Month: November 2013

7 months on T

I’ll start out with pictures this month.

20131125 Back

20131125 Body 1

20131125 Body 2

I don’t have much to say in regards to changes. It’s pretty much more of the same (more muscle, more hair). Take a look at my pictures from the past months to see some of the physical changes. My voice is still gradually changing, but not as much as it did in the beginning.

My birthday was last week. My mom actually got me two cards (one she gave to me when she saw me at the beginning of this month and another she sent to me in the mail closer to my birthday); she went out of her way to find cards that specifically said son on them. I thought that was pretty cool, but a little unnecessary, haha. Maybe next year she’ll chill out a little bit and just get me fun cards like she used to. She never got me cards that were “girly” anyway, but I can’t complain since I have a family that supports me while others do not.

I’ve got an appointment with my new primary care physician on Wednesday. My main goal is to get a letter about my change in gender, so I can go ahead and get my passport updated. It’s unfortunate that I can’t just use the court order that I received, but it is what it is. I wish that I had done this before my old doctor got a new job. My new primary care physician is a nurse practitioner, so she’ll actually have to get the attending doctor to write the letter for me, which complicates things a bit. I also don’t know how all of this will work out when I need to get a new prescription for testosterone or lab work done. I’m preparing myself to have to essentially teach her about transgender care, but I’m hoping to be pleasantly surprised. One thing that I’m hoping to have done is have my testosterone levels checked (which hasn’t been done at all yet). I just want to make sure I’m in the normal male range. My cholesterol, hematocrit, hemoglobin, liver enzyme levels, and such are all within the male range, so that’s a pretty good indicator. We will see.

I’m looking forward to getting a break at the end of the quarter. This is the 9th week of classes. All that’s left is another week and a finals week. I’ve been really stressed out about classes and research, so I’m really looking forward to our winter break and getting away for a bit. I need a chance to clear to my head and decide if a thesis is really what I want to do, or if I would be just as happy tucking my lab experience under my belt and taking the comprehensive exam. In my mind, I still get the experience of doing research in a lab, but one path will lead to a paper with my name on it and the other will not. How important is having my name on a paper to me? So, that’s not really transition related, but it’s been on my mind a lot lately.

Anyway, all in all, I can’t believe it’s been 7 months already. As more time passes, I think less and less about my transition which is nice. It’s not as mentally consuming as it was in the beginning. Though, I will admit that I do check my face everyday to admire all the hair that is there now. Until next month.

Transgender Day of Remembrance

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So many things have already said about this day (and much better than I could ever express), so I won’t really talk about that. I attended the event held here in San Diego. It was the first trans* related event that I have attended. I have been meaning to go to one of the trans* support groups that are held at the LGBT Community Center for the past 7 months or so, but I have to admit that I have a bit of social phobia and have found reasons to not go every week. I don’t know why I feel so apprehensive about going since I really have this desire to just meet people who may have similar experiences. But, I’m not very good at just opening up to people when I initially meet them, and I have this idea in my head that I’ll be expected to tell my whole life story the second I show up.

On the other hand, the Transgender Day of Remembrance event was something I could show up to and be a silent participate, able to observe from the crowds. A friend came with me, and as we were standing there, talking, waiting for it to start, a woman came up to us and asked if we wanted to carry a flag. I agreed since I had been watching her go around asking others who respectfully declined. During the march, I carried the bisexual pride flag. As we ended, the woman who handed out the flags asked us all if she could get a picture at the end. She explained that she would be writing an article and intended to use this picture for her piece. That’s how I ended up in the above picture.

After the march, we moved to the LGBT Community Center where a series of speeches were given. Various people from the community were called up to talk about the need to fight to end hate. Then, near the end, Kristin Beck was called to the podium. I looked to my friend, and asked, “The Navy SEAL?!” I didn’t know she was going to be there, so I was pretty surprised when I saw her walk up the the podium. I don’t remember much of what she said because I was kind of awestruck, but she repeated this quote by Martin Luther King Jr. several times, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

All in all, I think ti was a really good experience. I was happy to be around so many other trans people and supporters. Maybe one of these days, I’ll finally be able to build up the courage and take the next step towards going to a support group meeting.

