Trichotillomania and taking testosterone

I have a mild case of trichotillomania.  It’s come and gone during different times in my life, and it’s always been specific to the hair on my face, not on my scalp.

Trichotillomania, to paraphrase wikipedia, is an impulse control disorder, also known as “hair pulling.”  It’s generally triggered by anxiety and stress, and is usually treated with CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy.)

In the past, I have honed in on eyebrow and eyelash plucking, using my thumbnail and pointer finger-nail as tweezers.  It hasn’t been bad over-all, like I still have eyebrows and eyelashes, it’s just that my left eyebrow is a little bit sparse.  It’s barely noticeable.

I also would get chin hairs, from time to time, starting in adolescence, and I would pluck those too, with my fingers or tweezers.  This was, apparently, “pro-social” behavior, because I was socialized as a female, and therefore, it’s necessary to eradicate any hint of a mustache or “chin whiskers.”  ???  I mean, there’s a whole industry just devoted to that – bleaching the “mustache,” laser-hair removal, waxing, etc.  Blah!

Still though, I keep pulling those hairs out not as a gendered statement, but rather because I liked the sensation of getting at them from the follicle, that very specific and very minutely visceral feeling of a “pull” away from something rooted underneath some of the layers of the skin.  It’s much more satisfying to get them with my fingernails, but I also use tweezers, so I can get ’em all!  The reason I’d say it’s within the realm of “trichotillomania” is because I will do this out in public and I can’t seem to get myself to stop.  It’s not just in front of my bathroom mirror.  It’s during break at work, with people sitting in the same vicinity.  It’s during a meeting, because I am bored.  It’s during a movie with a stranger sitting two seats away.  Etc.  Honestly, it doesn’t feel like a big deal.  It’s a rough life to be constantly conforming to societal standards, at least in my opinion…

Facial hair, for me, is a hard limit.  I do not want a beard.  If I have a shadowy mustache, that’s fine by me, but that mustache never stays for very long before I start plucking out each hair individually.  It’ll always happen eventually.

Now that I’m on a regular-ish dose of testosterone, I am getting more facial hair.  And I just will not give in and shave.  First off, I don’t feel like it!  I prefer my methods, even if it ends up taking 10 minutes per day – more or less – to “groom” my face.  Secondly, I do think that I believe that old wives’ tale, on some level, about the more you shave, the thicker and darker the hairs will fill in.  I do not want to do anything that could potentially promote more facial hair growth.

I do realize this is a little bit counter-intuitive (is that the phrase I’m looking for?)  Like, most people who are taking testosterone are embracing the full effect, whatever that means for them.  But as someone who is non-binary, it’s a little trickier.  Like, I like this effect, but this other thing screams “masculine” a little too loudly, and I’m not really feelin’ it.  Something to that effect.

If my facial hair growth ever did start to feel unruly / out of my control, and / or the “grooming” ritual were creeping up toward closer to a half hour per day, something like that, I would not rule out laser hair removal  At this time, it just seems a little too extreme, expensive, and unnecessary.  But, hey, with this kind of journey, sometimes you never know what is coming up next!


Summer of t-shirts #10

This is the latest in a series of posts I’ve been making, after top-surgery, to show off some of my favorite t-shirts I never got to wear!

I got this t-shirt at a thrift store, but I can’t remember when or where.  I’m gonna venture a guess that it was at the Goodwill, somewhere from 2004-2007.  I’ve never seen Mad Max, and it was only through other people telling me what it was, when I would layer this shirt under a hoodie or flannel, that I knew!  Here’s a film still for comparison:

I mostly like this shirt fits, more than anything else.  I love the line across the top, disregarding the human form completely, just a turquoise line designating a box, a square fit, as if we were all Mad Max muscle men.  That’s about all I have to say about this shirt!  If I ever see the movie, maybe I’ll update this post with more information!


Happy pride weekend, much belated

So, our city celebrates Pride long after the anniversary of Stonewall, for some strange reason.  It is always the 2nd full week in July, with the parade and festival and picnic landing right in the middle of July.  I was overly busy at that time, and kept stalling on writing a re-cap.  But I feel motivated, largely because it’s something I’ve kept up with every year, thus far.  Here are posts about past Prides!

