Sunday, 19 April 2015

On Reconciling my Beliefs, Depression and Gender

Howdy. Sorry it's been a while, I am simply the most infrequent blogger in the world... I've been buried under piles of work for what seems like forever, and in the moments I'm not working I've been partying verrrrrry hard. I have an essay in front of me that needs editing, but I'm a little hungover. Then something happened that made me think about my childhood. Then I got sad. Then I decided to write this somewhat meandering post. (Post is misleading, it's musings really).

Once my dysphoria's been triggered I often don't even remember what triggers it. It can be crippling though, and leave me curled up in a ball in tears all day long. These days I'm fairly happy with my body and my appearance, I'm always treated as a woman, basically most of my dysphoria areas are gone. It's just the childhood thing, and my God do I obsess about it. I picture what it could have been like, wearing pretty dresses and going to ballet (my god I so wanted to be a ballerina when I was little) and just getting to be seen as a girl, rather than bullied for being a girly boy. (On a side note I find it so weird how the same traits can get you completely ostracised from one gender, yet make everyone think you're like a paradigm of another. But I digress). I don't feel like I can talk to anyone about it - I'm very private about my gender stuff. I only talk about it to one friend really, but she's very busy and I think it makes her feel guilty for having had a happy cis life. Which is silly but sweet. I have another best friend and we are essentially mutual therapists for each other and talk all the time - she would be great, but she doesn't know I'm trans, and I want to keep it that way. I can't really explain why but I just do.

So yeah, my response has always been predictable - Obsess, cry, obsess, smoke, obsess, more than likely drink, cry, cry, cry. Not so helpful. But recently I've been getting better. I still get sad just as often and it still physically hurts to think about. So I'm trying out a different tactic. A kind of triumphant fuck you - it's not revolutionary, but I've just got to the point where I'm reacting like fuck this, I'm going to make sure I have the best god damn life because I will not let a childhood characterised by abandonment and boyhood ruin me.

Also I've realised that the way I look at it is not realistic. I imagine me being able to live as a girl from the first time I kinda expressed how unhappy I was (we're thinking 3 or 4) and okay it would be a lot better. But would I be a bouncy little blonde ballerina? Probs not. Mine were definitely not the kind of family that would send me to ballet. I'd surely still have a shit tonne of issues, and judging from my sister there's no guarantee that I would have had any better relationship with either of my parents. My family life would still have been shit, my sister would probably still have given me my first cigarette at twelve, my mum my first drink at the same age and I feel like my issues with them may be less pronounced but they'd probably still be there. Basically, looking around my family, I'd still be a mess. I wouldn't have had a horrible relationship with a certain girlfriend that left me fucked three ways from Sunday, but who knows, I may have had an equally damaging one with some boy. Knowing how reckless I was back then if I was the same maybe I would have had a baby (good lord)! Obviously all speculation, but I guess my point is that I romanticise what life would have been like and how today I could be just like a flawlessly beautiful, together, happy woman, but reality is always more complex than that.

And then I try to take the good from it, which leads me to my beliefs. These are another thing I'm extremely private about, and basically only discuss with my dad because, well, he's a massive stoner and is kinda just like 'whoa man oh my god.' Basically I believe that we're all souls who have lived a bunch of times, will live a bunch more, and each time we do it's to develop as people and learn some kind of lesson. Spiritualist new age shit, but it just makes sense to me. Oh, and before you start a life you like work it out and basically agree to come and undergo whatever you undergo for whatever purpose.

So that's comforting, because it makes me feel like there's a reason I've gone through this, and I often ponder what it might be. I feel like its given me incredible strength, determination and of course made me just like super accepting of anyone and anything (I mean within reason I'm not talking Nazis and rapists). And I think it's made me kind, like I genuinely am a nice person and I always want people to be happy because I know what is to be profoundly unhappy. I guess it's been a learning experience for everyone who knows me too. And like, every trans person who comes out contributes to the whole transgender experience becoming more and more visible and more cis people realise they know trans people and the whole thing has definitely become less taboo as a result. So am I here as a transwoman to encourage acceptance of being trans and ultimately souls to realise we should just love each other? Maybe. Maybe it's just for my own suffering to develop me. Maybe it's a whole load of bullshit. :')

