I came out to our neighbor

I can’t believe there’s still so many intense conversations to be had!  Why does it take forever?!

In general in our neighborhood, my spouse and I don’t have a rapport with people.  Like, at best, I watched our next-door neighbor’s cat one time, and we went to a backyard fire at her place twice, like two summers ago.

We also have a neighbor a few houses down who borrows our lawn mower a lot.  This is the guy I’m talking about today – I ran into him yesterday, off our street.

I was walking on a major road nearby, to a coffee shop to write some letters to friends.  (I am still out of work on medical leave right now.)  He saw me first, from across the street.  We probably have only seen each other once or twice since last summer.  He’s always super friendly, so he was shouting, “Hey, hey, how are you?” and crossing the street at the same time.  I steeled myself (slightly), and returned the greeting, meeting him partway to shake his hand and ask how he’s been, what he was up to.

He was walking home after buying his lotto tickets, etc. but that’s neither here nor there.  We talked about past neighbors that he’s kept up with, and about his plans for retirement.  I told him my spouse was going back to school in the fall for a master’s program.  (Oh, hey, PS: blog-friends, my spouse is doing this big thing coming up.  Grad school!!!)

Then I told him that I legally changed my name to Kameron.  And that I got my passport and driver’s ID and everything changed over.  He asked me if this was a good thing, and I said, yeah, yeah it is.  Then I realized he just has no idea, so I spelled it out – I said, “I’m transgender, I’m actually more in the middle, not like I am going to become a man.  But like, at work and my friends and family, I use male pronouns, ‘he/him/his.'”

He started to get it then, and as soon as he did, he started apologizing.  For being invasive, or something, I guess?  I just kept repeating, “No, you’re fine.  It’s not personal.  This is a part of who I am.  So, like my parents are all good with it, everyone’s all good.  It just took me a long time.  There’s a lot of discrimination.  Like, say, fifteen years ago, it wasn’t even OK just to be gay.  Things are changing though.”

He definitely got that.  It immediately sunk in.  He said, “Oh yeah, like you might have been depressed and now things are better for you?  I bet people deal with suicides and stuff, right?”  I said “Yes, and even bullying and hate crimes and everything.  It’s bad.  I mean, I don’t like to be negative, but yeah, it can be bad.”

He then proceeded to ask about operations and surgeries, and I just said, “Well, that part of it is personal.  So, I mean, I’ll figure that out as it comes.  But for now everything is all good.”  He does not need to know about my top-surgery status or anything else of that nature, for sure!

He started apologizing again, haha.

I shook his hand again and said he was free to borrow our lawn mower if he needs it.  We exchanged more pleasantries and parted ways.  I felt really good about it.  He kept referring to my spouse as my girlfriend, but hey, I can’t correct the man on every little detail.  He got the gist of the most important stuff for now, and that’s more than fine by me!  It felt like another tiny weight lifted off.  Dang, how much extra “weight” am I actually carrying?!  That’s still a mystery that is becoming just a little bit clearer…


Pain is relative

Content note:  blood, needles, things that might make you squeamish, self-injury.

Three days ago, I did my 24th shot of T.  I started to psych myself out – for some reason, it suddenly seemed super-difficult.  The needle looked extra long, and it has been looking that way for a while now.  I decided maybe I should stick it in a “meatier” part of my quad muscle.  I did, and must have hit a vein – it HURT a LOT and it bled quite a bit.  I just felt like, “Damn, I’ve been working myself up about the pain more and more lately.  I just wanna do it like a routine, without any glitches!”

It then occurred to me to look up the gauge online and see what was the range.  I looked at my zip-lock baggie from the pharmacy, full of my syringes.  I suddenly realized that my newer ones were a different shade of green than my older ones.  I was looking at 23 gauge versus 21 gauge.  In addition, the 21s were 1.5 inches, and the 23s were 1 inch – my fear that I was gonna hit my femur was semi-legit!  I need to go back and get more 1 inch needles, pronto!

