Appointment’s Eve

August 31, 2011

That’s right, after all the hustle and bustle and missing appointments and rescheduling and waiting and waiting and waiting, the day has finally come.  Tomorrow is my first appointment at Carolina Endocrine (HOLY SHIT) and I have absolutely NO IDEA what to expect!  I’ve been trying to do some research via internet and I’ve asked a few people about their first appointments, but the experiences vary so much that I am still in the dark about mine.  For some people, the first time is just a consult with a blood test and basic physical, for others they got their first shot of T…ahhhhhh!  I even called the front office at Carolina Endocrine and the person I talked to said that sometimes you get on the first day and sometimes you dont…nobody knows!  It’ll be a surprise! I don’t want to get my hopes up about getting my first shot because, well, that would suck if I didn’t, but C’MON!  I could possibly be getting my first shot of testosterone tomorrow morning!  Should I dress up?  I mean, this is a big deal, potentially my new birthday, like the biggest of all deals and I want to make sure that I celebrate it to the fullest.  Should I bring a camera?  OBVIOUSLY. I want this shit on film to keep forever and ever. This will change my life forever…okay, not getting my hopes up.  But sorta getting my hopes up.

TESTOSTERONE, what’s the big deal?  What changes will it make?  How does it affect your body?  How long does it take to work?  Do you have to be on it forever?  What if you stop taking it, will things go back to the way they used to be? Are there health risks? Will it change your personality? Obviously, I can’t answer all of these questions with personal experience because I haven’t started taking it yet, but I can definitely answer some questions about what is to be expected. I will do a question and answer post by the end of the week because I’ve gotten a lot in the mail…so if you have specific questions then send them in and I’ll make sure I address them to my best ability.  For now, I’ll just skim the surface.

Let’s talk physical changes.  Testosterone has a lot of physical side effects (which is what makes it so appealing to transmen) and for the purpose of this blog I’m gonna separate them into two categories: reversible and irreversible changes.  YES, if you stop taking testosterone then some of the physical changes will revert back to how your body originally was (we call these reversible changes), BUT this isn’t always the case.  There are a lot of side effects that once your body makes the change then they will always stay with you regardless of whether or not you are still taking testosterone (we call these irreversible changes). Here are what I consider the main changes:

Acne-taking testosterone is like inducing and speeding up male puberty.  So, yes, I will get acne again for a while, and yes, I am dreading it.
Increased sweat- T makes you sweat.  A lot.
Change in body odor-I will smell different once I start T.  It makes your BO smell more musky.
No more periods-YES. Testosterone will stop my menstruation cycle for as long as I’m on it, but if I stop taking T then my periods will come back.
Redistribution of body fat-Basically, all of my fatty parts (the stomach pouch, love handles, boobs, ass, and even some of my thighs) will redistribute to mainly my upper body.
Muscle development-Yes, T will make me a little stronger, but more importantly it will give me the ability to develop muscles at a more rapid pace.
Increased libido-As I said before, a sped up male puberty, which means a higher sex drive.

Coarser hair (and possible balding)-It will make my hair more dense and since my mom’s dad was a baldy I will probably bald too. I’ve accepted it.  Small price to pay for happiness, I do say.
Growth of facial hair-Yes, I will eventually be able to grow facial hair, but it will take a while, not an overnight thing.
Increased body hair-Basically, T makes you really hairy.  Stomach hair, chest hair, back hair (god forbid), thicker leg hair, thicker arm hair, hair everywhere!
Deeper voice-This is probably the change that I am most excited about right now (because my high voice is the main reason why I don’t always pass as a guy)!  You can’t really predict how much lower your voice will drop, but it will definitely be noticeable.
Clit gets bigger-Its true. T makes your clit grow, mostly longer, but also wider.  It won’t get huge  (unless you get surgery or use a penis pump, but I don’t plan on doing either of those) but it will clearly be significantly bigger than what it used to be.

