transgender

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Week 82 – Day 4 : What’s expected of me?

Published September 11, 2015 by Katier Scott

I’ve seen several posts of this ilk from people who are about to go through treatment for Gender Identity Disorder GID. They are naturally nervous about the whole process and unsure what to expect. Also, while things have improved, myth and rumour still exist. On top of there there’s the confusion of terms and what they mean, why do I use GID and not ‘trans’ related terms?

Gender Identity Disorder

So I’ll start at the ‘top’, what is Gender Identity Disorder and it’s closely related cousin, Gender Dysphoria (GD)?

GID is simply a medical condition where the brain’s gender doesn’t match that of the body. Generally this is simply the brain is gendered male, and the body female, or the other way round. But some people feel more androgynous about their gender and thus may consider themselves ‘no gender’ or maybe they switch genders depending on the situation. All this people can be considered to have GID, as their ‘Mental’ Gender Identity is in Disorder with their physical one. Current medical research points to GID occurring in the womb, during any babies development they all start as a female, regardless of the DNA, the body initial develops in a female shape. At some point in the development, hormones and other chemicals trigger the body and brain to ‘gender’. It is two separate sets of chemical signals that cause this and thus if one signal fails for some reason, then you get GID.

GID has different feelings for different people and this is one reason why gender is considered to be fluid, these days, and not simply male/female. People with severe GID may also develop GD, which is a mental condition where they are massively uncomfortable with their bodies and thus GD can trigger other conditions such as anxiety and depression. Hence while GID is absolutely NOT a mental condition, the fact it’s generally treated by Mental Health is a good thing because while the condition itself isn’t mental, it can definitely cause people to have mental health issues.

GID is treated by changing the persons physical body to match that of the gender of their brain, using hormones and surgery. For MtF it’s oestrogen and testosterone blockers, for FtM the reverse. Hormones have the effect of causing fat to be redistributed to gender appropriate parts, e.g. onto the hips on a female, body hair to become gender appropriate, I believe it changes your body odour, can help reverse Male Pattern Baldness (or cause for FtM) and causes breast growth for MtF and Beards for FtM. Surgery is considered optional but if done consists of the following :-

For Male to Female patients :

  • Vagioplasty, or the non vagina variant – i.e. the groin area is given surgery to make it physically look female, and a working vagina may be created – this is optional depending on the wishes of the patient.
  • Breast enhancement – I believe this is treated exactly as for any other female.
  • Feminine Facial reconstruction – Feminising of the face.
  • Laser/electrolysis hair removal – while not technically ‘surgery’ it is a medical procedure needed to remove beards.

For Female to Male patients

  • Penal construction – this is improving, but something that I believe is less common than Vagioplasty’s.
  • Mastectomy – this is the ‘big operation’ for men, as it makes their chest area appear for more masculine and removes the need for binders.
  • There may be other FtM medical procedures I’m not aware of, but these are the main two.

Transgender/Transexual

So that’s the medical side covered, I don’t use the terms ‘Transgender’ or ‘Transexual’ because I feel they are heavily mis-used, a bit antiquated, and harder to understand. It’s easy to explain it as a medical condition, but Transgender and Transexual can easily appear to be a fetish or similar, and that results in misunderstanding and confusion. Transgender is meant to be an overall term for all people who have some form of preference that sits outside of the ‘gender norm’, so that includes cross-dressers, transvestites, drag queens, anyone who while they consider themselves their birth gender, enjoy elements of the other gender – plus those who have GID.. confusing much? Transsexual is underused and is the term that SHOULD be used when referring to anyone with GID, but because I don’t see it used, but instead the confusing transgender term is used, I think both terms need to be assigned to history. A new term can be used for those who are ‘gender variant’ and simply use GID for those with GID. Simplez!!

Gender Clinics

OK so what are Gender Clinics looking for?

Well being a condition that, while not a ‘mental illness’ is still a ‘mental’ condition, it’s not something you can simply take a blood test and diagnose, so Gender Clinics expect to see you taking on ‘norms’ for your gender. It can feel like a box-ticking exercise, but truth be known all they are expecting you to do is live life the same as anyone else of your gender.

So to make this easy to understand I’m going to create a fictional character, I’ll use a MtF lady called Mary. Any likenesses to anyone are 100% co-incidental and everything is based on my own knowledge gained, based on my own experiences and things I’ve read or been told.

Mary is somewhat of a recluse, she’s nervous about going at ‘as Mary’ in public, and when she does tends to have just had a shave roughly brush her slightly receding hair, and put on gender neutral clothes with no effort to try to ‘feminise’ her appearance through things like fake boobs. She is also unemployed and if she does go out as Mary to social settings it is with Transgender groups or to LGBT venues.

