Monday, December 8, 2014

Update

A lot has happened recently. I don't have time to go through everything in detail, so I will do so later when I get the chance, but long story short:

Increased dosage of hormones triggered bipolar in a similar way that my meds last July did.

This ended up causing me to be very suicidal and so I ended up in a psych ward on thanksgiving day. (but I'm thankful that my visit there was helpful?)

They found that treating my depression with an antidepressant (to further cause bipolar) and then treating the bipolar with a mood stabilizer works pretty well.

I'm happy that we may have finally found a good med combo after a year and a half of trying different things, and have been more productive/active in doing things than pretty much any other time in a while.

I got out of there last Tuesday.

I went on a my first gay date with a girl on Thursday.

I may have found a job that is more than very very part time (my janitor job averages a little less than $100 a month).

I struggle a lot with my testimony, and am meeting with my Bishop today.

I will hopefully be starting school next semester and am registered for classes.

There were able to refund my tuition back to my scholarship people, and I was able to keep my scholarship, and it looks like they will also be able to refund fees which is nice since they're like $600.

I am meeting with a professor and a friend to study upper-level undergraduate/graduate-level math and it's been really fun so far.

I've been learning music theory whenever I have some free time because I would like to get into music composition and I also joined a (very small) LGBT choir. Also I can't sing.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Depression

So just randomly this monday I felt really really depressed, and it's continued through most this week. I tried to go to school yesterday just sorta as practice to see how the anxiety was and because I had some more paperwork to turn in with regards to medical leave stuff for this semester, and I was like raging with this like extreme anger/anxiety for the time I was there and then eventually was glad to go back home. Even though I woke up at like 640 yesterday morning too for a therapist appointment at like 12:00 last night I figured I'd be able to go to bed okay, but then I just couldn't which was annoying so I sat up till 3:00 making extensions then eventually was able to go back to sleep. Like the littelest thing just gives me like this insane amount of anger and stuff, but then I'm not an angry person at all so I never express it and maybe that just makes more anxiety I don't know. And this morning I was just like raging with all this emotion I didn't understand so I just sat there and sorta did a weird half crying half shaking and rolling in a ball thing. It's just really annoying right now because I was doing a lot better and then suddenly I'm just not so I vote my mind needs to calm down but it's just bad at that I guess. Sigh well I'm just trudging on which I guess is the important thing.

Edit: To be fair, in retrospect I am going through the beginnings of female puberty right now too. So it's not totally unexpected. Just a process.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Update

There's this post on my gender identification I've been working on for a while now, and I'll probably eventually post it. Until then, I guess just as an update, I'm doing much better. After we went off my antidepressants at first I was doing really bad, but I've slowly been getting better. Also I actually have my motivation to be doing stuff again! So that's really nice. Recently I've been studying sipser's text on theoretical computer science, specifically right now finite automota and graphs, while still chugging away through my linear algebra course.

I did technically take an academic leave, as I was doing so bad up until a few weeks ago that it seemed to make sense, to help me work towards being a little more stable. Luckily they should be able to refund fees and I should be able to keep my scholarship, so that's nice. The paperwork is just "processing" right now so I'll hear back in a few weeks, but they were saying it should probably should be okay since I have medical documentation from my psychiatrist.

So right now I'm just doing substitute janitor work at schools and still going through some of my course stuff because I think it's still worth learning the material even if I'm not in the class anymore, partially cause it's something I enjoy but also because it's really necessary to understand linear algebra at a deep level if I want to do well as a researcher in computer science.

Anyway it's probably relevant now to copy a post I made to facebook here:

So I had a dream where I met this really awesome girl, and then we were dating and stuff and like it was getting kinda serious because apparently like months/years go by in a few minutes in dream time, and then suddenly we were considering marriage but then at our marriage it turned out that she was actually a robot and the company that made her needed her back and turned her into spare parts for other robots so I woke up crying. 
Subconscious could you not.

As my therapist said "haha yea your poor psyche is going through a lot right now." I'm meeting with her again now every week so that's good, I think she helps. Again overall I think I'm doing better. I'm right now just trying to get on a better schedule. I had some insomnia too but a med helped a ton with that so it's not really a big deal anymore which is nice too.

I've been trying to start up dating as well but lol that's complicated.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Things that worry me about LGBT rights - Part 1

(For those that read my blog to stay up to date on how I'm doing [by the way you guys are awesome], this and my next post are sorta a tangent to that and don't include any of how I'm doing - just my opinions on various stuff that I've wanted flesh out. So feel free to ignore them. I'm happy if you want to read them too though :) )

I'm first going to say that I have no opinion on legalizing gay marriage. I can understand why many people want to - being attracted to the same sex usually isn't a choice, and though entering in a relationship with someone of the same-sex is, the same is true with any relationship, including straight ones. And for people that are in a gay/lesbian relationship, I understand why they'd want to obtain civil marriage rights and benefits that straight couples obtain. I also personally believe that same-sex marriage is a sin (from my religious standpoint), but that's not something I should enforce on others and is for me alone to follow like any other standard that I have because of my religion (say not drinking alcholol, no smoking, and no illegal drugs, and reading the scriptures daily, for example).

I say "they," but the truth is I plan on (hopefully) being in a gay relationship with another girl someday myself, because I'm attracted to males and females, and for religious reasons I feel a future relationship with a girl makes more sense, because since I'm MtF trans my religion doesn't see it as a gay marriage apparently. I really don't think I ever plan on having biological kids myself, because I'm not willing to pass these mental health challenges I have onto my kids, that's not a fair thing to do. Also because hormones makes me pretty infertile. I might be willing to adopt, it would really depend on what the other person in the relationship wanted as well - and since I'm not in a relationship and I'm not very mature all of this is a very long time away, if ever.

The thing I do really support with the LGBT movement is discrimination protection legislation - many trans and gay people can be fired from their jobs without any other reason/be bullied in school/have acts of violence against them with regards to them being LGBT, so the fact that we're having open conversation about this and working to prevent I think is really good to see.




To what I really wanted to write about here, there's been some things in the LGBT rights movement that have really concerned me recently:

1: A description of marriage as being something like "A contract between two parties that love each other, to be terminated at will."

I as I said before, if they are being promoted, I think same-sex rights should only be promoted while having an increased focus on the importance of raising kids as a part of marriage. Since they are the innocent 3rd party. If you define it like this, it makes it seem like divorce is okay, but it's not. It really hurts kids. I have some close friends and family that have done through divorce, and it's a very difficult thing. I understand divorce is sometimes necessary, but that doesn't mean it should be essentially encouraged as okay.

If people plan on raising kids, it's a lifetime commitment. Thus their marriage should be too.

I get that raising kids is not the only important part of marriage - and that priorities should be spouses individual relationships with god, then with each other, then with their children, but I do think it's an important part. Because I feel that the ideal situation is for a kid to be raised with a Mom and a Dad that are both their biological parents, however this life is imperfect so that situation isn't always attainable. For example, personally I think it would be better for a child to be raised with loving same-sex parents than abusive straight parents. Or for a child to be adopted by loving same-sex parents rather than be raised in various foster homes growing up, if those foster homes didn't provide loving, supportive environments for them, which as far as I understand they often don't. That because of imperfection in this world individual adaptation is needed, and same-sex parents are a much better option than many alternatives, I feel. There's studies here as well but I feel like they're so politically charged it's kinda difficult to avoid bias either way, so I try not to too heavily rely on those.

However, if we look at divorce rates in last few years (from the National Bureau of Economic Research):


Also, to understand this graph, the blue line is divorce rates per 1000 people (married or single), which can basically be thought of as the percent of all people (married or single) that went through a divorce that year, while the green line is divorce rates per 1000 married people, which can be thought of as the percent of all married couples that went through a divorce that year.

So because there's actually been a steady decrease in divorce rates since the "bubble" in 1980, my hope is that most people see this issue the same way - that marriage is intended to be a lifelong thing and that divorce is generally harmful - and that whole viewpoint of marriage being something "to be terminated at will" is more of a position taken by extremists. I hope so.

It's also possible that that "divorce boom" was partially due to the marriage boom about 20 years earlier that was significantly higher than the past 80 years or so. Marriages decreasing should potentially be a concerning thing, except that I think it makes sense that marriages start decreasing around 1980 as divorces decrease (since there's less single people to have marriages), and overall it doesn't look like marriage rates have mostly just been fluctuating in the last 140 years without real perceivable trend up or down, I think.

There's some more things I could say about this graph that raise some concerns, but this seems good because this is mostly something I've talked about before.

2: Polyamory

Basically this is where people that are in relationships or marriages decide to commit to being in a "poly" relationship where they are both comfortable with the other person in the marriage sleeping with other people. Hence the "poly" part, it's a relationship/marriage composed of more than 2 people. If two people are married but in a poly relationship they are generally expected to hold each other as the relationship of highest priority, but I think it depends on the individuals for exactly how the dynamics of that work.