Needles are scary, right?  It makes sense that people would fear needles.  They hurt.  Also, what about negative associations to getting shots at a doctor’s office, as a small child, vaccines and booster shots, stuff like that.

And then there’s the taking of the blood.  Like, say, you have a medical condition that causes you to need regular blood draws to make sure everything is on track.  If you are transgender, this is a common best practice.

When I was 17-21, I had to get regular blood work done every 3-6 months, because of a psychotropic drug I was on.  I can’t remember the reason why. ( To check liver functioning, and/0r cholesterol?  I forget.)  It was a hassle, at the very least.  But I did start getting very comfortable with it:  I was present, it barely hurt – I just looked away so I didn’t have to see the vials filling up with blood.

Because of this, probably, I was intrigued by the idea of donating blood.  I did it a handful of times between these ages (17-21), both at my high school and at my college.  It was one of the most bizarre things, in my opinion:  Here we are, a bunch of us, all laying down on cots.  Any one of us might pass out at any time, and that would cause a chain reaction for others to pass out too.  There are these nurses hovering over all of us, making sure we can stand up OK as if we are rising from the dead, with these baggies of blood tied to us.  They are on hand with cookie packets and juice boxes.  We can have as many as we want…

The one reason I stopped doing it was because I had a hard time maintaining the minimum weight requirement during college (110 lb).  I didn’t have an eating disorder, per se, I just didn’t have an appetite or desire for much of anything at all.  I also struggled with anemia.

And self-injury too.  In that case, pain was my friend.  I guess I can best describe it as, I would work myself up into such a frenzy that cutting my skin felt like the only thing that would bring me down.  I was hyper-ritualistic about it.  It was a fairly common occurrence for years, but never “severe.”  And I don’t do it anymore.

Testosterone has changed my relationship to pain, for sure.  I’ve written about that here:
Differences In How I Experience Pain

Here’s a quick excerpt (I wrote this somewhere around 3 years ago):

Before I started taking testosterone, I had a peculiar, but not really uncommon, relationship to pain.  In many cases, I derived pleasure from pain.  I would create sensations of pain, within my control, in an effort to calm myself.  Also, when I’d hurt myself accidentally like for example, hit my arm on a doorway, I would feel alarm, followed by an adrenaline rush, followed by a pleasant soothing wave.

Now?  If I hurt myself, it hurts!  If I accidentally ran into a doorway, it would not be pleasant in any way, shape, or form.  I remember the first few times I got hurt in little ways, in the first couple of months of being on testosterone; I was so surprised by how much pain was coursing through my body.  I just felt like, aaaaaah!  I’ve been swearing under my breath and feeling unnerved by how much stuff hurts.

So what am I trying to get at?  I guess I just want to acknowledge that sticking yourself with a needle, in an ongoing way, is a really intense thing to do.  And it’s totally understandable that some trans-people would just have a hard limit and say, “I’m not doing that.”  For myriad reasons.  So at least there are other options:

– Gels, patches, and creams (unfortunately, quite costly)
– Sub-cutaneous injections (not as deep)
– Stuff like Nebido that’s injected every 3 months or so

Does anyone have experiences with switching methods?
Doing self-injections feels like a badge of honor, but I’m not quite sure that it feels like an “honorable” thing to do…


I finally made a resource page, of sorts

This is just an announcement that I added some stuff to my blog!  For the longest time, the additional tabs were “ask me something,” “what it’s about,” and “glossary of janitorial words and phrases.”  And that was it.

About two weeks ago, an outreach specialist who works for drugrehab.com reached out and asked if I would add their website.  She wrote,

“Studies have shown that individuals in the LGBT community are more likely to use and abuse alcohol and drugs and tend to continue abuse throughout their lives. We work to spread awareness and to be an informational resource for those impacted by alcohol and drug dependence.

