Month: January 2014

Face Comparison: 10 days on T vs. 9 months on T

I realize that I haven’t really done a face comparison since my photos are whole body pictures, so here it goes!

10 days on T

10 days on T

9 months on T

9 months on T

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I almost think my hairline has receded a little bit, but it’s hard to tell since my hair was longer. It may have looked like that all along, and I just didn’t know because it was covered by hair.

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9 months on T!

I can’t believe it has been 9 months already. Time is both flying by and crawling along. From the perspective of time I’ve been on testosterone, time has flown by; on the other hand, as I wait for top surgery, it’s crawling.

First thing’s first…

20140125 Back

20140125 Body

20140125 Body

Transition update:

More hair. I think my facial hair, at least the side burns, are even becoming visible in these photos now. I’ve noticed some hairs sprouting up on my cheeks now too. My butt is completely covered in hair. And I’ve noticed the last month or so that I’m getting hair on my chest and stomach area.

I’m starting to get a little acne on my back. You can see it in the photo posted above. It’s not much, but I’ve never had acne on my back. There’s also a little on my shoulders and chest. Acne on my face is a given, but I don’t think it’s gotten worse since it started.

I’m still getting more muscular or at least stronger. I got a new front squat PR this month, and I’m inching my way to my first pull up.

I am getting a blood test done at the beginning of next month to check my T and E levels. I haven’t felt any noticeable changes from reducing my dosage as far as appetite, sex drive, or mood. In fact, I feel like hair has been coming in faster since I cut my dosage in half. It’s hard to tell though.

Fat distribution… well, I still have hips. If you saw my last post, Fashion Fail, my shirts (and pants) still don’t fit the way that I would like. Though, my shoulders have definitely gotten broader, so it feels like I’m getting less curvy. I don’t know. I think I’m just going to be one of those guys cursed with wide hips.

Life update:

My gym is putting on a friendly Whole30 competition starting February 1st. This will mean a couple of dietary changes for me: no lattes from Starbucks, no rice, no protein powder, no milk, and probably a couple of other minor things. In theory, this should be like a reset for my body. It should make it less dependent on sugar and better able to burn fat. I’m hoping this will set me on my way to getting the body composition that I want. Right now, I’m shooting for 15% body fat.

In addition to the Whole30, I’ll be participating in another CrossFit competition, Battle at the Barracks. This time it’s a team competition. Teams will be composed of two males and two females. The workouts haven’t been posted yet, but listed among the movements is pull-ups. It makes me slightly anxious since I still haven’t gotten my first pull-up yet. But, I see it as incentive to work harder towards them. Plus, I have the additional encouragement from my teammates depending on me to get at least one for the competition. I’ve read a billion (okay, not really, but a few) articles on how to progress to getting a pull-up. Now, all I have to do is implement my plan.

School is rolling along. Monday is the beginning of week 4, and I have my first midterm already. Good news is this my second to last quarter. I suppose I should begin looking for jobs soon. I’m not really sure how I will approach professors for reference letters. I have only come out to one of my professors (who is also the PI of the lab I work in) so far… so I’ll probably need to get on that too. I hate having to figure out how to tell people about my identity, but it’s something that has to be done.

Overall though, I’m happy with how things are coming along.

Fashion Fail

Lately, buying clothes has a really big hassle and usually causes me huge amounts of dysphoria. Nothing ever fits the way it should fit: my shoulders aren’t broad enough for the width of my hips, I’m too short for the broadness of my shoulders for shirts, and my hips are too wide for my height for pants.

But despite my frustrations, I decided it was time to finally to get some shirts a size bigger than what I’ve been wearing. My shirts have gotten a bit tight in the shoulder and chest region lately. In fact, if I have both arms stretched out in front of me, it’s super tight.

Small - Front

Small – Front

Small - Back

Small – Back

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I headed over to my local mall and picked out two shirts that fit reasonably well in the shoulders and chest, which happen to be mediums. Apparently though, only people who are 5’6″ are taller wear mediums according to clothes makers.

Medium Slim - Front

Medium Slim – Front

Medium Slim - Back

Medium Slim – Back

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The “regular” cut is also pretty large in the stomach region.

Medium - Front

Medium – Front

Medium - Back

Medium – Back

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I took these two shirts into the tailor to have them hemmed, and the regular shirt taken in on the sides and fitted in the sleeves.