The Gender Clinic aren’t happy they are seeing Mary actually taking on a female gender role in a form that makes them happy she actually has GID. So they request she tries to get a job, or voluntary work, and works on her appearance through the use of fake breasts, more feminine clothing – they also suggest she sees someone for make-up tips – NOTE: Makeup doesn’t have to be much, I often go to appointments just with foundation on, but you need something to hide beard shadow. Mary hasn’t changed her name or documents either, so they also request she does so through a deed poll and presents them at the next appointment.

They talk and find out that Mary used to enjoy walking, but hasn’t done this for a while so they suggest she finds a walking group and joins them.

All the gender clinic are asking is for her to start actually living and socialising as a woman, contrast that to my first appointment. I arrived, dressed in jeans and a female cut top, wearing simple make-up and a wig (as I have male pattern baldness). I was socialising at the local open Mic and had both a job, and was doing voluntary work. At my second appointment, 6 months later, they put me on Hormones, and this blog was born.

I wasn’t doing anything ‘clever’ or special, I was simply getting on with life and doing things I enjoyed with people who fast became friends. That’s all a Gender Clinic wants to see, you living your life in a role typical for your gender. Gender Clinic’s have never asked me to do anything, because they’ve always been happy that I was doing that. I also transitioned before I got to the gender clinic. As soon as I moved out from my ex-wife, I immediately switched genders, changed my name as quickly as possible and all associated documents. My new bank account was in female gender and I presented as female immediately, and non-stop since. This meant when I got to the Gender Clinic in July 2013, I had already being living as myself for three years, so they really didn’t have any issues.

Contrast that to Mary, or even someone who turns up (for example) presenting Male, then Changes to Female when at the Gender Clinic, and you can see the contrast. Now don’t get me wrong, everyone’s situation is different, we have different levels of support (I’ve been super lucky in that my family has always been supportive and my best friend at Uni has stuck with me throughout) – friends may or may not stick with you, but ultimately everyone has control of what they do.

It is incredibly tough, my transition since moving out has been a long journey, but at least I’ve had support. But if your married, having kids, unsupportive family – it’s incredibly tough, and takes a strong person to make the switch.. but ultimately at some point you have to say ‘enough’s enough’ this is what I am, and I need to live that way. If you can do that before arriving at a Gender Clinic it’ll make things a lot smoother, but certainly isn’t essential.

Week 71 – Day 3 : Going back to basics.

Published July 2, 2015 by Katier Scott

A friend of mine recently put someone in contact with me to see if I could help her as she was just starting her real life and they felt that talking to someone who had been through it all before might help. The whole ethos behind this blog has been one of education and helping, so the idea of people actually contacting me directly is something I’ve always been happy to do and I’ve spent time chatting and advising a few people who were just starting living as themselves.

In this case the person I spoke to told me they were lacking in confidence and I know this is far from uncommon and while writing my reply, I realised my blog probably needed a ‘refresher’ post. A repost along the lines of something done before but when a blog it well over a year old and contains getting on for 100 posts, I think it’s fair to occasionally re-examine subjects.

In this case it’s my thoughts and advice for any of you who may be going out as your correct gender for the first time. As I am female, it’s from a female perspective, however some of the advice will work with all genders and I know men have their own level of challenges. To that end if any men with GID do want to write a guest blog in a similar vein to this blog entry I’d more than welcome it.

The following represents the advice I gave, rather than edit it I think it works as a ‘reply’ and will hopefully help more people who are finding confidence a problem when starting their journey.

Occasionally you might get ‘read’ and get a disparaging comment “Is that a man?” but in day to day life that’s the worst that’s happened to me and I can’t remember the last time I had that kind of response.

I think the key is understanding how to make co-ordinated outfits, how to do basic make-up (which is simple – a lot of the time I just wear foundation, sometimes with a bit of eyeshadow, unless going out of course) – and trying to judge what to wear when.

If you wear something that stands out it automatically attracts attention, which can cause negative reactions – BUT – it doesn’t mean you have been ‘read’ – Recently in a 1940/50’s group a lady posted about a reaction she got in a supermarket, a couple of ‘chav’s’ spotted her in a beautiful vintage style dress, beautifully dressed and she got a negative comment. The comment shouldn’t have happened, but she sadly got it because she stood out from the crowd.

It’s not ‘just’ a ‘trans’ problem, can happen to anyone, but a lot of transwomen early in their lives make the mistake of trying to ‘dress like a woman’ and make the mistake of over doing it. A woman is most likely to go to a supermarket wearing jeans, t-shirt and flat shoes – not a short skirt and heels!!

