Transition Journey, Driver's License and More Hormones

A couple days ago I got my letter back from the state, authorizing my requested gender marker change on my driver's license! So obviously I went to get, and now my driver's license officially reads female. Go me!

In other news, my hormone treatment is going swimmingly. I'm starting to grow where expected, and my body hair is thinning out too. I'm also much different emotionally, I think. I'm not feeling as angerable or aggressive, and my sex drive is wildly different. It's like it's much more subdued and vague. I still want intimacy, but just not at all like before.

Transition Journey: First day on hormones

First day on hormones

Ok, so today I finally got my first prescription for hormones for my transition! I had read elsewhere that sometimes they do patches or injections for some of them, but my endocrinologist prescribed me pills. So, I have two more medications to add to my morning routine now.

Obviously, I went ahead and took today's dose when I got home from the pharmacy. For the record, I don't feel any different yet.

Not much else to talk about today, mostly just wanted to mark the date of getting on hormones!

Getting Things Done: Part 1 review and impressions

So I have been reading David Allen's Getting Things Done, and so far it seems to be an interesting way to organize the things you have to do in your life. I'm going to be giving it a try, in conjunction with OmniFocus 2 for iOS.

I'd heard of GTD before, but had mentally filed it as "yet another useless self-help trend", something to ignore. Lately, however, particularly as I'm realizing more of myself with my gender transition, I've been thinking that I really am in control of my life. At least, that I can be, and that I can really effect useful change in my situation if I apply myself to the task. I had also heard of people at work using it, and saw that they were more organized and on top of things. So, I decided to give it a try.

Part One

My impressions of the first couple chapters are positive so far. It's not proposing that it is some magical cure-all for your entire life. It's just proposing that there are a few things that you can do, none of which are particularly hard, that can result in you being able to mentally let go of thinking about all the things that you need to do. The idea is that if you reliably and routinely export the organization and prioritization of what you need to do into a system outside of your head, you free yourself up from constantly worrying about them and can focus on doing and on living.

The high-level overview of the system as presented sounds like a very doable thing, with the big challenge being keeping up with the routine. I'm not so good with learning new routines, so that's going to be the big challenge for me. It will be interesting to try though, to see where it all goes.

One thing that will be particularly interesting is going to be integrating this into my process at work, to see if this can result in less stress and more productivity. I've always been relatively adamant about the sanctity of work-life balance, about enforcing a sharp division between my work time and my at-home time. This process, however, encourages you to put everything into one system, and work with the totality of what you have to do as one collection of things to be done. There is the concept of work contexts versus home contexts, but it also acknowledges that we think of new things to do and how to plan out things without regard to where we are at the time. Sometimes personal life things occur to you at work, and sometime work things occur to you at home. There's nothing wrong with that, and this system encourages you to get things out of your head when that happens so you actually think about work less, since you've exported the thoughts into your system.

The third chapter goes into what David calls "the natural planning model", outlining what that looks like and how we do it. He breaks it up into 5 parts, and describes how people can naturally do each. He also goes into various ways that the 5 parts can fail, and what it looks like when they do. Some failures are from not doing the process well, some failures are from trying to do it out of order, and some failures are from completely missing how to do the process at all. This chapter does get a little magical-thinking, throwing pseudo-scientific words around to describe how, for example, merely thinking positively will make you successful. That's actually quite disappointing, I had such hope for this book and process, but if it's all going to end up like that then I may be wasting my time. We shall see.

Coming soon

I'll be reviewing the rest of the book in future posts, but I wanted to go ahead and get this out there. I'll post again after I've finished part 2, and maybe by then I'll have gotten far enough to start trying to actually use it.

Stereotypes and Developing Identity

Lately, I've noticed that I have been feeling some reactions to things that seem to me to reflect internalized negative aspects and stereotypes of womanhood. I'm not sure if this is something that is common among trans women, or if this is just me reading into things and overthinking. Some of the things I've felt are:

  • Anxious being in elevators with strange men
  • Uncomfortable walking outside or in the parking garage at work after dark
  • Feeling unable / uncomfortable to ask for a raise
  • Uncomfortable going for walks outside where people can watch me (although strangely this does not extend to going out shopping)
  • Very self-conscious about my weight and appearance

I think that this is probably offensive to someone, but honestly I do feel these things. I'm just writing this to try to work through the implications that these feelings have for my well-being and identity. I do wish I had more of an understanding of how more trans people relate to their gender identity and stereotypes. I get the impression that for some trans people it's important to them to conform to at least some stereotypes of their gender, but I also believe that that's not universal. I also think that these feelings however are real, and stem from a very real place of fear and discomfort born of accounts of men being aggressive and harmful towards women. This is not coming from some desire for attention or affirmation.

