Tag Archive: hormones


chickenlifeIt’s Mother’s Day again,
But my hopes are very low
For a present or a card
Or a call to say hello.

For I am not a standard Mum
And you’ve decided not to know me.
All those adverts on the telly
Aren’t aimed at male Mummies.

So I’m visiting MY Mum instead,
Who will offer me her shoulder,
Say it’s nothing I’ve done wrong,
And you’ll come round when you’re older.

Til then I’m stuck without you,
Forced to smile when people say
“You don’t have children, do you?”
I make it seem like it’s ok.

 

So here we are on Mother’s Day.
I’m feeling rather shitty.
But I’m not writing this to say ‘poor me’,
Or fish for anyone’s pity.

More to say that three years on
I’m still the same old Mum.
Ok, I’ve got hair in funny places
And a considerably smaller bum.

Male or female, I’m still the one
Who kissed away your tears.
Gender doesn’t dictate the warmth of a hug
Or whether someone cares.

But now I’m sent to Coventry, frozen out.
You act like I have died.
I just hope love will span the distance
And you’ll come back to my side.

In the meantime, here’s to all those Mums
Who won’t be getting a card
Or flowers, choccies, breakfast in bed.
Mother’s Day is hard.

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its-not-the-beard-on-the-outside-that-counts-its-the-beard-on-the-insideI once swore that I would grow a big bushy fisherman’s beard once in my life, just because I could. Sadly, nearly three years of testosterone has failed to nudge the follicle pixies into action, and what scrawny facial hair I have would never make it onto a Fisherman’s Friend advert.

I have hair on my stomach, hair on my shoulders, even hair on my chest (if you squint hard…) but my face remains, for the most part, silky smooth with a hint of fluff. I see pictures of guys who have what I would call ‘proper’ man hair within a few months of starting T, and I am filled with envy. Even a teensy bit of bitter resentment. So why not me? And why does it matter?

Perhaps I should clarify here – when I said ‘for the most part’ silky smooth, I didn’t admit to the wiry growths sprouting from the lower part of my chin. Little clumps of hair that need chiselling off my chin, rather than shaving, and which resolutely refuse to join together into anything that might be recognised as a beard. I am surprisingly fond of my chin hair, to the point of not wanting to shave it off at all, rather letting its wiry strands form into some sort of portable art installation. It’s not that I don’t think it will come back (it does, in record time) but because this is one of the few things I have that hints at masculinity. Of course, many women have facial hair, so it probably doesn’t help me out that much, but I like to think that someone trying to work out whether Mark is short for…Markaret?…or not, might be swayed by my luxuriant chin sprouts.

I don’t come from a particularly hairy family, so genetically I am not predisposed to looking like Blackbeard. I didn’t start testosterone until I was nearly 40, so that may also count against me. Let’s face it, I am just me, and just like everything else in transition, it’s silly to play compare and contrast with anyone else. I am mostly very happy with who I am and how I look, and that, folks, is all that matters. HOWever, my lack of facial hair, combined with my (still) rather high-pitched voice, does make it hard for me just to fade into the background. I don’t like to stick out, and looking and sounding unusual for a man does become tiresome.

I may never be able to grow my fisherman’s beard, but I’d love to be able to manage a funky goatee. Or even a soul patch. Basically something that looks deliberate. As I mentioned earlier, it is mostly (though not all) those who identify as men who grow, and style, facial hair. I like to think that fewer people would misgender me if I have a ‘tache.

So what to do? I shave off the wiry bits, and the fluff, reasonably regularly, as I understand that this may finally persuade the follicle pixies to wake up and smell the Brut. I eat healthily, take my testosterone like a good boy, and short of going back in time and changing my entire genetic heritage, I don’t think there’s a lot else to do. Transition is a waiting game, and I may just have to buckle down and be patient. Or I could cheat and persuade one of the cats to sit permanently on my chin…

accountability-savage-chickens13 years as a teacher have left me thoroughly prepared for target setting. My New Year’s Resolutions are SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound. Not for me the “I will be a better person” type resolution. Oh no – I have lists, tables, negotiated steps. Will my resolutions work out? No guarantees.