If your walking down the street with confidence in a ‘typical’ outfit then honestly your likely to be as safe as any other woman.

Confidence is a huge thing, I have always just walked down the street the same as I always have, with confidence and purpose. Some areas even now I’m a little nervy – loos for instance – but never had an issue in them!! Quite the opposite, especially in night clubs and similar places I’ve just been treated like one of the girls – which is exactly what you want, however it’s by no means guaranteed.

In my experience such fears are unfounded and the truth of the matter is that most people are accepting without issues. Just remember that if you dress in a manner that stands out the chances of someone making a comment go up, but also remember that getting comments may just mean they are treating you like any other woman. It’s a sad, and definitely unwanted, fact that woman do receive cat calls, wolf whistles and other inappropriate calls, and as such don’t assume that anything shouted in your direction is ‘trans related’ – if your dressed in a manner that clearly identifies you as female (which could just be a nice skirt and top) men WILL on occasion act inappropriately around you.

It’s sad, it shouldn’t happen, but I firmly believe that many ‘trans’ women don’t realise so take any calling as transphobic.. often they aren’t. Indeed I remember once walking to a local bar which, unfortunately took me through the red light district, one guy took a fancy to me and crossed the road – it was only when I spoke to tell him I wasn’t interested, that he realised I had GID.. unfortunately that just made things worse as he had a fantasy about going with a ‘transperson’, and it was definitely a hugely uncomfortable experience.. but it was made uncomfortable because I was a woman.. simple as that.

Anyway that’s it for this week, I hope some of you found this weeks blog useful.

Book Writing – Teaser 1 – Introduction

Published February 14, 2015 by Katier Scott

I’m sure all of you who come here interested about the book as much as the blog itself will appreciate progress reports so I thought I’d put regular posts in explaining how things were getting on, maybe snippets of text or photographs etc. In this case this is the current draft of the Introduction text for the book, it’s not fully proof read – and the book most definitely will need proof reading – so errors in these posts are expected, and, of course, aren’t the final copy.

As well as giving you ideas of how the books going, such snippets are useful for me too as they allow you to give me ideas of what your liking about the books progress, and hopefully suggestions about angles you think might be good to take. So comments and feedback will be most appreciated.

BORN A WOMAN

INTRODUCTION

I was born with Gender Dysphoria in 1971 but it didn’t manifest itself properly until this century when I realised the reason I didn’t enjoy living as a man was simply because I wasn’t one. This book will document the changes and processes I went through to get my body to match my birth sex.

Gender Dysphoria is a condition where recent research suggests the condition may be in effect a birth defect. While developing in the womb something, possibly genetic or hormonally related, caused the brain to develop abnormally. This causes the brain to take on a gender which is different to the physical sex of the baby. As such while Gender Dysphoria is traditionally treated by Mental Health services, the condition itself is not a mental health condition, I am completely in agreement with Mental Health Services treating the condition because often patients require significant mental health support. This is because Gender Dysphoria can fairly often trigger side effects such as depression are most definitely Mental Health issues and due to the time scales it takes to correct the problems, having mental health support is, in my opinion, absolutely vital.

Now many people will use the term Transsexual or Transgender but personally I have developed to dislike those terms for a couple of reasons. Firstly they are ‘labels’ and I have a dislike of labels, secondly I actually see them as inaccurate. I am a Woman with Gender Dysphoria, it’s as simple as that, it doesn’t need to be ‘pigeon holed’ into a ‘label’.

I first realised I was Gender Dysphoric around 12 years ago while playing an online role-play game called Starwars Galaxies. In 2004 I joined Second Life, and quickly found myself enjoying the female role and that snowballed. By 2007 I was cross dressing occasionally at home, went to Sparkle – a ‘pride’ aimed at both Gender Dysphoric people and the wider transgender community, and spent some of a conference in the USA as my real me.

I went to University in 2007 and by 2009 was still having to live in male role at home, but spent all the time at Uni as a girl. In 2009 I spent the last year at University in the female role then when our marriage finally broke up, after being in a bad way for several years, in 2010 I immediately went full-time and started my transition.

Many of the problems I have faced will be familiar to other people who are transitioning and part of the reason for this book is to help inspire those who might be struggling or help them feel that they are not alone. It’s also aimed at everyone else, Gender Dysphoria is something that is increasingly in the public consciousness and with that comes a bunch of questions.

We are, as is human nature, a curious bunch but asking personal questions can leave people uncomfortable and put-out. So this book will hopefully answer many of the more common questions and indeed will give a visual indicator of how the treatment changes the body.

