Good news and bad news.

The bad news

My doctor is gatekeeping me. When I last saw him in late November I told him that I’d like to take the next step and send in my applications for the juridical change of gender. I needed him to sign the papers and held a short but well prepared speech about why now is a good time. But he promptly disagreed for no good reason and wants me to wait another 3-6 months. I’ve learnt from experience that it is wise to always add at the least 2 months on every time frame given to me by him, just to keep expectations realistic. As everything in Swedish healthcare freezes over summer, he was actually saying something like “Maybe in September, when I’m back from my vacation”. Almost 10 months from the day I asked him.

He claimed that “It is protocol to wait for a full year after you started on hormones before signing any papers” That is not a valid argument. Firstly, I have been in the loop long enough according to the standards this hospital normally apply. Secondly, there are no specific requirements about a certain amount of time having to pass before an adult diagnosed with GID can apply for or be granted a change of juridical gender. No details regarding time is mentioned in the national recommendations for transgender healthcare or in Swedish law.

In the material about the application it says that you should have “lived as your self- identified gender for a considerable time”. The reason why it is so vague is because time shouldn’t matter. Every applicant is judged individually on the basis of their own story and the material they choose to enclose to their case. But my doctor was stubbornly unyielding, refusing even discuss the matter and nothing I said could make him change his mind.

I very much doubt that any more information supporting or threatening my case is likely to come of further waiting. I have cooperated and done everything they asked from me. There are no more tests, no parts of my body that hasn’t been subject for careful examination, no more specialists I need to see. The most likely outcome I could see following his “Just a little longer but I won’t say how long”– strategy was that my depression might get worse. I’ve been away from school and work due to depression for a full year now. The experience of not being in control over ones life is generally a serious trigger.

Sadly I was right in my suspicions and shortly after that meeting I got a lot worse. Friends and loved ones comment on how I’m so far from my normal self, they worry about me. This last month has been a struggle, I’m not well and I realise that I might not be recovering at the rate I was hoping for.

That was the bad news.

Now here is a challenge for you: Everything you just read is either objectively or subjectively true. I feel a lot worse. The healthcare system is unfair and not working as it is supposed to. Still there are plenty of good news in this post. They just doesn’t make the bad ones go away for me. Try keeping that in mind while you read –

The good news

Luckily I have more good than bad news, so here is a list:

  • Dessert more often I’ve met a dietitian. Surprisingly she approved fully to my approach on food and eating. Instead of scolding me for eating to much, to little or to unhealthy, she helped me with exactly the things I asked for. Then she sent me home with the advice to have dessert a bit more often! She also asked me if I’d like to come back for follow-ups and to learn how I could do even better, which I gladly agreed to.
  • Back at the gym My biceps tendon seem to have healed after an injury that kept me away from my normal routine for a long time. I have been seeing a physiotherapist and done some rehab exercises. Now I’m finally back on track and it feels great!
  • Mastectomy soon The rules state that I only should have to wait 3 months from when I was first put on the waiting list for surgery. That time is due by my birthday 28/2, but in reality surgery happening sometime before summer would be great. My surgeon was not nearly as socially awkward or insensitive as I had feared. Considering my already almost flat chest and the amount of muscle tissue he has to work with, he judged me an ideal candidate for the periareolar-surgery I wanted, just as I had expected. (Advice: Don’t google it if you think you might be more squeamish than curious.)
  • Massive voice improvement I’m much more comfortable with my new voice now. I use it with confidence most of the time, except this last week when I have been down with a cold and can’t speak at all. My voice therapist is impressed by the level of voice technique I can master so far. (One could almost think I had the same university degree as she has on voice and stuff, just waiting for me around the corner.)
  • Testosterone I’ve had my forth injection and been on the treatment for 8 months exactly today. The fresh results from testing my hormone levels reveal that I’m still a bit lower on testosterone than I should be. From now on I’ll be getting my injections with only 10 weeks in between, not 12. I really like what the hormones are doing already, so that is good news.
  • Flexibility Just before it was time for my injection I needed to leave town with short notice. I had to ask if I could get it a few days earlier and it was a relief to discover that it was no trouble at all re-scheduling it! Timing is very important when it comes to hormone treatment. If I miss one injection or if I get it to late, I might get my period back. Suddenly being fertile again when you thought you were not could mess things up a lot.
  • A major revelation Lastly but perhaps most importantly, I’ve recently had a major revelation about the nature of the gender dysforia I’ve been experiencing my entire life. I see so much clearly now how it has been affecting me. Given some time and work, I think this will be a breakthrough unlocking experiences and enabling positive emotions I’ve never had access to before. It could change everything. I know I’m cryptic, but be sure that I’ll get back to this later.

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Angry survivor – five months on testosterone

Five months on testosterone now and my hormone should have reached levels within the normal range for cisgenderd men. I’ve had my first 3 injections.┬áIf I live to be 90 years old and treatment continues the same way, I’ll have another 350 intramuscular injections or so to look forward to.

