Sunday, February 23, 2014

Pronouns and Name

So just briefly, I'm out to all my close friends at college now, and coming out to siblings today. I'm seriously terrified of their reaction, as an understatement, but we'll see.

Also all of my friends are all referring to me as "Dani" and trying their best to use female pronouns!:)! Like it is happy day. It's a process of course (knowing me as ____ and using male pronouns) , but one I'm so glad to be finally having :)

I CAME OUT TO MY SIBLINGS (who I am very close to) AND THEY REACTED WONDERFULLY WELL LIKE TOTES TOTES TOTES YAY LOTS AND LOTS. Also one of the first questions my little bro had was related to attraction to guys, "Have you ever been in (my sisters') 'hottie pottie.'" Just Lol :)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Hormones, Part 2

So basically hormones take a long time. I mean I really was willing to start them about last July/August, but I thought you needed a referral from a therapist after working with them for three months. So I fished around for a long time with different therapists, and blew threw lots of money doing that thinking it was necessary. Long story I've probably told elsewhere. Then after November came around and my last therapist had just dumped me after saying he "morally disagrees with the hormone therapy and anything related to transition," I was very frustrated that I had decided I was pretty comfortable with transition as of June, but hadn't made much of any progress. So I finally just decided to forgo therapy (after all that headache) and try meeting with an Endo.

Luckily around August I talked with my family doctor and we started on Anti-Androgens. That helped.

Anyway, then the first one I met with wasn't actually an Endo so we just canceled the appointment then and there, which was really nice of him that there wasn't any fee. The next one we had an appointment set up for December 27th, and so for about a month I was like counting down the days until I could finally start meeting with him. Kinda thinking of it as "my late Christmas present," since taking steps towards being on hormones was really the only thing I wanted for Christmas. Then about December 20th I got a call from them saying "we don't do that kind of thing (referring to trans HRT) here." So I got obviously depressed, I think I've talked about that elsewhere.

Anyway though, we scheduled another appointment for February 6. Again I was counting down the days.

In a way I suppose it's somewhat good it took that long though. I mean, AA's I'm on right now don't have much of any risk of infertility, but starting on estrogen does, so my plan was to bank sperm. Well after burning through most all the money for non-productive therapy, we could no longer afford sperm-banking, so I was thinking about what I wanted to do a lot.

I came to the conclusion (after talking it over a lot with friends and family) that it made sense to start hormones, and forego sperm banking, until I could afford it (if ever, depending on my fertility once I can afford it). Since I guess sometimes permanent infertility can take a couple years, I've got to be putting my money into college right now, and hormones are a rather important thing right now for my own mental well-being.

So with that decision made, I finally was ready to meet with my Endo February 6 (oddly the same one that my mom met with like 30 years ago), hoping to start HRT ASAP. It was a good meeting (I was so nervous), and first we had a physical examination kind of thing. He said I had quite a bit of legitimate breast tissue, more than the average person on AAs, which was good to hear since before starting them in August I had no breasts at all. This is one of those cases where FtM people can't relate at all, lol. Then he said that he'd like to run a few more tests first, and would like to get a letter from my Psyciatrist. So I'm hopefully meeting with my Psychiatrist soon (I have an appointment for the end of March, but am on the waiting list so I can mostly likely come earlier. If not it might be possible to just have him send a letter then pay over phone, since he already wrote a similar one just a few months ago.), and then I'll meet back with the Endo around the start of March.

So it's frustrating being ready to transition since July, but not even starting on hormones until March/later. But what can you do. Hopefully things are moving forward now at least.

Also my "Estradiol by tandem mass spectrometry" test got a 19.2, which I think is normal (if not low) for males. Disappointing, but not unexpected.

Hormones, Part 1

First a brief introduction for those that don't know what's the deal with hormones: Basically, hormones are what differentiate males from females physically. I mean there's the brain stuff (relevant in mine and other transgender people's case) and the genitals which develop at different times, but once a baby is born the genitals produce hormones, which is what causes the actual physical changes.

First, puberty is just the time hormones' effects really kick into gear. Before then males and females are mostly the same (besides sex organs and the brain), which is why it's argued that it's ideal for transgender people to transition before the onset of puberty: if HRT (hormone replacement therapy) starts then, transgender adolescents will simply go through the puberty of their identified gender, and externally look pretty much no different than any other female in the case of MtF, and male in the case of FtM.

Specifically, in general males have a little bit of estrogen, and a lot of androgens (AKA testosterone). Androgens cause muscle growth, more male-like fat patterns, and a more blocky "maleish" face. They also can cause a more greasy face (where acne comes from) voice deepening, facial and body hair growth, and an increased male sex-drive (exactly what the difference is in sex drives honestly I'm not sure).

For females, they generally have a little bit of androgens, and a lot of estrogen, which varies according to the menstrual cycle. Estrogen causes more female like fat patterns (breasts, hips, etc.), a softer more "feminine" face, and softer, more fragile and clear skin. Acne can also be caused from changes here as well I think. Then there's the emotional (where PMS comes from) and sexual side effects.