But hey, that's how I see it and that's what helps me pull out of dysphoria. Number of days cried inconsolably about it in the past month: 3. Number of days powered through it and reminded myself of what I've got from it: 28. Not bad going really. To be fair it helps when you're working all day. So, dear reader, you may be asking yourself is there a point to this rambling hungover Hattie? Nah, not really. Getting my feelings down and just kind of expressing what helps me get through the big D. If anyone thinks it's really nice, great. If anyone thinks oh Christ I've stumbled on some hippie-ass bullshit I profusely apologise. If anyone takes this too seriously don't, you should never take a hungover woman seriously; she'll likely have forgotten all she said in two or three hours anyway.

Time to crack on with this essay. Here's hoping I don't vomit on the paper.


Saturday, 14 March 2015

Language and Transwomen's Place

I wanna talk about language. I basically wanna talk about language all the time. After all, I'm two ticks away from being a bachelor of linguistics (which sort of cracks me up). And fingers crossed, a master of it soon, because I'm a massive geek. And when talking about language and gender, which I've been spending a good chunk of the last three years doing, I often relate it in my head to being transgender.

Obviously, a huge fuss is made about how we, as trans people, speak. You get people of all opinions - for some, it's very important that their voice (and how they use language - but we'll get to that) reflect the cisnormative standards of how their gender should sound. I myself am in that camp, and it was actually when my voice started to 'pass' that I started this blog. For some it's plain not a concern - they know that their voice is (for example) a woman's voice regardless of how it sounds because they are a woman, which is absolutely true. And some really seem to look down on people who change their voice - everybody's entitled to their opinion.

The extralinguistic features are the main things people want to change, it seems to me. That's pitch, voice quality, etc, which does go a hell of a way to passing as a cisperson, if that's what you want. I mean, they are pretty universal, that makes sense right? Women speak higher, men speak lower; s'all gravy.

But then you get a lot of advice that really pisses me off. You hear that women don't swear, women enunciate, women don't interrupt, women use hedges (ways of lessening the impact of what they're saying - I sort of think that maybe...), women are super polite, etc. Let me say plainly, it is bullshit. I swear, as do all my girlfriends - I don't (socially) know a single woman except my mother who I've never heard say 'cunt.' Thing is, it all stems from a book written forty years ago. The book, in a nutshell, argued that the way women use language places them as subordinate to men, because of the linguistic standards they have to conform to. It's a controversial classic of feminist linguistics, and not being around in the 70s I don't have a huge feeling for how accurate it was at the time. It has been widely criticised for almost half a century, but it did sort of launch a field that is not only fascinating but pretty important in terms of understanding how language and linguistic beliefs help reinforce that bullshit patriarchy we've wound up in. In a weird way, this book that aimed to challenge 'feminine' features of language has spread folk beliefs that lead to transwomen being encouraged to speak in this highly outdated, powerless way.

The truth is that, no matter how women spoke in the 70s, this definitely isn't contemporary. The author, Robin Lakoff, based her criteria of women's language on her own observations, not any systematic study. It treats women as a homogenous group, which we definitely are not. Her features are, basically, features of speech that is submissive and status conscious, which can equally be found in shy men. There's not really a consensus on differences in the way men and women use language, with more contemporary ideas accepting that different types of women (it is usually women that research focuses on) speak in different ways, and that with gender being a continuum rather than a binary, the idea of women's language and men's language is sort of useless. Well, a starting point for how language can construct gender, but by no means a cut and dry distinction. It's generally more useful to look at social groups than it is gender - you actually do find that how people position themselves socially includes distinct linguistic styles.

There's a phenomenon found in the speech of the middle class called hypercorrection - (bear with me I promise this is relevant). What happens, in linguistic experiments, is that in more formal contexts people use more and more prestige features (pronunciations that are found in well thought-of accents - so in England sounding more and more like Queen Liz). The trend is found consistently, as well as the trend that as you look at higher socioeconomic classes you find the features more - except that when the middle class are in very formal contexts they actually use the prestige features massively more than the upper class who naturally speak in the most prestigious way. This is linked to trying to sound like you're from a higher socioeconomic group.