I believe that our website would be a valuable addition to your resources listed on your page.  Would you please review our resource and consider adding it to your website to spread awareness”

And that got me thinking, because I don’t have anything like that on my blog!  But I decided that I could – she kind of got me going to start organizing a resource page.  I told her, “I’ll need to start from scratch because I have yet to provide a resource page at all, but I love the idea, so thanks for that push!”  And then I started working.

I had always been of the mindset that although many blogs do have links to online safe spaces, hotlines, etc., I don’t need to be one of those blogs – people can google whatever they want to google and glean information from myriad places.  I wouldn’t even know how to narrow down a page.  Some, like Micah’s on Neutrois Nonsense, for example, are so comprehensive, I don’t really have anything to add!

So, mine might be a bit random, and it’s definitely not complete, by a long shot.  I included the one for the drug rehab site first, since she was the one to get me going.  I then added two overarching sites for mental health, Micah’s blog (of course!), the blog of a professional gender therapist who is very hands-on, and then two sites that are geared toward brainstorming and creativity, when it comes to gender.

You can take a look here:  LGBTQIA-GSM Resources.  Please lemme know if you want me to add anything in particular…  (The GSM stands for “gender and sexual minorities,” because there are not enough letters in the alphabet to cover everyone!)

I’ll just end with a little more information about the drug rehab website, mostly because I was so tickled that they wrote and wanted me to “advertise” for them.  It makes me feel like, wow, cool, my blog really is reaching people.  (This is something that waxes and wanes for me, whether it’s really out there or not.)  So, the outreach specialist said,

We are a free informational resource for those  battling mental health and substance abuse issues. Our website tackles many issues currently facing society today. We have a team of doctors and writers who update our content daily.
We do have a hotline that you can call with questions about different treatment options, as we know every individual is unique and so should treatment be as well.
If you want further information, check out my new resource page!!!  LGBTQIA-GSM Resources

Real Boy: A Son’s Transition, A Mother’s Transformation

Tonight at 10PM (9PM central time), PBS is screening a documentary called Real Boy.  If you’re hanging at home tonight, check it out!!

I had the opportunity to see this film twice now:

Last fall, my neighbors and I went, as part of the annual LGBT film festival where we live.  I’d have to say that I was a little bit jaded at that time – here is yet another story about young, white, binary, trans-masculine people.  Seen that / heard that!!!

The parts about his (Ben’s) mom, and family dynamics were what held it together for me.  My neighbor was really touched by it in a different way – there was a lot about singing/songwriting/creativity, and also about recovering from substance abuse and other destructive behaviors.

Then, two weeks ago, I went with my spouse and her parents.  It was a free showing, and the two main “characters” were there in person to answer questions and play some of their music as well.  I felt really happy that we all saw it together – we then went out to eat and talked about how we related or didn’t, with the movie.  Awesome conversations.

I would say that, for me, the second time’s the charm, haha.  For one thing, closed captioning was on, so we could all listen and read the dialogue simultaneously, which was kinda necessary because some people mumble more than others.  I got a lot more out of it – the way that Ben’s navigating his new life / roles / perceptions as a very young person (I can’t imagine transitioning at that age!!!  Hormones are already on full alert and then to mix it up so drastically, must be stressful – both positive and negative stress.)  And the male bonding that was going on between the characters felt a lot more touching to me this time for some reason.  He has a mentor / protegee dynamic going on with an older musician, and then a housemate / brotherhood with a trans-guy he met through mutual friend.

In terms of content notes, I would give this warning:  Topics that are potentially sensitive to those in recovery are brought up:  mostly grappling with drug and alcohol abuse, as well as self-injury and family issues / rejection.  Also, we follow along as Ben and his housemate move forward with getting top surgery with Dr. Garramone in Florida.

I’d say catch this movie if you can!  Although it didn’t really speak to me the first time, I came around to really like it!


1 year post-op (top surgery)

With everything else that’s been going on lately, I completely forgot that my one year anniversary was on June 1st.  I think I was aware on some level, because I’ve been super vocal with my spouse, the past few days, about where I’m at with this process.  So I’ll try to distill those diatribes into something that  makes sense!

