Three years worth of writing

Three years ago today, I made my first post on this blog.  It was this:
low-dose testosterone for the rest of my life.

At that point, I was feeling very unsure of myself.  It was more like, “low-dose testosterone for the rest of my life???”  Being able to do that was of utmost importance; it was something I was strongly identifying with.  But, if too many physical changes were happening and I didn’t like it, I felt like that meant I failed.  I hadn’t heard of anyone else trying to maintain an inbetween-ness through hormones before.  The only resource online I could find at the time was this series, through the Original Plumbing blog:
I Was a Teenage Unicorn

I had also met Micah at the Philly Trans-Health Conference.  His blog was a goldmine of information.

I decided to start my own blog, to add to the conversation.  And I really could not have fathomed how much it would help me connect with others and gain confidence in my choices.  Thanks for connecting with me, everyone!!!  There’s really nothing like it, at least for me, as someone who expresses myself easiest through writing and likes to read what is going on in other people’s heads.

Three years later, I already haven’t been on low-dose testosterone for the rest of my life, but that’s no big deal in the larger picture, I can now see.  I had been off of it for about 6 months.  Actually, as of 5 days ago, I am back on it, on a day-by-day basis, just because I feel like it.

So, to celebrate 3 years, I thought I’d pick out a few posts, and then also talk about some future writing goals.

According to my stats, my top 5 most visited posts are these:
28 risks of chest binding – I wrote this recently.  And then I posted links to it on a couple of facebook groups (first time I’ve really done that), and it kinda took off.  This is probably the closest I’ve gotten to “going viral,”  haha.  It has 3 times as many views as my next popular post, which is:
Can hormones change my sexual orientation? – I wrote this early on, and I’m glad it continues to get a lot of traffic on a steady basis.  A lot of people are curious about if and how hormones could maybe shift sexual orientation.
Bathroom anxieties:  a genderqueer janitor’s perspective – I also wrote this early on, and I think that if I were to write it over again, there would be lots of edits.  But I’m leaving it as is, for now.  It’s a document of a time, I guess.
One year on testosterone without physical changes – This got a lot of traffic because it got a boost from Micah.  I asked him if he’d share it on his social media outlets.  Thanks, Micah!
A story about what it feels like to be bigender – I’m also really glad this gets a lot of traffic because I worked pretty hard on it, and I think it’s really illuminating and informative.  I don’t identify as bigender, but a lot of people are curious about what it means to be bigender.

Two posts that I’m considering deleting, because they pop up in people’s searches too much and are probably off-topic:
Ruling with elf wisdom – People want to know what it means to “rule with elf wisdom,” and this post isn’t going to tell them anything about that.  It’s actually about a name I was considering going by, which means “ruling with elf wisdom.”  But then I nixed that name.  So it’s not even relevant any longer…
Office work and trans-YA fiction – People search for “office work” pretty frequently, but I’m not sure why!  And this is barely about that – it’s about how I volunteered in the office at my local gay alliance for a while, but it’s more about some YA books I was reading while sitting there, bored, in the office.

Other than that, most of my search results have seemed relevant, which is good!  A lot of questions about taking testosterone while on other psychotropic drugs, about being trans and using the bathroom, about different terms under the “genderqueer” umbrella…  It seems that just as many searches are about janitors as they are about being trans.  I guess I feel kind of weird about that because even though being a janitor is a big part of my identity and a  semi-big part of this blog, I don’t feel like I’m representational of janitors in general, for when people are searching for info about janitors…  Oh well.

Here are some of the more bizarre search terms that have led people to my blog:
“commercial work schedule disorder” – I once wrote about shift-work disorder, so that’s probably where they landed.
“literotica drag king” – I like that word!  I’m going to start using it!
“MTF tree house transgender” – Once my spouse and I stayed in a tree house while on vacation.  And I mentioned that.  Haha.
“images of scrap books to be made for bf” –  Not sure.  I’ve never mentioned a scrap book or a boyfriend.
“are janitors off on snow days at school” –  YES THEY ARE!  PAID DAY OFF!
“why would another male janitor pee all over your bathroom” – Damn, I do not know dude.
“queer mullet” – I am queer and I do have a mullet.  More information about this can be found here:  Queer/Trans- visiblity:  (flannel + mullet).

For the future, I would like to continue to take academic papers and studies, and distill them into something that is relate-able.  That’s probably my favorite thing to work on.  If anyone knows of any, let me know!  I’ll continue to document my life too, of course.