I feel like those are the main, physical, visible changes that will occur.  Of course there are many, many more.  Probably hundreds more that involve how your body reacts on the inside, I’m talking health risks for diseases and cancers and things and I’m also talking mentally and emotionally.  There is no amount of researching and reading other people’s stories and watching documentaries that can prepare me for the changes I’m about to make (maybe starting tomorrow).  I think that right now I’m as ready as I’ll ever be…


Before I begin, let me stress that my opinions in no way reflect the ideas and opinions of the United States Military, United States Government, or any other really important organizations that I don’t want to piss off.  I have never served in any branch of the armed forces.  I am not a veteran, I do not have personal experience being transgendered in the military.  That said, I did spend the better part of the past 7 years preparing, getting letters of recommendation, filling out applications, taking tests, and just getting really excited to join the USMC.  Throughout my life, I’ve had many different phases where I pick one thing that I think I am really interested in, dedicate my life to it for half a year and then decide that it’s not for me.  The USMC has remained something that I want to do and something I was dedicated to doing longer than anything else in my entire life.  I wanted to be a Marine more than anything.  I had a completed application (which, lemme tell you, is quite a fucking feat), I was signed up for medical testing, I took all the tests, but two things kept me from being able to join: my fatal allergy to  bee stings, and the fact that I’m transgendered.

Now the bee sting thing would have been an easy fix, I just take shots with small doses of bee juice in them until I become immune, easy-peasy.  My transgenderism is not something that I can or want to change.  Ultimately I had to choose: either I transition now while I’m young and give up my right to fight for my country (unless the rules change within the next few years…but I’m not holding my breath) OR I put off my transition, pretend to be a girl, serve as a marine, and then transition after I get out.  It took me several months to make a decision, I cried a lot about it, and honestly, I’m still not sure if I won’t regret not serving.  I will probably regret it a lot.  But the fact is, I’m not willing to sacrifice my happiness to pretend to be something I’m not.  Making that decision was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, and working through myself to find an answer was exhausting, but the shittiest part is the fact that I had to make it in the first place.  Why couldn’t I just join and transition at the same time? (Here comes the part where I bust on the system for being embarrassingly exclusive and un-progressive…)

DADT (Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell)-First of all, it’s about fucking time that it got repealed.  Really?  It took us until December of 2010 to realize that gay and lesbian persons are capable of fighting for our country? I can’t believe how long that took.  Anyways, glad it is repealed now, and very glad and happy for all of the gay and lesbian persons allowed to be open about themselves and defend our nation at the same time.  Heres the thing though, DADT was just the very first baby step in the process of gaining military equality, there are still many flaws (curious about them then let me know and maybe I’ll do another post, but I’m going to try to stick to trans stuff in this one), one of the major ones being that DADT didn’t/doesn’t cover transgendered persons.  DADT is based on sexual orientation not gender identity, so its repeal didn’t really help much with transgender inequality in the military.

GID (Gender Identity Disorder)-I did a brief post on GID when I was officially diagnosed, but just a summary: gender identity disorder is the psychological disorder that transgendered people are/must be diagnosed with in order to receive medical care (such as therapy, hormone treatment, and surgeries).  The US military considers GID a psychological disorder that should result in immediate dismissal of service or disqualification of application for service.  So basically, if you have ever sought any form of medical help or supplement for transgenderism you are immediately turned away at the recruiting office. You know, because transgendered people are psychologically sick with all their disorders and stuff, they are obviously totally incapable of handling the extremes of the military…bullshit.

TEXTBOOK BODY TYPE REQUIREMENT-If a transgendered person has not had hormone treatment or a diagnosis of GID but has had any type of gender-confirming surgery they will be immediately disqualified or dismissed.  The military considers the surgeries as major genital abnormalities therefore the person’s body is considered defective and incapable of handling military physical demands.  Theres really no way around it either.  The physical examination is pretty extensive and invasive, there is no way to hide scars or body parts.  If you do not show up with the same bodies parts you were born with and if those body parts don’t match the pictures in Gray’s Anatomy (talking about the book here, not the show) then you cannot serve in the military.

MILITARY DEPENDENCE ON GENDER SEPARATION-I’m referring to the fact that the entire system of the military and all of the millions of rules, procedures, codes of conduct, and EVERYTHING is rooted in the practice of keeping male-bodied people and female-bodied people completely separate.  They fight separately, they sleep separately, they train separately, they dress in very obviously different and separate styles, fuck, they live in separate buildings!  In order for transgender people to reach equality in the military (if they are ever actually allowed to serve) we are going to have to rewrite the entire fucking book on which our military operations are based to include body types other than textbook male and female.  What about a little of both?  What about A LOT of both?  What about neither? Can we comprehend the idea that there are more than two body types?  I expect that many brains will explode.