Most importantly, within the past few weeks, I would say I have grown increasingly more comfortable with the off-beat sensations that I have going on.  Nothing is painful, per-se, but there’s still a lot of tenderness.  I am finally OK with my spouse resting her head there without warning, and in addition, I’ve realized that the more I ignore/avoid that area of my body, the more it will stagnate.  ???  (That’s just a hypothesis, but I hope there’s some truth to that – I’ve been trying to actively “manhandle” some spots, in the hopes that’ll promote more nerve growth, haha.)

I am over the disappointment of it not being picture perfect.  At first I was angry with the surgeon (Dr. Rumer).  I held onto this anger for a long time.  But, as I noted at 6 months, I had been poking and prodding around my rib-cage a lot more, and I came to the conclusion that my bone structure is asymmetrical, and she (the surgeon) had to work around those idiosyncracies, and in the end, I think she did her best.  I’m sure it would have looked more even if I had gone with DI, but peri was one of the things I was not negotiating on.  I already have scarring on my chest, from my self-injuring behavior years ago, and I really wanted no additional scarring, if possible.  And that was accomplished.  (Aside from my drain holes – those scars are still visible!!!)

My nipples, I believe, can be “tweaked,” (haha) for sure.  They look like they got shrunk and melted on – I think a different surgeon can really change the size and shape and it’ll make me much happier.  I am not going with Dr. Rumer any-further.  I was supposed to have my one year appointment either in person or over skype, on Thursday, but I cancelled it all together.  I am done, and am only now looking ahead to revisions.  The appt. wasn’t even going to be with the surgeon – just a nurse-practitioner, like I did over skype at 1 months, 3 months, 6 months, etc.  I’m done.

I am grateful that insurance reimbursed a large part of it – I really didn’t think I stood a chance with that.

And, just to wrap up, I want to reiterate how important this step was for me:  It’s not just that now I can wear tighter shirts and I don’t have to consider whether to bind or not, etc.  It has really affected my self-esteem, self-perception, and social comfort.  When I get dressed, I am excited to see how the shirt falls now – does it accentuate my pecs (which are now one of my favorite parts of my body), can I layer things in an interesting way, can I wear this as an open shirt and consider wearing a necklace as well?… etc.  Sometimes I will wear two outfits in one day, just to try out new-to-me fashions!

I told my spouse the other day that I used to just feel dumpy all the time, and she was shocked – she said I never looked dumpy.  Now it’s the opposite – I feel snazzy!


Priorities, at my most vulnerable

I was in the hospital for psychiatric reasons, for a week in mid-May.  It went so much smoother than my two other “stays.”  (Those occurred in 1999 and 2015).  I attribute that smoothness to:

– Having a complete social network around me for the first time in my life

– The fact that even though I had never been to THIS hospital, I was able to draw from my experience in 2015, and use that blueprint to (semi)-successfully navigate my way through, this time around.

– I was already on meds that were working pretty well, for the first time ever.  This means that my psychiatrist wasn’t just taking a shot in the dark.  She was just tweaking what was already working.  (For me, specifically, this meant getting my Seroquel (anti-psychotic) increased from 200mg, to 600mg, dispersed into three 200mg doses throughout the day, and discontinuing the Wellbutrin (anti-depressant), at least for now.*

So, what were my priorities?
1. Getting on an adequate sleep schedule.
2. Eating the hospital food without having too many digestive issues (this included not relying too heavily on food visitors brought me, even though I was so grateful that they were doing this.)
3. Interacting as opposed to shutting down:  Unless I was knocked out on meds, I was up and about, talking with people (sometimes shouting at them), pacing the halls (“going for a walk”), coloring with different medias and different methods / trying to do number puzzles (figuring out what was feeling more “right brained / left brained”), marking my turf / territory in ways that may have been specific to me (this, right here, would be a post unto itself… I’ll leave that for another day…

