I had my screening appointment for the Leeds gender clinic this morning. It was a telephone chat with one of the outreach workers and was a lot more in depth than I’d anticipated. It consisted of a review of my transition progress and my medical history as well as a chat about the care pathway through the clinic and anticipated waiting times.
He seemed satisfied with the steps I’d taken so far. The current waiting times to first appointment is approx. 18 months with approx. 8-10 months between appointments. I’m so grateful to be able to initiate hormone therapy through a private clinic because it seems to be a minimum of 3 years through the NHS at the moment.
Had my telephone appointment today with Dr Myskow to review my hormone levels. She mentioned straight away that my voice seemed much lower and was pleased that I’d got a new job. She was satisfied with the blood test results. Although I thought they seemed a little low, she explained that it was better to have levels at the lower end of the range. This ensures that the peak levels aren’t excessive which would result in the testosterone being converted to oestrogen causing all sorts of havoc. She advised that my injection intervals should be 14 weeks going forward and asked for a full set of bloods prior to the next injection which she will review at the end of November.
I’ve just realised that it’s nine months today since I gave up smoking. I’ve been smoking since I was 19 years old – I started when I was in hospital for four months (everyone used to be in the smoking room so it was a way of socialising and something to do to break up the days!). I did manage to give up for 3 years in the early 2000’s before my mum got sick and I relapsed. Since then I’ve tried several times to give up but not managed to make it stick for more than a few weeks at most.
Research I’d done on the internet suggested that giving up smoking would reduce the risks associated with testosterone such as blood clots, stroke, etc. I’ve been surprised at how easy it’s been and I haven’t missed it all that much but as I said to Dr Myskow, when she asked me how I’d found giving up, I didn’t like smoking so much that I was prepared to jeopardise my chances of being prescribed testosterone and having surgery.
I’ve had a couple more injections since April and I thought I would explore the changes I’ve experienced as a result of the hormone therapy in preparation for my review appointment with Dr Myskow tomorrow.
- Happy – I’m definitely happier, whether or not this is actually the hormones or just the fact that I’m moving forward with the transition, is unknown. I’m considering reducing my anti-depressant dose but I want to ensure my hormone levels are stable before tinkering.
- Irritable – everything annoys me especially rude people (which appear to be multiplying in numbers every day)
- Spatial awareness – clumsy is now my middle name, I’m banging into things and dropping stuff quite a lot. I’m hoping this will subside once I’m further along in the puberty process.
- Confidence – in some respects I feel more confident especially in new situations which I expect is due to feeling more comfortable within myself. However, I’ve taken a bit of a step backwards facing people from my previous life. I seemed to be actively avoiding engaging with people who aren’t aware of my transition and when forced to confront them I feel embarrassed and ill at ease.
- Voice – my voice has definitely dropped and according to the voice pitch analyzer app is firmly within the male range from the androgynous range that it started in.
- Hair – I am increasingly furry on my torso and particularly on my legs and bum! My moustache is improving and the sideburns are drifting towards filling into my beard. I suspect I’ve got a long way to go before my beard is bushy but the signs are encouraging.
- Bottom growth – things are definitely getting bigger down there and a lot more sensitive.
- Libido – this has generally increased but waxes and wanes which is quite weird.
- Hot flushes – during the hot weather this was particularly unpleasant but generally manageable.
- Tiredness – I feel quite tired a lot. I’ve no idea whether this is specifically hormone related but I could sleep for England at the moment.
- Increased appetite – this is becoming a bit of an issue. I’m just ravenous all the time which is really impacting on my weight loss efforts.
- Fat distribution – things seem to be shifting round a bit and heading towards a beer gut which is getting me down a bit at the moment. I think I’ve got some movement of fat from my hips as my trousers seem to be hanging differently.
- General growth – my feet seem to have started to grow a little so I’m desperately trying to wear all my favourite pairs of trainers while they still fit. I feel like I’m also growing taller which seems rather ridiculous so perhaps it’s just improved posture as a result of increased confidence.
- Acne – I’ve got some acne on my chest and back which is pretty sore and uncomfortable but fortunately, despite the skin feeling more oily, I’ve had nothing on my face with the exception of the odd pimple.
- Menstruation – this seems to have calmed down and fingers crossed if my levels stay stable I shouldn’t have to endure this again.
What a load of drama that was! I needed a blood test before my second 12 week injection to check my testosterone levels. The blood needs to be taken same day before the injection to give trough levels. My injection was booked for 10.40am so I arrived at Chorley hospital at 9am – plenty of time in my mind. Unfortunately, when I arrived and pulled a ticket mine said 83 and they were just doing 47. Two hours I waited before being called – I had to cancel my appointment at the doctors and there was a bit of panic when the receptionist said there were no other appointments. I explained that I had to have the injection that day so she offered me the chance to sit and wait for a free slot. Dr Patel gave me the injection, moving the needle once to change injection site which meant that it hurt considerably less than last time.
Emailed the medical secretary to ask her to email the results over when they came in and she sent them last week – 12.5 nmol which is not bad but probably a little bit low so Dr Myskow may consider increasing the frequency of my injections to raise the levels slightly.