Happy pride weekend, and The People
Happy pride weekend and BRAWL
Happy pride weekend

This year, I had ideas for what to do in the parade, but had zero time for prep-work.  Good thing I had a lot of stuff on hand!  I woke up at 9am and needed to meet my spouse’s employer’s group (a Food Co-op) by 12:45, about 2.5 miles from our house.  This proved difficult because I had a funky ride I was trying to pedal (see below!)  The store had no cohesion – it was a total free for all.  In the past, we’ve handed out coupons, or people have walked with a shopping cart, dressed as vegetables.  But there was nothing like that this time ’round.

PARTY BIKE!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I tricked out a clown bike I got from a friend with balloons and signs that said, “WAYO 104.3” and “Kryptic Pop Thrills” (just because I wanted to do some self promotion for the fact that I am a radio DJ!) plus I made a sign for my spouse that said, “Summer of Love Trumps Hate.”  The theme of the parade was Summer of Love.  I brought a boombox for my sister-in-law (actually, she gave me the boombox for xmas one year), and we played an old mix tape entitled “Pride Parade Jamz” – a remnant of a parade of yore, in which my drag buddy and I marched to the beat of our own drum.  I was dressed as a snazzy mis-matched dandy bicyclist, and my spouse was dressed in some sort of psychedelic fashion.  It was us, 3 friends, two shareholders with their kid / toddler, sister-in-law, and a former employee with his wife and baby.  I was sometimes pedaling / sometimes walking, straddling the bike.  I was alternately shouting about WAYO, the Co-op, and Pride.  I handed out pop rocks to like 5 kids, and a whole movie-theatre-sized spree to a group of teenagers, and sweet tarts to an unsuspecting woman who was wearing a t-shirt that said, “Vagetarian.”  I told her I liked her shirt because I am a “Sagittarius.”  I realize this doesn’t make total sense, but if you say the words out loud, they sound close enough!  I also told an audience participant that he “looks just like Boy George,” and I got my pic taken a lot and I hugged a lot of friends on the sidelines, if I was fortunate enough to spot them.

 

Afterwards, we skipped the festival and just hung out at home.  Later, I texted my friend who had given me the bike, and they had vague plans to go to a gay bar, but he quickly changed his mind and said they’d meet at this new bowling alley, etc. which is what I suggested.  This place is insane.  It is a warehouse turned bowling alley / ping pong, ski ball, shuffleboard, astroturf lawn games / restaurant / whiskey bar / cocktail bar.  The four of us chatted in a super animated way for about an hour, and I was in bed by 9:30.

I also participated in an event at our local art gallery, the following day, which was new for me.  I got roped in, last minute, to set up a table to show some historical / archival gay stuff from our city over the years (I just got connected to do this based on some old photos and things I had been posting on facebook to gear up for Pride!)  The event was not super well attended or anything (people were probably busy day drinking and picnicking) but I had a lot of fun anyway.  I got to meet some people and explore the art gallery (there was a specific video installation of a drag queen which was sooooo amazing!)

My spouse’s family met us down there, and we then went out to eat and then to a movie.

I loved the fact that I saw every one of my spouse’s immediate family members over the course of the Pride Weekend!


6 months on testosterone

Today is 6 months on 50ml injections / week.  I didn’t know I would end up liking it as much as I am.  At this rate, I may be on it for a while, whereas previously I was thinking roughly 6-8 months.

I have not noticed anything major since the 3 month mark, except for probably just my voice, and also some psychological changes, which can be chalked up to any number of different things, first and foremost my “mood disorder” and the tweaking of my psychotropic meds.  (All for the better, thankfully!)

I also just celebrated 4 years with wordpress (got a notification from the company haha)!  That’s pretty cool – I’ve been writing roughly once a week this entire time.  I have over 200 posts “published.”

Also, locally, we just celebrated pride in our mid-sized city.  We’re always a month behind everywhere else with that.  Why?  I have no idea!  But I definitely do love the fact that it’s in mid-July as opposed to June.  It makes it all the more easier for me to be involved, with work and everything else going on with the end of the school year.  I’ll be making a post about that, as I do every year, for sure!

Speaking of work, I will be going back to work tomorrow, finally.  I’m neither nervous, worried, or anxious.  I’ll just see what’s what when I get there.  I have been out for 2 months.  Since my hospitalization in mid-May.  That is a long time to be out.  It has been relaxing, exciting, productive, and eye-opening.  I hope I can keep that feeling with me as I go back to the drudgery of a 40hr / week routine.