Because of this myth about women's language, many transgender women end up being encouraged to speak in a hyper-'feminine' manner. It mirrors hypercorrection in that we often seem to use these supposed markers of women's language far more so than most cisgender women. In fact I nearlyyyyyyy wrote my dissertation on this, but I ended up doing something completely different but equally fascinating. I mean, it's just a theory of mine, I haven't done any empirical research and I could be way off. But these features are definitely touted as things transwomen ought to emulate.

I just think it does a disservice to women as a whole, transgender and cisgender. Because, while I think Lakoff hasn't described how real women speak, I think her ideas about such speech reinforcing women's inferior position in society are poignant. So I think it's a double whammy, it actually makes for less cis-sounding speech, as well as reinforcing ideas about those pesky gender binaries and men being the dominant, interrupting folk while we women smile politely and only think 'you're a dickhead' rather than say it. And maybe it's something that you wouldn't notice if you weren't fascinated by language like I am.

Obviously, taste is a whole other issue. Maybe you don't like swearing - that's fine. Maybe you think it's unthinkably rude to interrupt people - fair enough. There might be a whole host of reasons you do speak like Lakoff describes and that's fine. My only real qualm with it is the myth that it somehow indexes femininity, and the social implications of perpetuating that as more and more transwomen are learning that this is the way they should speak. The only way you should speak is how you feel like speaking. For me, that involves a lot of slang, a lot of broad Yorkshire pronunciation, an assertive style when I need it and a fair smattering of swear words among family and friends. And I have never been told by my close friends who don't know that I'm trans that I speak in any kind of masculine way.

There's a theme that runs through one of my favourite films, Transamerica. The protagonist, Bree, refrains from swearing, and is all darn darn darn. She's also hypercorrect, telling her son that he doesn't need to use the non-standard feature 'be like' in his speech (that's when you say I was like, totally bummed out). Then at one point, when it's really going tits up, she goes: "Shit. I mean darn. No, I mean shit." It definitely stems from Lakoff, and always makes me chuckle - I guess when she says shit she proves you can be a woman and swear ;) It seems a daft layer of worries to pile on top of transwomen who are already worrying about so much in terms of 'passing.' If it makes you feel more comfortable, fine. But if you're checking yourself all day to make sure you don't let a shit pop out, I really don't think you should worry. Swear like a fucking sailor. You won't be the first woman to do so.

Monday, 9 February 2015

The Return of the Long Lost Blogger: Orgasms and Adulterers

Okay, so it's been about seven months, and I'm fairly certain that I had made a promise to be more regular. I am genuinely, heart-feltly sorry about that. It has been a pretty turbulent seven months to be honest, perhaps even more so than any other seven month period of my life.

First, I think it's prudent to update you on vagina stuff. As we left it, I was having discomfort with the dilation, and slightly worried that my 3cm dilator wouldn't be big enough for 'the guy I [was] planning on losing it to' (we'll get to him later).

ORGASMING. Committed readers will remember me expressing serious anxiety over losing the ability to come, being as it is my only reliable stress relief besides the cold, dry embrace of gin. Well, after so much anxiety, I was alone for the weekend about a month after my surgery. I was laid on the sofa watching Hancock, and as some of you may know, it's not a great film. I got a little bored so I had an explore. Using my dilator as a dildo. And it was intense, and sweaty and after a loooong time I had a fucking banging vaginal orgasm. Seriously, the best I had ever had! Then a few weeks later I dared to try with my clitoris and it was delightfully easy to 'rub one out' as the kids call it ;) So yeah, one huge worry there was quickly alleviated. And interestingly, I absolutely do get wet. Only a little if I'm just turned on, but once I have an orgasm I get incrediblyyyy wet. God knows the mechanics of it, but it's nice. It just all feels rather normal. Like, masturbating with a penis was always weird, because the whole time I was distracted by this organ I shouldn't have had. With a vagina I can just get on with getting myself off ;)

Discomfort went pretty quickly, and I'd say within a month I was able to dilate comfortably without any pain or anxiety about it. I've continued on a pretty trial and error basis, basically figuring out what feels comfortable - I'm now dilating once every two or three days with a 3.75cm dilator. Edging up to it was really no issue at all and loosening myself a bit has definitely made me feel less nervous about jumping in the sack with attractive gentlemen. Of course it's meant that Chuck and Drogo have, accidentally, become kind of puny, and trying to think of beefier and more attractive inspiration for the bigger dilators was difficult. They've kind of stayed nameless, with me just attaching the image of some hulk-like superman with a big beard and rippling lumberjack muscles to them.