The thing that really frustrates me about this is, unlike gay marriage or trans issues, there is a direct aspect of choice involved here. Monogamous relationships are possible for most people, and it can be a very healthy thing. The point about same-sex attractions is that, for some people, relationships with someone of the opposite sex are very difficult to have/harmful to both parties, because almost all of their attractions are towards the same sex. Polyamory is, instead, a decision to abandon monogamy and dedication because they prefer the alternative. Not only is this breaking the law of chastity (so I feel it's wrong from my religious/moral perspective), it also is much more complicated as far as children are concerned. This wikipedia article explained how, generally, other people than the two spouses generally have a aunt/uncle type role with kids, but still my worry is that this lack of dedication to their spouse may have an impact on marriage as a whole. And it's something that didn't arise out of a biological imperfection in the first place.

Right now one of the biggest concerns polyamorous couples have is that, if they let others know they are polyamorous they could lose custody of their children because of discrimination. Like other discrimination I think this makes sense as something to fight for, however not as actively as others because there is more choice involved here, I think.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Where I'm at

To be honest right now I'm doing really bad. It looks like, because of mental health stuff I'm gonna have to drop of of school for this semester. I've been up since noon yesterday (it's 8:00 in the morning now for me), and my sleep cycle is just generally all over the place, which sucks. And there's times I just hate myself and everything. Among other things. There's other times it's better, but yea, I'm just really struggling. So hopefully things will get better but it takes time, I guess.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Update/Mental Health

So first, I was talking to my Bishop, and it's probably worth pointing out that when I share our conversations on here, that's only how he chose to handle it, and isn't reflective of how all LDS Bishops must handle this situation. It varies depending on the Bishop and the person he's talking to and the promptings he receives. I probably won't be posting in the future as much detail about our conversations as well, simply because of that reason - I can post generally how the reaction was, but not specific things because those are really pretty personal reactions for me that may be different for someone else. Also that, not only do my Bishops and Bishops in general consider conversations with members of their congregation private (so if say someone has a confession they won't go telling other people about it), but to an extent I should probably also consider it private as well for that same reason, because my Bishops often share things that are personal about them as analogies to help relate, because they aren't trying to preach to everyone when they talk to me and aren't planning on what they share being posted in something public like this, etc. So I'll still share some of what they say I think because it's relevant here, but not without asking first, and it will probably be in a more general way than specific conversations.



The second thing is that, honestly, I've just been really struggling recently. We increased my anti-androgens and estrogen a bit ago, since my levels were still a little different than normal female levels, but, as expected, it made me experience my emotions differently, and just generally feel more. It basically caused me to wake up and feel extremely suicidally depressed, then sorta after I got going be doing better, then by nighttime I would be very very motivated and almost hyper - like every night for a few weeks after changing the dosage I would like figure out what cause in science I'd like to dedicate my life to and stuff, then the next day I'd wake up and just not care about it again and think that was kinda pointless and continue in the cycle. It made it really hard to function well, to say the least, since school is starting up again.

So I've been debating changing the dosage, because it's possible that we changed things a little too fast, but honestly it seems that, after about a month, I was doing much better. My emotions were way more in control most of the time, and I wasn't so violently depressed in the morning and hyper at night, so that was nice. However, just generally I felt pretty depressed, which was nothing new, but still inconvenient. Every morning I'll take my anti-depressant, anti-androgen, and estrogen, and then every night I would take my anti-androgen again (that was just the cycle they told me to follow). A few nights ago I accidentally took my anti-depressant and estrogen at night though (that's never happened before), and it was really bad. I started having panic attacks and stuff that night, and just generally this overwhelming urge to hurt myself, one that I hadn't felt since February or March or so. I realized that, honestly, my anti-depressant (lexipro) was basically what made me feel that way (that I wanted to hurt myself). Because I knew it gave me anxiety attacks and stuff, but it felt that I got used to that after a month or two of taking it, and then it was other things that gave me anxiety instead that are pretty much under control now, so normally anxiety luckily isn't an issue, just depression. And that was also true for those self-harm related feelings - it seems like now that I'm kinda used to my anti-depressant they aren't really an issue anymore. Hormones I think have helped those really panicky times that it felt more pertinent to I guess hurt myself as well, since since I started taking estrogen around feburary I didn't feel nearly as much desire to hurt myself, even though I had started the anti-depressant around last november or so (so that probably wan't me just "getting used to it").

Anyway so my point was I don't know if my anti-depressant has really helped anything. It's effects didn't seem as severe as the other two (mania or emotional flat-lining), which is why I decided to stick with it, because my parents were insistent that I try and treat the mental health side of this first which probably makes sense, so I figured if I was on an anti-depressant and suck through the side-effects (anxiety and stuff of this one) then that would give me better reason to be pursuing transition and stuff because I've addressed the other things first. If it seems odd that thought panic attacks and self-harm desires and stuff were more bearable than mania or emotional flatlining, because for those that have gone through anxiety they knows how much it sucks, for me it was just that, anxiety was something that I could deal with by myself. Because it didn't really affect my emotions, What I mean is that those other two meds made it way harder to interact with others - because it changed my emotions so much I basically had to relearn how to be social and stuff, because my reactions and stuff to everything was so different, if that vaguely makes sense. But so far, lexipro/estrogen/spiro, though they've had some inconvenient mental health type effects, they didn't really change my reactions to people that much, so that's why I tolerated them. Estrogen and spiro (my anti androgen) have their own benefits as well that I really like too, so that helps :)

But the thing is, I've started to realize that lexipro has had an effect on me that I didn't really realize was because of lexipro until more recently. There was the self-harm effects, but I think that was just as much from a lack a female hormones that that's debatable whether or not it was exactly from lexipro so I'd probably handle those. There was also anxiety, but at first we were able to treat that with other meds that didn't really seem to have any big sideffects for me (anti-hystamines), and eventually the anxiety just wasn't an issue anymore because I'm lucky to be in less triggering situations now since my family is using the right pronouns and I can generally present as female, and because I got more used to the anxiety itself with time.

There's also another effect though - motivation. Specifically, before I started on lexipro, I was very very motivated to do things. It's why I could do well in school - I'd have these bouts of depression, but even during those I you could almost even say comforted myself with just learning more things. Generally learning is just something that I've always enjoyed. For example I probably spent every/every other night for an hour or two just programming something I found interesting, or learning a new math technique, or something like that. And I got kinda worried because, as I started hormones, not only did I start having much much less of a desire to research things like that I enjoyed and were a big part of my life, but I also just generally felt this cloudy fogginess where I didn't feel like I could think as straight. I figured it wasn't too bad and worth enduring, but it was still annoying because I kinda had to force myself to do something that I used to enjoy, before I'd start sorta enjoying it again.

That's the main reason I'm iffy on reducing my hormones level now though - once we increased the levels of hormones a big ago, that mental fogginess was lifted. I feel that I can think as clear as I did before hormones, if not moreso because there isn't those raging emotions at time of self-hatred as much. So that's been really nice. That also meant that I started having more of a desire to be learning and stuff on my own (and enjoyed school and stuff more), which was really really nice. However, I still did kinda have this lingering just lack of desire to do much of anything most the time. That's probably what I mean by depression myself - sure there are bouts of sadness, but I feel like that's probably normal for everyone. For me the biggest way it seems to effect me is through the lack of motivation to do things that are really important to me, say schoolwork or just learning in general.

So my point was, it seemed like lexipro wasn't helping with the depression where I felt like I wanted to hurt myself - and possibly making it worse - and though it might have made my sadness less extreme at times, that came at the cost of losing a desire to learn new things. And learning is such a huge part of my life, I don't know if that trade-off is worth it. So, we might end up trying something else in the future, I don't know. For now I'm just trying to stabilize again from accidentally taking an extra anti-depressant, and it just takes time. Also the other effect lexipro seems to have is I just have way less of an appetite - and as a result I've actually lost about 10 pounds (from 150 to 140). It's not like I really needed to lose any weight (I'm about 5'8), but I'm not complaining about that, and that was probably the biggest reason I was happy to stick with it. But I'm kinda thinking that even that isn't worth it, in my opinion, so yea I'll meet with my psychiatrist in the next little bit and we can see.



And that's kinda where I'm at. In terms of transition, supposedly I pass pretty well, and pretty much everyone uses female pronouns all the time - even if they are just meeting me and have no idea I'm trans - I guess because I look pretty much like a girl, so that's nice. I've also learned the art of eyeliner/lipstick/my laser hair removal seems to be slowly working/I had my eyebrowls professionally waxed/I've had quite a bit of breast growth/my hips are maybe bigger or whatever - basically I just have more of a vase shape which is nice though that could just be my clothes highlight that better, but either way all of that is nice and helps. Like I wear female clothes basically all the time now as well, and my brown wig/sometimes a beanie when it's not too hot, and my hair is almost grown out to the point that I might be able to just style it well enough so with makeup I simply look like a girl with shorter hair. Now I think I'm just figuring out how to stabilize the mental health side of things, but it looks like possibly trying a different anti-depressant or some kinda med might make the most sense for that in the future, so that's what I'm working towards.

