Before we begin our Trans Thoughts & Reflections 2014, let's take a look back to 2010 and one of our favourite (my favourite) bloggers, Caroline, originally posted by Calie.
I've been following Caroline's blog since about the time she started it. I read it for not only the content but also to view the beautiful pictures. You see, Besides being a talented writer, Caroline is also a talented photographer.
Our girl resides in the UK but you can find her by visiting her blog, Time Regained. If you would like to contact Caroline, you'll find her email address on her blog profile. Don't forget about the T-Central Facebook site, where you can meet some of the guest bloggers. A link is at the bottom of this page.
She has been gracious enough to share her story with all of us.
1970 - 2010
So I have been asked to write something from the viewpoint of someone transitioning. These sorts of requests certainly stir up the brain cells.
This is not a regular transition and life has been strange to say the least. I am only a hairs breadth from being asked to write from the viewpoint of a non transitioner or partial transitioner. There are as many reasons why someone would or could not transition especially if you were born way back in the dark ages of the fifties.
They should not have been the dark ages that they were, Christine Jorgensen had transitioned and become a celebrity less than a year after I was born yet here we are nearly sixty years later and society, politicians and even the medical fraternity have still failed to come to terms with the facts of life concerning transsexuality.
I knew before my sisters were born that I expected to grow into a woman and definitely not into a man. As the first born in our part of the family I got to watch many households as I was passed about amongst family. I knew that my interests were female interests and loathed the fact that I was supposed to play a male role with male children! Moreover my observations of couples showed me that my ideal coupling was amongst the all female couples, (there were many after the war because there were more women than men and it took two female incomes combined to make a live-able income), where a few had some special relationship no other couples had. This was what I foresaw for myself when I grew up, I still had no idea how a small child turned into an adult just that it took a long time. The day before my third birthday my sisters arrived with great fanfare and my life was put in turmoil, they already had female bits! I started to withdraw into myself all confidence shattered and when I discovered emotions surfacing with girl like reactions I resolved to clamp down on my emotions and close the tap on the tear ducts, they remained that way for nearly half a century.
At school I was shunned by both boys and girls, they could all see something was wrong even if adults could not. I live a fairly solitary life with my only escape to hide amongst my mothers dresses of silks and satins in her wardrobe. Sadly I grew quickly and my feet out grew her shoes, little chance was available to actually try on many of the clothes and soon I out grew them too. I never had any serious desire to cross dress, nothing was easily available to provide experiments after the early days but honestly I felt it would be counter productive for me, it was an all or nothing feeling at this age. Their strict rules and lack of any money of my own left me with nothing but dull clothes, any attempt by my mother to buy “boys” clothes was received with horror and refusal to wear them even to join in family occasions., one sports jacket had me frozen with fear when it was forced on, I wanted to die on the spot. My sister has just met a cousin who has not seen me for well over forty years and was immediately asked if I was still as weird! Well I guess I was, I had no teenage life to speak of outside of occasional trips to the cinema with a neighbour. I read books while others had friends and no doubt experimented with sex. These years were the dullest of my life.
Biology classes only made clear that you were either male or female and procreated so… Clearly I truly was a rare specimen and there was no place in the scheme of things I kept my head down and looked to a lonely future. Without trying I got a place at university and packed and left home without a tear the very next day, sad to leave my sisters but… There was little enough to pack and the only clothing I retained from this old life was my signature black polo neck sweater.
This was the end of the sixties and I had long ago managed to grow my nail and hair to what had until recently been outrageously long, now free of parental grasp I bought androgynous,( Unisex was all the rage then), clothing in soft fabrics and bright colours. A late hippie free at last but doing a science course because I had been told I was too bright to go to Art school!
I suddenly found that people found me attractive! Sadly homosexuality was still illegal and everyone who found me attractive had to risk the wrath of the law, and they were very keen on showing their wrath, to come and proposition me. I had figured out that female born lesbians were extremely unlikely to choose me until all the natal lesbians had been taken but this unwanted attractiveness came as a shock and is still happening, last offer less than three weeks ago! If only life had been that simple.
Science taught me that my late puberty could be halted if the testosterone was stopped, simple. While recovering from an appendix removal I watched a biopic of Christine Jorgensen and this confirmed my suspicions that I was not alone and that there was a solution to the problem and had been for nearly twenty years. Younger readers can have no idea just how little information was available back then even in a university library! I was seen by the university medical service to seek help little realising that they had not moved on an iota since the middle ages except in their new preference for “electro convulsive therapy” as their preferred mode of torture. I have seen “hopping mad” and it was the perfect description for the doctor who saw me and promised “no possible help in this lifetime”.
At nineteen my life was shattered. I got wolf whistles from thugs who saw woman one moment then if doubt crept in, still no facial hair, would want to kill to show their mates just how tough they were. I was likely going to meet a vicious end on the streets, there was no possibility of medical help and I became unable to concentrate on my studies falling from top rated student to failure in a very short time.
Ironically the abject failure attracted a slightly butch girl and for a while I had a girls body to explore and play with learning to satisfy it with my unwanted parts. Being uninterested in the male part meant I could keep going for as long as required which initially seemed to be appreciated but somehow that waned and we fell into close friendship. Being close to a feminine circle was enough for me then and since I was with a girl suddenly I was safe to be around. I maintained my feminine androgynous look and found a dead end job to support us, at the time it seemed a satisfactory life for one with so little hope. After a number of years she left overnight for a job five hundred miles away and I was alone.