So, having stretched myself out I was ready to lose it. The guy I planned to lose it too, well, was an asshole. I met him and we had our usual flirting and whatnot, and I asked him to take me back to his. He suggested we got a hotel because it's closer, which I was down for, but it was like 5 in the morning and there were no rooms available. Drunk and disappointed, I get in a taxi with him and we go to our respective homes. It's at this point that my taxi driver tells me they're friends and he's married. What a delightful man to fall for! Needless to say, I haven't seen him again, but have stopped forgiving and justifying times that he was clearly not a great guy. I mean, he once started a fight with one of my friends, he's been pretty pushy before, not the stuff dreams are made off. I just feel sorry for his wife poor cow - feel like she should set him up √† la First Wives Club. My sister went to his bar, told him he needs to stop cheating on his wife, I'm far too good for him, and that he should drop dead. Told the other staff about his philandering too. And that's why the girl is my fucking hero.

So, there have been a few candidates since him. I almost gave it up to a male stripper, but I was nervous and he was cute and funny, so instead we lay (naked) in his bed, chatting and smoking till sunrise. It was really freaking lovely, an amazing night. But, he's not for me, and so we didn't have sex - just another lovely night to remember :) Then one night, I was with my sole frenemy. I wish I could say good things about the girl, but she really is not a nice person. But we've known each other a long time, and sometimes you've just gotta get out of the house. But she was just being horrible, subtly putting me down which is one of her favourite past times (highlights include "oh my God, as if you got hit on before I did" and "yeah, well I'm actually a girl") so I marched across the bar to the hottest guy in the room and kissed him (sort of slutty I know, but I don't slut shame or I'd hate myself). We chatted and went back to his and he pumped me like a jackhammer. And he was fantasticccccccc.

In a surprise twist, he actually spoke to me afterwards. I thought he just wanted a one night stand and was fine with that, but he seems to think I have some sort of affable quality. We've spoken pretty much every day since, and while I'm not one for admitting feelings easily, the ice queen is sorta melting. But it's been like two months, and to me that's still far too early to call it dating. I don't know if it's annoying to him, but I just really believe it's important not to lose your head (after several terrible whirlwind romances and one ridiculous engagement). He made me homecooked dinner and he kisses my shoulder when I sleep :) He doesn't know I'm trans yet, which is another reason I'm not ready  to 'date' him - I am considering telling him though. But I firmly believe it's my prerogative whether to - I just think I'll find it easier to believe he likes me if he knows and still acts all cutely towards me. So we shall see.

The sex has been remarkably easy and normal, and according to what he says he's enjoyed it - a lot. A condom gave me enough lubrication to get it in and I was definitely able to feel it. I've gotta say I didn't come, but I know that's not uncommon for cis or trans women in vaginal intercourse (feel like such a grown up using that phrase - I just wanna put dirty fucking in the jayjay). I still enjoyed it nevertheless, and I think with the right kind of foreplay an orgasm might well be on the cards - believe me I plan to continue experimenting! I'm sort of like a sexual Amelia Earhart. Flying his plane across an ocean of pleasure! (That comparison was in serious danger of getting away from me).

Auntiehood, and Associated Malaise

My niece got birthed, so good for her, I guess. I outlined before that I have basically two dysphorias I experience left - cisgender childhoods and babies. I'm not sure I did say, but two sisters got pregnant, one's had a baby so far. And it's hard. Really fucking hard. I haven't had enough time to come to terms with it I'm afraid, so basically all family stuff is taking a huge toll on my mental health at the moment. I've distanced myself somewhat, because that's just what I need right now.

I think it would be easier if they had a boy, but there's this feeling since they have a girl. She's only a few months old and my parents have called her beautiful more times than they have me. She just, gets femaleness as a birthright, while it took me years of fighting to get it. Maybe it's a silly way to look at it, but it just is hard to see her getting the kind of childhood I longed for already. It's especially silly because at this point who knows, she could be trans too and deal with exactly what I've dealt with. It's just all tough to see. She's cute as fuck though. When I touch her hand she grabs my finger.