Stay tuned…


Happy pride weekend, and The People

Just like in past years, I know I’m behind on the pride-related post, but this really is when our city celebrates pride.  This year’s theme was “Let’s Make Magic.”  My partner and I took that concept and twisted and twirled it to suit us.  She has a wand that a friend made, and she has lots of fun black clothes.  She also has badass sword earrings and newish leg tattoos.  I have this zebra print cowboy hat that I’ve worn a lot for drag performances, and recently it’s acquired a white plastic flower, but I don’t know from when or where.  I also had an idea for a magic trick.  Here’s some pictured from right before we biked to get down to the parade:

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This year, we started out earlier than usual, and went to a friend’s house for a brunch party ahead of time.  Three of them were wearing black matching short-shorts in overall form, with nothing underneath, plus loads of glitter and spray paint and face makeup.  They had made incredible puppet-like creations to carry, and they planned to watch the parade and then jump in at the end.  That sounded fun!  But my spouse and I also wanted to march with her employer (a food co-op), like we had done last year.  So we split our time half and half:  after the party we went to find her group, and we did half of the parade with them.  I handed out 300 coupons for $5 off a $25 dollar purchase.  I love handing things out!

Then about half-way through, we jumped out and walked back to where our rouge group of friends were watching.  Every time a dog walked by, a bunch of them would go pet him/her.  And every time there was a gap in the parade, they’d all walk into the road to fill the space until the next group caught up.  Once the last group passed by, they jumped in and started chanting, “The People, The People…” and urging other spectators to jump in and join.  A lot of people did!  The mass got larger and larger until we reached the end and people started dispersing.  It was a blast!  Usually in the parade, I’m with a small group, and it was really great to just get swept up in this energy.

Afterward, we decided not to go to the festival because of the admission cost and crowds.  We met up with some of my spouses co-workers for pizza and beer.  The following day though, we actually attended the picnic, which I haven’t done since I was a teenager, because we wanted to catch up with some friends.  It was low-key.  We saw some drag performances, which do not quite translate into a mostly sober, middle-of-the-day, middle-of-a-field environment.  Haha.

This may have been the most fun I’ve had during pride in years.  I think because we were with different people, throughout the weekend, and just because I was less stressed and anxious.  With less anxiety, there’s more potential for fun!  I love it!  (Also, we were having a lot of fun with our costumes!!!

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Here are some past posts about Pride:

Happy pride weekend, and BRAWL
Happy pride weekend

 


My insurance unexpectedly sent me partial reimbursement for top-surgery

The title says it all, but here’s the details:  Prior to surgery, I put a lot of effort into trying to figure out what I might be able to get reimbursed for.  I was on the phone with customer service for a long time one day; I scoured my insurance’s webpage; I tried to figure out codes and what they mean; my therapist called multiple times on my behalf.  I oscillated between feeling hopeful I might get partial coverage, and being convinced that there was no chance.

Ultimately it seemed like there was no chance.  I found a promising document at one point called, “Gender Reassignment Surgery Medical Policy,” followed by criteria to prove it is medically necessary.  Then I was told that that applies to some insurance policies with my insurance company, but my particular policy excludes this coverage, and that was the bottom line.

Still, people told me that it’s against the law to deny coverage, on a state by state basis, and my state should cover it.  I paid out of pocket, first for the surgeon’s fees in advance, and then for the surgical center, the day of.  After the fact, I asked my surgeon’s office to send me an itemized bill of what I’d paid for, and I submitted that to my insurance company, without much hope.  I figured it’d get denied, then I’d appeal and take it as far as I could.  Maybe I’d get some advice from my local gay alliance, etc.

About 2 weeks later, I got a piece of mail.  I didn’t open it because I didn’t care to read the bad news.  My spouse and I were leaving for vacation last Wednesday, and I figured I’d better open it before we left.  In case there was some deadline for appealing it.  I opened it up, and it was a check for $2,800.09!!!!  I yelled at my partner about it, the excitement of it, which must have been jarring because I almost never yell.  What an amazing way to start our trip!

That’s 47% of the surgeon’s fees (including 100% of the accommodations – staying at the surgeon’s guest room!)  I really could not believe it – either the person on the receiving end wasn’t paying attention at all, or they knew exactly what it was and had some strong personal beliefs of what should get to be covered!!

Now I’m just deciding if I should also get an itemized bill from the surgical center and try to get more money back…  Maybe I don’t want to push my luck…

It really paid off to just try, even though I didn’t believe anything would come of it!

