Accidental Fudge

Updates Thursdays

Tag: transition (page 1 of 6)

Big Days in Transness

Yesterday felt like a big day for me.

It was National Coming Out Day, which I have complicated feelings about – I feel like there can be too much emphasis on the importance of coming out and not enough on the importance of personal safety. Not everyone is privileged enough to be able to come out safely, and they shouldn’t feel like they need to do it “for the cause” if it means that they’re jeopardizing themselves.

I do have the privilege of relative safety, though, and I do feel like it’s important for me to be out and proud as much as possible, because I have seen firsthand the powerful change that can come about in people’s perspectives when they realize queer people and trans people are people they know, and not just nameless, faceless statistics.

After the election, I decided I was going to make a point to be more out at work. I was terrified, but I also felt like it was some small way that I could reclaim some power in what felt (and still often feels) like a hopeless situation. And then we added a new member to our department in the spring, and I decided that I wasn’t comfortable coming out to her, because we share an office and she seemed quite a bit more conservative than I am, and I didn’t want to make things awkward.

Two weeks ago, this coworker thought they had met a trans person for the first time, and she was freaking out about this person using the women’s restroom, and (probably assuming that, since I was a young, gay man, I could do this) she asked me to “explain transgender” to her.

I admit my initial reaction was not great – I laughed. What else could I do? So many of my coming out experiences have felt forced, and here was another. So I told her I was transgender (to which she responded, “No, you’re not!”). I told her we just need to pee like anyone else, that nothing was going to happen to her because a trans person was using the same restroom she was.

We haven’t talked about it since, but now I feel compelled, once again, to be out and proud wherever I can. I have so much privilege in that I am read 99% of the time as a cis man, and I’m white on top of that, and I need to use that privilege for good.

Aside from being National Coming Out Day, yesterday was my one-year post-op anniversary from chest masculinization surgery. It feels simultaneously like it’s been more and less than a year – on the one hand, I feel so much more comfortable in this body. On the other hand, I still vividly remember what it was like to bind every day (and my lungs remember, too), and when I am tired and have changed out of work clothes have occasionally had to remind myself that leaving the house again might mean putting on pants, but it doesn’t mean wrestling my way into a binder anymore.

Surgery was not a thing I thought I was going to want when I started thinking about transition, but it was definitely the right decision for me. I am still grateful and blown away that my insurance wound up paying for it. The fact that I had surgery doesn’t make me more trans (or more legitimate) than anyone else, but it was a way that I was able to make my body feel more like home, and really, that’s something I wish for everyone.

Grateful, Centered

My first thought when I sat down to write this week’s blog was to whine, at length, about the horrible day I had on Tuesday trying to get to and from jury duty in the suburbs without a car. But I am trying to be a more grateful, centered person, so I’m not going to do that.

I’ve been feeling…a little off, lately. Not grateful or centered. I’ve been feeling frazzled about work, questioning if this is really where I want to be, or if I’m just staying here because of the good boss and good health insurance, and whether that actually matters. I’ve been having a lot of complicated feelings about gender and identity and privilege and what that all means (I regret none of the decisions I have made, but living in a world married to the concept of binary gender is frustrating). I’m trying to balance long-term planning (I’ve charted out how to pay off my credit card by 2020) and living in the moment. To be stable and flexible. And I feel like I’m not doing a very good job of any of it, like I’m just hanging on as the world spins, desperately wishing it would stop for a few minutes (or days) and let me catch my breath and figure out where I am and where I’m going.

I guess I’m in the midst of a minor existential crisis?

How irritating.

But back to the original point I think I was trying to make…I want to be a more grateful, centered person. I’m not doing a great job of it. But I do feel like the Universe is gently nudging me in the direction, despite the fact that I’ve felt like a cranky mess for the past few weeks. From my no-longer-daily-but-I’m-trying tarot meditations to sweet messages from friends to cute pictures of puppies on the internet, I run into reminders pretty regularly that really, I am okay. Even if I feel off-kilter, even if my allergies are driving me crazy and fogging my brain, even if I feel overwhelmed by a lot of things, even if I don’t know what (or possibly who) I want to be when I grow up, even if there’s plenty in the world at large to be terrified of right now, right now, in this moment, I am okay. And that’s really all I can ask for.