 In conclusion: YAY DADT GOT REPEALED! But what about the rest of the LGBTQ population? We need to keep pushing for equality because right now we are frightfully far from it.  Spread the word, get involved, educate the people around (god, I sound like a campaign ad), and fight injustice for your fellow citizens even if the problem at hand doesn’t directly affect you.  IT IS IMPORTANT.

Vote YES for gender-neutral housing, y’all, even if you think it doesn’t affect you!  It’s all the rage!  Here’s why:

I’ve done my time in the dorms.  Honestly, most of it was pretty harmless seeing as how I lived with my girlfriend at the time so I didn’t really have to deal with weird roommates or anything like that.  BUT I did have to deal with shared showers.  Now I’ve already done a post on bathrooms (which if you haven’t read, you REALLY should) and the same stuff kind of applied to my shower experiences.  I got weird and undesired looks, I got people asking me if I was in the right bathroom, I got people yelling at me telling me I was in the wrong bathroom, I would see someone coming down the hall towards the showers and then when they realized I was going in they would turn around and wait until I came out, I mean really obvious signs that I was a cause of uncomfortability (<- one of those words that isn’t a word but definitely should be). It was humiliating. But actually, the most humiliating part wasn’t all of the things that I listed above, it was the fact that I didn’t even want to be using the women’s bathroom in the first place!  I didn’t want to be running around with my tits out and my lack of a penis in front of other people, how the hell am I supposed to convince them that I’m a boy?  (Pause here: since then I’ve grown a lot more comfortable with my body and probably wouldn’t have those problems now (although I would still have a problem with using the women’s bathroom) but I was still figuring things out and hadn’t yet developed the language to explain my body in conjunction with my identity) All I wanted (and still want) was to be able to walk back to my room with my towel around my waist instead of my entire body.  It was a constant reminder that I am female-bodied and a constant reminder of my insecurity about my body and a constant reminder of my presence making others uncomfortable.

All-in-all my dorm situation was way less than ideal, but I managed. I actually consider myself pretty lucky.  I know people (like real people who are my friends and exist in real life) that have had it WAY worse. Sexual assault, physical assault, having to change roommates because of hate crime issues, having to live alone because of differences, having the place they live be a place of fear, feeling unsafe in their own homes, it’s too much.  And its fucked up.  Well, I mean, of course its fucked up, but I’m talking about the whole system here.  UNC having a mandatory first-years-must-live-on-campus rule, but not being able to provide safe housing is fucked up.  Not taking into account people’s gender identities before assigning them a boys or a girls dorm is fucked up.  Gender-neutral housing on college and university campuses, hell even boarding schools, anywhere that people are required to house with other people should offer a safe gender-neutral space.  And, you know, it’s not just for queerios like me, this could be helpful for brothers and sisters who want to live together, couples who want to live together (its okay, we’re adults now, we can live with people who don’t have the same genitalia as us and not be scarred from it), even people who are ill and require a medical assistant everyday. I can’t express enough: IT IS NECESSARY.

What bad could come of gender-neutral housing?  Well, if we offer gender-neutral housing then it would be possible for couples to live together…HELLO?!?! Every gay male couple and lesbian couple on campus is already living together because of your gender separation rule. Fuck, that’s what I did FOR TWO YEARS!  Besides, if people want to live with their partners they would just move off campus, its cheaper anyways!  Well, we wouldn’t want people who preferred gender separated housing to feel uncomfortable…well god-forbid we ever make white heterosexuals feel uncomfortable. So make it optional!  Make it so the people who are living in gender-neutral housing CHOSE to live there.  Just add a simple question to the housing application: would you prefer gender-neutral or gender-separated housing (circle one). It’s that simple.  Well, if we make it optional and set aside fifty rooms for gender-neutral housing what if we don’t fill all the rooms?  Dorm rooms are highly sought after at UNC and we don’t want to waste any…listen, I alone know at least 50 people who are begging to live in gender-neutral housing.  I alone could fill half of your fifty rooms (assuming its two people per room). In my opinion, 50 rooms is not enough rooms!