I took delivery this morning of a set of weights, with the intention of losing the lard I’ve put on in the last 5 months, and regaining my ‘gym shape’. They’re still sat looking heavy on the hall floor, while I find things to do to avoid opening the box…

I am having the healthiest online shopping order I’ve ever bought delivered tomorrow. To give you an idea, the first three items are celery sticks, seed mix and oat flower, lavender and chamomile teabags. Given that my body is currently groaning and moaning about the amount of fat, sugar and alcohol I’ve squeezed into it during the Festive Season (oh, ok, let’s be honest here, since July), I’m quite looking forward to reverting back to healthier eating.

I am, however, the Prince of Planning, the Emperor of Procrastination – the Demigod of talking the talk, and yet the Baldrick of walking the walk. I’m pretty sure that I will end up healthier than I am at the moment, but whether I’ll stick to all those SMART targets? Well, I’ll keep you posted.

Health aside, there’s something much more important I have resolved to do this year – to apply for my Gender Recognition Certificate. For those of you outside the UK, this is the way someone like me can apply to be legally recognised as male, and be issued with a new birth certificate. It’s a clunky process, has some costs attached and for me, at least, can be an emotionally challenging bit of paperwork to face.

I know for a lot of people in my position, apply for their GRC is the first thing they do having lived as themselves for two years, the legal minimum recognised by the GRC panel. For many trans* people, going through this legal process is hugely important so they can finally be properly recognised, and hold a new birth certificate. I’ve been procrastinating – not because I don’t think it’s important for me, but because it scares me.

Like my weights in the hall, I have metaphorically been staring at the boxes for nearly 3 years. I’ve read through the paperwork umpteen times, decided to get going gathering paperwork as evidence…and done nothing.

To a certain extent, the way I was living before did make a difference. I was in a civil partnership, so going through the process of being recognised legally as male would have caused a lot of upheaval. In the UK, a civil partnership is only currently permissable between two people of the same gender, so we would have had to dissolve our partnership before I could be granted a full Gender Recognition Certificate, then either marry as man and woman (which neither of us was that keen on, but which it’s fair to say would have had the biggest impact on my partner) or just carry on once more as unmarried/unpartnered. There was a time in our relationship where we were planning having a child, and the implications of our relationship status on whose name went down on the child’s birth certificate, and therefore my rights as a parent, was a serious factor impacting my decision to seek legal recognition of my gender.

Those factors aside, I have never been one to try and pretend that the past hasn’t happened. I feel strangely fond, and extremely protective, of the girl who is named on my birth certificate, who struggled for so long to work out why she felt so ‘wrong’ in this world. No, that doesn’t mean I am not 100% sure that I am Mark, but it does make me reluctant to erase any part of my past. A new birth certificate is what I need to achieve legal standing as a man, but I do not wish to be disrespectful of my old birth certificate, let alone pretend it didn’t exist.

So I’ve been staring at the paperwork for a very long time, and finding things to do instead. For those of you who are curious, I need to:

*Have proof that I have dissolved my civil partnership.

*Provide evidence that I have “lived in my acquired [*see below] gender” for at least two years (eg: driving licence, payslips, bank statements, utility bills, etc.). Apparently 5 or 6 documents will usually do. [*NB: ‘acquired’ is not my favourite word, as I don’t feel it reflects my experience or that of a lot of other trans* identified people, but it’s legalese]

*Give evidence of all changes of name.

*Provide 2 medical reports – one from “a doctor [or] psychologist specialising in the field of gender dysphoria” and one from my GP “including specific details of [my] treatment”.

*Send a cheque for £140 (this does vary for people on lower incomes).

So as you can see, it’s not actually that arduous a procedure, but I’m still sat staring at all the paper, and doing not a lot. Financially, I just need to find the fee, any charges my doctors will make for a letter, and, of course, the cost of the dissolution of my Civil Partnership. The ironic thing is, of course, that now I am no longer with my partner, I’d have had to face this at some point soon anyway. Well, there’s nothing like necessity to sharpen the resolve.

So let’s get all teachery on myself. My biggest New Year’s Resolution is to apply for my Gender Recognition Certificate. Is that Specific? Yup. Is it Measurable? Yes – I’ll either have done it, or I won’t, or be in the process of getting bits of paper together. Is it Attainable? Well, others have managed it, so let’s hope so. Is it Realistic? Yes – I’m not planning on jumping off the moon here. Is it Time-bound? I’ll be honest and say that I don’t know how long the whole process takes, but I should probably aim to have all my bits of paperwork ready to send to the Gender Recognition Panel by a specific date, so let’s say, for the sake of argument, 1st April 2014. April Fool’s Day.