 

On Being a Burden

Yesterday was a rough news day here in the US, particularly for those of us who are trans, as we learned of 45’s intention to ban transgender people from serving in the military, ostensibly because our healthcare costs are too much of a burden.

First off, this is bullshit for a lot of reasons. 45 spends more on his trips to Mar-A-Lago than the military would spend on trans healthcare. The military spent ten times more on Viagra in 2014 than the high end of estimates of what healthcare for trans service members would cost. Estimating generously, trans healthcare would take up, at most 0.14% of the military’s healthcare budget. (Teen Vogue, who are delightfully leading the charge in the media revolution, aggregated some of this great info [which I also saw several other places] here.)

I’ll be honest: I think we spend entirely too much money on the military (or at least that we spend the money in the wrong way, when we focus on warmongering rather than caring for veterans in the aftermath of what we’ve put them through). But I’m afraid for the 10,000+ trans folks currently serving in the military. I’m afraid for trans veterans. And I’m afraid for trans folks in general, military aside. 

Because, here’s the thing: arguing that trans healthcare is too much of a burden for the bloated military budget to handle is only a short hop away from arguing that trans healthcare is too costly, period. As we watch Congress attempt to systematically dismantle the ACA and take healthcare away from millions of Americans, it’s not hard to imagine the GOP using this as a further selling point with their base. Because of the systemic oppression faced by trans people (particularly trans people of color), trans folks already often struggle to obtain and afford affirming healthcare. This is only going to make it harder. 

Trans people are not a burden. Treating us as human beings and affirming our identities is not a burden. But as I look at 45 and his fear- and hate-mongering, I find myself wishing that I could be a burden on his conscience. Sadly, to do that, he would need a conscience.

Tiny Happy Thoughts

I’m still feeling pretty tired this week, but I think I’m slowly adjusting to the colder weather and darker days, and (hopefully) coming out of the funk I’ve been in for the past few weeks. It’s been a good week, overall, and I have a few things I’m smiling about:

  1. Our new passports arrived on Saturday! My partner and I took last Monday off from work to get passports squared away (we needed to reapply in person since we were both changing names and gender markers). We paid for expedited service, because we wanted to be sure they were done before the end of the month. They estimated the wait time at two or three weeks. Five days later, there they were! We’re still waiting on the passport cards and our old passports to come back to us in the mail, but the actual passport books are here. It’s a huge relief to have that done and to know that our applications were approved, because while we were pretty confident we had everything in order, but you never know what’s going to happen with gender-related changes. Also, my passport was from when I was 16, so it’s nice to have one that’s not expired and that actually looks something like me.
  2. We put our Christmas tree up. I have complicated feelings about Christmas (really, I have complicated feelings about celebrating Christian holidays in general), but the lights and decorations have always been some of my favorite parts. We have a fake tree that I got the first Christmas I was in my first apartment by myself, so it’s been around a few years now, but it’s still in pretty good shape. I have more ornaments than will fit on the tree without even figuring in my partner’s ornaments (I got at least a couple every year growing up), so we had to do some thoughtful curating of what we wanted to actually put up. The end result is quite lovely.
  3. We’re planning Christmas travel. We’re going to take a whirlwind trip north to Minnesota over Christmas weekend. We won’t really get to see friends, but we’re seeing both of our families (something I would not have predicted had you asked me two months ago). So that’ll be an adventure.

Three Years

Yesterday marked three years since I started this blog!

The fact that I’ve managed to write weekly posts for three years running with only a handful of missed weeks continues to amaze me. I often don’t know what I’m going to say when I sit down to write these posts. My life is not often terribly exciting or eventful (which is exactly how I like it – I am a creature of habit and routine), and it often feels like I don’t have much to talk about. But it still feels like a worthwhile exercise to make myself follow through each week.