Also I'm meeting with a therapist for the first time really this year this Wednesday, so that should be good. Insurance wise meeting with her will be covered, and she's also LDS but said she'd be supportive of me transitioning and such, so hopefully that should go well.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Church in Femme, part 2

First, I posted the following about my time last Sunday at church on a closed transgender email list I'm part of, and I think it probably makes sense to post here as well.


Today was my fourth time to church presenting in femme, and 2nd time in my intended ward (since my first two times were accidentally in the same building but wrong ward). I met a couple of people and we talked for a bit (more than I had ever before with anyone in that ward), and Sunday school went really well too. I was talking with this cool person after Sunday school, and she started heading into relief society so I explained that I actually had to go (the least awkward way to explain the situation). Then I walked around the halls trying to find the Elder's quorum/people in the ward to follow there. Since my plan is to go to Elder's quorum [the class for guys the third hour] for now, since that's what they want me to do. I found some other people from my ward and we all talked for a bit (so many people in my ward seem really awesome), and then one of the sisters there invited me to go to relief society with her once they started heading out. It had sorta come up in our conversation before (when she had asked me about mission and stuff) but I'd just kinda avoided the subject saying it was because of "medical stuff," but since I wasn't allowed to go to relief society I figured I should probably tell her.

So we waited until the rest of the people went into the classes, then we sat in the hall and I kinda explained my situation. I said that, "basically, I have this really annoying birth defect. It causes me to appear as male externally, even though I'm female where it counts. So I'm addressing that, but it just takes time." She said she was actually just taking an anatomy class right now and so she kinda understood my situation. I said "oh cool, yea like where different parts of the body form in different stages according to hormones and stuff" and she nodded and said yea.

I think she assumed I was intersex, but I figured since trans situations basically are intersex conditions (just of the brain) it wasn't that off, and more accurate then saying I'm a "biological male that identifies as female," since that typically gives people the image of a guy that "wants" to be a female so he "cross-dresses," where seeing me as a female that has an annoying birth defect that causes me to appear as male that I'm addressing with hormones and such is more accurate. Since I identify as female anyway, which is "where it counts." My genitals are too private of a subject to discuss with most anyone anyway, I think, and it's not their business.

So I'm pretty happy with this method of approaching my explanation so far, though of course how I come out and stuff still just depends on the person I'm coming out to. For example for one friend up at college from California it was sufficient to say "I'm transgender" and we talked about it for a bit and it was cool and our friendship didn't really change besides maybe deepening, while for another returned missionary friend it required a bit of a more in-depth conversation before he came to understand the situation. He's been amazing too since then though, and honestly really helped me through a lot.

Anyway I then explained that they probably didn't want me going to relief society [the third hour class for only females], because of my situation. She was a little hesitant, but said that she thinks that people should have the right to go where they are comfortable. And asked if I would be comfortable going to relief society. I said I would, so much so, but that I'm pretty sure the Bishop doesn't want me to go. She said she would just be willing to sit outside for the hour if that would work better for me, and we talked for a bit, but eventually we decided we'd go into relief society. I said "okay I guess I could, but if the Bishop gets mad I'm blaming you" and she said something along the lines of that's fine it should probably be okay.

This being my first time in Relief Society, it was really nice. Like presenting as female in church, I just no longer felt this big sense of wrongness or anxiety or depression or however dysphoria decides to manifest when presenting as male. I felt very very comfortable there. I even made a few comments in the lesson, and overall it went really well. Afterwards she offered me her number to talk, and I declined (looking back I'm still not sure why, I think it really would have helped but I think I was just scared of reaching out too much since I had already met another friend and got her number and we might hang out or something but if she offers again I will cause it would be nice to have more people there that I know).

I then thought I should probably be honest with the Bishop, and explain to him that I went to Relief Society against his recommendation. It was probably the wrong choice anyway, but I guess I was just really happy about making some new friends.

So I waited for a couple minutes, then realized I was in the wrong place (it's a big building) so I went to the right one. There were some other people there from my ward (even this kid I knew at the U) so I figured it was right, and eventually the Bishop came out and invited me to talk to him.

He asked what's up and I explained that situation above, that I had gone to Relief Society. How I explained my situation to her, and he said he disagreed, that it wasn't a birth defect. That, didn't I think there was ever the possibility of changing? I explained that it would definitely be preferable if I could accept myself as male, it's would be way easier than being trans, but so far that hasn't seemed to happen so I'm doing the best I can. He said okay, do you remember my goal though for you? (the one of getting to the point I'm comfortable being a "guy playing and rolling around in the mud with other guys") and I said I remembered it but strongly disagreed with it.

He said that he had thought we agreed on this though, that I couldn't go to relief society because "it only takes one person getting upset to create a big fiasco." I agreed, and said I was sorry, and said I was comfortable going to Elder's Quorum. That I made a mistake, and I will go to Elder's Quorum next week. That that's why I wanted to be honest with him about it today, and he said he appreciated that, and it was good to hear. I explained that it might be a little akward initially going to Elder's Quorum, and he agreed, and said that I'd probably just have to explain my situation as best I could. I said I was totally willing to do so, and will next week. He said he respects my bravery in being willing to do that, and that he wishes me luck.

He said I want you to know I care about you, and want to help you feel comfortable here. He asked about how people in the ward have been and I explained awesome and how the'd been and he said he didn't expect they'd be any different.

He then said that this does feel like a campfire discussion of sorts though, and that you can kinda tell I'm not female. Which hurt, but he is probably right there is a lot of work I could do. I said transition just does take time (I'm only essentially 6 months along or so) and I need to work on my mannerisms and stuff, but that I'm also more of a tomboy. He then said that no, I'm not a tomboy, I'm a male. And I said that I wanted to be very clear that him using "male" and "young man" and pronouns and such was very anxiety inducing and triggering to me, and that I'd prefer he didn't refer to me as such. He apologized, and said he would try and do better. That my plan was to transition, and that it didn't seem that helpful for me to question that decision all the time so I'm sticking with it. For the rest of the conversation he used gender neutral pronouns (such as "young person" instead of "young man"), which was way awesome.

He then asked if I was planning SRS. I explained that only like 33% of all trans people even have SRS, that it's really not that common of a thing because it's so expensive and stuff. And that I probably didn't because of the temple thing in the handbook and stuff. That I was just going for a social transition. In retrospect I probably would have preferred to give an answer of "discussing my genitalia is pretty personal, and probably not something that should be discussed in this context," though I suppose the answer I gave was honest and probably more productive so it's probably fine. Just someone had a good point that talking with genitalia with everyone when discussing trans issues is probably not right - it's a really personal, sacred thing that really shouldn't be discussed openly. I don't go asking other people about their genitalia for good reason and so I probably shouldn't also talk about my own (with regards to SRS and having male genitalia and stuff).

He asked about what my plans were for family in the future, and if I desired to have kids. I explained that I had a very strong desire to have kids, however that I also didn't want to put them in a bad situation and my situation is kinda complicated so it depends. I then went through briefly all the stuff I've gone over in detail elsewhere about dating for me. He said that dating guys was really his concern, that he was happy to hear that I wasn't planning on pursuing that. He then asked what do you think a Bishop should be trying to do for a young man like you? And we just talked for a little bit longer about all the stuff above. He asked if I was coming on their camping trip this weekend, and I said I think I have an endo appointment (I'm pretty sure I do and I can't really reschedule that easily so I'd have to check), though I think the other concern that I forgot to mention would be where am I going to stay. Because I probably shouldn't stay with the girls or guys if it's an overnight thing, though I haven't had the chance to ask that yet sadly. I will probably go to FHE tomorrow though.

He then asked if I remembered our agreement with the restrooms that we'd came to in discussing it with the bishoprick (I don't think I've mentioned this before), and I said I did. That I probably shouldn't use the female restrooms (which makes sense), yet going into the male restrooms is gonna make it weird for guys. So that I just need to talk to someone in the bishoprick, and they will stand outside the male restroom and make sure noone enters until I'm done. It's an awkward solution but it works.

Overall all the stuff there is still pretty emotional (I was pretty happy/scared after Relief Society and like wacking my leg and my car door because of how frustrated I felt after some aspects that day), but really not really any new concerns have been brought up, and I will go to Elder's Quorum next week. Still in general my Church experience there has been way more positive then my Church experience presenting as male, which has been really good to see.




I followed this post by another a little later in the discussion. I could give more context but I think it explains itself good enough and it's a confidential list so I want to avoid putting what others have said there on this public blog.


Honestly, my Bishop is getting better. I tried to get at that a little in my post, but after trying to be clear in explaining to him that I disagreed with his goal of me eventually learning to be a guy that's comfortable playing football with and rolling around in the mud with other guys" for many reasons (and intend to transition), he seemed to step back a little bit. His focus now is more just on how he can support me and help me feel comfortable, with his guidelines of course (for now I can't attend Relief Society and the whole Bathroom thing).