Some peripheral priorities / goals that I tackled / attempted and had some success with was:
1. Watching out for other people, checking in to see if they felt safe.
2. Micromanaging free-dance party / art times.
3. Getting other people condiments and other things they might need / want.
4. Modeling my behavior off of others / acting as a role model.
5. Pushing for Gym Time and Therapy Dog visits.
6. Reinforcing privacy vs. getting help.  Also reinforcing quiet hours and other scheduled parts of the day.
7. Taking a shower every day (night) at the same time (10pm).
8. Dispensing important information.
____________________________________________________

Notes:

I realize this post is a pretty vague sketch of some important things – this might serve as just an outline for me to fill in more interesting details / experiences / stories…

*I was also administered a shot, which I refer to as a “Haldol Cocktail.”  5 parts Haldol, 2 parts Ativan, 50 parts Benadryl.  Plus, of course, my Testosterone shot – 50mg.

 


Jeepster

Content note:  This post might not make a whole lot of sense unless you really like 70’s and 80’s music and/or gender.  And writing and the English language…

In my city, there are two chain-type places to go to get an average oil change within about a half-hour wait.  One also sells it’s brand of oil (nationwide? internationally? not sure).  The other is more of a gas station / car wash place.

For the sake of anonymity, I’ll call them:
LV – the oil specific place
SD – the gas station

I almost always go to SD because my parents give me coupons for free oil changes there, every xmas.  And also because there is one on my way to / from work.  About 3 years ago, I started trying LV a couple of times, but I concluded that it was too expensive, and I switched back.

I was overdue for an oil change, but I didn’t want to go to the SD in the suburb where I work, cuz I don’t really want to be seen out and about, while I am out of work for medical reasons.  So I went to one in a further away suburb.  I had been there once before, and it was kind of anxiety provoking (in my head, at the time).

Why?  Because the style was Drive Thru, as opposed to giving the mechanic your keys and sitting in a waiting room.  “Drive Thru” is one of my longest lasting fears, almost bordering on a phobia before I reigned it in a few years ago.  This included parking garages, anything with a “gate,” car washes, etc.

Anyway, I made it through no problem, but I was noticing all these little “masculine touches” / masculine underlying communications, body language, etc.  Stuff that’s barely worth paying attention to.  Stuff I generally am not around because normally I’d be sitting in a waiting room.  An example would be a giant truck in line honking, just because he(?) wanted to get an attendant to come over ahead of time for some reason.  (As opposed to reading signs to find out the information).  These are all assumptions, of course, but I’m just saying I was in tune to things in a different way than I normally would have been.  And I was the opposite of anxious.

While waiting in my car, I was listening to a mix CD that a friend gave me in our early 20’s.  Before he hardly knew me.  And now he’s one of my longest-lasting, solid friends here locally.

While hypo-manic currently, I’ve been spending most of my time at home organizing and cleaning and catagorize-ing things.  One thing I uncovered was this mix CD, which he had titled, “A DRUM IS A THING IS A DRUM,” (all caps.)  which, for me, is reminiscent of Wire’s album (one of my favorite albums ever,) “A BELL IS A CUP UNTIL IT IS STRUCK” (all caps.)  The song that stood out the most, from the others was:
T-Rex – Jeepster.  So GLAM / FLAMING / FLAMBOYANT!

When the CD ended, I could overhear what was playing in the garage / mechanic dock.  It was:
Elton John – Benny and the Jets.  SO GAY!

Anyway, I got the oil change and then went to this place that used to be called The Stereo Shop.  It’s now called something like, “Digital audiophile visual environments.”  I wanted to go there because there was a used cd / record store in the back of this high end Hi Fi Sound Equipment store.  When I got there, I asked the guy at the front about the cd store, and he said it wasn’t there anymore.  It had moved.  I asked if he could write it down for me, and he did.  I don’t think any music was playing in there, or if it was, I didn’t pick up on it.