Here’s a post I wrote earlier on this topic:
In February, I wrote GID: exclusion for top surgery coverage


Summer of t-shirts #2 / How to fold a shirt

a photo of a "Kodak Batteries" t-shirt

I got this gem at a thrift store in 2000 or 2001.  Back when you could still get old t-shirts for $2.  I remember especially liking it because I never really thought that Kodak was known for their batteries.  As if this t-shirt was an announcement to remind people that they should buy the batteries too, while they’re at it.  I haven’t worn this in years, but I wore it all the time in college.  I actually had it in a box of shirts I wanted to keep but were no longer in rotation.  It’s coming back into rotation now, full force!  Although, there is a hole in it, and it is one of the delicate ones that are getting pretty threadbare.  So, we’ll see.

 

 

Oh, I also wore it in the pride parade in 2006, because I was going for every rainbow color in my outfit, and this fit the bill.  Now I’m noticing some colors are more prominent than others:  I could have been marching for McDonalds!  (And Kodak, of course.  …In 2006, the company was giving it’s best shot in the production of digital cameras, but by 2012 it filed for bankruptcy and phased out of that market.  It’s still hanging in there in the printing and imaging fields, and it does still produce certain types of specialty film.  I couldn’t find anything on the Kodak wikipedia page about batteries though!)

a photo before the pride parade in 2006

drag buddy and me

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please note mismatched Converse – one green, one purple

I’m realizing that I need to change the way I fold my shirts.  They all have a crease down the middle (see top photo) that I need to get rid of, by learning how to do it like a pro.  There are a bunch of videos on how to accomplish this in 2 seconds, like this:

I tried it a few years ago, but never got the hang of it.  I feel a lot more motivated now though.  It’s going to be fun to learn.

(One note about the upcoming week starting tomorrow – my spouse and I will be on vacation in MA and NH – I’ll be away from the internet.  I love not going on the internet for long spans of time, but I will miss staying up-to-date with blogs!)

This post is part of a series about my t-shirt collection – now that I’ve had top surgery, I can wear them all again, all the time!

For more posts in this series (so far), see:

1 month after top surgery / Summer of t-shirts #1


1 month after top surgery / Summer of t-shirts #1

Yesterday, I went out in a t-shirt, without the ace wrap I’ve been wearing for 3 weeks, for the first time!  It felt seriously amazing.  (I still have sterile pads over my nipples because they are still sloughing off gross stuff, so it’s going to get even better, once that’s over!)  I don’t know when I last wore just a t-shirt, out – 10 years ago?  12 years ago?  Sometime in there, before I started feeling overly-self-conscious about my chest.

I had my 1 month appointment via Skype, with the physician’s assistant, and it went pretty much how I imagined it would.  I focused mostly on what to do to continue healing, which is going slowly, and also to change my return-to-work date.  Whenever I brought up a concern about an aspect of the appearance, I was told, “Right now it is ______; in _____ amount of months, it will be healed nicely.  Your final results won’t be visible until a year from surgery.”  It felt like I was being fed stock answers.  I can live with that for now, but I doubt things are going to change enough for it to actually look good.  I’m not happy with the results.  Some of it seems like no big deal – it can be fixed.  One thing though does have me worried: it seems to me that some muscle may actually have been taken out, along an axis crossing through the nipple, on the right side.

I’ll just continue to document the changes or lack thereof.  Such as:  neither areola is actually a circle.  I’m being told that they will change into circles.  I highly doubt that.  I’m concerned that down the road, it’s going to be a struggle to get anyone connected to this surgeon to acknowledge that I might need revisions.  If that’s the case, I envision myself getting opinions from other surgeons, and going from there…

All this is far away though.  Right now, I’m enjoying focusing what I am happy about:  wearing t-shirts!!!  This was the number one thing I was looking forward to.  I’m thinking I’ll start a short series where I write about some of my favorite t-shirts.  Here’s one (this is the one I wore out, yesterday):

a vintage t-shirt that says, "music lives on TDK"It says, “MUSIC LIVES ON TDK.”