Casually during a night shift I sold my apartment to one of the technicians then being homeless gave my notice to quit. I wandered about for most of the next year trying to decide what to do, I had possibly enough money to pay for an operation but how to go about this was a mystery. I would have no home and had no skill to offer any employer if such existed who would employ a transitioned person. I could be the person I wanted to be but without a future or…
One of my old circle of female friends with whom I had made several trips to Europe declared that they would be heartbroken if we did not live together! She lived in her old family home badly in need of repair and maintenance, enough to keep me occupied till the end of time, no need to ever worry about seeking the mythical reasonable employer who would accept my ambiguous appearance. That was half a lifetime ago and we are still together and no the house project is not yet finished.
A certain lack of cash has always held up the work but not as much as the constant torment of dysphoria! Like Quasimodo’s bells it drives you to distraction. Hopelessness is always on your shoulder sapping strength and enthusiasm for life. Not every minute of every day but enough to drive you into periods of despair while all around you sail on with contented lives. My forward planning was like driving a car while only looking a hundred yards ahead on the road not able to see the possibility of a future beyond that, sleepless nights planning a way out of this life leaving no trace that you had ever existed. Fear, of a funeral for the body containing an unknown soul, eating away at that very soul.
My self cloistering from the world was not working. I had lived the life of an old fashioned house wife and once more being with someone had extended my circle of friends and acquaintances who accepted me as who I was, an arty circle is fairly open and accepting but my self imposed rules imprisoned me too much. We have been lovers after a fashion but that has developed into a strong loving sensual friendship. The change towards a female body did cause a few moments pause to come to terms with from her viewpoint, worried that she would be seen as lesbian by her friends! They would probably be even more surprised if she told the truth that we are an asexual couple now.
The world was changing and it became obvious that those in my situation were no longer looked upon with quite the distain we once were. Medical help was available within my life time but you still had to be treated as if you were mad before any kind of help would be offered then you would be eligible to join the endless wait for GRS, no help with appearance would be available at any time during this process! It was still an Alice through the looking glass world!
Finally I decided I had reached my limit of endurance, hair was receding and old age approaching and soon my alone time would be gone when my partner retired, what would happen to my free expression then? She had no idea that I had lived in skirts, how would we live together all day every day?
I started to have my facial hair removed area by area, nobody seemed to notice! Nails got painted, almost nobody cared, soon I was getting polish for presents! Unisex was no longer a fashion I pushed further to the feminine only buying or collecting cast off women’s clothes, nobody seemed to notice the change. Nearly a decade passed before I finally asked my doctor to help me get an orchiectomy, she hardly batted an eyelid only asking why I had taken so long to get round to asking her for help, we had known each other for several years by this time. She managed to organise it and it was done eighteen months ago, not well but it was done! I thought Hormones would then logically be the obvious medication for maintaining health such as strong bones but the health service did not follow my logic.
If I was transitioning I was way off any known course! Change was glacially slow and at every step along the way I imagined I could just stop and make do only to find that the desire to progress increased. Part of me was saying what a fool to bother at such a great age only to find that there are legions of us who have been put off when young or in many cases got swept into a life of work or marriage which trapped them for decades with wife and children. Part of me longed for a small taste of the life I should have had and was prepared to spend what time I have left as a large, not very beautiful woman hard to miss in a crowd. Suddenly I found myself swept into the system which I so disapproved of as my only means of getting the HRT I so needed.
My meetings with the two psychologists was interesting, I poured out my story for them and within an hour and a half the first had said that he would support me as far as I wished to take it, I went hoping for a small bag of sweeties and get offered the whole jar! No help to soften the masculine features but the chance to look good in a bikini and feel whole and complete. Funding has become dire since I started down this path but it has not dried up completely, the wait could be some time.
Hormone patches have been stuck on for a little over three months and have started their work unencumbered by any testosterone, muscles have wasted away for the past year or so and the fat redistributed has started to be firmed up by the estrogen with a well rounded behind and small pert breasts forming, swimming is hard work because I float so high in the water now! Belly fat is not quite so welcome but seems to be part of the deal, be warned. Body hair has become more sparse and thinner and easily epilated while the head hair feels thicker though no re-growth that some report. My skin feels softer but sadly my nails which have been long and strong for fifty years are now short, split and broken. Interestingly my bladder is now able to hold more than before which is great for watching long films
Now that I know that the HRT is suitable and is doing it’s work I felt it was time to tell those family and friends closest to me exactly what is going on and the change of status, forewarn them before I take advantage of my extended dress possibilities! Many of us fear this disclosure and can loose those closest to us but for me many claimed surprise but saw that no real change had taken place and was just more a change of perception, hardly surprising considering my old lifestyle and appearance. A very dull coming out over the last month or so, to show an example, a niece said that she had never had an uncle anyway!
It seemed such a small thing changing from ambiguous to female, just another small step on the way but it has tripped me up completely.
I feel a bit lost! The constant dysphoric irritation as background to my life has vanished, I am calm and relaxed but feel as if I have been released from a straight jacket in a darkened prison and flung unfettered into the bright sunlight with 360 degree views and no restriction on where to go or what to do. A life of survival does not prepare you in any way for this life of possibilities. Occasional moments overwhelm and catch the throat and bring a tear to the eye when I think about a life without a career and the income and pension that would have generated. I have never compromised much on my presentation and used facilities according to convenience out of place in either, now there is no question, I have to queue for the inadequate provision made by some pathetic male architect! I am now really out there and the world has to deal with that.
Generally I just feel right for the first time in my life, free to finally stop any pretense and just be the real me.