Why do all this? A big part of me says that I don’t need a bit of paper to say I am who I say I am, or a Gender Recognition Panel to recognise my gender, thank you very much. However, to quote from the Ministry of Justice website: “If you are successful in your application for Gender Recognition, the law will recognise you as having all the rights and responsibilities appropriate to a person of your acquired [sic] gender”. I know exactly who I am in myself, and it would be nice for that to be recognised on a legal level. Not just the rights, but the responsibilities too. And that is why I have to make this New Year’s Resolution work.

Happy New Year, everyone – let’s hope 2014 is better!

IMG_0536Nor do I want to dress like a man. I do not want to act like a man, and I am not crazy about the idea of passing as a man.

People go through a lot of mental gymnastics to fit me into the way they view the world, and I am grateful for the most part that they do this. I have always maintained that people understand the trans* experience on a number of levels, and I try to be kind to those whose understanding is still at the level of “oh, so you’re having a sex change, then”. However inaccurate and insulting that statement might be.

I would rather poke myself repeatedly in the eye with something sharp than agree with the common suggestion that “I was born a girl and now I want to be a boy”. Not because it makes me want to shake whoever is saying it to within an inch of their life whilst simultaneously apprising them of the latest theories of gender identity. No, because of the word WANT. I do not want to be…I AM.

I do not dress like a man. I am a man, and dress what I would consider appropriately (if not stylishly). I do not act like a man. I am a man, and act in a way that is reasonably appropriate (albeit I don’t live at the butch end of Man Town). I do not ‘pass’ as a man. I am a man, whose genetic make-up means people get mixed up about his gender.

This all may sound a little incongruous if you consider that I have never agreed with gender being a binary thing. Is my statement ‘I am a man’ at odds with my philosophical ramblings about queerness and acceptance of my history? No, it’s not. I may not tick many of the stereotypical ‘masculinity’ boxes, have grasped ‘male privilege’ with both hands, or insist that feminism is for the girls, but nevertheless, I approach all the issues about which I talk and, let’s face it, life, from my own point of view, which is that of a man.

I get increasingly fed up of being misgendered because as time goes on, I feel more and more comfortable in myself, and in my rather fragile male identity. It is increasingly ridiculous to be called ‘she’, ‘her’ and ‘girl’, and every time this happens it feels like, perhaps, I really am just pretending to be something I’m not.

Fortunately, or I don’t think I’d ever leave the house, I know better. I do not dress like, I do not act like, and I do not pass as, a man. I am no fraudster or actor, nor am I deluded. I am a man.

 

MatrixBluePillRedPillI have a number of health issues, most of which will not magically disappear because I have made the decision to transition. I am bipolar, I have hypothyroidism, I suffer from anxiety, and I have gout. I get extremely grouchy if my blood sugar drops, I have a long-term problem with insomnia and I get odd aches and pains which I reluctantly believe may be arthritis-related. All in all, I am not exactly a poster-boy for good health.

Those of you who have known me a long time will know that my health ‘stuff’ has occasionally got the better of me. I’ve had time out of the workplace, claiming disability benefits when my bipolar teamed up with my anxiety to make life very difficult. I have resorted to walking with a stick when my thyroid problems teamed up with extreme stress to render every movement painful. I caught every cough, cold and lurgy going. In my last couple of teaching jobs, I took far too much time off sick, when body and soul succumbed to stress and made it impossible to do anything but stay at home and feel like a failure.

On April 4th I celebrated two years in my current job. More significantly for me, I clocked up two years without a day off sick. Not one. This was a personal triumph that has largely gone unnoticed, but for me it was a huge deal. In those two years I have dealt with starting testosterone (I had my first dose just over a fortnight before I was taken on permanently), had chest surgery (saved up my holiday for that) and probably had just as much stress on my plate as before. However, my body hasn’t ‘acted out’ my stress the way it used to, and I haven’t felt the emotional need to take refuge at home.

So what has changed, really? Testosterone is not magic – it doesn’t cure illness, or soothe a troubled soul. Chest surgery, whilst it made me the happiest boy in the world, isn’t a sure-fire route to health and good times. I guess that in the same way my body used to manifest my stress, depression, anxiety and general inability to cope in a physical way, it is now doing more or less the same, but for good. These days I am calmer, more able to manage the anxiety and stress (most of the time) and whilst my bipolar black dog does still up and bite me in the bum periodically, I feel more able to deal with it. As for the coughs and colds, who knows? Can one’s immune system really respond to feeling positive and fulfilled? Or maybe 5 years of veganism has actually done me some good, despite my critics on that score!