I have found that to be true – most of the blank tapes I’ve gotten to make mix tapes have happened to be TDK!  I found this at a thrift store about 12 years ago.  I used to wear it a lot, under flannels and hoodies.  Nowadays I rarely wear it, not because I stopped liking it, but because it started to get pretty threadbare, and I don’t want to wear it out.  I have a couple of t-shirts like that – I love them and have worn them too much and now I don’t really get to wear them.  (Largely because they were worn so much before I got them, too.  I’d guess this shirt is at least 30 years old.)  It is 50/50 (so soft!), which is way better than 100% cotton, in my opinion, but I wonder if that contributes to it not holding up so well.  Also, it is a size large, which always gets to me with vintage clothing, because people used to be so much smaller back then?!?  I am a present-day small.

I just did a google search for this t-shirt, and found one on etsy selling for $146.06 Canadian dollars, which is currently $113.34 US dollars.  Dang!  That’s a keeper.

 


Letters 2 Ollie

There’s a trans-kid out there who could use some words of support and encouragement right now.  (There are many trans-kids out there who need help; here’s one way you can make a direct impact!)  Tell Ollie your story and how you get through hard times related to depression and gender dysphoria, by sending him an email at letters2ollie@gmail.com.  I sent one in last night!

It started with, on Tuesday, I read an email that was dispersed through a closed Facebook group I am a member of, and I contacted the writer, Aldana, to see if I could share her message.  The following is posted with her permission.  Please do forward to specific people who might be interested, via email!  If you would like to re-blog or share on social media, please contact me at janitorqueer@gmail.com first…  Aldana has conveyed that it’s a fine balance between wanting to get the word out and get more letters sent in, and on the other hand, the potential of it spinning out of control, having the message get watered down, and possibly having the surprise no longer be a surprise.

Aldana, a friend of Ollie’s father, wrote, (Edited version.)
____________________

Hi guys,

I apologize for an email coming out of left field but I need some help and I hope you might be able to point me in the right direction.  My name is Aldana and I have a very close friend who has a 17 year old transgender son named Oliver. Ollie just came out the end of last year and suffers from extreme gender dysphoria and depression. He has been going through a really rough time for a while now.  He needs help and support so badly, and his dad does too.

I looked up local mentorship programs to send to his dad because I really believe that if Ollie had a mentor in his life, he would have someone to relate to and to talk about what he is going through.  Besides sending mentorship information, I thought there might be another way to help Ollie feel love and support right now. It might be a long shot, but I wanted to put it out there just in case you might be able to help me make this happen!

I thought that it would be so great and powerful if people who went through similar hard times and came out the other side, were able to write a letter to Ollie telling him their story and how they overcame their challenges.  This young soul is in desperate need of acceptance and love and I would appreciate any help or guidance you can give me in helping me make this “Letters 2 Ollie” project happen.

I went ahead and created an email account that I can give to his dad to share with him once people start writing him letters. The email address is letters2ollie@gmail.com.  I am hoping to get about 30 but would be grateful for any amount to be honest.

I know this is an ambitious project and I want to thank you in advance for any help or guidance you can offer. You have my permission to forward this email to anyone you think might be able to help me make this “Letters 2 Ollie” project a reality. Thanks for your time!

Best,

Aldana
____________________

Here’s what I wrote to Ollie:

Hey Ollie,

My name is Kameron, and I’m a 34 year-old trans-person. (Oh man, that makes me twice your age!)  I wanted to write to you, share a little bit about myself, and hopefully learn more about you.

When I was 17, I was going through a really rough time too.  I felt depressed, and stressed out about trying to make friends, plus juggling school, cross-country running, and a part-time job.  (I worked at McDonald’s.  It sucked.)  On top of all of this, I was putting a lot of pressure on myself to figure out my sexual identity (gender identity questions ended up coming later for me) and to be more open and honest. I was really shy.

I decided that I must be a lesbian, since I was so masculine and it seemed like I would probably date women, although I wasn’t so sure about that.  I didn’t know about transgender identities.  I didn’t know of anyone who was trans, or even what that really meant – it wasn’t talked about at the time, and I didn’t know about any resources.  I could barely come to terms with the idea of being gay, anyway, so maybe it was for the best!  To end up exploring these things in stages…

After a couple of months of feeling such intense pressure in my senior year of high school, I broke down and ended up in a psychiatric hospital for three weeks.  The rest of that school year was really really hard.  I had to drop out of a few of my classes.  I went to more study halls and art classes, but that didn’t really help.  I was not able to focus on my school work or anything else, not even TV!

Things did get better though, slowly but surely.  I don’t want to sound too cliche, but it does get better.  At least for me it did.  And I think if you were to really ask people who struggle with depression and gender dysphoria and everything else, most of them would tell you the same thing.