I have to get more comfortable with things like this that I feel. It's valid for me to feel uncomfortable and unsafe sometimes, and it's valid for me to be concerned with looking good. Looking good is not something that I was concerned with pre-transition, but both from a passability and a self-esteem perspective it's something that I'm trying to work on. Yes, I know that basing my self-esteem on my appearance is problematic. It's not healthy to obsess over it, granted, but wanting to look good and present one's self well is not necessarily a bad thing. I don't think I'm ever going to be conventionally beautiful, but I can try to do the best I can.

I suppose part of where this is going is that I wish I had more knowledge of and exposure to feminism (but not the sort that excludes trans women) and other equality movements. I need to do some research, there's got to be books and such for this as far as the philosophical backgrounds and things like spirituality. I need some sort of thing to base a positive identity in and know that I'm not being disingenuous or offensive. Like, I wish I had something to look up to as an ideal to strive for, but not something that's unhealthy or otherwise negative in some way. Like, a role model, an ideal to emulate. I just want to also make sure that I'm letting myself be true to myself, not trying to be someone I'm not, or get rid of things that make me me. Of course, aren't we all just trying to figure out who we are?

iOS Game Review: The Room Series

Today I thought I'd take a break from the whole diary thing and do a little review thing of a series of iOS games I've been playing on my iPad. These games are The Room, The Room Two, and The Room Three, by Fireproof Games.

The Room

The first game in the series starts you off with a short tutorial level. This introduces you to the mechanics of the games direct interaction style interface, the puzzles where you figure out hints of how the next step of the puzzle is done, and the games creepy occult vibe. The conceit of the game is that you're stuck in a room with more and more complex puzzles to solve to eventually try to discover what is going on.

The puzzles reminded me a lot of Myst, which I played back when it was originally a computer game. The main difference being that all the elements you are interacting with are much closer visually, making it easier (for me anyway) to figure out what you're supposed to be doing. I found the puzzles just challenging enough to be solvable while still providing a sense of delight and accomplishment as each one is completed and the next presents itself.

The Room Two

The second game in the series is the first one available as a universal binary for both iPhone and iPad. It builds on the world revealed in the first game, but includes a tutorial level again, introducing things you learned in the first game as well as the new interactions for navigating the multiple locations in each room. Letters left for you add to the immersion and atmosphere of the world the game operates in.

The level of difficulty of the puzzles is marginally harder than the first installment, but still solvable and satisfying. The letters you find add a nice sense of an evolving plot beyond just solving the next puzzle, which i really enjoyed.

The Room Three

The third game again picks up where you were left at the end of the previous one. This time you are navigating a more fleshed out series of locations, moving from one room to another as needed to solve the puzzles. The mysterious occult atmosphere is again present, more developed this time (it felt to me).

This time, instead of a simple linear single play through, multiple endings are offered. I have yet to dive in to see how this works or what the other endings entail, but I'm enthusiastic to try it out.

Overall

These games were a very entertaining and delightful experience, and I literally couldn't put them down. I highly recommend them to anyone who likes puzzle games that reward exploration and observation. And while they do have limited replay value, they are cheap enough to still be worth giving them a shot.

Official Name Change Complete!

So this morning I had my court date and got my name legally changed to Darcy! I then proceeded to spend the next few hours waving the court order at various organizations to get them to change my name in their records. In about a week I should start getting my new cards and such with my real name on them. Tomorrow I will see about getting work to change my name, if they don't require me to present my new Social Security card (which I won't have until next week). Then my name will be right in the email system so it can stop reinforcing the wrong name to everyone, which I know is causing most of the occurrences of misnaming me over the past few weeks that I've been out at work.

I'm very happy and relieved to have this removed as a source of stress, and to be able to legally use my name in official and financial situations. It will be so nice to be able to go to a restaurant and not out myself when I go to pay the check.

