Hormones: Crossing the Rubicon

I made the decision yesterday that I am going to begin hormone therapy en sincera this month. For the last two to three months, I’ve been taking very small doses of estrogen, but the doses were low enough that it has been more a pacifier than anything–certainly not enough to cause any behavioral or physical changes. It has been my hope that doing this will decrease the psychological impact of a sudden influx of hormones, but that’s not really the way it works, so…

For more than two decades, I’ve had to live as a male, and that’s caused a lot of destructive and self-destructive behavior to manifest in my life. No more. I made that decision in August, following the most disastrous period of my life. It was almost entirely a side effect of my denial. When I left my ex-wife four years ago, I told a long-time friend of mine that I was considering SRS, because I had always told myself that “If I ever divorce, I’m going to go ahead and do it.” Because I’ve always wanted to–in many ways, at least. And that’s an aspect of this I can’t stress enough. Though it seems to many people that this came out of nowhere, it did not.

One of my earliest memories entails a little three or four year old me hiding all my underwear in the closet. Why? Because, for some reason, whenever all my underwear was dirty, my mom put me in my sister’s panties. And even then, even at the age before preschool and before kindergarten, I preferred that. I wish I’d realized then what I know now. I nearly fell into a deep depression earlier today when it dawned on me how much time I’ve lost to this lie, how I’ll never get it back, and how I’ll die in the next two to five decades, and will never get that lost time back. It’s just… gone. Honestly, I can’t help but feel that society stole those 20+ years from me.

And part of that is because I do live in Mississippi. I was born here, I was raised here, and my family is exactly what you’d expect a Mississippi family to be. Though my sister has known for years, it was something we never discussed openly, and I knew why. In the back of my mind, I knew why–it was sort of a “Don’t ask, don’t tell” thing. She knew, but she didn’t want to know. But after spending more than two decades accommodating her and the rest of my family, leading me into lots of self-destructive behavior I’ll inevitably write about here, I finally decided that I’d been accommodating enough, and I threw the gauntlet at her feet: her brother is going to cease to exist, and she’ll be left with her sister. I told her that I was more than willing to ease her into it slowly, because I knew it was a huge adjustment and change, but she made it clear in an absolutely heartbreaking text that she wasn’t interested in adjusting and changing.

This will never change. And, even if it did, I doubt I could forgive it. Could you?

This will never change. And, even if it did, I doubt I could forgive it. Could you?

I’m not going to read it again, because it crushes my heart every time that I do, but even just seeing it my attention is again called to a few details. First is her continued characterization of it as cross-dressing, waving it away that I’m wanting to just “dress like a woman,” in total disregard of everything I’ve told her. That, of course, makes sense, because, as she says, she doesn’t want to know. So, without doubt, when I told her the details, she ignored every bit of it. I thought that she would have a much easier time with it knowing that I identify as a lesbian, but evidently it didn’t matter.

The self-awareness of her text also strikes me. She knows it’s on her, she knows it’s messed up and closed-minded, and she knows what she is doing. She has made the conscious effort to not deal with it, to ignore it. And since it can no longer be ignored, we came to an impasse. Either she had to accept it, or she had to throw me from her life. She chose the latter. The rest of my family will follow suit, but I haven’t even bothered to tell them, because my sister was the only person in my family that I cared about. My mother would have been accepting, but she’s been dead since I was 12 or 13. My brother probably would have been accepting, but he’s been dead since I was 19 or 20.

But I made the decision yesterday to begin actual hormone therapy, which is difficult in Mississippi without a doctor with whom I can talk. I’ve seen a few general practitioners who were more or less eager to try to assist, but a few pointed questions revealed that they knew much less about the whole thing than I do. This is not the sort of thing you want a doctor guessing about, you know? So you’ve got to find a doctor who specializes in this, who has done it before. And there are none of those in Mississippi, Tennessee, or Arkansas. This has left me reaching out to doctors over the Internet, and I’m more than willing to pay them and to use general practitioners here basically as liaisons and labs, to collect the blood work and whatever else is necessary. But so far, the only responses I’ve gotten from anyone are the wonderful people at Tara’s Resources.