Back in my car, I was listening to a station that claims it is the only station that matters (that’s their “tag line.”)  A song came on that is unusual for their roster, and also happens to be a song I sing along with / almost know by heart.  That would be:
David Bowie – Diamond Dogs SO GLAM!

I got to the new location, and realized they didn’t open for another 45 minutes.  So I went down the road to another record store.  When I walked in, what happened to be playing?
THE CARS – MOVING IN STEREO!!!  In my book, it doesn’t get any more classic / fabulous than that.

I was really just browsing, not looking for anything in particular.  A bunch of stuff popped out to me as “must have’s.”  I got a handful of 7-inches, and a couple of records.

I’d recently started thinking I need to upgrade a few records, if I come across copies in better condition, because I am a DJ (That’s a Bowie song!), and it sucks to play crappy sounding vinyl.

Five days prior, I’d told a friend that I probably need a new copy of Culture Club’s “Colour by Numbers.”  Me ‘n this record have a loooooong history together.  It doesn’t get any more basic than that.  Sure enough, at this record store, they had two options!!!  Either:
An original, still factory sealed, for $9.99, or
An original, still with the plastic plus promo stickers saying “Grammy Nominee,” and “All New Songs!” (and then it listed 4 song titles.  This one was $10 even.
I went with the one with bonus stickers!
(PS – $10 is pretty much the most I’m willing to spend on a record, and it better be pristine and/or hard to find!)
Another exciting find was:
PETE SHELLEY* – HOMOSAPIEN* (Elongated Dancepartydubmix) !!!

Anyway, back to the story:  So I bought this stuff and went back to the music store I had really wanted to check out.  It was small and quiet (I think he was playing music, but I have no recollection of anything playing!) and there were just a couple of older dudes coming in and out, with special requests and just to shoot the breeze.  I was only there for about an hour, but I left with a HUGE HAUL.  I spent more on records and cds than I ever have before (meaning within one store at one time.)  Almost everything I found was $5 or under, and it was an extreme pick-through type situation.  Meaning, don’t go looking for anything in particular, just start looking at everything!

I had a nice conversation with the owner while he rung things up (in a way so as not to distract him, haha, he was super methodical with his calculator and his mechanical receipt machine.)  I told him he’s got lots of great obscure stuff, and I might be back within 6 months or a year or whatever.  He asked me if I live here or am passing through.  I said I went to his old store with my mom a lot and he then seemed to maybe remember me.  I said I do live here, I’m a DJ, I like 80’s music, etc.  It took him a long time to ring everything individually, so I started browsing to pass more time.  Found 3 more cds to buy, and then, as a last minute thing, the “DAVID BOWIE” category within the records popped out.  There were two records in there:
DIAMOND DOGS* (pristine and currently hard to find) for $15.98 and
LET’S DANCE* (pristine and currently hard to find) for $9.98

I bought Diamond Dogs because that more or less completes my Bowie On Vinyl collection (no new pressings or record store day garbage, haha.)  I left Let’s Dance behind because I already have it, but, hey everybody,

LET’S DANCE, everybody, DIAMOND DOGS and BENNY AND THE JETS included!  We’re all HOMOSAPIENS, we’re all JEEPSTERs, MOVING IN STEREO, sex and drugs and rock ‘n roll…

_________________________________________________

*All Capital Letters

NOTES:

This is, by far, the longest post I’ve ever written. 

Does the song “Bye Bye Love” by The Cars have 3 F-Bombs in it?  Also, are they saying, “It’s OMG Style.”???

Pete Shelley was the lead singer of original English punk-rockers, The Buzzcocks.

Another exciting find was TWO copies (one for me, one for my friend) of a pink marbled vinyl original 7″ EP by The Stranglers from 1977, one of our fave bands!  They were $4.00 each.  (Hugs Work!)

I’m listening to The Cars S/T debut while I write this.

If you haven’t yet, check out the music video for “Hello Again.”  It’s prob on youtube or some shit.