I feel like just going in there fists raging doesn't accomplish anything either though, I agree, since we don't know everything and I think it requires work on both sides to gain more understanding, which is why I wanted to be honest with my Bishop that I made a mistake in going to Relief Society, and that I was willing to go to Elder's Quorum this week. Also that's not how my personality is, I'm very non-confrontational, for better or for worse. I hope that we're able to learn more things about GD from a gospel standpoint as well, the lack of knowledge right now is really frustrating.

Probably right now what's more frustrating is just the level at which GD interferes with my attempt at forming normal friendships in the ward. The whole situation with me going or not going to relief society is really complicated to explain to my first friend I was talking to (I was trying a little before we all left), and explaining my situation to my other friend helps, but now she just sees me differently. Which is really frustrating. I just wish I could be seen as a normal girl I guess. Or just feel like others saw me as that/feel like I deserve to feel like that. Because that's what I am. I'm totally fine with being out to people when they still treat me like a normal female (like many of my close friends have done), however when coming out to people vastly changes the way the see me in a negative way that's really frustrating to me. Which is probably a big reason why many people go "stealth" and don't tell others they even are transgender after they transition if they can avoid it. Maybe I'm just too sensitive about all this, but yea, either way it's just a hard process/experience to have. Monday night I think I had what I guess you could call a breakdown, but maybe that also had to do with having to go to work today while presenting as male (I'm a substitute janitor for the summer, so when they need me I'm pretty sure I have to present as male - I'm working on figuring out that - if anything it will be mostly over once school starts soon), I don't know.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Anxiety

I've spent some time with my extended family the last couple of days, and it was good to see all of them, but being around lots of people, especially while presenting as male and them using male pronouns/my male name has caused the anxiety to start roaring again. Luckily it's almost over and then things will go back to relatively normal, but like I said before my goal is to someday get to the point where I'm not put in situations where I have to present as male anymore, for my own mental health. Sadly because we're staying at a relative's place this also means I'll probably be missing church tomorrow, which is sad because I wanted to show them Church was really important to me by being early and coming every week, but I'll hopefully still be able to attend ward family home evening on monday and if all else fails I can go again next Sunday.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Who I'm interested in dating right now

Nobody.

What I mean is that, now that I got all that stuff logiced out for what's possible for me, I'm not interested in pursuing a relationship in the near time future. I have other things on my plate right now (transition, college, and work mostly), which are really important to devote my full effort to.

I still want to strengthen the friendships I currently have and maybe meet new people, of course, however "friend" is as far as I'm comfortable letting any relationship go until I'm in a more (emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually, etc.) stable position, which will take quite a bit of time, I think. I don't mean to be negative about that, I genuinely do think I'm working towards a better place in all of those categories, but it's a process.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Full time/Church in femme

I tried going to church presenting as female today, in a singles ward in a city nearby that was far enough away I probably wouldn't know anyone. I'd like to think I passed okay, that people saw me as female, but I don't really know. Noone stared, which lol I guess is a start.

This seemed like a good step to take because, well first, ever since my family started using female pronouns, my anxiety has just been gone. Like just somehow it's gone from panic attacks every other day or so to not really having any besides minor ones every week if that. It's made such a difference that I was able to go off my anxiety medicine, which was nice because that one made me too much of a zombie, and it's hard to live life when you're constantly thinking about your thirst for brains.

Still though, GD decided to manifest itself in another way. I mean I think it's probably been there to the side of anxiety for a while, but now that anxiety is mostly under wraps I can start addressing the second most severe thing: depression.

I've been told that, for those that do transition, they often say that it's helped their GD very well, but hasn't changed their depression. This is partially evidenced by the high suicide rates of trans people before and after SRS - probably mostly just because life as a trans person is pretty hard, sadly in our culture right now. That's why transition is so discouraged for those that can manage their GD otherwise - it's pretty much necessary for some people, which is why I'm doing it - but it sucks, and can actually be really dangerous if I'm not careful. That's part of the reason I'm writing this blog - it really helps as a hopefully more healthy way to sort through those emotions, so they don't boil up and consume me. That's also the reason I'm pretty happy we started me on meds (I'm still taking my antidepressant), because it has made a noticeable difference. We may consider some kind of mood stabelizer or anti-depressant in the future as well if it seems needed, but this seems sufficient for now, I have bad reactions to many of them, and it makes sense to work through GD first, I think.

Anyway, sorry I start getting distracted when I'm facing writing about a topic that's really close to my heart. My hope was almost that, with pronouns and some level of transition, I'd slowly be able to ease into managing GD much better than I was. And for a while, I was. I was feeling way more motivated, typically got up around 7 or 8 instead of 10 or 11 (after going to bed around 11 or 12), starting to be much more outgoing, being way more proactive in my work, etc.

Then, we had a trans family-home-evening, where two MtF trans people came that were fully transitioned and still active in the church. It was amazing amazing amazing meeting them, but it caused me to sorta have lots of things come up to the front that I'd been pushing off for a while now that I didn't understand, specifically about my faith regarding my GD. Long story short I had a very detailed discussion with a good other trans LDS friend, who helped me sorta work through it. I came back and really started trying to face the things I didn't understand. This blasted the depression on, and I slept for like 12 or 13 hours, because I guess that's how I cope/process things. I also had to sorta work through a dangerously low point again which was scary and annoying, but it was manageable, and necessary, I think.

What I mean is that, I had to consider a bit of how I would feel if I continued to live as male. It just brought this depression and hopelessness on, so much that after a bit of discussion about how our goal was to improve so in the next life we could gain the highest glory and improve forever, I asked "what's the point of improving?" I just didn't see any at all. Any point to anything. Mostly I just wanted to sit and die, to crumble up into a little black ball and sit and be nothing for the rest of forever. Because I'm worthless, hate myself, hopeless, etc. Sorry that's kinda depressing, but that's how I feel when I start considering living as male. Even if it's just a male "with all the personality characteristics and traits that I have." Just something about being a male is just all that to me. I don't really want a family, kids, someone I love, "eternal improvement," etc. All of that just seems like, alongside some of the joy it would probably bring on some level as I devote my heart to those I love and care about, I would be putting myself through torture. And I don't desire to be putting myself in that situation, because it would severely limit my ability to serve those I care about, because I wouldn't be taking care of myself first. Before I started transition I did the best I could, but it wasn't ideal. On the other side, as I've started to transition, I've started to have hopes, goals for life, and really essentially just a desire to continue living. Lots of this I think is tied around shame, something that I'll someday write a post about.

Eventually I decided to write a lot more in my personal journal, and that really helped. I'm starting to parse through and figure things out now, I think. Sorry much of this is kinda vauge though, just much of the stuff here is personal/sacred to me so I'd rather not share it in a public blog.

However, coming to some better understanding had the side effect of me being a lot more comfortable with the decision to socially transition, which meant it felt that much more pertinent now. I was just kinda pushing this off and trying to kinda go through life normally and still just be presenting as female part-time mostly around friends, but finally, when my family went up to spend the night camping on the fourth of july, GD kinda came blasting back one morning. I think it also didn't help I was around other not-immediate family that wasn't using female pronouns as well, but I don't know. Either way, I started to wake up, and just felt this twisted rush of just stuff. Hating, horrible, sad stuff. Just, gah I don't want to describe it, but I basically just had to sit back down and fall back asleep for a few hours because it was too much. I had experienced something similar the past few days, but this extreme was something new. I think it had something to do with a testosterone surge or something, that might make sense, but either way it was so severe it was really dangerous to be continuing to cause. So, something had to change.

My decision was as follows: I need to go full time, IE: Present as female 24/7. My work and school is in such a way that I can do that, as is my family and home situation. My reason is that what seems to be causing these really bad depressive episodes is when I present as male, as often they come the morning right after. Every once and a while they come from other things (big life changes and working through how I feel with regards to GD and my religion being two examples), but those are generally pretty rare, and me presenting as male seems to be the most consistent. Also, when I'm presenting as male, it's much more difficult for those I'm around to use female pronouns, even if they've gotten so good at it they normally hadn't missed one in a month or so, and that's really triggering.

So, there are a few piratical hurdles I need to jump over first to make this happen.