My mom was supportive, and she found out about an LGBT youth group that I started going to every Sunday morning.  (It prevented me from going to church with my parents, but I was secretly happy about that.)  I will say that I found it difficult to connect with people at first, because I was so shy, but I at least started to feel a little bit more confident at my school.  At the time, my school didn’t even have a gay-straight alliance or any club like that!  Does your school?

When I went to college, a lot changed for me, largely because it was an opportunity to re-invent myself.  Everyone was new.  Also, I learned about so many things I was not aware of, including gender identity.  Do you have plans to go to college?  Even if you don’t, there are all sorts of opportunities to be the person you see yourself as, even if most people know you as someone else right now.  Whether you join a new gym or start a new job or join a new group, I feel like people are more and more accepting and understanding about transgender identities, by the minute, these days.  It’s really incredible how fast things are changing.

I would not have believed I could be where I am today, when I was 17 (the year you were born!  Were you born in 1999?)  I changed my pronouns to he/him/his about 10 years ago.  I changed my name socially, and I want to change it legally too.  I was on testosterone for a few years.  I just had top surgery 3 weeks ago!  My transition has ended up not being as straightforward, partly because I identify as non-binary, but that’s a different story.  Also, I got married to a totally amazing person, and I have a blog, and I’m a radio DJ, and despite having some bouts of depression at different times, I am usually happy and want to get as much out of life as I can!

I’ve been thinking about you and hoping that things are at least getting a little better, every day.  I wonder if you’d want to write back and forth more?  I’d love to hear about what kinds of stuff you like.  I just talked a whole lot about myself, but I’m actually more interested in learning more about you!  Also, if you want to ask me something, go for it! I doubt I will think anything is “too personal.”  I’m pretty open!

Your pen pal,
Kameron


28 risks of chest binding

Some well known information about binding was finally proven empirically, for the first time ever, and published last week in Culture, Health, and Sexuality:  An International Journal for Research, Intervention, and Care.  The data was collected in the form of an online survey, where participants self-reported about their preferences, habits, and symptoms, as it relates to binding their chests.  The sample size was 1,800 people, from 38 countries, ages 18-66 years old, who were either assigned female at birth, or intersex, but encompassed 70 different gender identities.  The data was collected in April and May of 2014.

I highly recommend reading this article.  View the full article here:  Health impact of chest binding among transgender adults:  a community engaged, cross-sectional study.

Although very little from this study may be surprising among people who have experience with binding, this data is so important, because sometimes it takes surveys and studies to change public opinions, and hopefully that continues to happen sooner rather than later.  Specifically, if harmful effects are proven, maybe pressure will be put on health insurance companies so that more people can access top surgery.

Risks

97.2% of respondents reported at least one negative outcome from binding.  The most common symptoms were:

1. back pain (53.8%)
2. overheating (53.3%)
3. chest pain (48.8%)
4. shortness of breath ((46.6%)
5. itching (44.9%)
6. bad posture (40.3%)
7. shoulder pain (38.9)

Other symptoms included (and some of these are really severe):

8. rib fractures
9. rib or spine changes
10. shoulder joint “popping”
11. muscle wasting
12. numbness
13. headache
14. fatigue
15. weakness
16. lightheadedness/dizziness
17. cough
18. respiratory infections
19. heartburn
20. abdominal pain
21. digestive issues
22. breast changes
23. breast tenderness
24. scarring
25. swelling
26. acne
27. skin changes
28. skin infections

From the article:

“Although binding is associated with many negative physical health outcomes, it is also associated with significant improvements in mood and mental health. In response to open ended questions about mental health effects and motivations for binding, participants consistently affirmed that the advantages of binding outweighed the negative physical effects.  Many participants said that binding made them feel less anxious, reduced dysphoria-related depression and suicidality, improved overall emotional wellbeing and enabled them to safely go out in public with confidence.”

The most surprising finding from this study was,
“Commercial binders were the binding method most consistently associated with negative health outcomes, possibly because such binders have the potential to provide more compression than other binding methods. This finding is inconsistent with community perceptions that commercial binders represent the safest option.”
Another thought about this though:  binders were the most common, by far, so people are wearing these longer, and more consistently than other methods, which allows more severe symptoms to start to be apparent.  That seems pretty logical and straightforward.

