Trip to Bristol

For the last few months I have been sat on tenterhooks wondering what would happen. I have not been the biggest fan of the psychological referral process of transition as to me it feels like I have to validate myself and my existence. The closest analogy I can think of is end of year exams which are make or break. As I need to transition I have jumped through the required hoops.

This week I attended a referral consultation for my second referral for reassignment surgery. So off I went to Bristol to jump through more hoops. As usual I am early and end up sitting in the waiting room with some guy ranting about an alien invasion from Mars that is happening and nobody does anything about. It is at this point I want to get the hell out of there. Instead I absorb my attention into a game on my phone.

The appointment itself was the usual questions and double checking the case notes. The guy is kind enough not to press for details as he had actually bothered to read the notes. Thirty minutes later he told me the hoop jumping is over and my surgeries should be in 6-9 months time. Three months of that I am busy with various Pride activities across the south west of England so that time is going to shoot by.

With top surgery I was able to leave my past self in the past. Now I can finally start thinking of my future self as I can see a light at the end of the tunnel where I can truly be me. It does not change the fact being transgender, whatever aspect of that umbrella, is still treated as a mental health problem. Sure it causes mental health problems by the bucket load, but in itself being transgender is not a mental health issue and should not be seen as such.

 

 

 

© JG Farmer 2016

The Operation

The Operation

 

Taken from my incoherent rambling of a diary for Monday 28 September 2015

To be honest I don’t remember that much. It was still dark when my friend and I left for the hospital and the roads were peaceful. Just as well as we were both tired from the previous night.

 

On arrival I booked in and was taken to my room for the next 24 hours or so. A flurry of people came in and told me stuff, can I remember any of it – not a thing. I ordered food for later in the day, undoubtedly vegetarian as I don’t eat meat that much and probably a bucket of coffee. No coffee since the day before and I know me well enough to know I would have been as edgy as a cat on a hot roof. We were told, so my friend tells me, I was going to theatre for 9.30am but didn’t go until 12. I was back by 2:30pm judging by his post on Facebook.

 

I must have dozed off as they woke me up to give me the anaesthetic, after that the next thing I know was talking to my mate and it was all done. I felt like I had been hit by a wrecking ball but was too groggy to make much sense of anything. The night was one of interrupted sleep as the nurse had to do regular obs on my sugars as I am a diabetic and some painkillers when needed.

 

The procedure can be found here http://transurgery.com/chest-reconstruction/double-incision-technique

 

Mr Yelland, the surgeon, made the cool dude list on Tuesday morning when he came in to sign me out. His tie was superb. Anyone who knows me will know, that means I was back to my normal self even though I physically felt like I had been demolished. So it was home for a week of rest and healing before the post op appointment.

Omens and Eclipses

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Written at some point on the night of 27 September 2015

Travelling down to Hastings was event free, the conversation easy and nicely distracting from what was going to happen the next day. We stopped at Cobham Services for coffee and sinful donuts. Donuts are a very rare treat for me so they always taste awesome.

It was getting dark by the time we were driving through Kent to East Sussex with the aroma of hops teasing our noses. I had forgotten the utter deliciousness of that. I must have drifted into my memories a bit, as the next thing I know was a glorious reflection of the full moon shimmering on the English Channel and we were nearing the end of the journey.

My friend dropped me off with the friend I was staying with. Again easy conversation and a chilled out atmosphere and I am too calm, I know I am too calm. Tomorrow I am having surgery and I’m not even feeling a slight sense of nervousness, just an amazing sense of calm that life is beginning to go the way it should be.

We watched the lunar eclipse. Light pollution in Hastings is so much less than in Swindon. The darkness of the sky made so many more stars visible and the colour of the moon was a deep blood red. A truly blood moon and prophetic to a Pagan like me. Blood moons are omens of an end and a change in life. I wasn’t going to watch it as I knew it would set my mind into thinking.

Thinking, oh yes, the thoughts started coming thick and fast. Back in bed for another nap before leaving for the hospital – sleep wasn’t going to happen quickly. So I let the thoughts come. Not once was it ‘am I making a mistake’. I never have had that thinking really. I have known my male identity too long to think it is a mistake or doubt myself on it.