Hey, my T shot is also tomorrow, so I can have that to look forward to, at the same time.  And, the fact that I’ll be working again does not negate all the awesome things I’ve been up to.  Gonna try being more social and friendly and network-y.  Wish me luck!

Also, here’s my face:

6 months!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

before injections

 

 

 

 

 


We’re Still Here: An All-Trans Comics Anthology

A few days ago, I found out about an upcoming project called We’re Still Here:  An All-Trans Comics Anthology, edited by Tara Avery and Jeanne Thornton.  It is slated to be released in January, pending enough funding through their kickstarter campaign.  When I first checked it out, it had been “live” for one day, and had already reached $15,000 of it’s $17,000 goal. Today, a mere 5 days later?!!!  It’s at $35,126 – more than double of that goal!!!

That means, I’m assuming, that the artists are going to get paid even more $$.  They were going to be getting paid $25 per page – I wonder if that’ll get raised to $50 / page.  Hopefully!

I pre-ordered my copy and cannot wait to get to read it in its entirety!

In the meantime, I asked one of the authors, whom I met online through a Facebook group, how they got started / how they found out about contributing.

Me: How did you get into graphic arts? Do you have formal training or are you mostly self-taught?

Kyri:I have been drawing since I was old enough to have motor control to move a crayon around, and telling stories for almost as long as that. My early focus was on animals, but I branched out to people, stories, and comics in late elementary school when I discovered manga. That’s held on for the long haul. I went to a liberal arts school instead of a traditional art school, which turned out better for comics anyway because I could minor in creative writing. I focused mostly on printmaking in college, which translates really well to comics – a lot of thinking in sharp black and whites and the graphic quality of lines, and how a reproduced image reaches large audiences.

Me:  How did you first hear about this project?

Kyri: I’m part of a comic creator’s group in Boston, the Boston Comics Roundtable, and someone there signal boosted the open call for submissions – I can’t for the life of me remember who. I almost didn’t send in a submission packet, and actually ended up submitting something a week late, because I was a little intimidated by the people in charge and the people who were already part of the project. I’m so glad I pushed past my fears, though, and I’m really excited to be published alongside all these fantastic trans artists

Me:How did you narrow down the story that you wanted to tell? Is it your “quintessential” coming-out story, of sorts, or something more tangential?

Kyri:I knew when I first saw the open call and the concept for the anthology that I wanted to do something about my bodily experience with both gender dysphoria and chronic illness. I have fibromyalgia and hypermobile joints, and it really affects how I’m able to present on any given day. Binding can really hurt my ribcage if I’m not careful, and sometimes the compression just ends up hurting my muscles because of the constant contact, even if I’m binding correctly. Being chronically ill also means I’m not as fit as I once was, and the extra weight means I get misgendered constantly, even when I am attempting to present androgynous/masculine. I think that most people tend to think of the thin attractive model of androgyny when they think of what it means to be agender or demigender, and there’s just not enough discussion around diversity of trans bodies outside of our community. There’s also this pervasive and weird idea that you can only be “one thing” so convincing people I’m both trans AND have an invisible disability is an ordeal sometimes. I wanted to do something to touch on all of that, and ended up with an autobio comic in which my body is compared to a house.

Kyri Lorenz:  Hailing from the mountains of Northern Colorado, Kyri Lorenz is an agender jack-of-all-trades creator with a long history of meddling with concepts of nature and identity. If it involves creation and inspiration, Kyri is there, getting their mitts all over it and learning how best to make it serve their whims. Most of the time, this is easy and the technique or medium is more than happy to comply. Sometimes, it takes a little more finagling, but there’s always something to show for it at the end.

They got their BA in Visual Arts from Hollins University in Roanoke, VA, and are currently living and working in Cambridge, MA. See more of their work at kyrianne.com.

There is still roughly one month left to pre-order your copy, and to get additional perks if you’re into that.  Just click on this donate link!  DONATE NOW.


Summer of t-shirts #9

One year ago today, take or leave a day or two, I was at an incredible record store in Concord, NH.  I was still recuperating from top surgery, but the worst of it was over, so my spouse and I went on vacation for a week.  (OK, for her it was only a partial vacation – she was scheduled to attend a conference for work in Concord for 2 days.