I was asked by a friend around the time I started transitioning, as a joke “Will you stop moisturising now?” I laughed like a drain, because I was never the moisturising type. Occasionally I would have a flurry of guilt-ridden conformity to what I thought, as a ‘woman’, I *should* be doing. I’d buy eye cream, body butter and ear-lobe rejuvenator, slather the stuff on for a few days, and then give up. Dry skin could go hang – I was self-harming regularly anyway, so why bother trying to look after what I had? I just didn’t like myself enough to care.

I thought that once I was identifying openly as male I would just continue neglecting my poor body, but at least feeling less guilty about it. Quite the opposite is true. These days I take far better care of my body than I ever did before. I’m still not great with the skin care routine, but it’s a heck of a lot better than it used to be. I can’t claim that the self-harm has gone away, but it’s much reduced. I get my hair done regularly, I buy clothes that fit, and flatter me, I ‘manscape’ the Enchanted Forest that is my newly sprouted hairy bits. I’ve got contact lenses. I watch my weight (successfully, rather than anxiously). I walk into a pub feeling good, not looking for the darkest corner to lurk in.

You could argue that all of this is simply down to me finally, at the age of 41, discovering that I quite like myself. Who knows if I’d have reached that realisation without ever transitioning? Either way, I am enjoying the sensation, after all this time. My sick-record, skintone and dusty walking stick seem to reflect that.

4 months before T2 years on TAs many of you will already know, I’ve just passed my 2nd Transiversary, marking 2 years on testosterone. I’ve already talked about this a bit on my YouTube channel (MrHerbertTurtle – check it out by following the link on the top right of this page) and I suppose I don’t have any super-wise words to say.

Of course there has been a lot of change in 2 years. From a physical point of view my body has changed radically. Broader shoulders, slimmer hips, wider jaw, general hairiness, greater strength: all the things that we are led to expect from taking testosterone have come to pass, more or less. Emotionally, it’s become quite hard to judge how I have changed, simply because whilst I know that my emotional reactions and general outlook are now very different, these things are now so ‘me’ that I can’t really remember how things were before. Or even if there *has* been a change.

It’s fair to say, though, that I am calmer than before, quieter, with less of a need to be included or liked or approved of. I still get stressed out, of course. I’ve spoken before about my problems with anxiety, and they haven’t suddenly evaporated, but then testosterone is just another hormone, not a Magic Potion.

I confess that when I started on this journey, I did think that by the end of 2 years I’d be ‘done’ (like that transgender popcorn I’ve mentioned before). I think I hoped I’d be more unequivocably ‘a man’, at least to look at, than I actually am. As one who still gets ‘love’ and ‘she’ on a regular basis, I look with some jealousy at the guys who just seem to slip into their masculinity like an old jumper.

I’m told this is partly because of my age. Ok, I’m no pensioner, but my body has spent 4 decades being a certain way, and realistically my 2 years on a new fuel won’t have had that much of an impact on muscles, hair follicles and other bits and pieces used to thriving on oestrogen. Everyone changes differently – sadly, as in every other facet of life, we are handed labels and expectations as soon as we identify a particular way, but our genes don’t listen to expectations. My genetic history doesn’t really scream “Big Hairy Butch Fella” – even if it did, 2 years is still a very short time for my body to channel its inner caveman.

What those 2 years has given me is confidence, body positivity, self-acceptance, peace and a hefty dollop of happiness. They’ve given me the chance to work out who exactly I am, and to accept that whilst I may never conform to the world’s definition of ‘manly’, at least I can live the rest of my life being myself.

 

rejectionYesterday my daughter was sweet sixteen. This is a Big Deal Birthday, if the likes of MTV are to be believed. I wasn’t invited, or involved in any of the preparation. In fact, let’s be honest, I have no idea how she celebrated her big day. I sent a present and a card, of course, but I’m not expecting her to acknowledge either. I texted in the morning to wish her a wonderful day. Unsurprisingly, I didn’t get a reply.

