, this inspired me to want to still be around. I became more and more healthy. I started to look better and better.

As to my natural hair color, nowadays it’s relatively dark, but when when I was two years old, my hair happened to be the same color as my friend’s hair was, and is. So nowadays I have it colored to look like I used to look. Gradually, it grew longer. Eventually, it was as long as hers is. I like the straight-hair look on me, so I have my hair straightened, and one day I idly noticed that, wow, my hair looks a lot like hers does.

By not being glum all the time, and by losing a few pounds, and having some affordable corrective surgical procedures performed on me, my face looks OK to me now. I’m never going to win a Miss Nevada contest, but at least it’s not a saddening experience for me any more, to look in the mirror. (It very much used to be).

As to my physique, I started eating better and exercising more, and I took care of my body. Plus, I went on corrective hormones.

One day, a year or so ago, it occurred to me that, with supreme irony, I now look like my pretty, tall, blonde friend and I could have been sisters. At the time, I was already giddily happy with my weight and shape.

Then, my weight slowly came down a little more yet. As my belly fat became less, some hint of the underlying muscles appeared. And that’s how I look, today. The above picture wasn’t taken today, but not that long ago either – this past summer.

As to my boobs, they are smaller than in the above picture, because I stuff “outplants” into my bra or bikini top, to enhance the look. My natural size isn’t exactly flat-chested but my boobs are not going to help me win any wet-white- t-shirt competitions. Still, there’s something to be said for the shape I’m in now. I’m satisfied. If it gets better, then: great! … but it doesn’t have to.

With my shape generally under control, I’m working on my posture. Many years of living with a poor self-image made “slouching” my natural posture, and it’s a hard habit to break. Finally, I lost patience with myself. I went to Wal-Mart and bought half a dozen of their long, thin $5 mirrors, and I placed them all over my apartment. So now, I can’t avoid seeing my reflection in the typical places where I stand. I have much opportunity to admonish myself “you’re slouching, straighten up.” I don’t have to see my face in the mirror; it’s about my posture. So most of the mirrors show me only from the neck or shoulders on down. There’s a mirror like that right next to me when I stand at my computer workstation. It helps my posture a lot, since that’s where I spend much of my time.

My friend now and then shares with me pictures of how she looks (and yes, she’s still gorgeous) but today she shared with me a picture of a similar-looking tall, blonde, straight-haired girl … yet slightly more slender. Her reason for doing so was to show the physique that she wanted to have. I stared at that picture. It looked oddly familiar. Then I looked to my right. I compared the physique in the picture to the reflection in the mirror. They were a close match.

… and that is such an ironic event that it inspired today’s article.

Why Implants are No Magic Bullet

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When it comes to irreversible decisions with serious consequences, I like to look into things, in-depth, before I proceed. Breast implants are one such subject.

The complexities and subtleties of breast implants could fill a book — several, in fact … and they have done so.

My own surgery as such is still far in the future. What you see in this picture is what Mother Nature belatedly bestowed on me due to a methodical feminizing hormone regimen, plus some good tactical use of bra stuffers, or “outplants,” as I like to call them.

So why would I bother taking all these hormones just to grow boobs if I am going to get breast implants anyway?

1. At the rate things are progressing, I might not need implants
2. The quality of the final result depends a lot of what I already have by the time I go in for surgery.

I’ve learned how to tell whether or not a surgeon is likely to be competent, and I have emailed, read about and spoken with a great many competent breast implant surgeons. One of the most-savvy ones has emphatically made exactly that point: the best indicator as to what a girl will look like with breast implants, is what she looked like before breast implants. Having some breast tissue is a lot better than having none at all, in two important ways:

1. It makes the final look more natural,  if the surgery is “above the muscle.” Without anything being there for starters, at best the final result will be the classic stripper look, sort of like someone had inserted half a canteloupe under the skin. Not that I’d hate a look like that, but it’s not my preference.

2. If there is no breast tissue to start with, two of the most savvy surgeons I know would opt for “below the muscle” placement.