I try to put on a brave face but the fact is I don't have the self control, and tears start brimming sometimes. But I'm trying to figure out how to deal with that. I suppose the thing is this is something that won't be fixed by medical transition and whatnot, I actually have to engage with my brainbox and *shudder* maybe even my feelings. Which I firmly believe belong locked away in a box. Which is sealed in a concrete block. And guarded by bears.

But yes, the whole thing has been very hard for me, and along with finding out the guy I was smitten over was a married asshole and other assorted dilemmas, post-surgery life has actually been pretty hard, with some fairrrrrly severe depression. Which has contributed to my absence. But things are getting better I think - you've just gotta keep battling! I mean, there's simply no sense in letting yourself get defeated. So, in a nutshell that's where I'm at - feelings and babies. Gross, I know. I promise to try to remember to post more regularly :)

Friday, 20 June 2014

The packing, the catheter and dilation

Here are three aspects that I felt deserved a more concentrated post than my last little round up of being in hospital.

It was Tuesday morning that my surgeon came in, looking very cazh in shorts and a t-shirt, ready finally 'unveil' my newly created vagina to the world (himself and a nurse). The catheter comes out first, which I was very excited about because I really didn't like having the stupid thing - largely because it felt so weird when I had to change my underwear and it was dangling down from my vag, all plastic and gross. So weird. Plastic and bodies shouldn't really mix. So he warned me that what the catheter was was basically a tube with a balloon blown up at the end inside your bladder, so removing it is gonna hurt.

Of course I freaked the fuck out. I slung some choice words at him, followed by "sorry, sorry I know it's got to be done," as I lay terrified on the bed with my legs open. And I'm not gonna lie to you - it fucking hurt. I squealed - not screamed, squealed like a pig. It's a hard feeling to explain but it's kind of a sharp scratch somewhere you really shouldn't feel anything. But it is, at least, over quickly. It's left me with pain peeing though, which he said was very normal, but still feels like a touch of insult to injury.

Next was the packing. It didn't feel bad, at all really. There was the odd little twinge but for the most part it was just a bit of a strange feeling. Oh, and it was long as fuck. It kept going and going and I asked him how much he used, to which he replied there was about half a mile in there. I mean Christ! So it took a good minute to rifle all that out, then, straight away, I was given my boys.

Two see through, plastic dilators, one 2.5cm in width, one 3cm. (They are now affectionately called Chuck, after Chuck Bass, and Drogo, after Khal Drogo). After a little trouble finding my hole using my Romeo & Juliet mirror (a present from my sister who went to a performance at The Globe), I got Chuck in with no problem, which was reassuring. So I was told that basically I insert him, take him straight out and stick Drogo in. So I tried, and it was much more difficult. I came up against the muscle that I think everyone has trouble with, and just couldn't work out how to get past it. I started to cry a little and my surgeon told me to apply more pressure, just before he kind of pushed it right past. I screamed that time, it was freaking painful. If you've ever been doing anal with someone, and they've neglected the edging in policy in favour of just diving in hard when there's some obstruction, this felt a lot like that, just in a different place. I think the point was to show me I didn't have to be too gentle with it (though I've since found a much easier, almost pain free way to sort of wiggle him in). The first five or ten minutes are very uncomfortable, but soon the dilator can't really be felt, but your discomfort can. For me at least, if I'm lying on my bum while doing it my bum absolutely kills. Only last night did I dare to try rolling onto my side, which was quite a bit better and may be the way forward for future dilations.

Discomfort aside though, the main issue is how boring it is. I sit with my laptop and watch something, but it isn't easy to focus/lose yourself in what you're watching when you're dealing with that level of discomfort. If I'm dilating at a time when I'm texting a few people that's the best because it distracts me more than a film or whatever, but still everytime I do it it feels like the longest twenty minutes of my life. But I guess it's a learning curve, trying to figure out how to make it the most comfortable and feel the quickest it can. Hopefully I'll make more leaps in the following weeks.