I was in the hospital (again)

Oh, hey, dang, I’ve been absent for a while.  I was in the hospital, again because I was manic (the time before that was January, 2015).  This time it was a week:  from May 15th-22nd.  I’m currently out of work until June 19th.  I’m sure once I’m feeling up to it, I’ll be writing a lot in the upcoming weeks.  For now though, I’m thinking I’ll have a handful of short, somewhat abstract updates to this blog.  The first one being:

I am a transgender person and I was hospitalized for mania and my blood was tested, and I was administered my testosterone shot, but my T-levels in my bloodstream were not monitored at any point in time during my stay.

I feel legitimately angry, like, about as angry as I am capable of getting, about this.  Because I experienced some really really bizarre symptoms while there, that I would chalk up to hormonal issues, but there’s nothing for me to measure that against.

I was shouting A LOT.  Like, I am not a shouter.  I was SUPER vocal, the entire time I was there..

My menstrual cycle came back in a super condensed, concentrated form, for about 3 days…

Digestive issues…

Sex drive??  Zero

I called people out in their shit, in real time (generally something might occur to me later, what I should have said)…

I was actually able to keep my anxiety in check this time…

Smells and tastes were all over the place…

 

Blah!  When will it sink in, that transgender people face different challenges, and these need monitoring too!


Gay Pirates EP

A couple of weeks ago, I was contacted by a singer/songwriter from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, named Evan Westfal.  He said, “Thanks for sharing your blog with the world,” and he directed me to his website where you can stream his music.  He recently put out a new EP, called “Gay Pirates.”  He says, “I was hearing a lot of love songs, but none of those love songs had any queer representation. I wanted a narrative that spoke to my identity as a gay man. So that is how gay pirates came to be. I describe the EP as a series of lamentations and exaltation of a very gay love.”

You can check it out here:  Evan Westfal

The music is fun and catchy; the lyrics are full of stuff like coy promises and sweet deceits, treasure chests and booty, tight shirts, resiliency, and a “raging sea of hormones.”  My favorite is probably the title track.

I asked him a couple of questions, because he’s got a lot going on behind the scenes, and because I was really curious what it’s like to live in Edmonton.  He said,

If I had to explain Alberta to an American, I would say that, culturally, it’s the Texas of Canada. Politically Alberta is fairly conservative, and it’s also a Province that is rich in oil. A lot of our citizens are tradespeople that work on oil rigs.  As for my city, Edmonton itself is a really cool city. A river valley runs through the centre of the city, it’s rich in wildlife and flora. The city has a fantastic pride centre, and lots of other queer organizations. To answer your questions regarding weather and topography, Edmonton is really cold in the winters, and really hot in the summers. You are correct, the surrounding areas are prairies.

The pride festival is really cool. Edmonton had it’s first parade in the 1990’s, and it was very small, and most of the participants wore bags over their heads to hide their identities. Flash forward to the millennium, and things have changed quite a bit. In the last few years our city hall has raised a pride flag, the Edmonton public school board was a marshall for the parade, and the Canadian Forces Base in Edmonton raised the pride flag. Each year over 30’000 people attend the parade. This year the pride festival’s theme is “one pride many voices.” The festival says they’re taking strides to become more inclusive. I think this is a great approach, as pride could definitely stand to be more intersectional and welcoming.

I asked what his musical background was, and also what instruments he plays / does he collaborate?  He said,

My background with music begins with my schooling. I am a graduate of the Canadian College of Performing Arts, it’s a musical theatre program in Victoria, British Columbia. I think you’ll notice some heavy influences of musical theatre in my songwriting. I then decided to focus on commercial contemporary music, I achieved that through matriculating at MacEwan University. As a musician I’ve had the opportunity to sing backing vocals for Josh Groban, to play for the opening ceremony for the Edmonton Pride Festival, I’ve performed with Opera Nuova (an Edmonton based opera company), and I’ve produced and performed in many cabarets. Right now I’m working on a music video for my song “Gay Pirates,” it should be out in a month or two. As for instrumentation, I play the piano and sing. On my track Gay Pirates, I wrote all the song, but I had some great musician’s record with me. I have to send a thank you to my drummer Julissa Bayer, guitar player Andrew Brostrom, and Bassist David Pollock.