The last time I heard anything at all from my daughter was a year ago, when she sent a ‘Thank you’ note for her 15th birthday present. That arrived after I emailed her father to see if the gift had actually arrived. Otherwise, I suspect, the stony silence would have remained. I haven’t seen her or heard her voice since July 2011. Over the last 18 months, I can count the number of times she has replied to one of my regular texts or emails on one hand. With a couple of fingers chopped off.

Almost everyone says ‘she’ll come around’ and I am sure they are right, but that doesn’t make the silence any easier to bear. I could write a very long post detailing the searing pain that I feel every day at the thought that my daughter has chosen this path. But that much pain in one place wouldn’t help anyone, least of all me, and it would probably just make everyone feel uncomfortable.

If I had a pound for every time someone has said ‘she’s just being a teenager’, I’d be pretty rich by now. Of course, we all know that the teenage years are tricky, and I’m sure that plays a significant part in the way she has chosen to act. However, this dismisses what I, and other trans* identified parents go through when our children try to erase us from their lives. Everyone out there with a ‘tricky’ teenager, imagine for a second if that person left you for so long you cannot remember what they look like properly, who rejects all attempts at contact, and who you cannot even argue your case with, because they won’t let you that close.

Sixteen years ago, I was sat in hospital with a baby girl with eyes big enough to reflect the Universe and soft cupid lips, who proceeded to sew her heart to mine. However hard she has tried to unpick those stitches, they still remain, and always will.

 

Those of you who know me on Facebook will recall that recently I found an unfamiliar lump in my bottom, which turned out, on bemused exploration, to be my tailbone. On this occasion I wasn’t such a hypochondriac to imagine it was anything that shouldn’t be there, plus I did learn enough in Biology lessons at school to realise that I was poking a bit of skeleton. However, the genuine shock was feeling it there at all – for the last 41 years my tailbone has stayed happily padded, tucked away from sight and general poking by a pretty generous fat layer. Which it would seem has gone. Well, substantially reduced, anyway.

Changing shape is such a bizarre thing. Those of us who take testosterone usually do so with a bit of research, and it wasn’t like I didn’t expect things to change. However, finding unexpected bits of coccyx when sitting down in the bath is a bit…well, unexpected.

Hudson’s FTM Resource Guide, a very useful resource on all things FTM, provides a good list of expected changes for someone born female-bodied taking testosterone. Of these, the Guide refers to “Migration of body fat to a more masculine pattern (i.e., fat deposits shifting from hips, thighs and buttocks to the abdomen area)” However prepared I was for this ‘migration’, though, I still can’t quite believe that it’s happening.

I should point out here that the emergence, turtle-like, of my tailbone, is due partly to testosterone, but also to weight-loss. The thing is, as my fat cells went on the march, protesting against living conditions in my thighs, hips and bum, they decided that my abdomen would be a great place to settle down. Suddenly I could actually see most of my fat, in one place, and that, my friends, is great incentive to eat less, and exercise more. Which I have, with some success.

So here I am, just over a stone and a half lighter than I was 2 years ago, with fat in way different places than it used to be, and my poor brain is having trouble keeping up. I’ve written before about struggling with self-image through the changes, and I’d reiterate what I’ve said before about still not seeing myself ‘properly’ when I look in the mirror, thanks to my brain having got far too used to me being a shape that I didn’t like. I do very much enjoy my new slim(mer) line bod, and am marvelling at being able to buy size Small clothes, and 32″ waist trousers. However, as love affairs with my body goes, I’m still definitely in the stages of being amazed this slim new Man Body is hanging out with me, rather than feeling head over heels in love with it just yet.

InterrogationI was sipping tea at the end of a meditation class, when I became aware of a conversation going on next to me between a trans* woman and one of the other group members that made me very angry. Given where I was (the local Buddhist Centre) and that the woman in question hadn’t asked for intervention, I kept my mouth shut. But that didn’t stop the steam coming not-so-gently from my ears.

The gentleman this woman was talking to had, after ‘discerning’ that she was transgender, decided it was ok to ask her a series of increasingly personal questions about her transition, right down to ‘will you be having the Full Monty?’ – his words. Over tea in the Buddhist Centre.

Now she was answering those questions, so perhaps the whole conversation was fine with her, but it did get me thinking about all the questions that people feel are really quite ok and appropriate to ask on learning that we’re trans*. I’ve asked my good buddies on Facebook to give me the questions they are most asked, so read them, weep, and make a note not to ask any of these things unless you are extremely sure of your context, and the person you are asking. And even then, consider just not bothering. Please.