I’m not in the “wrong body.” My body simply didn’t develop the way that it should have. And I’m already in my late 20s. That’s young in the grand scheme of things… unless we’re talking hormonal physiological changes. And unless we’re talking about years lost in a false identity that can never be regained. In those cases, I’m really, really old.

As always, Mississippi does not make this transition easy, and the physical changes hormones bring will make employment virtually impossible six months from now, once I begin growing breasts and stuff. Your assistance to help me get through this would be beyond appreciated:

https://www.gofundme.com/ariatransition

 

5 thoughts on “Hormones: Crossing the Rubicon

  1. I am not sure if I should say something or not. I only know you and your situation from this blog post and that isn’t much to go on. But from what I have read I did feel I should say my opinion and maybe give another perspective that might help you or may not. So if I say something that might offend you or because I misread the situation you are in, please forgive me.

    From what I read, you want to live your life the way you see fit. That you are no longer going to accommodate other people by living as a male. Is that all that matters to you? Are you willing to inflict what you have been going through on someone else. Expect them accommodate you against what they believe at the time?

    That is what I see when I read what you wrote. You want your sister and everyone else to accept what you are going to do. You want them to change to accommodate you. To deny what they feel for that acceptance of who you are. In a way inflicting what was done to you on them.

    One thing I didn’t read in your exchange with your sister was that she wasn’t trying to convince not to do it. Just saying what she was going to do in regards to her family and what she wanted in her household. That is her decision to make, just like its your decision to do what you feel is right to make your life better for yourself.

    I would suggest letting it go. Respect your sister’s decision in regards to her family and household even though that may not be what you want. If that means isolating yourself from them then so be it. Concentrate on what you want to do and that is making your life better and not the fact that things didn’t turn out the way you wanted.

    But also hope that at some time in the future, that maybe your sister will come around and be more accepting of the decisions and actions you made. That it doesn’t matter, if you are a brother or sister, but that you are a strong person. That you are willing to do what you think is right for yourself despite the obstacles you faced. That you are willing to respect other people’s decisions even when they conflict with what you think is the right way for them. That you are more happy and a better person to be with because you are living by what you think is right for you.

    Just don’t think this as impasse. That it will always be this way for you. It is easy from our perspective to see what you are doing and accept it. Other people may take time. Other people like your sister may ignore it until their mind is ready to start accepting it. Allow people time to adjust. Do not force the same thing on them that was inflicted on you.

    I wish you all the best. I look forward to reading more about your journey as you move forward with it 🙂

    • No, I’m forcing nothing onto them. My ultimatum to her was mostly implied. My preceding letter to her, which I wrote because I knew she was uncomfortable talking about it in person, was that the internal conflict and depression that were a result of having to perpetuate a false identity were killing me–literally. Four years ago, I was hospitalized for a suicide attempt, and neither she nor anyone else ever knew why; it had a lot to do with this. So I explained to her that I am moving forward with it, and her reply–this text is about 2 months old now, and we have communicated somewhat since, but nothing really major–has essentially been, “I want nothing to do with you when you’re presenting yourself as female.” Since that is more and more the majority of my time and since the male is being phased out, of necessity for, effectively, my own mental health, it creates an impasse.

      She’s not being intolerant, no. I have never called her intolerant for her reaction, because she’s not being intolerant; she’s just not being accepting. That’s a pretty large issue for me, because one of the few people on the planet who I expected to be accepting was her. She and I have been through a great deal together, going through our parents’ divorce at an early age, having our mother disappear off the face of the earth when we were tweens, a drug-addicted worthless father, estrangement from our older brother who died mere months after we reached back out to him and got in touch with him. Through all of that, she and I have stood by each other, and that’s been true as long as either of us can remember.