First, I need to work on my hair, clothes, and makeup. Work on being presentable as female. Also laser hair removal, but now all that needs is time :) I have my makeup collection all bought and and am just figuring out styles I like now, wigs and hair I am still figuring out but I'm getting much better I'd like to think at least, and am going church clothes shopping for my birthday very soon :)

Second, I need to find a church that I can attend as female. That's why I went today to that singles ward, in a longish black skirt, black laceish flats, my wig, and a white and black top. I'm setting up a meeting with my new Bishop to help him understand my situation because I feel that's fair, and mostly to talk with him about whether I should attend Relief Society or Priesthood, or just leave after the second hour as I did today then come back when the mingle thing happens. Like I'm pretty sure that's what my FtM friend in my same college singles ward did without me realizing (I didn't know he was even trans until he shared his story this year). This has actually helped with Sunday anxiety quite a bit too - I was referred to with "this young lady is looking for a ward" (to a clerk when I got lost), and "her" and "she" flawlessly by everyone. Maybe it helped that they didn't even know me as male, and that I was extremely nervous so a little shy and didn't talk much, but still that is really really nice. I would be totally happy to present as such 24/7, which is my goal.

Third, I need to find a therapist. I'd like to think that isn't needed, but I really think it probably is. Journaling, exercise, working, programming, music, blogging and such are healthy, but there is too much emotion blasting around from all this stuff to really probably be manageable on my own, even with my support of family and friends I am so grateful for and lucky to have.

,,,and that's actually all of them, I think. Obviously I also need to work through shame, depression, social anxiety, anxiety in general, and other similar things that have developed because of/alongside GD, and am working on all those as a part of my transition/living life, but I feel like that's true for most anyone.

Like, I liked what a friend said at the LGBT center a bit ago. We're never "done" with transition. Even non-trans people don't pass 100% of the time. Sure all these things (hormones, laser hair removal, "first bra", etc.) are so exciting as they should be, but they aren't required to "complete" some arbitrary goal. For anyone, even those that are "fully" transitioned, they are different people 5 years from now than they are today. That's just kinda what life does to you. Are there are some fantastic people that, though they tried to transition, they will never "pass." That doesn't mean they're still not great people though. So though transition is important to address some legitimate struggles, it's far more important to be learning to accept myself, because transition or not I'm still me.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Laser Hair Removal

I had my first appointment of laser hair removal for my face and neck today :) It hurt, but will be so worth it. She said "your skin may be a little red the next couple days because your follicles don't like you right now" but it's fair because I don't like them either.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Who I'm attracted to

I've hesitated to even make a post about this. I've talked about an aspect of this briefly in Dysphoria Crush and elsewhere, but haven't really given the full explanation, because I'm not convinced that stereotypes like that are important. I mean I recognize that same sex attraction (aka gay or lesbian) is a very real thing for some people, as is being bisexual, straight, demisexual, pansexual, etc. I'm just really not sure which applies best to me, nor do I know if they'd necessarily be constructive to apply to me.

Part of this has to do with how my attractions work: For the most part, I could care less about appearance. For example with guys, I don't really know what someone means when they say "hot guy." I mean I guess I can recognize the traits we typically classify as "hot" (well groomed, muscular, 18-25 years old, probably without a shirt, very little body hair besides maybe a flavor-savor lol jk please no, etc.), but those physical traits don't really make that much of a difference to me. Like I remember when I first recognized that I had some attraction to guys, it was really relieving. I was like "I can actually say he's attractive. Like totes OMGoodness he's so hot" but not really referring to anyone. I just basically recognized that I had some level of attraction to males - part of that "some males I know fit that description of my 'perfect girl' better than any girl I've ever met" - which was a relieving thing. Like for example there were some guys that, when I met them in middle school or high school, I was just like "wow this guy is perfect, he's like what I've been looking for in a friend for so long" without realizing it was actually a "crush," if you want to call it that. It was never really a "physical attraction," just instead like this insanely strong emotional bond that decided it wanted to irrationally try and form. Though to be clear my close friends I consider family - and I'm not attracted to family - so these were more random guys that I would probably consider more acquaintances than anything else. Or like Johnny Depp, Jimmy Kimmell, or Steven Colbert, my "celebrity crushes" I guess you could say. Anyway sorry if all this makes any guys that knew me feel awkward just don't flatter yourself - I mean if it helps great whatever works for you - but just know for most people I didn't care that much either way. I was more focused on just figuring out my "other stuff," IE why in the world I identified as a girl. But still, just recognizing that I had these feelings of attractions to guys, and not shoving them in to a corner anymore, was a positive and relieving thing, I think.

This was also after I came to understand I was trans (identified as a girl internally), so I guess in that way maybe it made sense to me [girls are attracted to guys so I must be too would be my thought of maybe how the logic goes]. On the other hand, I remember when I realized I had some level of attraction to guys I was essentially like "f*** my life." (sorry about the language but I was in a lot of stress at the time) I was like, okay, I've got enough to worry about with Gender Dysphoria. Now I have another thing on my plate to worry about? K thx life.

This gets into my other point. I had no idea who it was okay to be attracted to. More specifically, since it's said that "it's not the feelings but how you act on them that matters", in the long run, who (from a religious standpoint) would it be okay for me to date, marry, possibly have kids/adopt with, etc.? I know that if I don't transition marriage to another female is probably okay (I've met guys with GD who are in temple marriages like this today), however I'm comfortable with the decision to transition and am doing so (see the last few posts for clarifications on why I think that's okay for me). But I had no idea how the doctrine works out for someone that's transitioned. Because, as I said in those posts staying in the church is a constant for me - I know it's true - so I want to do what's doctrinally right. And I know that the doctorine is pretty clear that same-sex marriage is breaking the law of chastity. But as I've mentioned before, I have no idea what that means in my case. My gender is female, but my sex is male. Thus, marrying a guy is probably same-sex marriage with respect to our sex. And marrying a girl is same-sex marriage with respect to our gender. The only person it makes sense is with another transitioned FtM person, but it's still difficult to know how the temple roles work in that case.

What I mean is that, in the LDS culture, there is sorta this goal of "temple marriage." The temple is where we baptize for the dead, perform family sealings for eternity, and make sacred promises to the lord and each other in marriage. It's called the "temple" in reference to the old temples in Jerusalem - we see it as The House of the Lord. One can only attend after being interviewed by their bishop and being found "worthy," which means that they follow the LDS standards: No coffee, drugs, tea or alcohol, no sexual intimacy outside of marriage, that they have a testimony of the savior, are baptized and given the gift of the holy ghost, etc. We don't make this restriction because the ceremonies and such we perform there are really "secret," instead they're just very sacred to us so we don't share them openly.

So the problem is that all the ceremonies performed in the temple are very gender specific. Especially the marriage one. In the case of trans people - even if we pass as our identified gender, in the LDS church's eyes we are still seen as our biological sex. Why this is I don't know, but through multiple letters from apostles to trans people we know that our leaders are aware of the situation, but it's just complicated. In the case of intersex people even more so, though I'm pretty sure it's all mostly just treated as a very individual thing with no "general" ruling, which I will trust church leaders have their good reasons for that right now. More pertinently though, this means that, even if they are transitioned and pass, a MtF person would have to fill a male role in the ceremonies, and a FtM person would have to fill a female role in the ceremonies. Besides being triggering, the physical effects of hormones and such could make that a pretty different thing for most people involved. Enough so that the stake president (local church leader sorta in charge at this stage) may just not be comfortable allowing the ceremony to take place at all, I don't know. There are just clearly many concerns that they'd have.

Also, I'm not sure I'm really that attracted to trans people. I guess it's the "perfect couple" in the sense that we would understand each other on the trans side of things in a way no non-trans person would, however of course beyond that we'd have to find similarities just like any other couple. And trans people are so rare that's really hard to do. Besides that, the whole "opposites attract" I think is really relevant here. It would be nice to relate to other trans people, but I feel like that makes more sense for friends (I have many trans friends I care about deeply) than it does for relationships. I feel like two trans people would be unbalanced, at least in my opinion. For those that it works well I'm happy for them and that's good, but in my case I think I would almost prefer a cis person because I'm ready to eventually transition and put this stuff behind me for the rest of my life, no offense to other trans people intended. Maybe they would feel the same way and it would work out, I don't know. But yea most of that would depend on if I ever meet a person that I feel like it could work anyway. Like alongside that right now I'm still just trying to find the kind of people I'm interested in/not interested in, because that feels like more important first.

*Edit - I've realized the above paragraph is actually really discriminatory towards trans-men. I apologize for that. The truth is there are basically as many different kinds of trans-men as men, because trans-men are men. So I suppose the point I've been getting at is more that, for me, I have some physical attraction towards men, but like not really much of a romantic attraction towards them, in terms of emotional connections and stuff, I think. This is true for men in general, including trans-men. So far, again things could change, I don't know, and I'm gonna try and avoid labeling myself for the reason of keeping an open mind because I don't know exactly what will happen in my future.

Anyway, so that's sorta my feelings on the MtF and FtM couple. It might work, but it still has quite a few complications (well I mean any couple does but specific to this situation), and personally I'm just not that attracted to FtM people. Specifically I'm much more attracted to more feminine males, and most FtM people I know are pretty masculine.

There's another side of all this though: I'm pretty sure I'm attracted to females.