1) What was your name before?

This may be totally motivated out of curiosity, but really this is never an appropriate things to ask a trans* identified person. My old name is irrelevant to your interaction with me now – why will knowing it help you to understand me better?

2) Has your sexuality changed?

Some people’s sexuality does become more fluid after transition, often because of increased confidence and comfort with their body and responses to it. Many other people carry on being turned on by exactly the same type of people they always did. Again – why ask this question? Curiosity is not a sufficient reason to pry about someone’s bedtime preferences.

3) How far are you going to go?

For a start, this implies that transition is a straightforward linear process with an exact end point, and a series of jumping off points along the way. Not true. But actually, you just wanted to ask about my genitals, didn’t you?

4) So does that mean your partner’s sexuality has changed?

This question is often wrapped up as ‘concern’ for an existing relationship. My partner’s sexuality did not just flick like a switch the day I first said ‘I’m not a woman’, but fortunately for me, her love for me triumphs over society’s more salacious expectations that we’ll fall apart as a couple over my transition. It’s just another kind of voyeurism, and if there ARE any changes/problems in a relationship like ours, due to the politics of sexuality or anything else for that matter, why on earth would I be discussing it with anyone except those in whom I choose to confide?

5)Will you have sex with me?

To be honest, if you’re asking me in this kind of context in the first place, the answer is probably no. If you want to add ‘slept with a t****y’ to your list of achievements, run away now before I hurt you. If you like the idea of sleeping with someone your own gender, but without those awkward tell-tale bits (eg: ‘it won’t make me gay because you’ve not got a penis’), sorry, but there’s professionals for that kind of thing.

6) How does your partner feel about you changing?

What do you want to hear? That everything’s brilliant, in which case, fair enough. I can appreciate that people who love us will want confirmation that “we’re ok”, but it’s an odd question coming from a stranger. Are people actually trying to find out if a couple are going through a really hard time, and maybe receive confirmation of their own that ‘transition harms relationships’? Either way, it is, quite simply, none of your business.

7) Can I have your X when it/they have been chopped off?

I know, I know, it’s a common joke when trans* people are contemplating surgery. But being common, we’ve all heard it a few hundred times, and it gets a bit tiresome. Besides, it makes what we’re going through into a cartoon situation. This is not some kind of advanced Mr Potato Head.

8) Have you always felt like a [insert chosen gender here]?

We all have very diverse internal histories when it comes to identifying as trans*. Having to explain our journey in a social setting is not what many of us want to do. As a result, a lot of us have to hand a potted one-liner to sum up the ride so far. Mine is “I knew there was something wrong, but didn’t identify what that was until I was in my 30s”. There, easy. The trouble is, that makes the psychology of transition seem over-simplified, even childlike. Besides, why exactly do you want to know what my gender identity was aged 10, 18, 27, etc…?

9) Why do you want to do this to yourself?

Well, I was bored one weekend and thought I’d spice things up a bit by questioning my gender identity, jumping through countless hoops for the medical profession, taking life-changing medication and undergoing elective surgery. Why do you think?? If there were a different way of becoming the person I know I am, I’d be doing that instead.

10) When you’ve had surgery, can I see?

Did you want to see my genitals before? Have I indicated any desire to play saucy show and tell with you? Why are you so interested now? Are you going to give me marks out of ten? Ok, sarcasm aside, it can be helpful for people considering surgery to see the results of someone else’s, but really, unless you have a vested interest in seeing what a modified body looks like, it’s not very polite to ask. There are a million pictures online. Go (go)ogle them.

11) Which way round are you going?

Surprisingly common, this one, and in a weird way it is almost a compliment. However, I’d advise that if you really can’t work out ‘which way’ someone is going, just keep quiet, use the name they’ve asked you to use, and reflect on whether it really matters for you to know.

10) Are you sure?

By the time most of us tell our family, friends and wider acquaintance of our intention to transition, we have spent endless months and years weighing up the decision. If you mean ‘are you sure you’re a man?’ well consider your own gender identity. Are you sure you are a man? A woman? Genderqueer? How do you know, and how can you be sure? I bet it’s not because of what is dangling between your legs. Of course we’re sure. Or as sure as anyone else can be about how they identify, and that’ll just have to do.