Methods

different methods for binding your chest
The methods people reported using are as follows, from most common to least common:
-commercial binders
-sports bras
-shirt layering
-multiple sports bras
-elastic bandages
-athletic compression wear
-neoprene compression wear
-duct tape or plastic wrap
-belts, scarves, tight fabric, back braces, undersized swim suits, girdles, panty-hose

The first time I bound my chest, I used duct tape, for a drag show.  This was about 10 years ago.  I quickly moved on to ace bandages.  Shortly after, a trans-friend gave me one of his old binders that had stretched too much for him to feel comfortable in.  It was too big for me, but it was pretty effective anyway.  Still, I didn’t like it at all, preferring to just layer my shirts.  Over the next 10 years, I’ve purchased 2 binders from Underworks, and 3 binders that were actually almost tolerable, just compressing the breast region, and from the outside looking like a ribbed tank-top.  Still, I didn’t like it at all, and only very rarely wore any of these things.  Like, if we were going out and then going to a movie, I might wear the binder, but as soon as we’d get to the movie theater, I’d go to the bathroom just to take the thing off, because it’s not a huge deal, while sitting in the dark.

Many many people wear binders every single day, for over 8 hours per day, for years.  This study aims to understand how prevalent negative outcomes are, identify the risk factors, and develop evidence-based recommendations for health care professionals and people who bind.  I hope this study paves the way for future changes.  I’m just picturing binders coming with the warning, “May cause dizziness, drowsiness, headache, numbness, swelling… [etc.]  Talk to your doctor if…

If you’re interested in another study about trans- and gender non-conforming people, Here’s an interesting one that I summarized:  “A Gender Not Listed Here.”

 

-Works cited: Sarah Peitzmeier, Ivy Gardner, Jamie Weinand, Alexandra Corbet & Kimberlynn Acevedo (2016): Health impact of chest binding among transgender adults: a community-engaged, cross-sectional study, Culture, Health & Sexuality.


2 weeks post top surgery

Content Note:  vanity.

When I first saw my chest, looking down while everything was being unwrapped, I was pretty happy.  Everything looked good, except for the fact that the left side was larger than the right.  I was assured it was due to swelling, and everything would even out.

Now that another week has passed though, I’m not feeling it.  I am more and more skeptical that there is much, if any, swelling going on.  My spouse agrees.  Regardless, I’ve been taking arnica and bromelain… using ice packs a little bit.

Right now, there is not enough symmetry, in multiple regards.  The areolas are different shapes, and they are too large (not “nickle sized,” like we discussed).  The nipples are also too large, but it’s kinda hard to tell what’s going on there (they’re currently being smooshed flat, and will continue to be for another 2 weeks.)  The biggest thing, though, is, I have different sizes going on, which contributes to the areolas/nipples being not in the same place, on each side.  I don’t like that!

All these differences are fairly subtle, but definitely noticeable.  I know it’s way too early to be coming to conclusions about how things look, but, so far, not so good.

I’ve been in a pretty negative space.  I’ve felt so negative at times, in fact, that it was hard to feel motivated to do all the showering and “nipple care” stuff.  This has gotten better over time.  Everything could change a lot, as I heal; I do recognize that.  It’s not all bad.  Every time I have the sterile pads and binder off for a little while (to let things air out), and I put on a t-shirt (carefully!), I think, “This could work!”  Excitement is there, somewhere.  Sometimes I push down the good stuff, and remain guarded and reserved.

There is something here though:  When picking a surgeon, I wasn’t going off of a whole lot.  I mean, I pored through what was available on transbucket, for sure, and searched resources, youtube, and the like.  But I didn’t really entertain all the possibilities very much, in my head.  I had a gut feeling about one route, and kind of just stuck with that.

This isn’t the first time I’ve made huge, life-changing decisions in this manner.  But I kind of hope it might be the last time.  (I know it won’t be, haha.)  There are better ways to go about narrowing down all the options!

There is one resource that I just learned about a couple of days ago, because a fellow blogger pointed the way.  Gabriel wrote a post called Getting Started With Top Surgery.  He mentioned “top surgery Facebook groups where people share their results and stories with their surgeon as well as the price quotes they’ve paid.”  Oh yeah!  Facebook.  That had not even crossed my mind, unfortunately.  So I just joined an FTM top surgery group, and wow, this is where all the good stuff is.  Wish I had known about it 6 months ago.

Edit:  My spouse suggested I stop looking at the FTM top surgery page for a while.  That sounds like a good idea – I was starting to get obsessive about it.  She said wordpress is good.  Stop going on facebook.  Haha.  I agree.