      Another problem is that she has known for years; as I said, it was sort of a “Don’t ask, don’t tell” thing. There’s a reason the military abolished that policy: it’s a really messed up one, whether it’s between members of the military or family members. Secrets are not good, especially when they are such major secrets, and definitely not because the secret must be kept because consequences will result if the secret gets out–as was the case with the military’s version. And this was, evidently, the case between my sister and myself. So while it would certainly be an adjustment for her to speak to, hang out with, etc. “the female version of me” (the terminology here is clunky, and I hate it, so I’m sorry for that… There isn’t really a good, easy way to put stuff like this, and I hate terms like “my male self” and “female version of me”), she has known at least since we were teenagers that this is the way I am. I was more than willing to ease her into it slowly and allow her to adjust; I made it clear to her that I wasn’t going to show up at her house in a dress and high heels, that I was willing to start much smaller than that, because it is an adjustment for everyone. My friends know that I’m not going to get worked up if they refer to me by my old name, or if they trip over pronouns, and my sister knew all that as well. The difference is simply that my sister isn’t willing to adjust; she’s not interest in meeting me in the middle or any other place. I wanted to begin with something simple, like a tanktop and a pair of jeans; she still refused, flatly. She’s made it clear repeatedly that she’s not interested in adjusting to it until she is comfortable.

      When random people or friends-of-friends aren’t accepting, I just shrug and go about my life. Many people are like that. Lots of people who are perfectly okay with homosexuality lose their minds when people start messing with genders, gender roles, and gender definitions. A colleague I’ve known for years has absolutely no problem with homosexuals, but has nothing but disgust for Caitlyn Jenner, and that’s surprisingly common. For some reason, a lot of people just aren’t ready to deal with that. But I’m not worried about them. As long as they don’t actually do something to try to stop me–which would be intolerant–then they have every right to be appalled and disgusted, and every right to treat me like a leper. That’s difficult, especially in Mississippi where that is so very common, but I’m an anarchist; I’m all about people’s rights, even if it’s the right to be an ignorant fuckwad like many people here are. 😉

      But when it’s my own sister who is not being accepting, it cuts deeply. I expect strangers to not be accepting, and that my sister is being tolerant… just isn’t enough. Not for a sibling, especially when that sibling is ultimately all you have in the family. I lost the rest of the family years ago because I’m an atheist. They didn’t reject me for being an atheist, but if it wasn’t for family get-togethers like Xmas and Thanksgiving, I wouldn’t ever see any of them. Except my sister, because she and I have always been pretty close, even though we haven’t always seen eye to eye (she is as much a Christian as the rest of my family, which is the source of her refusal to accept me–her initial response when I first told her was that she thinks it’s a sin). I fault her because she knows that she’s the only family member who has anything to do with me, and the rest of them don’t even know–I haven’t told them because I know already what their reactions will be. My uncle forced my grandmother (who raised my sister and me) to choose between having me at her house on holidays or having him at her house on holidays because “I won’t spend five minutes around that heathen” he said of me. It eventually got worked out to a place where he will tolerate my presence and greet me, but that’s it.

      So once this cat is out of the bag (I love cats and would never put a cat in a bag… :D), the fallout with the family is going to be immense. Since I never see them anyway, it’s not an issue presently, but come Thanksgiving they’ll have to know, and the response is easily predictable: “Don’t come.”

      A lot of my friends from out-of-state have suggested, “You don’t know they’ll react that way…” But yes. Yes, I do. They are the stereotypical conservative Christian family from Mississippi. When my grandfather found out that my sister was living with her now-husband before they were married, he sent her a four page letter calling her a harlot and quoting Bible passages at her. My grandmother divorced my grandfather (the one who wrote the letter) back in the 60s for being an abusive alcoholic, and she never remarried–she will tell you that it’s because in the eyes of her god, she is still married to my grandfather. These people are hardcore religious, exactly what you’d expect Mississippian WASPs to be. Trump supporters through and through. My father still insists that Obama doesn’t wear his wedding ring during Ramadan. So yeah, I know exactly how they’ll react.

      But I never expected my sister to react as she did, to cut me out of her life in the same way that everyone else in the family will, and that’s why it was such a big deal to me. Given the history of our family and how she and I have always been together through the bullshit, her choosing to blind her eyes to it over adjusting to it stunned me. I like to think I’ve been pretty cool about the whole thing and have been very delicate with how people adjust to it. Just last week, I posted on Facebook to my friends not to worry about referring to me by the wrong name because most of them knew me by my old name for years, and some for decades. It would be unreasonable for me to expect everyone to adjust instantly, I think. And I’ve already decided this evening that I’m going to post a reminder that this is new to them, but it’s not new to me. I’m getting really irritated by people asking me if I’m sure about this. While they come from a place of love and sincerity, I think they should also be reminded that I have basically spent two decades thinking about this. It’s new to them, but not to me. But, like I said, their questions come from a place of love, so I don’t really mind it–I’d just like to put a stop to it if I can. 😀

      I hope this didn’t come off as overly defensive or antagonistic toward you; I didn’t mean for it to, if it did. I just wanted to clarify the whole sister/family thing a bit.