I decided to write this book as I am a freelance journalist and photographer who is always looking for project to link those skills to something interesting. So when I finally got prescribed hormones I realised I had a once in a life-time opportunity to document something useful and interesting. The project started on 17th February 2014 and this first part ended on 17th February 2015. A Second book is planned covering the run up to surgery and probably into my early life as a woman fully in body as well as soul.

Week 26 Day 1 – Halfway Through!!

Published August 18, 2014 by Katier Scott

I can’t believe it but I’m halfway through this crazy ass project!!

I started it 6 months ago when starting hormones and believe my dad when he didn’t expect me to keep it going. But I have, I’ve been late on the odd week and occasionally struggled a bit with motivation to keep going.. but I’ve done it – I’ve made the half way point!

I’ve recently gained quite a few new readers which is great so thankyou to everyone who’s shown interest. For those who may have just picked up on a random post but not read the entire project – this blog is supporting an intended book project documenting the changes that hormones are having on my body. 

The blog is intended as random wafflings in the hope it gains interest in the project and ultimately helps people understand being transsexual and you never know.. maybe even sell some books!!

This weekend I spent at my parents and had a really chilled weekend before the utter craziness that will happen next weekend where I’m doing marshaling on Saturday and Monday, sandwiched with working on Sunday and going to a small music festival.

So yep my busy crazy lifestyle has not changed a single bit and it’s still moving at 110% which I’m enjoying immensely although by the middle of September it’s likely to taper off as a lot of my current activities are definitely summer based. But my music side will continue to develop and I’m sure I’ll figure something to keep me busy!!

If anyone has any questions, comments or feedback please shout up and I hope your enjoying this little project of mine. 

See you next week!!

Week 23 – Day 2 – Full speed ahead!!

Published July 29, 2014 by Katier Scott

Boy is my life running at full speed still.. I’ve just got back from an awesome weekend at Empire LARPing with probably LARP’s best crew. Then on Monday I headed to Sheffield to the Gender Clinic for my latest appointment. The appointment seemed to go well and although progress hasn’t been confirmed the fact appointments are at a much more sensible timescale means I’m happy to be patient.

I got my latest blood test results and was surprised that my estrogen level has hit the target levels. They were 539 which is pretty much smack on target with the target range of 400-600. That means for now I’m sitting on 4mg per day hormones which is no bad thing. My Testosterone is still high (although lower than before) so one thing I’m working with Sheffield on is getting onto T-blockers.

Further positive news is the fact that a friend told me she felt my hair is thickening up, I’m not convinced of it myself but then I see it daily – she see’s it infrequently – so she may well be right.

I suspect my body shape is changing too – although that’s for this project to decide 😉 – but I did get a surprise during my LARPing weekend when I was properly gendered in a spontanious bit of RP. That’s a big thing because accidental misgendering within LARP is not uncommon so when people get it right it’s rather nice :).

Next weekend is motorsport marshalling, followed by either more marshaling or possibly more roleplay.. or just a lazy weekend before more busy weekends at the end of the month.

Overall I definitely can’t complain and am definitely enjoying life – see you all next week!! 🙂

Week 10, Day 1 – Breast buds and catching up.

Published April 28, 2014 by Katier Scott

So the hormones are definitely starting to have a noticeable effect, as I’ve said for a couple of weeks not I have noticeable soreness on my chest but over the last week I have definite breast growth. Very small so far, although I do feel that it’s noticeable on the photographs I took for the project.

I am, by nature, hugely curious, so I wondered why a natural process like breast growth, and let’s not forget that even for trans women it is, still, essentially a natural process, was so sore. I didn’t get to the bottom of the answer, but it did answer something that I had noticed and assumed was natural. When breast growth starts it starts with a ‘bud’ behind the nipple. 

This lump is soreness and is, apparently, known as a breast bud and it’s presumably all of the milk producing elements of the breat compacted into a tiny space. It is this stretching and developing that causes the soreness, I believe.

On a different note my blog has caused me to catch up with friends who I hadn’t spoken to in a while, which is a lovely, if unintentional aspect of this project.

I’ve also, this week, had my first bloods done. I have a doctors appointment on Wednesday and if that goes well I will be doubled on my dosage from 2mg to 4mg. How this will effect the progress will be interesting to see, apparently the staged approach is deliberate for a number of reasons. One is a safety net, as HRT can cause health issues and 2mg is seen as a safe dose that will allow any problems to be spotted before they cause harm. Moving to 4mg should get the Estreogen up toward a natural level although, I believe, 6 or 8mg is a likely target. The second is, apparently, the staged increase has the effect of promoting better feminisation effects. 

What I am, however, struggling to do is think of things to put in without repeating too much so please, if think there is a transition related question you have, please ask :).