Many surgeons have pre-vs.-post-surgery pictures on their respective websites. For one competent-seeming surgeon, I liked all of his work — except one picture. The post-surgery look had … well, it’s hard to explain. It was as if someone had painted a large, inverted “V” on the chest of the lady, and where-ever the paint was, there were no breast implants. This inverted “V” effect seemed to push her implants in a hard diagonal line, upwards and outwards. It was NOT a look that I wanted. I guessed that this was what “under-the-muscle” placement looks like. Certainly, the “before” picture showed a very lean-bodied girl (possibly, a trans girl) with zero breast tissue, so that probably influenced the decision as to placement.

I pointedly asked about that one pair of pictures, and the surgeon confirmed that indeed, that was an example of “below-the-muscle” placement. During the consultation interview, I made it clear that that particular look is very much what I don’t want. The surgeon pointed out that unless I developed some of my own breast tissue before surgery, the “above-the-muscle” look would not be a great alternative either: I’d end up with the classic stripper-look half-dome. I assured him that for me, such a look would be highly preferable to the inverted-V look. I could almost hear him shrugging over the phone line, and then he said “well, if that’s what you want and you understand the implications, that’s fine too” or words to that effect.

Another surgeon specializes in breast implants specifically for trans girls, and so I asked her office what made that sort of surgery different than the surgery for a genetically integrated girl. Her office explained that for trans girls, they do below-the-muscle placement (probably because so few trans girls have breast tissue when they go in for surgery, and so many of these girls want to avoid the classic stripper half-dome look). Okay, good to know. While I laud this surgeon’s focus on trans girls, I am instead choosing a surgeon who does above-the-muscle implants most of the time, and who is comfortable and up-to-speed with that.

Meanwhile, I’m content with letter Mother Nature do her thing. It’s free, and also exciting in a way. I feel like I’m championing over what happened during puberty, and I like how that feels. It’s tempting to help things along by intentionally putting on lots of extra weight, but that’s not a healthy solution so I’m managing to resist that particular temptation.

Get up and Go!

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I’ve just had a really good first 45 minutes of my day; so good that I decided to write about it. First, some background:

When I was a teenager, a local radio station host had a show called the “Get up and go show.” I love that name.

How enthusiastically a girl gets out of bed probably depends on how nice a day she’s expecting. However, even if it’s going to be a miserable day, I can see much merit to saying “If I can, today I’m going to enact causes that make future days likely to be better” and “If I can’t use today to make future days better, then I’m going to squeeze the most happiness that I possibly can, from today — even if it’s a small thing like taking a few seconds to gently stroke my own arm and enjoying how nice that feels.”

I’m sort-of-mentoring a wonderful t-girl who is not yet out as a t-girl, and she has just moved to a place with a very northerly location, and she writes that some days it’s difficult for her to even get out of bed. That sounds like a hard life.

Last year, I was feeling pretty overwhelmed with life, myself. My finances were in the toilet, and I was managing several businesses, only one of which was making money. I was on feminizing hormones, and yay for that, but unless I managed my water and food intake precisely and diligently, I could easily end up dead. And with my new hormone regimen, it was easier to put on weight so I had to step up my exercise routine. Corrective hormones are no magical time machine, so the effects from going through puberty with testosterone instead of estrogen … those continued to stare back at me from the mirror, so unless I managed them too, I’d look a lot more male than I wanted to. Facial and body hair were the main issues. Shaving was a bad solution, and waxing made a mess and took a vast amount of time.

On top of that came the normal task of everyday life, all of which take time: do the dishes, fill up the car with gasoline, balance my checkbooks (actually, my own plus half a dozen of them), pay the bills (for myself plus half a dozen entities), handle laundry, handle my personal hygiene, take out the trash, go grocery shopping, be nice to my friends, speak out against injustice, manage a romantic relationship, mentor trans girls and so on. It’s a full, rich and wonderful life, but it seemed likely I’d need 60 hours just to get 24 hours’ worth of tasks done. And of course, this challenge was hardly unique to me in all the world, and the glass is very much half full: at least I have a home that requires time and attention, and the same can be said for everything good in my life, and there’s a lot of it.

