Out of the Cage

Out of the Cage

More of my ramblings from my diaries over the time of Top Surgery October 2015

A week of not so quiet and restful healing later, life has a way of changing our plans at whim, and it did that with style as always, but I was back in Brighton for my post op. Had it worked? Everything is healing as it should. Staples out from the nipples; glad I had taken codeine beforehand, so it wasn’t that painful. No more itchy dressings and I only need to wear a binder if I go out to protect myself.

I looked in the mirror and I look a bit battered. But I can look at me and not hate what I see to the point of spiraling into dysphoria. For the first time ever I can do that. I still have a lot of healing to do but it is one huge step in the right direction.

For the last two weeks my emotions have been shot to hell. They are still shot to hell. I don’t have the words that sum up how I feel and yes that is frustrating me to bits – I am a writer and not knowing words that express the emotions is unheard of for me. Happy. No it is beyond that way beyond that. I am out of the cage now and it is awesome. That is the best I can do to sum it up.

My Thanks

It is only proper that I stop at this point and thank all those who have supported me this far. My deepest thanks go to Mr. Yelland and his team at Nuffield Health who made it possible. Also to Jenny, Misty and Lisa for getting me there and back for the operation and to Andy for being there for the post op. My boys for being my boys and keeping me going. Alf for being a real bro and staying with me until I woke up. Kayto for being the best friend a guy could have at 430am. Finally, to Caz for being my Caz and making me smile when I wanted to cry – I’m not easy to live with and you hung in there for me.

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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

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,

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

I Don’t Think I am Man Enough

I Don't Think I Am Man Enoug

 

This is the first in a short series of writes on some of the emotional and/or psychological issues that can face a transgender person. As this is a personal blog I can only write from my own experiences so have left stuff I have not had to deal with until a later date if ever.

Finding a Partner.

Why this is the first issue I do not know but it is so I will go with it. There is someone out there who has heard me say the words I have chosen for the title of this piece, not once but several times. Their answer is I am more than man enough so I cannot and do not argue with that.

If I look back over life before transition I have had a few relationships and all but one of them would not have worked out as I was not connecting fully with the people involved as a significant part of me was deeply buried within my psyche. I regret the fact I have hurt people because I could not be myself, but equally they would not have been part of my life if I had been. I am in no doubt those I did get involved with took what they wanted from me so I do not feel guilt or shame about it anymore. The end of love hurts and we move on.

So what good does looking back actually do? It tells me what I do not want in a partner. In the past I subconsciously or consciously sought out people who did not push too deep into me or try to invade my space. I did not look for someone who wanted me as I did not want me. Love with that sense of self-perspective is somewhat lacking at best. To know love, to give it and receive it one must first love self and I did not love myself, quite the opposite. I am not saying I did not love the people I was with in the past, I did in my own way, the only way I could but it was not enough because I was not man enough to accept myself and value myself.

Now I accept myself for whom and what I am. The fear of rejection is always a problem not just for transgender, but being transgender makes that fear all the more acute. The person I mentioned earlier knows and has known from the beginning of my Trans status and just where I am at in my transitional journey. I am accepted for whom I am and although I still doubt myself at times I know I am man enough.

 

Love and light

Jez

No Return

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Over recent weeks so many people have chimed in with what they think is wise advice about my transition. All in the same vein that there is no going back. Each time I hear it, I listen and try not to bite as in the main they are being kind. The fact is I am past the point of turning back. I passed it the day I walked into Doc M’s surgery and asked her to help me. All the thinking had been done.

I have lost count of the sleepless nights spent in anguish trying to escape the inevitable choice of going down the road of becoming a man. Yes I said inevitable as there was really no other choice as my emotional and mental well-being was deteriorating rapidly. That anguish and pain I never shared with anyone. It is not something that just quietly crept through the door like a good idea. It has haunted me in some way since childhood.

Each time I pushed it back refusing to give in. Each time that got more difficult to do, until I could not fight anymore, not for her. She had reached the point of exhaustion and he had to take over. I have no regrets here. My life as she built him up until he was ready to take over and face the journey that will take me through this.

Mentally and emotionally the transition has taken place and has been going on for many a year. The times I feel like I have killed her, are the times I need to reflect on all that she gave me and yes my life as she gave me a lot, not least my wonderful sons. Nothing, not even he, can take their mother away but he does not want to as they are as much a part of him as they were of her.

Yes I know there will be no going back once medical intervention has taken place but in my heart in my mind I cannot go back as there is no place to go back to. As I sat in the guy from the Laurel’s office on Friday answering his questions, answers that go back to the 1970’s I felt the boxes of myself being unpacked – again. This is something I hate doing as it tears into my core. I cracked up a few times and despised myself for most of it.

This is nothing new, my LIFT counsellor and my psychiatrist have done the same thing a fair few times. It does not get easier and it does not get harder. Each time it is like opening up the wounds of self-hate and guilt for the first time, it hurts and it bleeds. I see the person asking me the questions and they are always kind and supportive but my barriers rise and I feel alone and haunted. Each little event of the past is like ghost reminding me of things I do not want to remember.

There is no going back as this time I am repacking those boxes and I do not think I will need to open them again. They are the events that hurt me and reliving them causes me the greatest agony I have ever known. Instead I am ready to move forward into the future and take all the crap and the good times that has to offer. This time I am aware it is those past events, and surviving, them that has made me stronger and ready to do that.

Once again I send my deepest gratitude to all of you who message me; your support is valued more than I can ever say in words.

Love and light

Jez

Getting In Shape

 

The male body shape may seem a distant dream and I have little option but to wait on the NHS doing its thing at its regulated pace of a dead snail.

 

Meanwhile …

I refuse to think negative and succumb to the ‘there’s nothing I can do’ mind set. So what can I do?

For the last six months I have been swallowing a whole heap of dietary vitamin and mineral supplements that are recommended for boosting testosterone. I am huge on alternative medicine anyway so finding a natural solution would make me a right happy bunny. Can it really be done? I guess the answer is yes and no. I can see a difference in how the facial hair is growing and it is certainly thicker and longer than it was but the much longed for moustache is not happening.

I have also started a diet and training regime. I need to shed weight anyway and body working with weights will build more defined muscles. I enjoy working out anyway it gets me pumping for the day. Diet – well that means I have to eat more oddly enough as dysphoria and stress both kill my appetite meaning I rarely eat more than one meal a day and that can be a strain. Now I am working out again my metabolism wants fuel so this where my battle with self is now. So far I am winning and have lost a few inches except on the place I really want to – the chest. Always the way it is, hence I let myself get bigger to hide the damn breasts in the first place.

Other news, I received a letter of diagnosis from the psychiatrist I have been seeing. Unbeknown to me he is a TG specialist and confirms I am and have been experiencing gender dysphoria and meet the diagnostic criteria for transexuallism. He recommends treatments to make the physical appearance congruent with my male ‘sexual’ identity commence as soon as possible. Okay I am not happy with sexual identity as it is gender identity, sexual identity is something completely different but it is the confirmation I have been waiting for so I ain’t complaining any.

Again I want to say a big thank you to all of you who read and support me with messages and comments. You do make a huge difference.

 

Love and light

Jez

And a little bit of 80’s nostalgia because I like it