For the moment it's 3 times a day, for 20 minutes a time, officially. I keep doing 25, with 5 for Chuck because I have this idea that it might make it slightly easier to get Drogo in, but I could be wrong. Not sure when it becomes less, that's something I'm planning to find out today. It feels a bit restrictive to my social life really, 2 times would be alright because it would just mean I couldn't stay out really, but 3 cuts into my day much more. Still, it's not forever, and it's a lot less painful than I expected to be, so really I should be thankful!

Oh, and when my surgeon showed me my dilations, he held up Drogo and said 'should be big enough.' I smiled, biting my lip. Because I'm pretty sure Drogo isn't big enough to prepare me for the guy I'm planning on losing it to...

Thursday, 19 June 2014

My hospital stay!

So I have a vagina now. That's the upshot of this post.

I checked into the hospital at 9AM Thursday morning, tired and terrified, seriously considering running far away from anything to do with healthcare. But then, as soon as they checked me into my room the process of getting institutionalised began - I realised that checking in was kind of the biggest step, and there was no running away after that. Surgery was at 2PM, so there was a fair bit of waiting around playing cards with my mum. No food allowed I'm afraid, so I watched her sip tea and eat this gorgeous looking fish dish while I could only smell it.

My anaesthetist struck me as more than a little bit bonkers, he was absolutely wild and very animated as he explained to me the bizarreness that is anaesthesia. And it is completely bizarre. Nothing like going to sleep really. Once they put that needle in your arm you basically just wake up wherever you may be, however many hours later. No awareness that you've been out or anything - it just seems like a split frame from a film. But once that needle was injected into me and I did wake up, I had definitely been out, for I was in pain and covered by this massive white diaper thing.

My vagina shield.

I guess my first feeling was just elation. It was done, finally, and there wasn't a single part of me that regretted it. It didn't feel like losing a penis, it was gaining a vagina. (Over the course of my stay in hospital there were a few times I wished I had just stuck with the penis, but really that was just due to pain and discomfort). The rest of Thursday is a bit of a blur now - between anaesthetic wearing off and delicious morphine being fed to me it wasn't all that memorable. I do remember that it felt so much like a weight being lifted. I talked for hours with my mum about my trans experience, about how awful I found growing up and how fucked up I still am about having had to grow up as a boy. Normally I'm a total closed book, and I keep anything too meaningful or emotional locked tightly away unless it's with a few close friends, so it felt a bit like the penis was an obstacle in the way of having an actually deep, meaningful and honest conversation with my mother. It did turn out later it was (at least mostly) the drugs, as after a week of recovery I'm once again a fan of keeping emotions tightly locked away beneath my veneer of emotional stability!

Two days after the op I actually started to write a blog post, planing to be really on top of the at-least-daily progression of my recovery, but shit got bad. Around mid-morning my pain really began, not from the surgery site but from my bowels. It felt like I had a brick sat in there that needed to be shat out, and I spent the day writhing and cry and seriously resenting my chromosomes. It was probably the most discomfort I've ever felt. It turned out it wasn't shit though, it was trapped air. That afternoon they started me on a stool softening solution and by evening I did a ginormous fart and felt a lot better, though it took the best part of a day to get rid of the trapped air discomfort. However, pooing didn't happen until I got the packing out on Tuesday, as I had been cautioned that if I tried to go and pushed too hard with the packing in my whole vagina might prolapse. Eek.

I had a catheter in, which sucked. It kept me bed bound and put enormous pressure on my bladder at first. Then they promoted me to a leg bag (a smaller catheter tied to your leg), which sucked even more because I had a bag of piss against my leg and it meant I had to get out of bed to empty it, which was very uncomfortable the first few days. Finally, I was given a flip flow catheter with was actually a big improvement. Ironically, it's basically a tiny mechanical penis attached to your bladder that, when you need to wee, you can take out of your pants and flip a switch to pee in the toilet. Swear I'm not making it up! Other than a really bizarre sucking feeling on your urethra when you finish peeing this was a great improvement, not only because it was less gross but because it meant I could get out of my hospital gown and wear my own pyjamas.