Three years and a handful of weeks ago, I took my first shot of testosterone. I started this blog as a chronicle of my experience with transition, but it’s morphed over the years into something slightly different – still generally self-indulgent and focused around my life and experience most of the time, but it’s been less about transition directly and more about life generally, because I came to realize that, really, there weren’t weekly milestones in my physical transition to document. Broadly, it’s very exciting, but in the day-to-day, it’s really a rather boring process, and doesn’t make for very good blog fodder.

I appreciate those of you who come back each week to take a peek at the parts of my life that I share here. There aren’t huge numbers of you, but you come from all over the globe, and that’s pretty cool. Thanks for reading, and I hope you’ll join me for another year of Accidental Fudge!

Highs and Lows

via Mochimochiland on GIPHY

It’s been a rough week. I’m trying not to wallow in grief, because I feel that I have a responsibility to be ready to stand up for my fellow humans who don’t have a level of privilege that even gives them the option to wallow. As an introvert and a generally non-confrontational person, it’s hard not to feel totally paralyzed.

So I am starting small. I have two coworkers with trans or non-binary kids, and I am knitting things for both kids. I am commuting without headphones, so that I’m more alert and ready to stand up to harassment on transit. My partner and I are figuring out what we need to do to take care of each other.

I am grateful that despite the fact that all hell seems to have broken loose, I am in a pretty okay place personally, and well-supported by friends and chosen family. I am less afraid for myself than I am for a lot of the people around me, which is certainly a privileged place to be in.

In the midst of all of this, last Friday I hit one month post-op. I didn’t even realize it until I was about to go to bed. I’m still feeling really good about the decision to have surgery, and I’m really grateful I was able to do it when I did, but it’s hard to feel particularly celebratory when it feels like the whole country is going to pieces. Still, I hope you’ll permit me the small self-indulgence of a selfie from Friday, because I am pretty happy with how I look these days:

One month post-op

One month post-op

Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho, It’s Back to Work I Go…

Monday marked my first day of work after a three week absence for surgery and recovery. I worked from home to catch up on emails, and was back in the office on Tuesday.

When our office manager saw me Tuesday, he asked if I’d been bored taking so much time off.

I wasn’t.

It was really, really wonderful to not have to worry about work for a few weeks. The fact that I came back to an office packed pretty much wall-to-wall with computers and peripherals that need to be re-homed (which is not my job, but part of our department’s function sometimes), nearly preventing me from even getting to my desk, did not help to ease the transition back. I’ve felt claustrophobic in my windowless, packed office, achy and tired from so much extra activity, and just generally grouchy.

Still, it’s been nice to see the enthusiasm of coworkers at having me back in the office. Someone informed me on Tuesday that when she told her team I was back, they applauded.

I’m still healing well, although I’m trying hard not to push myself too much with being back at work. The last thing I want is to set myself back to the point where I need to take more days off from work, because I burned through all of my remaining personal and sick time for the three weeks I already took. I’m definitely in the place where I feel like I have more energy than I do, which means I crash a bit at night, and mornings feel like a challenge (although challenging mornings are sort of par for the course for my entire life).

Because I’m feeling like I have my energy back for the most part, and because I’m increasingly happy with how my body looks as it heals, I’m getting really excited about the prospect of self-care in the form of exercise. The problem is that I can’t really exert myself yet, and so I have all of this motivation to work out and very little ability to act on it for the next two or three weeks, by which point the motivation may or may not still be there. Meanwhile, I’m researching various gym and fitness program options and trying to figure out what my budget is for that.

The most exciting news from my week was that I learned that my insurance officially paid for surgery. I may still have a small portion to pay depending on how the hospital billed, but the $30,000+ bulk of the surgery has been covered, and that is an enormous relief!

Choices

I am continuing to heal. This has been the last week that I’ll get to take off from work, and while I’m really enjoying all the free time, there is definitely a part of me that’s looking forward to getting back into a routine.

It’s been an interesting week of lots of emotions, for reasons I’m not going to get into here (although if we’re friends, feel free to ask me about it elsewhere and I can fill you in). It’s also been my first full week without drains, and I feel like, despite some continued swelling on the right side of my chest, I am finally getting a sense of what my body looks like now.