Just come back from Scarborough after a fabulous week away to celebrate our 25th anniversary. It was difficult returning to the same hotel – walking in I felt awkward, self-conscious and embarrassed. Chris dealt with the check in and the discomfort only lasted a few minutes. Most of the problems stem not from transphobia or nastiness but from the exact opposite – people not wanting to say or do the wrong thing, walking on eggshells, desperate not to cause any offence. I feel awful that people are uncomfortable around me and that makes me uncomfortable. Louisa said she’d seen the change on Facebook and didn’t have an issue with it. As the week progressed things got easier as everyone got used to the idea that I’m the same person just hairier.
These last few weeks in my new job have been wonderful – being stealth, being Jonathan without any questions, hesitations or doubts has been so affirming, helping to dampen down the dysphoria and sense of being an impostor. In contrast, there’s so much of my past life which is inevitably carried over into my new identity. Friends and family can be ‘dealt with’ in quite a short space of time with a coming out announcement and official organisations such as HMRC, DVLA, banks, etc. are an administrative process which can be churned through. However, I feel I’m now at the point where incidental things are tripping me up.
We’re going on holiday next week to Scarborough – returning to a hotel we booked while we were there last September. The owner was pretty chilled about us returning to celebrate our 25th anniversary as a lesbian couple but now I’m facing going back there with a beard and a new name. I’m almost sure that she’ll be pretty chilled about it all (and to be fair I don’t really give a flying fuck if she’s not) but it’s the awkwardness, the explaining and feeling like I have to justify myself which I’m dreading. When we get back from holiday I’m going to need to call a plumber – I think the shower pump may need replacing but again the last time I saw him was Autumn 2017. I’d prefer to use him because I trust him and we’re comfortable with him in the house but again I’m really not looking forward to that awkwardness. And let’s not talk about the fact that I’ve been avoiding the window cleaner for the last nine months, paying him by BACS transfer and moving from room to room as he does.
It’s incredibly tempting to jettison everything non-essential from the past and create a brand new reality from scratch but that’s not really the answer is it? I’m socially awkward at the best of times, this is just another layer of discomfort to tackle and work through.
Just booked on a residential weekend specifically for Trans people in September. It’s a free workshop based programme run by Lancashire LGBT. No idea what it’s going to be like so I’m a little nervous but it’s relatively local and I’m taking the car so I’ve always got options to go home if I really don’t like it.
Finally finished renewing my tax credits – what a chore. To legally change gender in the United Kingdom requires a Gender Recognition Certificate for which there are a number of prerequisites in order to apply including proof of formal diagnosis, permission from your spouse and evidence of living in the acquired gender for a minimum of two years. In the interim period it is possible to change your name with HM Revenue and Customs but legally you’re still the gender assigned at birth. To protect your identity and safeguard against randomers from accessing your previous name and history they have a system which locks your national insurance number. On the face of it this seems like a good idea to protect your privacy and avoid awkward/intrusive questioning. However the consequence of blocking access is no access at all including random stuff such as not being able to check your driving record which some places require to hire a car.
Everything to do with official stuff becomes that much harder. To renew my tax credits requires finding out from Carer’s Allowance how much I received last year so it can be declared as a taxable benefit. I rang them up and I know that they can’t access my claim because it requires special permission (a one off, time limited code that allows staff of a certain grade to access the records) – they promise a manager will ring me back. Two weeks later I ring back because I still haven’t received the call. Of course they still can’t talk to me but I do get an assurance that someone will call me back within 48 hours. They do call back the next day and I get the figure – yay!
On to the main task itself – tax credits. I need to report changes because I’ve changed jobs so I can’t renew via the paper pack so instead I attempt to do it online. After answering twenty bazillion questions the process fails because my identity can’t be verified. Okay so I’ll ring the tax credits helpline. After waiting quite sometime in a queue I eventually get through to someone but of course as soon as they enter my national insurance number they can’t help me. They put me through to another department and after another call queue and twenty questions I’m given another phone number to ring.
Of course, this department is only open during office hours so I’ve had to wait until today to ring them. Good news they can access my account and I can confirm my income totals for last year. Reporting the changes seems a bit more tricky though – my new job pays more so it takes me over the threshold for Carer’s Allowance but since I’ve only just started it I have received some benefit since April. I could have screamed when asked “How much have you received from Carer’s Allowance since April 2018?” Fuck my life I can’t bear the performance of having to ring them back up for that info but fortunately an estimate will do so I have a quick guess.
Finally job done – until next year…..
It’s the end of my first week at my new job. It’s more physically demanding than my previous work – being on my feet for eight hours, constantly on the go – but I love it.
Everyone is really friendly and I’m really enjoying being ‘stealth’ – my beard is still patchy but all that does is make me look younger than I am – I am Jonathan and no one thinks any differently.
I dropped a bit of a clanger while chatting to someone during lunch. We were talking about school days and I mentioned something about when I was a little girl (duh, knobhead), one person definitely noticed but no one batted an eyelid or said anything. I need to be more careful in future – I’m not ashamed about being trans but I don’t want it to be the thing that defines me in people’s mind, I would much prefer to generally remain stealth.