What really struck me while I was in hospital is how quickly you become institutionalised, and what a bizarre little world it is. In the TV show Orange is the New Black (highly recommended), the main character, Piper sees a chicken. The other women in the prison are excited, because the chicken's kind of fabled for being awesome, and when the whole prison starts looking for it and nobody finds it, Piper's basically hated for a bit because they think she was making it up. That's why, while making a very important call for her business, Piper sees the chicken and ditches the call; this just after her fianc√©'s been worried that she's become too absorbed in prison life. The tiny event of seeing the chicken is huge for her on the inside, and more important than saving her business in the real world. Hospital's a bit like prison. Everything feels like a huge milestone. When you're able to stand up, even if it's like a wobbly little penguin. When you're able to change from your gown to your pyjamas like a normal person. In fact, for me, when you're able to put on your gown at all - post-surgery I was boiling for days, and lay there in just my underwear. Every nurse, cleaner and caterer at that hospital saw my tits and I was far too uncomfortable to care. Everyone there, the nurses especially, kept talking about taking a walk down the corridor for days before I actually did it, and it was this huge monumental thing. When I walked down the corridor (actually I took it further and walked around three floors and the outside) everyone congratulated me and the whole thing felt absurd. But that's life when you're biggest event of the day is filling in your menus for lunch and dinner with breakfast every morning. And I didn't get bored of it, all of the little milestones excited me too! Very bizarre.

Anyway, just thought I'd do a little run down post about my time in hospital, and the main pitfalls. Honestly once I'd farted the whole thing was pretty pain free, just a little gross because of all the blood. By the time I left I felt pretty normal, though I'm still not well acquainted with my vagina. It's only really now that it's not feeling too delicate to have a little explore around and see what it's all about, but really it's still too messy for me to get much of a feel for it. The main thing is that I'm glad I've done it, and I can see that when all my healing's done I'll be able to live my life without a penis hanging over me (or at least, without my own doing so) and I'm pretty sure that that's going to feel incredible. :)

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Funding sorted, five days till surgery. Closer shave than I've ever managed...

So, surgery's this week. Yeah, after wanting the parts of a girl for at least fifteen years, I literally have three days of penisdom left. It has absolutely snuck up on me, because of all the stress between funding and my exams - it's only started to feel real like, right now, basically.

The NHS have absolutely fucked me, I'm afraid. I sent them letters, tried to use their own patient's rights things as a little shield but it was all ultimately fruitless. Three weeks, a letter and countless phone calls and my 'case manager' hasn't even given me one call. So when I'm done with surgery, I'm gonna have to hound them for the money back, because I'm lucky, so incredibly lucky, that I have a family that not only supports my transition but turned out to be willing to put a shitload of money up for it. Between my mum, my dad and my granddad they've got £11,000 together to pay for my vagina. My granddad's a fucking 87 year old man by the way, so if anyone tells you it's a generational thing that means older people can't accept trans people, don't fucking believe them. My granddad had no idea trans was a thing until I came out and then boom he was straight on it, more supportive than my dad even for a good while! 

So now fuckkkkkk, getting a vagina!! I feel like the in between days are like the hours between waking up on Saturday morning when you have an awesome party to get to on Saturday night, like fucking hurry up time!! Godddddd. Excitement is starting to overtake stress now that it's all properly in place, although obviously I'm terrified of pain, and of surgery, and also suddenly really scared it's gonna be dead shallow but there's nothing I can do about that so I'm just going to hope it won't be!

I've got a bunch of visitors arranged so everyday I'm gonna have a friendly face in hospital, which is nice :) My mum's friend, who used to be a nurse, brought me a little goodie bag full of stuff for surgery bless her! There's a little teddy in there and lots of sweets and dry shampoo and lip stuff it's very kind! And then I've got my own list together that includes music and TV to watch and Vogue, gotta keep busy :) I also bought a rampant rabbit yesterday, which I'm very excited for (though I imagine it'll be a little while till I can use it). 

My electrologist said it would be at least six weeks till I was up for electrolysis again (which in a way is a freaking blessing and I will relish the break from that painful torture) but I am a touch nervous that it'll take that long till I'm ready to lie on a table for half an hour... Hoping for a speedy recovery in the main because I don't want to miss much Summer party time. The freaking week of surgery I have to miss a BBQ, a house party and a birthday night out. So gutted, I'm a true child of the 90s I have severe FOMO (fear of missing out, a pretty first world problem that stems from social networking). But it'll be worth it, and I suppose whenever you throw yourself into something like this it is gonna keep you from some more enjoyable social engagements :(

Still, it'll all be worth it, so close to having a vajayjay I can almost feel the pain (and the beautiful rush of morphine). Expect my next post to be written either delirious, terrified, in horrendous pain or some combination of the three. Is it funny if the first thing I say after surgery is, 'shit, actually it was all a phase?' They'd probably take that quite seriously I suppose...