I know that UNC is currently on the path to offering gender-neutral housing (however its taken them the better part of 6 years, maybe 7, and it still hasn’t happened yet) so if you go to UNC or know people who do then I implore you to educate yourselves and those around you because GENDER-NEUTRAL HOUSING IS A GOOD AND NECESSARY THING (am I beating a dead horse here?) AND IT IS A SHAME THAT WE DON’T ALREADY HAVE IT.  Talk to your friends who go to other schools too!  This type of housing should be readily available across the nation and the first step is making everyone aware that this is a real-life issue.

Name Change

August 24, 2011

OKAY LISTEN I’M BACK AND I’M SORRY I DIDN’T CALL, BUT IVE JUST BEEN REALLY BUSY WITH WORK AND FIGURING OUT MY LIFE AND BEGINNING-OF-THE-SEMESTER PARTIES (nah, for real though I’ve been working hard and doing important significant shit and I’m sorry I took a break from writing, but I’m back and I intend to start pushing posts everyday like I used to because I think it is really important)

A BRIEF UPDATE-I still have an appointment set up for August 31st and still totally bummed I didn’t make the one on the 15th. I’ve been calling the office everyday hassling the phone-answering-people to see if there have been any cancellations, but my attempts have thus far proven useless.  I guess the 31st isn’t that far away anymore, I guess its only next Wednesday, I guess that means almost a week?  Wait a second…FUCK YES!  Time to get cranked up again!  Sad days are over and now I’m counting down the hours until that initial appointment!  I dare someone to try to schedule me for work that day…In other news, I’m currently battling a kidney infection, which was the result of an angry UTI that refused to go away.  Took a trip to the ER this past weekend, almost immobilized with pain, but got some antibiotics and percs and I’m doing alright…In other news still, my job at Banana Republic is proving to be a lot more fun than I thought it would.  I get to flirt with all of the older, wealthy, gay men (because they think I’m a young gay boy) and then I tell them they look handsome in whatever they are trying on (which is generally always true, I don’t think I have the heart to tell someone they look dashing if the clothes are genuinely ill-fitting) and then they buy expensive things and then I look like I know what I’m doing (when in reality I’ve never sold a suit in my life)!  It is a win-win for sure….The last of the other news, my family stuff hasn’t gotten a bit better.  Maybe actually a bit worse as far as my parents go.  The great divide has begun, as in they’ve taken their names off all my bank accounts and cancelled the cards they were co-signed on, they are in the process of taking me off health insurance, I mean, it’s really happening.  My little sibling moved out of the house and started college at UNCG for music (on scholarship might I add, and also let me say that they are hot shit on campus right now, in part because of their prestigious scholarship that only 3 people out of their entire class got, but probably mostly because they are so fucking cute…gotta brag a little, I’m a proud big brother) and since they aren’t in Mount Pleasant anymore I really have no reason to go visit other than to get the rest of my stuff out of my parents house.  It’s gotten bad, y’all.  I’ll elaborate more when things start becoming clearer in my mind, but right now I can’t even comprehend some of the stuff that’s happened over the past couple of weeks.  YIKES! Sooooooooo, wanna talk about name changes?

There is a process.  A legal process.  A very long, time-consuming, costly, inconvenient legal process.  Here’s my problem (and why I haven’t already gotten a legal name change): you have to request a name change in the county of your legal residence, which for me is where Mount Pleasant is located.  My name is not on the lease where I live right now and none of the bills are in my name and my NCDL (North Carolina Driver’s License) has my MP address on it, so I have no way to prove that I even live where I actually live.  In order for me to request a name change I would have to get a bill in my name, so that I could prove to the DMV that I live here, so they could change it on my license, or I just have to go back to Mount Pleasant to do it.  But y’all know the name-changin’ office isn’t open on the weekends and poor boys gotta work so I’m not trying to take off work to drive down there during the week.  It’s just a whole mess.  And on top of that it costs money that I just don’t have (I think it really only costs 40 bucks, but with gas money to get to and from Mount Pleasant that’s probably totaling around 75 bucks and GEEZ I could live off 75 bucks for probably 3 weeks).  I found a way to do it online, but seems kinda sketchy to me…all-in-all I just haven’t been able to find a convenient time to make a trip home (but it’ll happen soon because my parents are moving and want me to get the rest of my shit out).