Risk of Glaucoma with Testosterone Use?

I saw this article from NPR, Using Birth Control Pills May Increase Women’s Risk of Glaucoma, go across my Facebook news feed the other day. I was curious, so I clicked on it. The article suggests that it MAY be due to the fact that birth control pills suppress the peak of a woman’s monthly estrogen cycle. There are estrogen receptors in the eye, so they believe that estrogen contributes to eye health. However, the risk is very small, going from 1.86% to just under 4%.

It got me thinking about those of us who take testosterone which essentially has the same effect as birth control pills, in that regard. Our total estrogen level exposure is less as well. The article admits that more work needs to be done. Don’t throw out your birth control pills (or testosterone) just yet.

Another thing I’m curious about: Since men have a lot lower estrogen exposure than women, in general, does that mean their risk of glaucoma is much higher? But a quick Google search led me to a paper on PubMed that suggests that women outnumber men in cases of glaucoma worldwide.

If I had more time, I’d do a more comprehensive literature review. But at this moment, I’m supposed to be studying for an exam tomorrow. Not to mention, I’m supposed to be doing a whole different literature review for my research and a term paper coming up in a couple of weeks. This may be one to pass on to Transgender Science.

Consultation Complete

Last week, I set up consultations with two surgeons, Dr. Mosser in San Francisco and Dr. Alter in Beverly Hills, that are covered by my insurance. After my initial contacts with both of their offices, I already had a better feeling about Dr. Mosser than I did Dr. Alter. Dr. Mosser’s patient manager, Amy, was very friendly and inviting (as much as you can be over the phone), whereas the person who took calls for Dr. Alter (I don’t even know her name) was very cold-feeling which didn’t instill very much trust in me. Additionally, one of my friends went to Dr. Mosser for his top surgery, so when I told Amy how I heard about him, I mentioned my friend’s name and they waived the consultation fee for me. I scheduled my virtual consultation for Wednesday with Dr. Mosser and an in-office visit with Dr. Alter. I was already planning on driving through L.A. to go visit my family over the weekend, so it wasn’t too much of a hassle to stop by the office.

For the consultation Dr. Mosser (San Francisco), I had to email him photos of a couple of different angles (front, sides, and diagonals) of my chest.  On Wednesday, Amy called me and asked me various questions about my medical history.  After a few questions (this portion only lasted 7 minutes), I was transferred to Dr. Mosser. He was very thorough and friendly. He told me what my options were for top surgery.  I knew already that I’d only realistically be able to have a bilateral mastectomy. He then went over his procedures, the facilities, and other details. He asked a question that I wasn’t quite expecting, but he said I answered perfectly. The question was what did I expect to get out of top surgery. Basically, I said that I want to be able to get up in the morning, put on a t-shirt and go. I don’t want to have to worry about binding. And I’d like to be able to go swimming.

My consultation with Dr. Alter was set for Friday afternoon, but after my consultation with Dr. Mosser, I didn’t really want to go for the consultation with Dr. Alter. Not to mention it would have been a hassle to find a dog sitter for Harry since I was bringing him with me to my family’s house. I called Thursday morning to cancel my appointment. There was no answer, so I left a message. It’s nearly a week later, and I never heard back from Dr. Alter’s office. It’s probably for the best. The initial vibe wasn’t great, and I’d rather be completely comfortable with my surgeon and his office. I’ve never had any major procedures or hospital stays. I barely ever get sick and when I do it’s more of an annoyance than anything serious. So, this is new territory for me.

Overall, I’m pretty excited. Dr. Mosser’s schedule is free in June, which is when I’ll be free from grad school and obligations. It’s the perfect time since I’ll have time to recover before starting a new job (whatever that may be). I’m planning on taking a trip to Northern California in December, so I’ll take that opportunity to visit my friend in Berkeley and stop by Dr. Mosser’s office to meet him and his staff in person.

I’m glad that I’ve taken this next step. Now, it’s just playing the waiting game and hopefully building up my chest muscles!