Disconnection and Friendship

So, this post was originally conceived as being about how I don't relate to the idea of knowing someone from when you were kids and how I don't make friends. Then my therapist suggested that i might have Asperger Syndrome, which prompted me to do more research into it. Most of what I read really resonates with my experience in life, especially the social interaction aspects and the need for structure in my life.

From the Wikipedia page on Asperger Syndrome:

Individuals with AS experience difficulties in basic elements of social interaction, which may include a failure to develop friendships or to seek shared enjoyments or achievements with others (for example, showing others objects of interest), a lack of social or emotional reciprocity (social "games" give-and-take mechanic), and impaired nonverbal behaviors in areas such as eye contact, facial expression, posture, and gesture.

I've always been what I would describe as scared of speaking to most people, and others have told me that I frequently fail to make eye contact. Also, people have told me that I don't generally have a non-neutral facial expression, leading them to think that I'm upset when I'm not. The ensuing lack of friends that comes from this is something that I've lived with my whole life. The only time this really changed at all was once I got on the Internet in college and was able to communicate and socialize through the written word. I have learned, over time, to be able to function in social settings at work, but I know I'm not as socially competent as everyone else.

Sometimes I wish I was better with socializing, or with making friends. It's just so boring being alone all the time and wishing I could go do something. Everyone else seems so happy. Don't get me wrong, I'm very happy with my life as it is, with my fiancée and my transition and everything. I just get jealous of others having fun more than I do.

Transition Journey part 2: my first electrology appointment

So, today I had my first electrology appointment! This was just a short initial consultation with 15 minutes of treatment, but I'm going to be having hour (or more) long appointments in the future. We spent a lot of time talking about how electrology works, what to expect from the treatment, and suchlike. She said that most of her transgender clients take about 200 hours to fully treat the beard area, so it's going to be quite a while before I'm done with this, but I'm not surprised or discouraged by that.

The electrologist herself was very nice, and accepting of transgender clients. She even referred me to a local trans support group.

As far as the treatment itself, it didn't really hurt that much to me. Just felt like little pinpricks of burning for a split second. It helps that the machine beeps so I know when it's coming. I don't appear to have any severe redness, a little maybe, and no real swelling to speak of.

All in all I'm looking forward to my future appointments and the eventual completion of this part of my journey.

Transition Journey part 1: getting a referral

So, as part of coming out as transgender and beginning my transition, I had an appointment today with my regular doctor to discuss referring me to an endocrinologist. I was nervous and anxious about it, worrying that there would be a gatekeeper aspect of things going on, with my doctor making me jump through hoops to get the referral. However, it turns out that everything was fine, we talked about how long I've known I was trans, and she is going to call the endocrinologist's office to see if they are taking patients now or if I'll need to see one farther away. Wish me luck!

Gender vs. Identity

You may have noticed me mentioning not completely identifying with my birth gender, or not being strictly straight. You may also think these two things are more related than they actually are. Hopefully the elaboration below clarifies things some as they apply to me.

Gender Identity

Regarding the gender of my birth and my current identity, I consider myself to be more on the transgender end of things. I've self-identified as androgynous or genderfluid for most of my life, there wasn't really a precipitating event or anything that I can put my finger on really. There's been some variation on my name as my life has gone on, but even as a young child I think I thought of myself as less a boy than just a kid.

Puberty was rather traumatic emotionally as regards this, forcing me to basically hate myself. I have started to think of myself as more uncompromisingly transgender, and have started taking steps towards living full time as a woman.

Sexual Orientation

Regarding my sexual orientation, I am basically bisexual. This has nothing to do with my gender identity, to me. I just have never seen the reasoning behind excluding half of the people in the world from my romantic possibility.

Now, one misconception that I want to address is the idea that I need to have both a man and a woman in my life at the same time. I don't necessarily mean to speak for anyone else but as far as I'm concerned that's not true at all. I'm not with people for their parts, and I don't have a need to have one of each to be satisfied or happy.

Historically for me I've been interested in both boys and girls as long as I've been interested in anyone that way. I had a pretty bad crush on a girl in late high school, and my first year of college I had a serious thing for my calculus teacher. Also, in that time frame I took a trip down to Georgia and had my first real encounter with both genders (which was actually kind of weirdly traumatic).

So, I guess, as they say, that's me. I hope this served to clear things up.