Again, the pretty sure comes because I really don't fully understand my attractions. I would have to be in a relationship with someone to really know, and I've mostly dated girls that I wasn't attracted to as part of hiding all of these feelings. However, as I sorta alluded to in my Dysphoria Crush post, there are some girls that I feel this almost like crush-like attraction towards. Typically they are more masculine girls, and there is some level of "unhealthy," almost jealousy type attraction. Except now that I've started on transition and hormones, this jealousy aspect has hugely decreased. I no longer really have these overwhelming surges of "I want to be you." Instead it's just more like, "hey, I really like your makeup/style. I think it's cute" or "Where did you get that shirt I heart it so much" kind of thing. I'm also starting to learn that I have some kind of physical attraction to some girls that's more than just that jealousy thing. It's a much more "clean" feeling attraction that that gross jealousy stuff, just like, well I guess a "normal" attraction. If someone says "hey she's really attractive" I still don't have much of opinion because I don't know them at all first, but I am starting to learn that there are some physical and personality characteristics that I find attractive in girls. It's pretty rare that I find a girl that I am attracted to, and most girls attraction wise I could care less about, but there is certainly an attraction to some girls that exists there. For example my female celebrity crushes are probably Lauren Mayberry, Grimes (Claire Elise Boucher), Lorde, or Kat Dennings.

I don't really want to get too much more into what traits and such I personally find attractive because that feels like a pretty personal thing, and it really depends on the person. I also don't really want to discuss genitalia here because I feel that's equally as personal and sacred, however know that I'm factoring that into all my decisions here as well (because for example I know most guys are much less attracted to females that they learn have male genitalia). Back to the point of this post, so far the conclusion that I'm at is that I find some guys and girls attractive, and I think I could probably have a satisfying relationship with either, religious concerns aside.

But wait! You say. A while back you said "even the idea of say dating a girl repulses me - AKA I'm a straight female"!

Well, that's how I thought I felt at the time too. Because dating a girl is really triggering, if I feel they see me as male. The same is true for guys - I feel extremely uncomfortable in any kind of relationship with a male if I think they see me as a male. But the experiences I've had around some people while presenting mostly as female have been the opposite - it's why I think a relationship with a male or female could work for me. So that's why I'm (socially) transitioning first, I feel like I would just be very uncomfortable in a relationship otherwise. Some people are able to manage these relationships once they find someone they're attracted to, but I don't get that personally. It would be way too exhausting for me, which would be unhealthy for the both of us because I wouldn't really be that committed to it because I'd need too much time to heal from that exhaustion/anxiety/distress. Or the other way around: Because I'm still not that emotionally stable right now, I could get very dependent on someone fast. I understand that whole "clingy girlfriend" thing, that's described me at times. And that's also not a healthy relationship at all, for either of us. I need to learn to take care of and love myself before I can expect to love anyone else/be loved in a healthy way, I think. So I'm working on that, alongside with/while I transition, because transition helps with how I feel about myself on some levels.

Okay, so back to whether I want to date a biological guy, a biological girl, or a trans person.

Biological Guy: I'm pretty sure the LDS doctrine is clear that me pursuing marriage with a guy is same-sex (hence "sex" and not "gender" here) marriage, which is "breaking the law of chastity," IE wrong. The same is even more true with dating a MtF trans person, on the sex and gender levels. So I'm not interested in pursuing a relationship with a biological guy. To be clear that's a rule I feel I need to follow for myself, but is no reason for me to judge others - I know those in same-sex relationships that are very happy, and I'm happy for them. I don't have to fully agree with them to still be their friends, I feel like we all have more pieces of pie that are alike than not alike anyway.

Biological Girl: The doctrine is less clear here. If I choose not to transition, this is probably totally allowed. It would just be very difficult for me and for her to be going through gender dysphoria most likely for the rest of my life, so I would definitely come out to anyone that I was dating seriously before considering any long term commitments - helping make sure they understand how seriously GD will impact me for probably the rest of my life. I've explained this elsewhere though, and won't get into it in that much detail here because I plan on transitioning.

The other option here is transitioning, and then being in a relationship with a girl. At this point they would probably have to have same-sex attraction, as they would need to be attracted to me as a female to be interested in a relationship.

I've discussed this option in great detail with my Stake President and Bishop (local church leaders), asking what kind of reactions they feel would make sense/if it's okay or not from a doctrinal perspective. My Stake President's response was "you have agency, and it's not my position to tell you what to do." I laughed and agreed (he's awesome), however I explained I just more wanted to understand what kind of church repercussions I might expect if I was pursuing that kind of relationship. He said that he really can't promise how church leaders in the future will react, but that most Bishops would probably have some issue with two girls in his congregation being in a relationship with each other. It's "technically" not against the law of chastity, but externally looks wrong from what most understand the church standpoint to be. He concluded with saying that he can see why it's a little unclear though, that we have the power of personal revelation, and that he looks forward to a future email response from me when I have received an answer from the Lord. Again, he's awesome.

So I later went to discuss this with my Bishop. We talked about the three reasons why people typically are given church discipline:

1: They refuse to change. For example, someone could have a serious drinking problem, and refuse to try and stop. Drinking by itself can cause one to be subject to church discipline, but it's really the part about refusing to try and change that matters.

2: They are putting others in danger/harming others, for example abuse. I think he was saying this is also applicable if they are convincing others to do wrong. If someone thinks, say, smoking weed is really good for them, and starts convincing others to do so as well, there is a bigger problem than if it is just themselves struggling with a drug addiction.

3: It threatens the integrity of the church. This would be something like the ordain women leader - though it's okay for her to question some of what the leaders say, if she starts actively protesting and that causes others to question their faith/question whether or not they even want to consider joining the church, there is a problem. In a way this goes under 2, but I think it's different enough to warrant it's own category.

This is really where the case of me marrying another female is applicable. Even if it's not technically wrong, if others see that my Bishop/SP/The temple is endorsing a marriage between two females, it sends a message that's very contrary to established doctrine (same-sex marriage is breaking the law of chastity). This will most likely cause some people to question their testimonies and what they know is true. Thus it threatens the integrity of the church, which is why, sadly, it probably wouldn't be allowed. Basically it has all the concerns explained above with the MtF to FtM marriage in the temple for the trans person in the relationship, alongside looking externally like a same-sex relationship. If it would be possible to simply get married in such a way that we just sorta "quietly" went through the temple and not many people knew about it that might be okay, but that's not that possible in our modern day. So a civil marriage might be the best I could do, but it's good to know that that's still an option of some sorts nonetheless.

All of the above is also true for dating FtM people, as well as any other kind of trans person that is biologically female (say gender-queer, bigender, non-binary, neuter, etc.). Pursuing a relationship with another trans person would also look more "right" from the standpoint of people's reactions in church, so it might be preferable, but I think I'd personally be more comfortable with a biological female. I'm pretty open to whatever happens though. Mostly I just want to find someone that I'm attracted to, can relax and have fun with, can have meaningful conversations with, has similar standards, and we think the relationship could work well and be a positive thing for both of us. If I do find someone I think meets that description, it's still very possible it just won't pan out in the long run, and I'll repeat for a while, but the hope is eventually I'll find someone with whom we can make life work as best we can. As with any of these options there would still be many things to discuss and work through first (me being trans and whether or not we want to have kids/adopt being some of the biggest ones), but I feel like that's true with any relationship.

So that's nice to have that understanding and goal set out, it's nice to know what my options are. Of course I don't expect to actually find anyone for quite some time, and there's quite a bit of relationship preparation work I can do in the meantime (like learning to better love myself, learning how to form healthy and balanced friendships, learning how to assert my opinions in a non-argumentative way, learning to meaningfully get through arguments, building Christlike attributes, etc.) alongside transition, but at least I know who it's okay to look for now. It's a little counter intuitive that the best relationship doctrinally for me besides with someone who is FtM is a lesbian one, but hey, it is what it is.

Church

I went to church today, still presenting as male. Though it was a good experience (I was a substitute and helped my Mom take care of the primary kids including being assigned to read a story to and draw a picture with this autistic kid since he'll often misbehave in class), it was very triggering again. Once I got home my parents and family having been awesome in using correct pronouns and "Dani" for a while now, and that helped prevent things building to panic attack level, but I was still feeling really worn out, and just not really wanting to talk to anyone while presenting like this (as male).

The same thing happened when I hung out with 2 MtF trans friends yesterday and at the north star conference a few weeks ago - I still was presenting as male, so I had little desire to even be there. I still try and make the best with what situation I'm given in life right now, but it's just so exhausting. Not to mention that pretty much eliminates any desire to actually be outgoing and spend time with others. I still do because it's necessary to stay healthy, and I care about my family and friends, but it's just always been hard while presenting as male. It's interesting though - there is a very tangible difference between when people use my male name and male pronouns and Dani and female pronouns. I mean now that my family is using female pronouns and Dani the panic attacks have basically stopped. Maybe I've explained this before but I can't just stress how much that helps, for reasons I don't fully understand. There is still quite a bit of distress related to presenting as male, but it's much more manageable. Yet things like Church where they refer to me as male and my male name are a real challenge for me because of that triggering aspect, as is clothes and such being pretty gender specific there. That's why I've been working for a while towards getting to a place where I can present as female at church (at a new singles ward) and elsewhere, because then it's more reasonable/easy for most people to use the right pronouns and name, but it just takes time.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Why you shouldn't transition

Okay so I admit the name of this post is a little biased. My point was simply that I don't want anyone to think that because I'm transitioning it's the right thing for them as well. My hope is this isn't the case for anyone - since most likely most people reading this blog (if any) aren't transgender, but still, my reason for saying that is twofold.