      • Didn’t come off that way to me at all. If anything I appreciate you taking the time to help me understand better 🙂

        Your willing to overlook or accept that people will be people. But the one person that with everything the two of you have gone through would be more accepting and understanding of you was not that way at all. That in a way she is rejecting who you are by taking the course that is more comfortable to her. Not taking any actions on her part to show that you matter also in this regard. Which I can understand being very hard for you to accept and reconcile that she is behaving that way.

        That is so true, the words seem so clunky. Like you said its not the male or female version of you. It is just you regardless of the labels. Your not changing as a person. Although people see that because in my opinion they focus too much on the external. What they can see with their eyes and not who the person is inside.

        For me coming out as transgender and living my life the way I see fit was a double edge sword. That in some ways I regret making that decision. I had people who saw me as male freak out when they learn my gender was female. People who knew my gender was female, freak out because I didn’t or even try appear as female. Just whether I fit into their judgement of what was acceptable to them.

        I think that is all we can do. Is live our life and be who we are as we see fit. No longer play a role that is determine solely by our sex or gender. Navigate that path for us the best we can despite the roadblocks in the way. That there will be big disappointments like your sister, but also rewards in being who are and being with people that accept that without judgement.

        • I’m not changing as a person, that’s absolutely true, and it’s one of the main reasons I don’t mind if my friends occasionally accidentally call me by my old name. It’s like they’re saying, “Okay, so, yeah, that’s new, but… you’re still you to me.”

          I’m sorry that people have given you such a hard time. It’s really messed up how much value people place in these things.

          I own an I.T. firm, and 90% of my work comes through subcontracting for another I.T. firm; there’s absolutely no doubt that every single client we have will throw down the ultimatum and say, “If you send her back to our office, we’ll find a new I.T. vendor.” In reality, it won’t get that far with most of them; as soon as the other I.T. firm knows, that will be the end of the business relationship, because that owner knows the clients just as well as I do, and none of them will be okay with it–with one possible exception.

          And I just can’t help but wonder why in the hell it would even matter to them. I can just see the reactions of the general managers and supervisors now. Why would it matter in the slightest if one day I came to work in a business dress and high heels? It just makes no sense to me. And that they would refuse to use me as an I.T. vendor because I grow breasts and hips–why? How does that affect anything? Sure, their employees would know “Oh, that ‘used to be a man,'” but their employees aren’t going to cost them business. Their own random customers would have no idea. But these arguments would mean nothing to those clients and would have no effect at all.

          You’re absolutely right that it’s a double-edged sword. On one side, it “eases my spirit” in so many ways. On another, it causes endless unrest. But the unrest… is entirely because of other people’s reactions, and some of those reactions do matter. But as you’ve pretty much said: it’s their problem, not mine. I’ve just got to be me. If they can’t handle that, then they simply lose me.

          • Wow that is going to a big hit for you and your firm 🙁

            I can understand your frustration. Why does it have to be such a big deal for them that your appearance has changed. Like you said it doesn’t affect anything or your ability to do the job if you have hips and breasts now. But I think its just the nature of who we are. We all have our hangups where we act irrationally and judge unfairly for one reason or another. Unfortunately for a lot of people there is that hangup around someone changing from male to female or female to male in appearance.

            One thing to keep in mind is that the transition is the hardest part when it comes to people’s reactions because they know the before and after. But when the transition is complete and your just Aria to people you meet then the reactions will not matter because that is all they know is Aria. They don’t need to know that you transitioned because its none of their business unless you choose to tell them. All they will see is a woman that is confident and happy with who she is and appears and for that reason be someone they like to be around and be friends with. Maybe even restart your IT firm because the new customers will just know Aria.

            Just don’t let the frustrations that you are dealing with get you down too much. I know that is hard at times and everything seems to be working against you. But you are not alone in this even if it feels that way. Lean on the people that do support you and just weather the storm the best you can until it is over 🙂

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