I realized on Tuesday that I am already certain that undergoing this surgery was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I knew that I would feel different after surgery, and I was pretty sure that different would be better. I had no idea how much more comfortable I would feel in my skin, though. Even though I’m still in some pain and am far from fully healed, I’m still so much more comfortable. I can breathe so much more easily, not just metaphorically, but literally, my lung capacity has increased now that I’m not binding. And I’m sure that will continue once I’m done with the compression vest, too. (I started a new harmonica class at the Old Town School of Folk Music this week. It’s been about a year since I had my harmonicas out, and I could not believe how much easier it was to play now that I’m not fighting my clothing for deep breaths.)

I’m happier with how my shirts fit. I’ve been wearing a lot of hand knit sweaters this week, since it’s cooled off, and while I liked most of them well enough before, I like them even more now. The super oversized sweater I knit last year that I never really wore because I hated how it hung off my chest? Now it’s just a super oversized sweater that feels cozy and comfortable. I had thought I’d never really knit a cardigan because I hated how they gapped across my chest. No longer a problem!

I’m going to finish this post off, for the curious, with a link to a photo of one of my very first shirtless selfies, taken last week. If you’re weirded out by medical things, you might not want to click through (my incisions still look pretty gnarly), but for those of you interested in a visual on how my healing is going, you can find that here!

Recovery Continues

It’s been just over a week since I had chest masculinization surgery.

Generally, I’m feeling great. I’m beyond ready to have the drains removed, but by the time you read this, that’s probably already happened – the appointment is scheduled for Thursday morning. That’s also when I’ll get a better look at what my chest is really looking like. I’ve seen under the compression vest I’m in a couple of times now, but it’s been accompanied by the stress of a shower (which, when you’re not allowed to face the water or let the little nipple bolster/cushion things be hit directly by the water, and you don’t have your full range of arm motion, is a pretty stressful experience), and the ever-present drains were a factor then. Still, from what I can see, I’m pretty happy. The right side of my chest is pretty bruised, but that’s not particularly surprising after surgery. All in all, my biggest reaction so far has been feeling like this wasn’t that big of a change. This is untrue, but since my chest in real life now looks like it already did in my head, it feels a little like not much happened.

A couple of days ago I traded the heavier pain killers for ibuprofen, which has been working out fine. The worst I’ve had for pain has been what feel like muscle aches. Nothing too serious, mostly just distracting when it happens. The meds have done a good job of taking the edge off, which is about all I ever hope for with pain medication.

My partner’s dad stayed with us and helped out around the apartment for the past ten days; he went home last night. It was great to have him here, and I’m grateful for his help and support!

My week has mostly involved reading (I’ve finished Mara Wilson’s autobiography, Where Am I Now?, which I bought a few days before surgery, and Terry Pratchett’s Wintersmith, which my best friend sent me for recovery reading), knitting (slowly, on a project where tension and gauge don’t make much of a difference), napping, and watching movies. Which is to say it’s been relaxing and (thankfully) uneventful. Next week I will be totally on my own at home, so that’ll be an adventure, but I’m not worried about it. I’m supposed to go back to work the week after, but I might opt to work from home that week, just to ease back into things. We’ll see how it goes.

Thanks for all of your support. I’ve been flooded with sweet texts, emails, and Facebook messages, and I have no doubt all the love coming my way is part of what’s making this all go so smoothly.

Post-Op

Hello, friends! I am writing this Wednesday morning, my first full day post-op, so this is going to be a short one, probably.

Surgery happened yesterday afternoon, and went very well. The operation itself took less time than the surgeon had estimated it would, although I made up for that time in recovery (I was a sleepy bear and it took me a while to wake up all the way). I really wasn’t nervous at all – the entire staff at the surgical center was charming and kind, and I felt very well-informed every step of the way. By far the worst part of the process was getting the IV started (my line is always, “I am not afraid of needles, but my veins are,” and that definitely proved true yesterday), but even that wasn’t unbearable.

Today I’m pretty sore, but thanks to help from my partner and his dad, who came down to help us out this first week, I’m staying on top of meds and getting top-notch aftercare.

Thanks to everyone who has texted, emailed, Facebooked, or otherwise sent good vibes my way! I’m definitely feeling them.

Older posts

© 2017 Accidental Fudge

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