1: I haven't transitioned yet. Thus, I can't really say "It's worked for me." It's helped so far, but it's a process, and there are other options (like therapy, only hormones, meds, etc.) that could probably help about as much. So it's not fair to say I recommend transition for anyone else, since I haven't even been through it fully myself.

2: Being transgender is a very individual thing. This is a really important point to stress. As I discussed in the Why I'm Transitioning and Spirit Gender posts, for some people social transition is not the best option for them right now. This could be because they're married (so they have other commitments transition would affect), because their body is in such a way they don't have a very good chance of "passing" as their identified gender, or simply because they feel another path is better for them. All of these are perfectly okay, and none is better than another. It's simply about finding what combinations of treatment options works best for you right now. This can change with time/as life changes as well, which is also perfectly okay.

To reiterate, my reason for sharing the last few posts was to explain why I feel transition is best for me, as a form of record for myself and to help others understand that decision. If sharing this has caused anyone to change their minds and choose transition for themselves, I want you to reconsider that decision, and think about what factors existed before my story that are more important. I'd really like to think I'm not a powerful enough writer/this blog is obscure enough/I can kinda ramble at times/etc. that it's not having such an influence, but I just wanted to be clear.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Why I'm Transitioning - Part 3

The last post was getting kid of long, so I split it into two.

So at that wish-washy stage, I shared my testimony about and then talked with my Bishop about falling back to what you know, to first doubt my doubts before doubting my faith.

Really, there were only two constants I could come up with.

I know the LDS church is true. I can't deny that. As a result, I didn't want to do anything that was clearly against policy. This includes SRS, because I would also like to go to the temple as endowments and such are an important part of my salvation (even if marriage has to wait for the next life). I want to stay active and in good standing with in the church, and continue to strengthen my relationship with Christ.

I identify as female. It really doesn't seem to be changing. As a result, I knew I needed to treat the distress this caused me in some way. I knew that HRT works for many people, and the church has no official stance on HRT. That it's basically just seen as a medical treatment (like blood pressure medication or something), and is okay, while of course working closely with church leaders. I also knew of people that were very active in the church and married, and able to more successfully fill their male roles in both through HRT alleviating some of the distress.

So I was pretty sure that HRT makes sense for me. The challenge is that it also makes me infertile, but I eventually reached the point where I was comfortable with just adoption, if I ever would have kids in this life (not until marriage of course). That right now mental health is more important for me to be safe, and hormones help with that.

I also came to understand that, for every person I've met that struggles with GD that I've talked to that got married, it didn't go away after marriage. That it came back at times just as strong as ever. Many of them learned ways to mostly deal with it most of the time, but it was still an extremely difficult trial for them and their wives. Some of them had to present as their identified gender some of the time. Some of them went on HRT. More recently I've learned that for many it was still so difficult that it was hard to even get out of bed at times/focus in work and otherwise, because of how overwhelmed with emotion they felt. One couple I talked with he wasn't really able to advance that well in his career either because of the distress GD caused. He found ways to be self employed and do his best, but GD was such a daily part of his life it was hard. I also met a few people that GD broke up their marriage, often after they had kids.

Thus the other constant became that, before I get married, I will make sure to tell that person that I still struggle with GD very much. Because many I've heard from say they made the mistake of thinking they had GD under control, to learn that they didn't and it was actually just receding for a time. That "pushing it away" never helped in the long run, and they had to find other ways to address it.

As an aside, my heart really goes out to these people. I don't think many people understand the sacrifice these husbands and wives go through. The husbands give up living authentically as themselves for all the distress I described in the previous post, because transition would make their wives understandably too uncomfortable. The wives also compromise amazingly, holding princess parties for their husbands, sperm banking to preserve kids so the husbands can go on HRT, talking often about a very difficult topic and trying to understand their spouse and his struggles, letting him present as female part time, etc. All because they love each other.

Still, I'm very iffy on intentionally putting myself and a spouse in such a position for the rest of my life. Many of them were acting on the limited information they had, assuming they had their GD under control and it was something that could be cured. In retrospect they learned that was an incorrect assumption, and so are doing the best they can with where they're at now. But knowing all of that I'm not sure if I could make a similar marriage commitment.

All of this means there are a few decisions that are clear to me.

First, I know I want to go on HRT. I have no medical reasons that I know of for being unable to take it, and so far it combined with a level of transition has helped those panicky things be less often and me have more energy and motivation to go through life. If anything it also helps me be more comfortable in my own skin. I also will do laser hair removal (on my face and neck), because I hate shaving. That's another thing like HRT that is just to manage my GD, and not right out transition. I am comfortable with adoption as well if I do choose to have kids later in life if I get married as well, but that's something I would have to discuss in great detail with my spouse. I also will sperm bank later if I can afford it and if it's still viable because I'm not infertile yet.

Second, regardless of marriage and transition, I want to live my life the best I can, with friends and family and other things like work I care about and can devote my life to. I'm very service oriented, so my goal in my career is to serve and help others (in whatever way my career in CS lends to), which is also true with my family and friends. This is all kinda a given, but I still feel is important to state since it really affects what other decisions I choose to make.

With these decisions made, I could either:

1: Not transition, and remain presenting as male, just looking a little more feminine than most guys being on HRT. The truth is I went through male puberty, so this is sadly probably always possible if I want. I then would go through life, hopefully doing the best I can in accomplishing my goal of living a good life serving others. I would also stay active in the church, and may or may not marry in this life. I don't know, it really depends and I'd take things as they come.

2: Transition socially. This includes HRT and laser hair removal, but also growing out my hair, practicing with makeup, slowly easing into more feminine clothes, and asking others to use female pronouns and "Dani". I feel I could remain in good standing with the church while doing so, but it's still a very difficult thing to do because it's such a huge change. And I have no idea what possibilities for marriage exist on this route. I don't know, it really depends and I'd take things as they come.

So with those stated, I feel it makes sense to choose number two. This probably isn't too much of a surprise given the title of these posts, but my reason is partially because I feel like it makes sense to at least try. I'm pretty much out to everyone so any social "damage" is already done, so it doesn't seem like I have much else to lose in trying social transition, not having any family commitments or anything. Worse case scenario it doesn't work for me, I detransition, and I find other ways to cope with life.

More importantly is my goal I stated above of living my life in a way that serves and helps others. That's what really pushed me over the edge, so to speak: I came to realize that, due to the mental health concerns and exhaustion presenting as a male creates, I'm actually better able to serve others while trying to present as female. Transition is obviously not an immediate fix, and either way requires me to work through shame and the mental health issues that I currently struggle with. But I feel like, with time, it has the best chance to help me be functional enough to best serve others. There's quite a bit more I'd like to say on this topic, but this seems sufficient for now.

Why I'm Transitioning - Part 2

The last two posts explained why I feel someone with GD that is LDS hypothetically could transition and be comfortable with that choice from a doctrinal standpoint, but I didn't explain why I feel it's the best option for me.

There are a few things related to GD that have given me reason to consider transition. Many of these are intertwined with mental health, which regardless of what I choose to do about GD I will need to work through as best I can as well.

1: The panic times. TRIGGER WARNING. There have been moments where the emotions of hating being male have overwhelmed me, and I've took a razor and made slices all down my arm because I hated myself/body, multiple times I tried to remove my own testicles and bled out pretty severely, tried plucking all my pretty thick facial hair, simply had a panic attack and violently shook, etc. Not only are these extremely unpleasant, they are also coupled with a desire to do something. Basically, so much anxiety builds up typically related to GD that I just sit there and violently shake for a bit. Then the self hate is still raging, and I get really irrational, and decide that I need to harm myself in some way to let that out. I know, it's really irrational, and I'm working on it (I haven't cut myself in a while, and got through a panic attack last night relatively well), but it still sucks.

The thing is, that by itself is something that happens to people that don't have GD. It's often labeled as an anxiety disorder, and can be triggered from social interaction, family, social, school, or job stressors, because of traumatic experiences, etc. Either way, they have good treatments for this, which include ways of managing your stress (say through focusing on doing something important to me like school), and meds. I'm on an anti-anxiety med that is take as needed, and it really does help. For a while I didn't have panic attacks. This was while I presented in my wig and more feminine clothes daily, and people referred to me as Dani and with female pronouns. Now that school is over till fall and my wig/hat doesn't really look good in the summer (I'm working on that), these things that helped me be at peace with myself are gone. My family typically uses male pronouns and my male name because they're "not comfortable with female pronouns," which they've known me for a while as male so I can't blame them too much. However, the panic attacks have came back, coupled with these increased desires to self-harm. Explaining this to them my family agreed just last week to start using female pronouns and Dani, and it made a tangible difference, plus I'm just not extremely worn out after spending any time with them now.