Medium Slim Tailored - Front

Medium Slim Tailored – Front

Medium Slim Tailored - Back

Medium Slim Tailored – Back

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Medium Tailored - Front

Medium Tailored – Front

Medium Tailored - Back

Medium Tailored – Back

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overall, I think they look pretty good after being tailored. They feel comfortable in the shoulders and not like I’m going to bust the seams as I feel sometimes in the smalls.

I still am not happy with the hip situation, but it is much better than how it looks in small shirts that I wear. I’m almost hoping that I can gain enough muscle mass in my shoulders/chest so that I’m able to fit into larges. That should give the shirts enough room to hang loosely over my hips. Of course, I’m still hoping that I’ll lose some fat in that region as I continue to eat right and exercise (with the effects of testosterone, of course.)

 

 

 

Accurate Body Fat Measurements and Being Trans

As of tomorrow, I have 5 months until my top surgery. In anticipation of that event, I wanted to bulk up some more and lose some body fat. I wanted to get an idea of where I am now, and after a few months, I’d like to take another measurement to see if I’ve made any progress.

I set up an appointment at Student Health Services for a body composition analysis. Basically, you stand on a scale that has two electrodes (one for each foot), and a current is passed through the body. The resistance is measured. Fat has a higher resistance than other components of the body. Theoretically, you can calculate body fat percentage using this measurement.

I showed up expecting to meet the assistant director of health education since that was who I had been in contact with to set up the appointment. Instead, a student health advocate introduced himself to me when I arrived. He gave me a piece of paper to fill out. It asked for my name, height, sex, and age.

At this point, I had to explain that I was transgender and didn’t know if I should write down male or female since it asked for sex. I don’t know the exact factors that go into what affects measurements. Luckily, the SHA was totally cool about it; unfortunately, he didn’t really know either since he’s basically just trained to operate the equipment. I know that female-bodied people typically have more fat than male-bodied people. And male-bodied people retain more water than female-bodied people. Both of these factors greatly influence the measurements. I don’t know to what extent testosterone alters these two factors.

So, he input my information into the machine, and it spits out a printout. It told me that I was at 35% body fat. That’s considered obese by female standards. He went over this whole spiel of resources available at UCSD (that I already knew). He also talked about calorie intake (how to gain or lose weight by eating more or less, respectively). I thought this stuff was common knowledge.

Anyway, he offered to retake the measurements with male as the input instead of female. It came out with 25.8% body fat. That’s still obese by male standards.

I’m not really sure what to make of either of these values. I’m sure they’re not very accurate in my case. I asked how the measurements from the equipment compared to hydrostatic weighing, and he had no idea what I was talking about.

Today was a bust. I have a scale in my bathroom that performs the same measurement which seems to be just as accurate even though the equipment at UCSD is probably 50-100x more expensive than my bathroom scale.

I have a lot of questions about how to accurately assess my fitness level. I can’t find any information on what standards I should be using. Should I use male standards because of my testosterone use, or should I use female standards since my body is biologically female? Should I base my caloric intake based on male or female standards? Is muscle mass the dominating factor in how many calories I should consume?

In the end, I will just have to use myself as my own experiment and see what works best for my fitness goals. I will continue to use my pictures as indication of my progress. Also, I will still be able to use my scale as an indication as long as the inaccuracy between measurements remains the same.

T*Camp

This weekend (Jan 3-5), I attended T*Camp.

A friend of mine told me about it sometime in October, so I filled out the application in about 5 minutes and didn’t think much about it. On November 14th, I got an email saying that I was selected to attend T*Camp. There was a deadline (Nov 25) to respond to the email to say whether or not we still wanted to attend. I didn’t really know what to do. I wanted to go, but I would have to interact with new people and talk about things that I may have been avoiding or have never even thought of, etc.

I’m a worrier. Especially when it comes to putting myself into new situations. I almost feel like if I’m going to an established group or social setting that I’m intruding into a space I don’t belong. Those worries aside, almost all of my interactions with other trans* people have been through the safety of the internet. Four days after receiving the email, I went ahead and said that I was still interested in attending.

I put it out of my mind as school (midterms and finals), the Reindeer Games, and traveling for the holidays took up all of my energy and time. But after New Year’s, T*Camp became a reality for me. I considered making various excuses for why I could not go, such as the fact that I was getting over a cold, all the up until I got into my car to drive to campus. I made it though. I drove to campus, parked my car, and carried my stuff to the meeting location on my campus.