I feel torn about whether I will post pictures or not, and if so, where.  Before surgery, I was sure I would not post pictures on this blog, but I would post them on transbucket, when I feel ready.  (They can be accessed if you create an account on transbucket).  This still sounds like what I’m going to want to do.  I do not plan on ever being shirtless in public.  So, in regards to aesthetics, the most important thing is how everything looks while wearing a t-shirt.  Other than people looking up pics as a resource, the only people who are going to see my chest are my spouse and me (and medical professionals, when necessary).  So is it important what it looks like?  Ultimately, yes.  But for right now, as long as I can wear whatever I want, I will be happy enough…

During my most recent therapy appointment, right before surgery, I had said, “I’m worried my chest won’t look as good as it does now.”  As opposed to saying, “I’m worried my chest won’t look as good as I envision.”  That, to me, says a lot.

In other news, I had a great time in Philadelphia with my mom, after my follow-up.  We went to a brewery and record store.  We met up with friends at the Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference and went to two workshops.  Wish we could have stayed longer!

Also, my spouse and I went to a wedding this past weekend, and it was a lot of fun!  Their ceremony reflected who they are, a lot, and everything was casual and laid back.  After the ceremony, I was asked to sign the marriage certificate, as one of the witnesses.  This was a total surprise!  I felt honored.  I asked the officiant if it had to be my legal name, and she said it didn’t matter.  Awesome!


Oregon recognizes legal non-binary status

On June 10th, there was one small victory for the LGBTQ+ community and allies:  A trans-person named Jamie Shupe filed a petition for a gender change in April, in Portland, Oregon, and they were finally in court in front of a judge on Friday.  Their attorney, Lake J. Perriguey, has stated, “Oregon law has allowed for people to petition a court for a gender change for years, but the law doesn’t specify that it has to be either male or female.  The law just says, ‘change.’ Historically, people have asked for a gender change from male to female and the other way around, but Jamie is the first to ask for the gender of ‘non-binary.'”

This is the first time this has had a successful outcome in the United States.  I’d be curious to know whether others have tried before, in other states?

According to the New York Times, the judge, Amy Holmes Hehn, told Mr. Perriguey that he was “pushing the envelope.”  And the attorney’s response was, “We’re not, really. The envelope just needs to get bigger.”  I love that!  The full article can be found here:  Oregon Court Allows a Person to Choose Neither Sex.  I am psyched.  I feel that, within my lifetime, I will be able to do this too.

Another cool thing:  A few months ago, The New York Times started an ongoing project where trans-people could share their own stories, in their own words.  (I participated in this too.  Here’s what I wrote:  Kameron.)  You can still share your story too:  Share Your Story.

Jamie wrote, among other things, about their experiences in the military, all the discrimination they faced, and that although they legally changed their gender and name, the military would not change their ID card.  “After a bad experience in the ER of having a female patient bracelet cut off and replaced with a male bracelet that had my old name in front of a room full of people, I asked the Army for a new ID card, and for my gender to be changed in their DEERS computer system.  The Army responded with demands that I have unwanted SRS surgery, and that my spouse of 27 years relinquish her military benefits.”

Read the rest of their story here:  Jamie Shupe.  (At the time of the story, they identified as female.)


6 days post top surgery

Going into surgery, I was in pretty rough shape.  I felt sick (although I didn’t want to say so, specifically, to anyone other than my spouse… I kept saying “slight head cold”) and exhausted.  Luckily, my cold symptoms were not too worrisome, medically:  no fever, no chest congestion / trouble breathing.  Other than the cold, I felt mentally prepared.  In retrospect, I totally was. But, not so much prepared for the recovery process…

office / home / guest rooms mansion

office/home/guest rooms mansion

Surgery Day:  We arrived at 6:15am, surgery was from 7:30-9am, I was sleeping till about 10:30, and we were leaving by 11:30.  At which point, I felt a lot better than I had for days – it even felt like my cold magically disappeared.

Everything went smoothly, except for the fact that the surgeon was about to do the wrong procedure.  I was afraid this was the case because during the entire process including the consultation, the paperwork continually listed “double incision mastectomy with free nipple grafts.”  Even after I called a month ago to verify we were on the same page with the peri-areolar procedure and was assured that we were.  So when she came in and said, “Double incision.”  I said no, and luckily wasn’t phased by the mix up.   She said peri-areolar, I said yes, and she drew circles around my areolas.  I talked to her about nipple size, saying I wanted them small.  She said, “They’ll be smaller.  Your nipples will be nipple-sized.”  That was not very reassuring, but after she left, and before the anesthesiologist came back around, my spouse clarified that she had said, “your nipples will be nickle-sized.”  That sounded better.