2: Expression deprivation. This really gets to the heart of the issue: I have two types of dysphoria - social dysphoria and body dysphoria. My body dysphoria is represented in those violent irrational moments, but the truth is, the majority of dysphoria for me comes from social dysphoria. I've even had moments where I look at my reflection and am relatively okay with it, if only others perceived me as female. The best way I can describe this is that I very strongly identify as female. In those times where I have felt okay expressing this (at school while presenting as female and around close friends mostly), I act pretty feminine. My mannerisms, way of talking, etc. show accurately how I feel inside. For example, as I mentioned earlier when a friend was interviewing me about these trans things for a documentary he wanted to make, at the end he said "if I had any doubts that you were female they are gone now. You even think like one".

Yet, when I feel like I'm in a place where it's not okay to act in a more feminine way, I start getting pretty clammed up internally. I have a more maleish self I can present as needed, but it's extremely exhausting to do so. It's like being an actor on a stage 24/7. Being authentic to yourself in this way is important for me, I feel for that reason. This being drained of energy manifests in those anxiety attacks, depression, lack of desire to be around anyone, etc. For example, before I started transition, you could probably describe me best as an introvert. I enjoyed the time I spent around others, but it drained me so much I had to spend a significant amount of time by myself just rebuilding that energy - typically doing homework, listening to music, programming, self study, writing, etc. However as I started to transition, I was amazed at how much extra energy I had. Being around people wasn't nearly as draining, because I didn't feel like I needed to put on a mask. As a result, there were often times when I wasn't around others and I felt a little sad and looked for friends to spend more time with because I wanted to. This had never happened before, and was ontop a life where I was spending far more time (like 5 or 6 hours a day) around others. I understood what's meant by being an extrovert - being around others actually energized me. I still needed my alone time (typically on the train) of course, but it was far less needed.

3: My future goals. My goal for life was to go on a mission, come back, graduate college, get married in the temple to a female, and raise a family in the gospel that I loved and cared about deeply. I feel like these were reasonable goals too. For the first one, I took notes daily in seminary, I attended mission prep for 2 or 3 years, read my scriptures daily and prayed daily, worked on developing christlike attributes, etc. I know the church is true, and as a result wanted to share it with others. I feel that was also expected of me, which since I wanted to go on a mission that wasn't a negative cultural pressure at all. Yet, when I was interviewing for sending in my mission papers, I really felt like I needed to be honest with my Bishop with these feelings I'd been having. So I broke down into tears and explained him as best I could what I'd been feeling, which after a few meetings of just getting comfortable sharing these things I said "the truth is, I just want to be a girl." I've shared this in more detail elsewhere, but long story short, he felt it made sense to try some therapy first. I agree - I doubt I was at a stage where I could have functioned that well on a mission, because poor mental health that existed alongside/partially because of gender dysphoria. I had still finished my papers though, and was ready to send them in, but they thought it made sense to wait a bit. I even interviewed with my SP (part of the process), and he felt that I was ready, but it made sense to, as I understood it at that stage, "learn to accept myself as male." Especially while I was on my mission presenting as such. I hadn't told my parents at this point, so I was driving with my Dad in the car to turn them in when, before we did, I burst down in tears and explained that I needed to wait, and explained this the best I could. Me and him and my Mom had many discussions after this, and the consensus (they even told me before all of this) was that, regardless of what path I choose, they would love me. That even if I decided to transition they would still let me live in their home (because it's cheaper). They were very clear that they wouldn't agree with my decision, but would love me regardless.

So, sadly, a mission was no longer really an option for me at this point. I would still love to, but after a year and a half of working through these things I'm still struggling to the point I feel it's iffy as to whether or not I could serve like that - especially since I would be presenting as male 24/7 (that's kinda required of a missionary). This was really difficult for me to accept. The line "every worthy, able young man should prepare to serve a mission" [emphasis added] helped, but I still felt quite a bit of shame over this. I think really the conclusion to all of this was when I met with my Stake President a bit ago, and his words were "You shouldn't feel any guilt over not being able to serve a mission. Some people aren't able to at 19, and you have other things (GD) you are working through right now. Both me and Bishop understand it wasn't an option for you at this time, and that's simply the reality of the situation. It's perfectly okay."

The reason I brought all of that up is that that was my biggest goal I was working towards at that point in my life. With it sorta gone, I struggled for a while learning what I wanted out of life, since my plans were so drastically changed (having GD and all). At this point I recognized that I probably have some attraction to males as well, but the reason I primarily have GD and not SSA is because, even if I could hypothetically marry my dream male in the temple and have kids, I still wouldn't be comfortable in that relationship at all unless I felt like he perceived me as female. Also, I'm pretty sure I have some level of attraction to females - but that's a lot less important to me than working through all this gender stuff first, I think - because I wouldn't be comfortable in a relationship with a female that perceived me as male for the same reason.

At this point, I had learned to accept that GD was simply a "normal" thing some people struggle with, and that I shouldn't feel any shame over it because it's not something I could really cause. I was working very heard on learning to accept myself as a (possibly more feminine but that's okay) male that struggled with GD, a male that still wanted to accomplish important things in his life (like a career in theoretical computer science, marriage, a family, etc.). I really did try hard to do that, for about 7 or 8 months. But it reached a point where I was like "okay, I accept this. I accept me. But there's still this legitimate issue that I need to address, because so far things aren't working." Eventually I got so depressed around this I tried different meds, ended up in a Psych Ward because I was a danger to myself, and really struggled in school because I didn't really see a point to living more as male, or really living more period.

At this same time, I learned of HRT. I explain this in more detail elsewhere, but basically it's where I would take a low dosage of male hormone blockers and female hormones in an attempt to help me function better as male - because my brain is finally getting the hormones it expects. It's what many people that are married and so they can't transition do, and I thought it made sense for me. It's a really complicated process to start on those though, so I eventually started on anti-androgens, but didn't start on female hormones because I thought you needed a recommendation from a therapist after working with them for 3 months. We found one therapist that was specialized in GD and may have been willing to give that kind of recommendation, but she was very expensive and not covered by insurance - I tried filing the claim and arguing with the insurance people etc. but to no avail. My parents also understandably weren't comfortable with her, and they were helping pay for therapy which I really appreciated so long story short she wasn't really an option. We tried many other people, but most of them were more oriented towards the repetitive side/helping accept myself as a male "with all the characteristics and personality traits I have," IE possibly a more feminine male, but it never really helped. I mean, this is why I put "tomboy" in my blog description - the truth is I'm into programming and D&D and such and really not that feminine. But for some reason I still can't really explain, that sometimes help a little, but it's still just very draining presenting as male. For example, in an amazing conversation with my Bishop he helped me understand that the world has imperfect labels (say of male and female), but that we are all made equal through Christ's atonement. That Christ is the perfect example of every characteristic, including empathy, kindness, sensitivity, etc. Yet still, when I focus on trying to convey myself as the person that has the personality and such I identify as because that's okay and labels are imperfect anyway and work towards becoming more like Christ, just yea that aspect of being male becomes really exhausting for some reason. I could try to give many more examples, but that's really what I learned. That somehow when I present as male (in whatever way I choose to do so) it's really exhausting, yet when I present as female in a way that I'm comfortable with it's much less so/at times even a pretty positive thing. Yet presenting as male is something I've never been comfortable with.

At this point, I was going back and forth a ton on what I wanted to do. I would get into these phases where I wanted to learn to accept myself as male, but then get so suicidal I would avoid that for a time, and think about transition. On the flipside I came out to friends as transgender, and learned that proper pronouns and using the name Dani really helped. Shame is deeply tied into this as well, but that deserves a separate post. I also delved very heavily into the doctrine of this wanting to understand what was right and wrong with respect to treating GD, and, as explained in the last two posts, found pretty much nothing, besides SRS banning going to the temple. I have a strong desire to have female genitalia, and hate my genitals, but I feel like social dysphoria is more severe that a social transition may be enough. Maybe. I was really going back and forth for a while on what I wanted to do, and learning a lot, but not really getting anywhere. Then I had this conversation with my sister, explaining to her where I was at, and her thoughts were "I feel like you need to make a decision, and stick with it. Because going back and forth is harmful, and with most things in life eventually we just need to act on what limited information we have. Once you make that choice you can always go back and doubt anything you do, but that's not really that constructive." Eventually it just comes down to making the best choice based on limited information, and moving forward just doing what you can do. I good non-transitioned friend with GD helped me understand this as well.