The initial name change is the easiest part though.  Once you go through the courts and get approved for a name change you have to fill out a whole crap ton of paper work for basically every organization you’ve ever given your name to: doctors, lawyers, IRS, Social Security, banks, schools, jobs, postal service, ANY kind of service (internet, electric, cell phone, basically anything in your name), insurance, the passport bureau, I mean EVERYTHING, EVERY PLACE, and EVERYONE needs a detailed, hand-written, lengthy application of name change. And it seems exhausting and I am dreading it.  But totally worth it, right?  I definitely think so.

The Last of My History

August 10, 2011

This is kind of a backtrack to the second semester of my second year in college, I couldn’t fit it all into the last post.  SO, I changed my name, got a binder, and then what?  My girlfriend of two years cheated on me with a male-bodied person which threw me into a very deep and dark depression for a very long time.  I couldn’t bring myself to get out of bed, I wouldn’t eat, I would just sleep and cry all day and hope that somebody would put food in front of my face.  I found out during Fall exam week and completely lost control of myself. I was so beside myself that I honestly can’t remember a lot of my days when I was in that state of mind.  I used drugs, I had a lot of meaningless sex, I hung on to her for every second she’d let me…she was my first love and I was completely and unhealthily obsessed with her.  I had no idea what to do, so I withdrew from the next semester (Spring 2010) at school and tried to find something to occupy my time.  I threw myself into therapy, for the first time, trying to get a prescription for testosterone.  The result: my therapist came to the conclusion that I was overcompensating for the fact that my girlfriend had cheated on me with a male-bodied person and therefore I was of unstable mind to progress towards hormone treatment.  It was devastating, I couldn’t catch a break if it was thrown straight at me.  I lost my love, I wasn’t able to medically transition, I withdrew from school…I was sick with feeling like a failure.

Then summer came around (this is the summer that I previously talked about in Asheville) and everything started looking up.  It went something like this:

I lucked into a free place to stay in Asheville because my ex-girlfriend was doing an internship there and I had helped her out of some legal trouble so she let me crash at her apartment all summer for free (this was probably not a smart move, in all actuality I probably should have been taking some major space from her, but it turned out fine, it was actually a really good time) and I met the most awesome people!  It was all smiles everyday, naked swimming, PBR, making lifelong friends, finding soulmates, and I couldn’t imagine a more fun summer! 

Then summer ended.  I came back to school and tried to start over.  I wanted to jump back into therapy to try again, but I didn’t have the money for it, so I just worked on the little changes:  I changed my name on Facebook to Peter, I bought a packer and made it into an STP (a packer is a fake, soft penis, so not a dildo, just something you can put in your pants to make your appearance look more masculine, and STP stands for stand-to-pee which is a device that allows female-bodied people to use urinals.  I rarely use either of these things because I don’t feel like having a dick in my pants makes me more of a man, because I would rather use a stall than a urinal (it is hard to STP without peeing all over yourself, at least I have a hard time with it), and because I don’t really have the right underwear to support something just chilling out in my pants all day), I started correcting people when they would call me by my birth name or feminine pronouns, I started dating as a transman (and I’ve had a variety of experiences, I’ll make a post about dating as trans), I found a wonderful lady who totally supports everything that I’m doing, and I began to reach out to the trans/queer community around me.  I basically spent like a year just meeting new people and building a foundation of support so that when I was able to start testosterone I would have family and friends around who support me to make the transition easier and less stressful.

Then I began therapy again this summer, it went well, I’ve got my letter, I’ve got my Carolina Endocrine appointment, and I am ready to start my transition!  And that’s it folks, you are now caught up on my life.  Of course I left out a lot, that was a very brief description, but as issues arise I will draw on personal experiences and stories, so you’ll be sure to hear the rest of what got left out!