Omens are not all doom and gloom and, when you think about it, what does the end mean. It just means something stops. The pretence of being content in a female body has come to end. For a new beginning, something must end and for the man I know to exist that pretence must end and tomorrow it ends, there is no going back.
©JG Farmer 2015

Top Surgery: Pre-med

The sun was shining on a beautiful September morning as I left home yesterday. Other than thinking good it isn’t raining I didn’t notice. My guts were full of butterflies and I could think of a million and one other things I would be rather be doing. In April this day had seemed so far away now everything felt suddenly very real. Pre-med day.

The journey down to Brighton was uneventful and the trains quiet giving me thinking space. Mentally, I was geared for a negative outcome to the day as it always is regarding the medical side of transition. This is one thing I cannot build my hopes up for them to fail so I do the opposite. Sipping my water I was glad to be alone for a while. I was meeting up with a friend between the two appointments, and I would need the support then whatever happened.

Walking out of Brighton station I began to feel the nervous nausea but found a cab and within minutes was pulling up outside the Nuffield Hospital. I sucked hard on my sugar free mint but really a mint is no substitute for a nerves ripped to shreds cigarette. Oh well, no point in hanging about I went in to the snazzy reception area and tried to appear calm and no doubt failed.

I didn’t have to wait long before a nurse fetched me and started the pre-med formalities of health history, blood tests, MRSA tests, ECG and blood and heart observations. For once my pulse was playing the game and she found it first go. She then looked at me and I thought “here we go she’s going to tell me something is wrong” but no all good to go.

My mate was outside waiting in the reception so he sat with me while we waited for the consultant. I can’t remember what we talked about; everything and nothing probably. Whatever, it worked, I felt calmer when I was called in to see the consultant.

He started talking about the surgery, the risks and things that could go wrong. Not sure what he thought when I said ‘so you going to do it then?’ He took pictures then drew a rough diagram (he’s no artist) of a breast and how he would remove it. Yes he said remove it at which point it all sank in – at last the chest is going to be a chest. I came out of his office on a cloud.

For so many years my breasts have made me feel nothing but the self-hate that has pushed me into the pits of dark depression – in ten days they are gone. A cloud, no I am walking on thin air. I am so grateful my mate took me back to the station. I am not sure I would have made it without him to keep me grounded.

The journey home was easy too, apart from a long wait at Reading. It gave me chance to grab a much needed coffee so not really complaining. Today, as I write, it is like I have had a rock lifted off me. The journey to me is real and is finally happening.

 

©JG Farmer 2015

Counting Down to Top

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Finally I have a date for chest reconstruction surgery. The glimmer at the end of this tunnel is now a bright light. Yes it is still a few months away but what is a few months – nothing after all this time, absolutely nothing.

Now I have to gear myself up for surgery. Not easy when I just want to bounce around like a kid who just got a new train set. Oh I got one of those too but not a Flying Scotsman yet – I can wait.

I know now is the time to really prepare myself physically and that means cutting out the smoking, or reducing it to bare minimum. I also have to get my mental and emotional health into peak, and that will be a challenge and some. PTSD has no respect for anything.

So I have the date and now my posts will be the preparation to Top date.

My thanks to all of you who have supported and got me this far.

Jez

FtM Terminology

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One of the most common questions I get asked is what all the terminology used by transguys means. So a quick A – Z as it were.

Binding

Binding is the process FtM use to flatten their chests to create a male-appearance.

Bottom or Lower Surgery

Gender reconstruction surgery.

Chest or Top Surgery

Chest reconstruction surgery is the most common surgical procedure sought by trans men. The aim of chest reconstruction is to create a male-contoured chest.

Double-Incision

The bilateral mastectomy method of chest reconstruction surgery that is effective for those individuals who have a medium to large amount of breast tissue.

Female-to-Male Transsexual (FtM, F2M, Trans guy, Transman)

An individual who was born in a female body but whose gender identity is male and who actively seek hormonal and/or surgical therapies to live in society as men.

Gender Confirmation Surgery (GCS)

A positive term for the various surgical procedures for FtM including sex reassignment surgery (SRS), chest reconstruction surgery (CRS), genital reconstruction surgery (GRS), hysterectomy and oophorectomy.