There was no turning back.

Fast forward to the end of the weekend. It was an amazing experience for me. I won’t go too much into the details since I’ll probably cover this in later blog posts, but there were many discussions I was a part of:  labels and how they have affected us, navigating through life as a person on the transmasculine spectrum, white privilege, and self care.

I thought I had thought a lot about my gender identity up until this weekend, but I realized that I’ve only begun to scratch the surface. I met people from all over the spectra of gender identity and gender expression. I got to hear views that I hadn’t had much exposure to in the past. This has caused a lot of introspection for me.

When I was younger, I strongly identified with being a lesbian. Shortly after I came out to my family, I joined the military. It was during the DADT days, but I proudly wore my rainbow gear. I was as out as I could be without getting kicked out.

I let this label control who I was and who I loved. I didn’t want to be seen as girly at all. I struggled with my attraction to guys. I couldn’t be attracted to guys; I was very obviously lesbian. Being a lesbian gave me a sense of community, and I didn’t want to lose that. On the other hand, people used to call me butch and baby dyke. I hated it, but I didn’t know why.

Years later, I finally was able to let go of this label. I allowed myself to be attracted to people for who they were and not because of their genitalia. I feel like this freed me.

But then, I didn’t know how to express myself. If I didn’t identify as a lesbian, I thought maybe I should try to be more “feminine.” For two years, I went out of my way to buy (and wear) clothes that were made for female bodied people. I’d look longingly at all the clothes that I wasn’t “supposed” to wear. I even went so far as to wear a dress for a more formal occasion (November 2012). I felt like I was in drag. Everyone said I looked great, but I felt terrible. I thought they were just being nice; I felt like some sort of freak in a dress.

A few months after that incident, I came across a YouTube video of someone’s one year on testosterone video. It was like getting hit with a ton of bricks. I must have watched it ten times in one night (while I should have been working on a school project). Over the next couple of days, I watched other transition videos. I knew then that I was trans. Or maybe I should say I was sure. I knew from an early age that I didn’t identify with being female, but I didn’t know what to call it or that there were others, etc.

I am now over 8 months on testosterone. I thought I had my gender identity figured out. I was a male, of course. But then, I attended T*Camp and met and interacted with quite a few people who identify as genderqueer or agender or even bigender.

And the questions began.

What does it even mean to be masculine or feminine? Society tells us what is masculine and feminine, and these things vary from culture to culture even. How can I base my gender identity on interests that are deemed typically masculine? I like things that are considered feminine too. Does that mean I’m not a man? Am I genderqueer?

Now, I had thought about some of this after reading some blog posts written by Jamie, but at T*camp though, there wasn’t life or distractions to get away from my thoughts. I’m not sure I’ll ever have the answer to these things. I know for some people labels can be very liberating, but for me, I could do without them.  One thing I have learned though is to not limit myself by adhering to the ideal of a label. I am who I am. I could have fallen prey to the thoughts that I have to act a certain way just because I identify as male, but I will never be a typical guy.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to attend T*Camp and meet the awesome people that I did. I’m glad I pushed myself to overcome the anxiety I felt with throwing myself into a completely foreign situation. I believe that the people and experience have made me a better person.

New Year, New Goals

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions; however, I do have some goals I’d like to accomplish this year. They are mostly CrossFit/fitness related since it is the only thing I can really make solid, realistic goals. I’ll start with the non fitness related goals though.

  • Complete my Master’s degree (this is pretty much inevitable unless I fail a class or the comprehensive exam)
  • Begin the adoption process (we are currently saving money)
  • Post more on WordPress! (I want to post on a more regular schedule, in addition to my monthly updates)
  • Become more involved in the trans*community (In fact, I went to a transgender retreat over the weekend which I will write about in detail soon!)
  • Top surgery! (My date is set for June 18th!)

Fitness goals:

  • Do a handstand push-up
  • Do a pull-up
  • Do 10 unbroken double unders
  • Do one overhead squat at any weight
  • Increase the all of my lifts by at least 50%

I think these are pretty reasonable goals. As I accomplish my goals, I will make updates to my goals list. I hope that everyone’s year is off to a good start.

IMG_20131224_151042_235

Harry in the Christmas spirit (for 10 seconds)