I made myself a task list for things I should do every day, and then also things I that I should do if it’s time to attend to them that particular day, such as going shopping. When I got to that item in the task list, I’d decide if I needed to go shopping or not. If yes, off I went, and if no, I would tick that item off the list for that day.

Making a formal task list brought to light how many things actually do actually or potentially require my time and attention every day. The list made me feel more overwhelmed yet.

I realized that there was no way I could get through the entire list, and there was no point in beating myself up about it. So I prioritized.  It was awkward at first, but I got better and better at it. It became like one of the video games I used to play when I had much more free time — see how well I could do with limited resources.

  • No time to do laundry? Fine, I’ll rummage through the dirty clothes, find the least-dirty one and wear that. (Leaving dirty clothes spread out on the bedroom carpet helps prevent mold and wrinkles, and makes this task easier).
  • No time to go grocery shopping? Eat the not-so-yummy stuff that’s been gathering dust on an obscure shelf.
  • No time to balance the checkbooks? Transfer enough money to prevent checks from bouncing.

Adapt, improvise, overcome. Go, go, go.

There wasn’t much time for celebrating success, but today I made a point of it. I decided to write about the first 45 minutes of my day and how much I managed to get done in that short amount of time. This pace will continue throughout much of my day, and I enjoy it. Many of the tasks below I could do at the same time, like dancing while washing the dishes, or doing squats while putting dishes away.

  • Get out of bed
  • Go to bathroom and pee
  • Take out and rinse Invisalign braces
  • Weigh myself
  • Drink first half-liter of water
  • Take first of four estrogen pills for the day
  • Put water in the kettle, turn it on
  • Put water in the humidifier
  • Put the last batch of dishes and cutlery away
  • Wash new batch of dishes and cutlery
  • Wash stove-top
  • Wash kitchen floor
  • Warm up wax
  • Put hair up in high pony tail
  • Pour glass of V8 vitamin concoction, add warm water. Drink it.
  • Put my hair in a ski hat to protect it
  • Clear out safe space on the kitchen floor
  • Do thirty squats
  • Do stomach exercises
  • Dance
  • Drink the next half-liter of water
  • Make coffee, let it cool down
  • Wax my facial hair into oblivion
  • Do post-wax clean-up and putting wax and supplies away
  • Put olive oil on my face
  • Do another thirty squats
  • Take second of four estrogen pills for the day
  • Take the aspirin for the day
  • Take the testosterone blockers for the day
  • Count of the next week’s supply of hormone pills
  • Put olive oil on the skin of my throat, neck and upper body
  • Put my ski cap away
  • Put water in the kettle, turn it on
  • Check my email
  • Send half a dozen quick replies where it was viable an issue was time-critical
  • Check if anything or anyone needs urgent attention on FaceBook
  • Decide if I need to go grocery shopping
  • Log into my bank accounts and see if anything needs attention
  • Drink coffee

….that’s about it. At this pace, I will have enjoyed the day, and tomorrow will probably be a slightly better day than today, because by bedtime tonight, I will probably have enacted the cause.





How Lame your Adversary Actually Is


Above is a picture of me, feeling happy with who I am. It been a journey, to get here.

I’ve been musing about what makes t-girls, gay people, etc. beat ourselves up to where we’re deeply ashamed of who we are, until we learn to reject the notions of bigots, and judge ourselves (and the bigots) objectively.

Sometimes, the damage is caused by an adult who’s close to us when we’re young, and who admonishes us directly with rants like: Until you change your sinful ways …
– You’re disgusting, or
– God hates you, or
– You’ll burn in hell, or
– You’ll be an outcast.

Often the person who says these harmful things is an authority figure in the young person’s life. A great response by the young person would be “You’re welcome to your opinion — not that I asked you for it. But, your opinion is just an opinion, and it doesn’t seem a well-reasoned one, at that. If I cared enough, I could debate you on merit, and I’d probably win. Regardless, I’m lowering my estimation of your mindset based on what you’ve just said.”