He also mentioned that he volunteers with an outreach program called fYerfly, so I asked him to elaborate on that too:

fYrefly is a great program. The name is an initialism that stands for: fostering Youth resilience energy leadership fun leadership yeah! You might notice the Y is capitalized, that’s because youth are the most important part. fYrefly originated as a summer leadership camp for LGBTTQ2SIA+ youth between the ages of 14-24. I attended the program as a teen, and it changed my life. For the first time in my life I got to be surrounded by people like me, I got to share a sense of camaraderie, and I got to feel pure acceptance. I loved the experience so much that I spent over a decade volunteering for fYrefly.  Every year it’s a treat to see the difference the camp makes for youth.

I’m just going to repeat that acronym:  “fostering Youth resilience energy leadership fun leadership yeah!”  Haha, I love that!  Evan will be performing for the opening ceremony of the Edmonton Pride Festival, coming up on June 10th.  If you’re able to get up there – I just looked it up, and for me, it’s 34 hours away, by car!  It’s up there!

Also, related, here’s one of the first posts I ever wrote – an experience I had at a wedding:
Effeminate Pirate Orders Fruity Drink on Party Boat


3 months on testosterone

Today marks 3 months on T-injections.  My prescription is for 50ml / week, but I’ll admit I was using more than that for the first 6 weeks.  I’ve been doing 50 regularly for the last 6 weeks though, leading up to my blood test, because I really do want to see where the levels are, at that amount.  I have an appointment on Thursday with the endocrinologist to discuss this.  I’m going to ask to be put on a higher dose.  Which I may or may not bump myself up to.  I… just really like to stockpile testosterone and to have some personal control over it.

Changes have been occurring at a comfortable pace.  I’ve gained maybe 8 pounds, mostly in my abs, shoulders, and pecs.  I get more dark hairs on my chin and upper lip, which just means I gotta use the tweezers more often!  My voice definitely dropped within the last month – I’d say that is the most noticeable thing.  And I have mixed feelings about that, because it is such a permanent thing.  But, so far I’d say I’m getting used to it and will probably ultimately be happy about it.

We went to Easter Sunday at my Aunt’s, and it was the first time I’d seen my relatives since these changes have occurred.  I felt a little self-conscious, because they do know I’m trans and that I changed my name and some of them know about my top surgery.  But I haven’t said I am on testosterone.  And I’m not gonna.  It will just be.

Being out at work has been going super well.  Everyone is consistent with “Kameron.”  The “he/she,” “Mr.” etc is all over the place, which is overall fine by me because my gender is all over the place, and at least everyone knows that I said, “Kameron/he/Mx.”

Other than that, it’s been pretty low key.  It’s certainly not as big a deal in my head as getting on Androgel, 4 years ago, was.  I imagine I’ll be on the injections for a few more months at this point.  And then on and off of them, sporadically, for the rest of my life.  Probably.

I came up with a new term in my head, today, to describe my gender.  I’m definitely not “mannish,” but I do think that I am “male-ish.”

Here’s my face:  Other than not being able to get the lighting right, I think that my cheeks and neck have filled out a bit…

before injections

 

 

3 months on injections

Oh, also, I almost forgot!  I barely got my period this month – it was way late, and it was sooooo light, at that.  That was awesome.  It kinda freaks me out that that’s all it takes, and there are no health consequences(?) for the cessation of menses.  But, I guess it’s relatively normal, like with birth control and stuff…

Also, yesterday at work, we were using swing machines, which is uncommon (extra work over break).  And they require a lot of upper body strength.  I’d normally be sore after that, but today?  Not sore!