P.S. Tits have shrunk. Very unhappy about this. Unsure if I'm more excited to have my v or just to be back on hormones, cause oestrofree life sucks ass x

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

I Could Kill a Fucking Bureaucrat.

Okay, my comprehensive return post has been cut short, because I've had a fucking nightmare of the last 2/3 weeks. I had been made aware about a month ago (only because I asked, nobody had planned to tell me) that there are some issues with the NHS bigwigs and the hospital that my surgeon has recently moved to. "It's just some contracting issues, it probably won't affect you," "95% chance it will be sorted by then." That was the Friday. On the Monday I got an email saying that it was extremely unlikely that the contract would be worked out by the time of my surgery, and it would probably be postponed - which for me means another year until I can get it over with.

I cried in bed for like five hours, went for a walk with my dad and cried, cried on the phone, it was a stressful day. Then I pulled my ass together and figured that if I'm gonna have any chance of working this shit out I would have to be at my absolute strongest (and sober, which was another important point it was hard to stick to). I don't know if you've ever tried to sort anything out that's gone wrong with the NHS, but if everything doesn't go according to plan they are, essentially, a nightmare. I've spent 9AM-5PM on the phone to them for the last two weeks, for the most part being passed from pillar to post, because it's really nobody's responsibility >.> After being pissed off with nobody at the hospital, or NHS England, or my local PCT being able to give me any help at all, I left a message with Bill Shields, the CFO of Imperial Hospitals, who of course didn't ring me back. But I was pissed off and desperate so it was worth a try - I figured if anyone could tell me the financing fuck up he could.

Eventually I was directed to this PALS service where there was a nice sympathetic woman who took it up as a case for me, but as yet this hasn't really achieved anything and I'm skeptical as to whether it will. It feels like it's been two weeks of screaming at brick walls, I feel completely forgotten by the bloody system. As if preparing for and waiting for surgery isn't stressful enough, nevermind the fact that I've got exams right now (literally nevermind, I haven't done any work while I've been tied up in this - been averaging a 1st all year & these exams are soooo gonna be a 2:2 at best).

It's hard to tell but I don't think I've noticed going off hormones too much. I'm constantly very worried and paranoid that my boobs are shrinking but I don't think they actually are. They might be a teensy bit less plump but I think they're more or less the same (and I feel confident they'll be burgeoning again after surgery, with all that pesky testosterone exiled to a pickle jar). I've decided to still try to live my life as though surgery's a definite, which includes the lack of hormones, as well as trying to eat healthy and not smoke and not drink too much. Eating basically nothing but homemade chicken or fish curry from hereon in - packed with spices and vegetables and hardly any fat (not quite the same story as takeaway curry)!

Also I'm a little worried I've pissed off my surgeon with the amount I've been talking to him trying to sort this. He's a busy man and when I'm lying on his operating table I really don't want him to be thinking "by Christ that bitch was fucking whiny."

Thinking about surgery as though it will happen, I'm getting really fucking scared now. 16 days till I'm supposed to get a vagina. Literally, this season of Game of Thrones won't finish before I have it. As much as I'm not fond of my penis, I've had it twenty years and the idea that it's only got 16 days left is mind-boggling. I've wanted this for as long as I can remember, and now it's actually so freaking close I just hope it's everything I want it to be. Give me a clit and good depth and I'll be happy. Orgasm and lubrication and I'll be over the moon.

Today I start a list of things I need to take with me. I have no idea what should go on it really. I'm also wanting to do a massive tidy up and throw loads of old shit out, I'm ready for a bit of pre-surgery catharsis! Of course this will be while waiting for ringbacks and emails from various people in the NHS. And of course I'll have to economise my time because I really need to revise phonetics. Do you know what a voiceless lateral alveolar fricative sounds like? Me neither. Fuck.