If you want to read a more detailed account of what it’s like, here’s a good one someone wrote just a few days ago:  Surgery.  It was a lot like that. Back at the guest room, we texted with some people, a Philly friend came and visited for a while, we watched Seinfeld, and we went to sleep early.  I was up a lot that night, ravenously eating snacks and just not able to get comfortable.  I was sleeping sitting up, at the foot of the bed, a lot.

Day after surgery – The next day, we were driving home.  And I was in bed by 6pm.  My cold symptoms were back, and I was not feeling so good anymore.  I’ll bet that first day, I had a good mix of adrenaline and endorphins flowing, plus whatever they put in the IV.  And then I crash.

2 days after surgery – I sat outside for a while.  A friend came over, and we chatted for about 30 minutes before my spouse and they went thrift shopping.  We listened to some podcasts.  I read a book about subway art, written in 1984, a book I had found in the trash at school.  We watched 2 episodes of Mad Men.

drinking water

Drinking water.  Feeling pretty good.

drinking water. I did not plan on wearing this Hawaiian shirt. Turns out I don't have that many short sleeved button down shirts that will comfortably fit over the drains I have in!

Drinking water. (I did not plan on wearing this Hawaiian shirt. Turns out I don’t have that many short sleeved button down shirts that will comfortably fit over the drains!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 days – Podcasts, Mad Men.  I stopped taking the pain meds (Percocet) because they were causing OIC (opioid induced constipation).  The pain increased throughout the day, but it’s not like Percocet was all that effective anyway.  We went to my spouse’s parents’ house, which did not go so well (I could not bear being social, especially once a family friend came by – I just went and sat outside.)  We went to the grocery store on the way home – that was OK.

4 days – Glad to be off Percocet – realized that there are other pain meds (D’uh!) so I took an Alieve.  I feel like 95% of the pain now is due to this fucking surgical wrap I have to wear for 7 days.  I can only take shallow breaths; I can’t laugh or yawn or cough; it’s digging into my ribs and underarms; it’s way too tight; it just fucking sucks*.  There’s a reason I didn’t bind!  We went to the movies – nice to get out of the house.  Also, one of our cats got suddenly freaked out by my Frankenstein walk (even though I’ve been doing it for days), and she bolted off the table, knocking a bunch of my records onto the floor.  It was loud.  Also, I had a mini melt down about hating asking for things that are so basic, telling my spouse that I keep doing things because I would rather do them than ask – open and close doors, get ice trays out of the freezer, pour water from our britta, reach up high for a Q-tip, carry my laptop…  I gotta stop so I don’t mess up my healing process!  She was on it and strategized a bunch of new ways to make things easier!

5 days – My spouse went back to work.  Our refrigerator was making a loud noise this morning and stopped working.  That was stressful!  I called a repair person, then changed my mind because we should just buy a new one because this thing is super old.  My spouse’s mom came over to save our freezer items for us, store them at her house.  Then the fridge started working again, so it feels like less pressure – we’ll still get a new one, but it doesn’t have to be today.  A friend brought over lunch – I liked that!  My mom stopped by after work.  I felt anxious and lightheaded for a lot of the day.  I was feeling really confined/claustrophobic, as if this binding thing were made of plaster of paris, or steel.  I had a serious melt down (I got an all-too-real glimpse of what it could feel like, if I lost it right now – I felt in danger of becoming more and more triggered), and told my spouse we need more people around us, helping.  She called her parents to make that happen.  We talked and I felt a lot better.

6 days – That’s today!  I only managed to sleep 3 hrs.  I’ll be spending more time with people today.  I’m just going to try to relax.  I also gotta start preparing for going back down there tomorrow, to get this fucking binding off.  Oh, and the drains.  I’m going with my mom.

Overall, I’m in more pain than I thought.  And I’m way less out of it than I thought (like, I didn’t get to be in a fun pain-killer induced haze, haha).  And I don’t like TV that much and I’ve been up and about a lot.  I hate not doing things because it reminds me of being depressed.

*  Note:  this may be the only time I’ve used swear words on this blog (in reference to the surgical binding).  It’s that bad.  Also, though, I appreciate this thing because it reminds me of where the limits are and also it’s preventing me from coughing stitches open or anything like that.


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