Too often, the young person instead silently accepts the premise that he or she is indeed a bad person.  What makes it worse is that these are not changeable traits. There is no scientific basis for the notion that a gay person can become un-gay, or a trans person can become non-trans, if sufficiently badgered. At most, the person can suppress and/or hide being gay or trans.

More typically, the negative self-image isn’t the result of a direct personal attack, but more an attack on a particular attribute, such as being trans or being gay.

The main point of this article is that it’s hardly ever a well-reasoned attack. It’s snide and petty … and yet it seems to speak for the entire sub-culture.

An example is where a dozen people (e.g., neighbors, friends, family) are watching a football game on TV, and then cued by something or other, one jerk says (over the heads of the others) to his buddy jerk, something like “probably another goddamn homo” and the other one sneers back with something like: “yeah, like that [insert name of someone known to be gay here] idiot.” The two of them snicker, swig some more beer and then that’s the end of that discussion. Their snide comments might include off-color or sordid sexually-themed remarks too.

Some people will snicker along, some might nod, some might be quiet, some might frown. A female authority figure might scold the two jerks and tell them to behave, but the concern would more typically be their rudeness rather than the issue at hand.  The bottom line is that the people in the crowd would each conclude: “wow, this group of people all seem hostile to someone being gay.” If someone in the group IS gay, he or she probably feels isolated and alienated.

And yet, the intellectual content of the anti-gay discussion was zero. It was simply two bigots voicing their dumb-ass opinions inappropriately on an issue where they’re both clueless. Even so, they have become the unanimous spokespeople of that small group. Besides, it’s often the host who is exercising his right to speak his dumb-ass mind in his own place.

It’s a rare person who speaks out immediately and effectively against such remarks. Besides, if the host is one of the bigots, challenging him might be misconstrued as challenging his right to freedom of speech, when in fact the challenge, if precisely stated, would be to the merit of his opinion, not his right to have and voice his opinion.

Maybe a good thing to do would be to speak up and say: “I just wanna speak up and go on record as being in basic opposition to the premises you two seem to be operating on.”  However, few people will speak up like that, in opposition to bigotry. And yet, that’s what it takes … because silence can imply consent, and if everyone is silent, then it implies consensus.

Imagine you’re a gay person, or a trans person, in a context where two bigots have just made derogatory comments about someone being gay or trans. Imagine what a difference it’d make to how you would feel if the others were silent, vs. if one brave person spoke up in opposition. Now imagine how you’d feel if everyone except those two bigots spoke up and went on record as opposing their bigotry. And imagine how the bigots would feel, in each these three alternate scenarios.

Regardless, the snide comments are utterly devoid of merit.  But if they go unopposed, they can cause much emotional hurt to someone with the trait that was just criticized.

My suggestion is that you think back at how clueless the jerks are, whose opinions underlie their animosity to who you are, as a gay or trans (or BDSM or poly-amorous or sexually intense or whatever) person. Then, you can realize how little these opinions should matter even though at the time they came across as scary and socially powerful. Ideally, realizing this can help you revise how you evaluate, and eventually feel about, yourself.

A friend of mine is gay, and she once engaged her father in an informal debate on homosexuality since the father is a fundamentalist Christian with fervently anti-gay notions. What she learned was that the man’s own intellectual foundation is the size of a postage stamp. Most of his opinions were the result of uncritically regurgitating the notions of his fundamentalist Christian group-think. For example, as I recall how she described the conversation, his main issue with gay people is that, well, gay men are icky. Wait, what? They’re icky? How are they icky? Well, the father replied, gay men all do each other up the butt and that’s just icky. My friend ask her father why he thought anal sex was icky. Well, it’s because that’s the opining where sewage comes out, and gosh, eww.

Yep, that’s it. That’s the extent of the man’s own intellectual basis for all his anti-gay rhetoric. And how any of that would translate into what’s wrong with girls being gay, I don’t think he ever did manage to explain.

You’re probably reading the wrong blog if you need me to explain WHY the man is mistaken on both points, and even if he hadn’t been, that’s still no argument against being gay.

As a gay or trans person, if you stop cowering and you go forth and meet your adversaries head-on intellectually, you might initially be surprised at how feeble their arguments are.