Both hormones also help promote bone growth (I think), and obviously there's variation in everyone for how much hormones they have, and how these changes affect them. For example, I went through male puberty and had higher than average androgen levels (and normal estrogen levels for a male), but at 19 my voice is about as high as most younger teenagers - to the point people either think I'm much younger than I am or even refer to me as ma'm or think I'm my mom every time I answer the phone. Yet I also have rather thick body hair, and could probably grow a full beard if I wanted to.

To be clear I'm not an expert on any of this either, please consult your doctor if you have any medical concerns.

But so the idea is that with MtF transgender people (where I'm at), they take Anti Androgens (AAs) and Estrogen (E) to get their hormones to normal female levels. With time (a month to 2 or 3 years depending on the person) this can have rather good effects on helping pass-ability as the desired gender.

For those that don't desire to transition (because of being married or other things), simply the brain receiving hormones that it's expecting has very relieving effects. It doesn't completely eliminate the feelings, but those I've heard from that have done MtF HRT (on low doses to limit the physical changes) have expressed that it helps them feel more at peace with their female self. So they feel more comfortable expressing that part of them, but transition type-things also don't seem as pertinent because there's not as much emotional distress. In other words it helps them function better while still presenting as male, which seems to be the best treatment option for those that transition isn't an option but are still really struggling with Gender Dysphoria.

For those that transition isn't really an option but also can't be on hormones because of medical circumstances my heart goes out to though - it's a very difficult situation to be in.

For those that some level of transition is possible and desired, generally higher doses of E are sought out that maximize the feminizing effects. As far as I understand it male hormones are very effective for FtM people, and besides top surgery (to undo irreversible breast growth) are the main aspect of transition. For MtF people hormones are nice because of the changing of body fat distribution (so breast start growing, faces get softer, etc.), but they don't generally have as significant of an effect, because many of the irreversible male changes have already taken place. Personally I'd say the emotional effects are very nice though, even just with AA's I've been more moody, but I don't mind that. It finally feels like what I'm supposed to feel. Besides those effects unfortunately facial hair growth requires laser hair removal or Electrolisis (it doesn't go away with HRT) and voice deepening is irreversible.

Anyway, with that out of the way, my goal is to eventually start on HRT, as part of my desire to socially transition.

Same-Sex Marriage

I guess it would eventually be helpful to throw my opinion about Same-Sex Marriage out there.

First I'd like to say that, for what it's worth, I'm an unmarried SSA MtF trans* person that has pretty much never been in a relationship. So I'm speaking completely outside my field of expertise.

Recently, The LDS Church and 4 other major religious organizations filed this brief collectively to The United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

Though I disagree with some of it, I think the conclusion is worth quoting:
Marriage, understood as the union of one man and one woman, remains a vital and foundational institution of civil society. The government’s interests in continuing to encourage and support marriage are not merely legitimate but compelling.

No other institution joins together two persons with the natural ability to create children for the purpose of maximizing the welfare of such children. No other institution strives to ensure that children have the opportunity of feeling a sense of security and being raised in a stable household by the mother and father who conceived them.

Undermining the husband-wife marital institution by redefining it to include same-sex couples will, in the long term, harm vital child-welfare interests that only the husband wife definition can secure. The result will be more mothers and fathers concluding that the highest end of marriage is not the welfare of their children but the advancement of their own life choices.

We know, from personal experience over numerous decades of ministering to families and children, that more focus on satisfying adult needs will not benefit vulnerable children. The societal ills caused by the deterioration of husband-wife marriage will only be aggravated if the State cannot reserve to marriage its historic and socially vital meaning.
[paragraph separation added - this was all one paragraph]

I think the continued decrease of focus on children in marriage is one of the most harmful things society has done to date. I don't mean to say marriage is only about children (because there are certainly other positive things that can come of it), but I do feel that the protection and welfare of children - the third, innocent party in marriage - needs to be much more seriously considered. I know too many children that have struggled with divorce of their own parents, my mum and closest friend included. This isn't to say divorce should never happen of course either because there's certainly cases where it's rather necessary, but just that any definitions of marriage that try to define it as

"A mutual cooperation between two parties to be terminated at any time"

Is a very bad idea. We are dealing with peoples lives here.

Along with that, though I feel like temple marriages will only ever be between a man and a women (because of religious beliefs that are valid in that religious context), I do feel that it would be helpful to give same-sex marriages the same rights (tax deductions, housing benefits, etc.) that opposite-sex couples have. Even to the point as redefining marriage as between any two parties. Because I do feel that there are some terrible opposite-sex and same-sex parents: say, that abuse their children. There are also some fantastic loving same-sex and opposite-sex parents, I'd include my wonderful (opposite-sex) parents among them.

Mostly I think children deserve to be born into a loving household, even if they have to be adopted, or come from single or same-sex parents. That loving biological opposite-sex parents are probably ideal, but this world being imperfect allows for other adapted circumstances to work as well.

So that's why I feel like Same-Sex Marriage rights should only be promoted while also having an increased emphasis on the importance of children in marriage. Because they're really the relevant party.

My two cents.