We first went to Greenfield, Northampton, and Worcester, MA to visit friends.  We went hiking, swimming (well, for me, it was only up to my torso cuz of surgery), blueberry picking, and shopping.  We visited a botanical garden at Smith College, and when we got rained out, we ended up on the semi-precious gemstone wing of the science building.  We also tried a Gose-style beer for the first time, and we watched Straight Outta Compton one night after the baby / toddler went to bed.

After all that fun stuff, we headed up to New Hampshire, and pretty much parted ways for the next two days because my spouse had work to do.  It was awesome!  We first went to the local co-op together to load up on snacks and drinks.  After that, we just crashed at this hotel that was getting paid for by her employer.  I hadn’t stayed at a hotel in roughly 10 years at that point, so the novelty factor was HUGE!  I just kept getting ice from the ice machine, checking out other places my key card gave me access to (like the gym and pool, even though I could barely utilize these perks).

On the one day, I basically walked up and down the main street and did whatever I could do, for a full morning and afternoon.  This involved spending many many hours in this old-time-y record store.  I even bought a t-shirt from them, to commemorate the experience:

I liked it because it is an iconic image that literally has a pitchfork in it.  And often, “pitchfork” and music are synonymous in this way:  pitchfork.com

But I strongly feel that this record store preceded the website by many many years.  OK, so I just had to follow through and look it up:  The store launched in 1973, while pitchfork.com launched in 1995.

It appears as if not much has changed in this store since 1973, which is why I was so happy to just go treasure hunting in there for hours- I got a bunch of cassette tapes that had never been opened, for like a dollar each.  And I got soooooo many records for under $3.  I had a blast.  I wanted to get this shirt in a gold color, but they were out of that color in my size.  So I settled for yellow.  Not my favorite color, but not a bad one either!

Some of my favorite things to do, ever, are:  try new beverages, hunt for records in new towns and cities, and go swimming!  And I’m so glad that I can swim again now – so far this summer, I’ve gone 3 times!

Oh, also big news on the traveling / swimming front:  I finally solidified plans to visit my brother in Turkey, next month!  We are going to explore ancient ruins and go swimming in the Mediterranean Sea.  Can’t wait!!!


Summer of t-shirts #8

This post is a continuation of a series I started last summer – basically, the best part of top surgery, for me, is getting to wear t-shirts and tank-tops and button-down shirts without having to layer or bind.  So I started featuring a bunch of my favorite t-shirt, and here’s yet another one!

Today is one year and one month after top-surgery.  This date seems like much bigger of a deal than my one year anniversary.  Why?  Just because of a flood of serendipitous things (I am still recovering from my semi-recent hospitalization – still out of work, and lots of things are connecting in my brain that would not normally mean much.)

Anyway, one year ago, today, I went on a day trip because I was bored.  I had been out of surgery by a month at that point, and I still had another month before I got back to work.  I was itching to not wear the ace bandage and nipple-gauzy thingies.  I was tired of staying at home all day, or relying on others for rides because I could not yet lift my arms to drive.  Enough time had passed, so I went on a day trip to one of my favorite spots in upstate NY.  It felt so good to be out in nature, getting all sweaty and stuff.  I remember feeling safe enough that I took off my t-shirt and let the ace bandage air out for a bit.  (I distinctly remember the breeze from the lake against my skin.)

Sooooo, what I’m trying to get at:  Yesterday, just fairly coincidentally, I ended up at that same beach.  I actually went to 4 parks (park hopping!), over the course of 12 hours, again, by myself, and again, I had a blast!  This time though, I took a different route – I had looked at maps prior to taking off, and deliberately decided on a course of action.

One of the small towns I was gonna drive through is Fulton, NY.  And I’m thinking now that I was drawn there because I have this really old t-shirt I got at a thrift store in my early 20s, and I wear it a lot, but have never been there.  You know what?  There is no way this image could be correct – this town is landlocked!  (Furthermore, it’s technically a city, but it’s so tiny and rundown, I was baffled by that.  I bet this town has a history to tell.)

I have a whole lot of shirts that are fairly random and were just thrift store finds over the years.  And I wore them all when I was young without any qualms or thinking twice.  But now I’m kind of like, “wait, what is the deal with this shirt, anyway?”  Or, “I’ve never actually been to this place – the image just looks cool.”  Etc.

So, expect some more t-shirt-centric posts from me soon!

You can find the rest of the series, from last summer, here:  T-SHIRTS!


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!