The treatment is working and I can’t even begin to express the difference it has done. I’m feeling so, so much better now. Very simplified it feels like I’m becoming a super hero version of myself; stronger, happier and healthier than ever. But considering how low I was before treatment I suppose that I’m actually more like getting closer to some sort of decent level of existing, a reasonable quality of life-baseline.

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Climbing the walls.

I had to wait forever to get access to treatment. When I think of how close it was, I get so angry for all that pointless waiting and suffering. Nothing provokes me as much as when people (mostly doctors or nurses) out of pure ignorance says something like “Oh, you have decided to start hormone treatment now?” Yeah. I decided. I know hormones are not for everyone and not all transgenderd people want to have them. But it’s not like I just decided and then got a prescription paper in my hand the same day. I almost died while I was waiting for medical treatment.

But one morning a few weeks back I woke up and realised that I was not in fact going to die out of depression, not this time. I have survived the worst part of my journey, just barely and there is a long way still to go. But I’m getting better. Some days I’m mostly so full of energy that I’m basicly climbing the walls. Soon I’ll have to do something about that, find a direction in life again, take up my studies or some sort of employment. I’m not there yet, but that day is steadily getting closer.

Insanely exceeded expectations.

I know I signed up for my body to change a little bit under the next two years. But I was definitely NOT prepared for this. Two weeks now on testosterone and I don’t know what to say about the effect the treatment has had on me without sounding like I’m exaggerating mad as hell.

Trans guys like me tend to be the most self-conscious people for a period in their life’s, carefully noting all possible changes in social interaction related to gender and watching over the growth of every hair on their body. But what is happening to me now is no subtle or imagined change. I’m literally gaining functions (and almost fucking body-parts!) I didn’t have before. At the same time I’m loosing parts or shapes that has been with me most of my life, since my first round of puberty.

Now in the beginning the difference is such that anyone close to me can see it happening from day to day. Easy to see, hard to believe. Why didn’t anyone tell me it was going to be this intense and dramatic? Is it because it is unbelievable, something nobody could wrap their minds around? Is it supposed to keep expectations down? Or is it so simple that what I’m experiencing is unusual or extreme? I’ve never heard of any trans guy that has got such an immense response so soon.

7 hours after the shot my vocal cords started itching with growth and my voice dropped accordingly. I was not expecting it to happen so soon. Now my voice gets deeper every day, but I can’t control it yet and my friends and loved ones find it immensely amusing.

I sweat more and smell different to. That came almost immediately and took about a week to get used to. At first it felt like I was constantly wearing a boyfriends used sweater – I couldn’t emotionally connect to my new scent, couldn’t understand that it was me, even if I knew. It was something weird with the pheromones that made my skin all tingly, constantly on alert. That has passed now, but the sensitivity of my skin is actually changing and I know it will continue to do so for a long time. Some parts of my body are more sensitive now, others less than before. Without going too much in to detail that makes many sensual experiences somewhere between slightly up to very different, including sex.

After the shot I’ve been extremely tired, almost as I’ve been down with the flu or something, but I haven’t. My body has just been very, very busy with its new constructional project, rebuilding itself. I guess that I haven’t eaten enough to support my new and more effective metabolism, so my body made do with the fat reserves it already had.

As an effect of that, 2 days after the shot my breasts had reduced in size approximately 75%. That was somewhat of a chock. They were admittedly on the small side to begin with, but it is still extraordinary. The little fat I had on my hips are also quickly melting away and the same with cheeks and tummy. My jawline is sharper than I remember it, my chest almost flat and the contours of a very unexpected six-pack is beginning to show. All those changes came extremely fast and are mostly because of the┬áreduction and re-distribution of fat that I’m experiencing.

I guess the fat somehow goes to fuel the muscle growth that is happening at the same time. My shoulders, calves and biceps are literally swelling. The first week I gained almost a kilo a day; I went from 56 to 59,5 kg on five days.

But I can’t see any increase of fat anywhere on my body, rather the contrary – it is all muscles. My back is getting ridiculously broad and I’m impressed by how the silhouette of my waist is changing rapidly, straightening up because of the muscle growth. I’m so much stronger already, in total chock and awe over what is happening to me, with me, in me.

This puberty thing is so much more speedy than I could imagine, extremely intense and it makes me very, very tired. I don’t have energy for even the most basic things I’d like to do. I struggle hard to eat enough to make things better. I can’t and I won’t tell you everything that has changed, some things are only for me and my closest. Most of the changes I experience are indeed positive, but they are not all good and I can’t just pick the ones I want and leave the rest. But it’s worth it. I’m glad and grateful to finally be where I’m now, heading where I’m going.

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These pictures from the first week on testo are already totally outdated, but they are all I have at the moment. I’m getting skinnier by the day, neck and shoulders swelling. (Nudes would be SO much more illustrating, but don’t get your hopes up.)