Gender Dysphoria

A psychological term that refers to the state of discomfort and mental anguish felt by transsexual and transgender people resulting from the incongruity of their physical sex and their gender identity.

Gender Identity

An individual’s self-awareness of their gender being male, female or something in-between.

Gender Identity Disorder (GID)

A recognised psychological and medical condition where an individual has been assigned a birth-gender and identifies as belonging to another gender.

Genderqueer

An individual whose gender identity is non-binary and identifies as neither male or female but as something in-between, beyond gender or some combination of genders.

Genital Reconstruction Surgery (GRS)

The process of constructing a phallus/penis from an individuals own donor tissue, also known as phalloplasty or phallo, or metoidioplasty where the clitoris from its connective tissue to present in a more phallic manner.

Hysterectomy (Hysto)

The surgical removal of the uterus.

Intersex

A condition where an individual is born with either the genitalia or reproductive anatomy that is difficult to label as male or female.

Keyhole

One of the methods used for chest reconstruction that is effective for individuals with small amounts of breast tissue.

Metoidioplasty (Meta)

The surgical process of releasing the clitoris from its connective tissue so that it presents on the body in a more phallic manner. Scrotal implants may also be added.

Oophorectomy

The surgical removal of the ovaries.

Packer/Packing

Packing is the process for creating a more male-feeling or look to the crotch.

Passing

Being read as male by others.

Peri-areolar (Peri)

A method of chest reconstruction that is effective for individuals with small to medium amounts of breast tissue.

Phalloplasty (Phallo)

A surgical genital reconstruction method using the individual’s own donor tissue to create the phallus. Scrotal implants may or may not be added.

Real Life Experience (RLE)

The period of time a transsexual person is required to live full time in the role of the gender they identify as before the medical gender reassignment process can commence.

STP Device

A device that enables the user to stand to pee at a toilet or urinal.

Stealth

After transition an individual may choose to be stealth and not reveal their transsexual status.

Testosterone (T)

Testosterone is an androgenic hormone that is responsible for producing masculine characteristics such as facial hair growth, deepening voice, body hair growth and muscle development.

Transgender (Trans)

The umbrella term for individuals whose gender expression and/or identity differs from the conventional expectations of their birth gender.

Transition

The process of changing from one gender to the other.

Transsexual

An individual whose gender identity does not match their birth gender,

Resolutions

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New Year 2007 I made a decision to allow my true identity to come out. At that time I would not have said I was transgender but genderqueer. I knew deep down I was male but I had hoped presenting as male would be enough. It was not and is not.

My actual resolution at the time was to be true to myself and live my own life. However I was not banking on just what that would mean. Gender reassignment had not even crossed my mind. I honestly thought I could make the best of things. A continuous cycle of dressing and purging is not making the best of things. Ultimately it made my dysphoria worse but I kept to my resolution.

That resolution may have led me to a constant spiral of ups and downs until I reached the breaking point of live or die. It also made me face it and make the decision to live as the man I know I am. I chose to live and I chose to die. I know that sounds crazy but to let the man live I had to let the woman die because she was not me, she never was me but she did make me the man I am.

People ask me why I do not go in for making resolutions, well, it leads to changes we may not be able to control. I do not regret making that decision to live my own life my way but I wish I had been a lot more prepared for it.

Vocal Mutation

Vocal Mutation

Well it happened and I did not actually notice. It took a couple of friends to tell me my voice had dropped to a deep growl. That was a couple of weeks ago. Now I am paying attention of course.

I am not being misgendered on the phone anymore. In fact there is not even a question on the other end of the line when they ask for Mr and I answer accordingly. As a poet I read out loud a fair bit so hearing my own voice change was never going to be a guarantee as I hear it day in day out. Listening to some of the recordings I make of course I can now hear it.

As I have never had a high-pitch voice I was not expecting a dramatic change nor was I expecting it yet.  At the beginning of January I had a raspy sore throat and my voice was cracking up and down a lot but of course I thought it was the sore throat causing it. The throat has healed and I am left with what my friend calls a growl, it does not crack at all.

I like how it sounds right now, it is a definite improvement on the non-descript husky tone of old that was neither one thing nor the other. It feels comfortable and I can live with it.