Hey, whoa, sorry, its been a while!  I have been busy teaching marching band all day everyday, so I’ve been passing out immediately after getting home.  Y’all, I love my job!  It is literally the best job ever, partly because I am really good at it, but mostly because it is the most fun thing ever, and the students are just so awesome!  I still go by my birth name at my job for a variety of reasons: the parents of my students already give me enough hell about having a lip ring and short hair, my job is to teach marching band, not spend all my time explaining queer theory and gender identities (which is exactly what I would do if all of my students knew…the questions would never cease), most of the staff at apex is VERY conservative, and this is my last year working with this school so I feel that it will just be easier (for the record, I rarely ever justifying things by saying they are easier…this is different because I feel like I could absolutely lose my job over something like being transgendered at the school that I work).  So, it was awkward getting use to the “she’s” and “hers” and “Beth’s” and I definitely had a few slip ups. First of all, there is a kid named Peter in the band, so every time someone was talking to him or correcting him or yelling his name then I immediately answered:

Peter, stop jumping around and get on your dot! 
My dot?  I’m on staff I don’t have any dots!
Um…I said Peter…
I know. 
Your name is Beth. Beth doesn’t sound anything like Peter.

Multiple times.  Then there was the night that I introduced myself as Peter to some band parents in front of the rest of the staff and some students:

Band Dad: Sorry, I didn’t catch your name.
I’m Peter!
Band Dad: What? (this dad was genuinely being honest and didn’t hear me and I have the feeling that he would have been totally cool with it if we left it at that)
Band Dad: Okay, Peter, well welcome to our home! (the staff eats dinner at a different student’s house every night for band camp)
Band Student:  HAHAHA her name isn’t Peter, that’s Beth!  HAHAHA
Oh, yeah, hahahaha, just making a joke….(oops!)

I guess I didn’t realize how hard it would be to try going by my birth name for a week.  WAY harder than expected.  Anyways, band camp was fun and I loved it and sorry I was gone, but now I’m back, so let’s kick off with something that has recently been a complication for me that the average human being probably wouldn’t think of as a problem: job applications.

Lets jump right in, here is the problem:  job applications require social security numbers (for background checks and stuff) and my SSN is connected to my birth name.  So, I have a decision to make, either I put Peter as my name and run the risk of them doing a background check before the interview and seeing that my name doesn’t match my SSN and then not even giving me a chance to apply for the job…OR I put my birth name on my application so that it matches my SSN and then show up to the interview totally male-identified having to explain my situation without making it look like I lied on my application (why would I put Beth when I go by Peter?).  It is sticky sticky and it makes me feel sneaky.  Either way, I’m not able to accurately represent myself on the initial application, therefore I am misrepresenting myself, therefore I feel like I’m doing something wrong and I easily confuse potential employers.  It is one hell of a hassle.  I usually just put my birth name on the application, because I am more scared of not having a chance at the job than having to explain myself to people (because let’s face it, I am explaining myself to people every fucking day of my life).

So then if I get the interview, I will show up totally masculine and the manager is expecting someone feminine and before I can even begin the interview I have to try to explain my situation as briefly and simply and casually as possible.  I think the key is acting like this is an everyday occurrence (which it definitely is when we are talking big picture, but on a smaller level individual managers probably don’t deal with trans issues on a regular basis).  I have to try not to confuse them (because the truth is, if there are multiple people qualified for the job, a majority of managers will probably choose the less complicated applicant, the one with less baggage, and the one who won’t easily confuse customers…now, I don’t know if that counts as discrimination, I guess maybe in an indirect way, regardless it is reality and it is a huge trans problem) and I have to make them comfortable around me. Usually, I rehearse it in a mirror before going into the interview and it goes something like this: Hi!  I’m Beth, but before we get started you should know that I’m transgender and I go by Peter.  Short, simple, casual, and honest.  And you know what? Most of the time the manager is just like, oh, okay, cool, nice to meet you Peter! And it is easy-peasy.  Of course, I have had negative interactions, I’ve been turned away before the interview even started, I’ve been accused of lying on my application, I was even publicly called a “she-man” (which, first of all, what the hell does that even mean?  Second of all, I have never in my lifetime heard someone use the word “she-man”, totally out-dated. Third of all, I am definitely calling corporate and showing my ass to them about how fucking rude you were to me in front of your customers!).

Despite all of the complications and possible negative outcomes, here comes some good news: I just got a job at Banana Republic (I know, right?  I thought they were super conservative too!  I thought I was basically completely opposite of anyone they would want working in their store…but I was wrong!) HOLLA!!!  Come drop in and say hey!