I’m sorry if this week’s post seems a little angry. I know sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, but I guess I’d rather be sarky and a touch bilious than outright furious. Because sadly, trans* identified people are subjected to questions like this all the time, all over the place, by people they have barely met as well as those who are closer to them. You might think it’s unfair of me to say ‘Don’t Ask’, because it does help to understand someone if you ask about their journey, but please, I beg of you, choose your words carefully, choose your timing, and examine your motives. Most of all, consider whether you actually need the answer to a particular question to be able to support someone on their journey. And if you’ve just met someone, it does NOT show empathy, support or acceptance if you ask intrusive questions.

Most of us will answer questions when we’re pinned in a corner, but it can be humiliating, uncomfortable and stressful, even when we still have a smile on our faces. Please consider that perhaps empathy, support and acceptance comes in NOT asking these questions.

New Year2012 was a quietly difficult year for my partner and I. Whilst there was no major drama, and nothing that was all that visible from the outside, there really weren’t many highlights or ‘ups’ to counteract the ‘downs’.  Both of us were working through a lot of personal issues, and whilst there was never any fear that our relationship would falter, there were times when we seemed to be living parallel lives rather than forming equal parts of a unit. In Will’s words, it was ‘a year of trudging’ – just keeping on going whatever happened, and hoping that we’d get there in the end.

However, we made it through, relatively unscathed, and it’s nice to look at the year ahead with a bit of hope for improvement. I was never brought up to think that things would be handed to me on a plate, though, so I’ve tried to come up with a few ideas for how I can be the master of my own destiny, and iron out some of the creases that seem to have formed in my day to day happiness.

Yes, New Year’s Resolutions. We all know they’re made to be broken, but I like to think that starting 2013 with the right frame of mind will help shape the year, and perhaps get my head in the right place to deal with the inevitable crappy bits to come. There’s not much SMART about these targets, for all you teaching or business types out there, so apologies for any fluffiness! Here goes:

1) I will be good to my body.

The better I treat my body, the better I feel about myself. I’ve been losing weight steadily over the last few months, and it’d be nice to continue that, and lose the wobbliness that is my stomach post-testosterone-induced-fat-movement. I want to go to the gym more, too, in the hope I’ll come out of 2013 as a lean mean buff machine. Failing that, I’ll just be trying to keep moving, and hopefully stop pretending that beer and sugar are food groups!

2) I will be good to my head.

I’m a delicate little flower, emotionally, and experience has proved that unless I keep a sharp eye on how much I am taking on, and how much that stresses me out, I find it hard to cope. There have been times in the past when I was so stressed out I couldn’t choose a pair of socks in the morning (I kid you not) and fortunately those days have gone, but I promise faithfully to myself that I will prioritise, and remember to say ‘no’ a bit more often.

3) Get away from the keyboard and actually meet people.

I know a lot of people online. Not that this is a bad thing – I have a support network spreading from Canada to Australia, via some pretty cool places in between. Online relationships can, contrary to popular belief, be very genuine. I met my lovely partner online, after all, so there’s proof positive that the internet isn’t just full of weirdos (she might disagree). All that said, though, I’d like to make 2013 a year in which I actually meet some of my online buddies. Perhaps not those who are in far-flung corners of the earth, but starting at home. Real human contact is good stuff, and as socialising has never been an easy thing for me, I figure meeting people I already *know* will be valuable.

So those are my resolutions. Those are the things I am going to try to do to make 2013 less of a trudge, and more of a pleasant saunter. In return, there are just three things I’d like. Call me shallow, and impatient, but if I could have these, my life would be even better!

1) Voice changes:

You may have gathered from my blog that I have been having problems with my voice. After nearly 2 years on testosterone, I still sound like a chirpy girl, and that needs to change, for both professional and personal reasons. My doctor has recommended speech therapy, which I am reluctant to pursue, as I just wanted my voice to do its own thing, but now, perhaps, I’m more willing to agree that the hormones need a helping hand. Could this be the year that Mark finds his Manly Growl?

2) Masculinisation:

What a long word for a simple thing. I always knew that starting transition at my age, my body wouldn’t just bounce into masculinity. Sadly, though it’s easy to see changes, the best I can really claim is androgyny. Whilst I don’t have too much of a problem with that as a concept, it would really help if my body could spend the next few months coming up with some more masculine pointers to help people out when they’re trying to work out ‘what’ I am!

3) Lastly, but never least, I have gone another year with no contact from my daughter. I can only hope that things will change in 2013.

Happy 2013. May it be a good one.