 

 

© JG Farmer 2015

Purging

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One of my readers has taken the time to ask me about purging and why transgender people do it. Thank you for asking and I will do my best to answer that here.

What is purging?

Purging is about getting rid of or denying transgender feelings. For the crossdresser it often involves reselling or throwing away any crossgender clothing and other items they may associate with their transgender identity. For the pre-op or post-op transgender person it may involve pausing or abandoning their transition.

Why?

I can only speak from memories of my own experiences here. It is all tied in with strong feelings of guilt, shame and to no small extent a desire for some sort of stability and normality. There is also anxiety and fear of the processes involved in transitioning and at being able to live as a member of the opposite sex in society.

What Is the Solution?

Shame, guilt and fear are dynamic patterns and often lead to some sort of purging made with great haste. The transgender person often feels ashamed of their transgender identity and needs. Finding a supportive environment where the transgender person can feel safe in their identity and presentation on a regular basis is a major step in the right direction. For some coming out to supportive close family and friends is helpful too. There are many transgender people who are unwilling or unable to make those steps. Some may feel they would be putting too greater risk on their relationships, social identity and standing, as well as damaging their own sense of self.

From my own experience when I first began the formal transition I felt a real sense of loss of the person I was and had to go through what can only be called a grieving process. I also became very isolated within the LGB community I had been part of for so many years. In fact I am grateful the process of transition is a slow one as it has given me time to grieve, adjust and move into my male identity. It has also allowed those I am close to the time to adjust and move with me which in turn enables them to support me. Transitioning is an exhausting one, and drains energy and resources beyond any level I have ever known and without their support it would have been far worse.

Time invested in researching the available options and as far as possible making some sort of plan for transition is something I can never see as wasted. It helped me keep a sense of perspective especially when the process is gruelling. Transition is not an instant thing and the consequences of each stage of the journey have to be considered. Time is an ally, not an enemy; it has allowed me to explore my role as a man within my private life, in my social life and indeed as a writer.

To the reader who asked the question I hope I have helped you understand purging a little better and wish you all the best on your own journey.

 

Love and light

Jez

Hill-top Thinking

Glastonbury: View from the Tor towards Wales

Glastonbury: View from the Tor towards Wales

 

Last weekend for the first time since climbing Cader Idris I climbed. Not a great huge mountain this time but a hill. There is something about me and peaks, or being up above ground level but still within nature. A multi-storey building just wouldn’t cut the mustard.

These are places my thoughts become clear and I can see within myself with a clarity that is almost glass-like. On top of Cader Idris I knew I had to make the step into transition, it all fell into place. There was no doubt and no fear just certainty. Things had to change for me to exist.

Over recent months self-doubt and fear have been eating me – almost exclusively fuelled by the actions of one person. A person I believed with all my heart I could trust. I was so very wrong.

This is where I can be a completely blind fool and not see what is going on, and indeed it took someone else to say something for me to see it.  I had been allowing this person to break down my self-confidence in turn putting long answered questions back into my mind without their accompanying answers.

This intrusion into self could not have come at a worse time as my formal transition was coming to key stages with referrals for surgeries and therapies I need for physical change. With all that is happening and changing in my life this is a situation I did not need now, not ever. In fact I do not know of anyone who needs people who give out so much negativity they drain your natural energies to the point of extinction.

This weekend was the final close of that door. Stood on top of Glastonbury Tor I felt my own energies surge back into me just as they had on Cader Idris. Okay I invited that surge by facing my spiritual homeland of Wales and calling on that power. This may seem like hocus pocus to some people but like in any belief system faith is a divine force all of its own.

I came down that hill with Chloe with all doubts gone and all fears soothed. I have had no flashbacks or panic attacks since and I feel my confidence returning rapidly. For some people activating the calming self needs stillness and meditation but I need a hill or mountain, and one with a deep Celtic history at that.

Other things happened that day in Glastonbury which are not for these pages as they are part of my spiritual path. However this is my chance to say a huge and heartfelt thank you to Chloe and her wife, Peggy, for a wonderful day and the awesome support they give me on my journey. Also to Penney and Ella. I may have lost a so-called friend but I have gained four awesome sisters who I love dearly.

 

 

© JG Farmer 2014