graduation

3 days until top surgery!

I am just 3 days away from top surgery. Last Thursday, I got blood tests to check for clotting factors. Tomorrow is my pre-op appointment, and Wednesday morning will be when it finally happens.

I was wearing my binder all day today, and it has gotten so tight from mass gains that the hooks on the side stab me every time I take a deep breath. I’m so ready to be done with it. I’m ready to not have to worry about how my chest looks while I’m working out.

It will be nice to not even have to think about it. It will be one less thing I have to worry about.

Speaking of freeing my mind, my time in school has finally come to an end. I have spent nearly a decade in school (seven years to be exact). And except for last summer, I’ve taken summer classes every summer. I’ve forgotten what it’s like to come home and not have to worry about homework assignments, reading, and preparing for exams. What will it be like to do activities that I enjoy without having this nagging feeling that I should be working on school work?

In addition to that, the last year has been awkward for me in the school setting. I only came out to people I felt it was absolutely necessary. Then, I just attempted to avoid any old professors or classmates that weren’t informed of my transition. Needless to say, it made me slightly paranoid anytime I was on campus or in an area where someone might know the “old” me. I’m glad that I won’t be in that environment anymore. It was definitely wearing me down mentally.

I’m ready to begin my recovery and spend my time looking for jobs and enjoying some much needed free time.

Graduation and Dysphoria

This morning as I was dressing for my graduation, I was planning to wear the same clothes that I got about a week and a half ago that I wore for my final presentation. I grabbed my pants and shirt from the dryer since I was trying to dewrinkle them without the use of an iron (because I don’t actually own one). Anyway, at first, I tried to put an undershirt on because I thought my binder could be seen through my shirt last time I wore it (or at least I could see it, and that made me self-conscious). Anyway, that didn’t work at all because it just made everything too tight, and the fabric obviously pulled at the buttons. So, I removed the undershirt and tried the shirt on again, but by this point, I already had it in my mind that it wasn’t fitting right. So, of course, I wasn’t happy with that solution because the binder was so blaringly obvious to me, and the fabric at the buttons still seemed like they were pulling. At this point, I just sat at my desk as tears started to fill my eyes. I had maybe 15 minutes before I was supposed to leave to go to campus, and I was freaking out because the shirt I had planned to wear definitely wasn’t going to work.  I nearly panicked, but I went back in my closet to take another look. Finally, I settled on the red shirt I wore to our wedding ceremony last month (which is one size larger). Now, I didn’t really want to wear it because it was red, and my school’s colors are blue and gold. I have a thing about clashing colors, but at least I had the robe to cover up the shirt and could almost completely hide the collar. When I put the shirt on my dysphoria finally calmed down.

Honestly, I feel like since I’ve started testosterone, my dysphoria has gotten a lot worse. While I’ve definitely noticed some very desirable changes, in my mind I still look very feminine. I rarely am called by the right gender, which probably doesn’t help, but I don’t think that’s why it has gotten worse. Maybe it’s because I do notice some masculinization in my face and shoulders, but I feel like some things are still very feminine (my hips, ass, thighs, and chest). This definitely causes some cognitive dissonance (to steal a term from psychology). I don’t know how long this fat redistribution takes, but I really hope it starts soon. At least now I can help facilitate the process since I have a break from school over the summer; I can focus on eating better and working out more consistently.

Despite my rough start this morning, graduation went really well! While we were lining up to go be seated, one of my classmates came up (who I recently added on Facebook) to me and asked if he should call me August or April. I told him August, and he gave me  a high five. That was probably the highlight of my day. After we walked across the stage, another of my classmates that sat with me also asked what he should call me. I assume this was because I wrote on my graduation ticket “August,” so that’s what was read as I walked across the stage. I definitely appreciated them asking; it was very unexpected. I didn’t intend to have any of my classmates call me August since I figured after we graduated, I wouldn’t really see very many of them.

Afterwards, I went to a late lunch/early dinner with my mom, uncle, brother, and grandpa. I got a couple of cards, which said August on them. However, when they were talking to the waiter, they said “she” just graduated. My mom still calls me April and uses female pronouns all the time, which is slightly embarrassing when we’re out. I just wish I could be invisible during those moments. I’m not really sure if and when it’s appropriate to correct her. I know she’s aware that I’d prefer to be called August and he, but I’d feel guilty if I corrected her. I’m not really sure how to handle the situation at all. It just ends up being very awkward for me, and I haven’t seen any indication that she’ll be getting the hang out of it any time soon. I expect her to slip up, but she doesn’t even try to correct herself like my friends do when they call me by the wrong name. Has anyone had to deal with a similar situation?

Moving Forward

As I said in my last post, I added another student on Facebook from one of my classes to obtain access to class notes. That actually sent me on an adding rampage. I started adding people that were in my major and graduating class. I’m pretty sure everyone accepted my friend request; no one asked any questions. It actually felt really good. I mean, I’m sure they knew it was me. My last name isn’t very common, and my profile picture looks like me, of course. But more importantly, I came out to another of the grad students that I work with and talk to regularly. He reiterated what most people have said to me, he just wants me to be happy with who I am. That feels really good.  I actually respect and value you his opinion, so hearing that was really good.

In other news, I took my last final tonight (of my undergrad, anyway. I will have many more as a grad student). I feel so relieved to finally be done. I have the whole summer off to just do work and research. Then, I can come home at night and not have to worry about studying or working on a project. I’m really excited for this summer. It will essentially be my first summer off in 10 years.

In more other news, today is 7 weeks on testosterone, but honestly, I haven’t noticed any changes at all in the past week, sadly.

Almost Done

I turned in my paper for my senior lab project this morning at 9 (an hour early! That’s a first, haha). I am so relieved to not have that hanging over my head. The only thing I have left is a final for my nanomedicine class. I heard from a grad student yesterday that one of the other undergrads was compiling everyone’s presentations on Google Drive. I didn’t take very good notes on these presentations as they were given, so this was very valuable information to me. Now, I had to contact the undergrad the only way I knew how, through Facebook. I’m still not out to anyone at school besides the grad student that I work with closely, but I the presentations would be really nice to have, so I decided to shoot him a message about it. He replied quickly, but there was no indication that he cared at all that he was receiving a message from August rather than the name I go by at school. I feel relieved, but more than that, I feel a boost of confidence. I’m tempted to try adding a few more people from school as friends on Facebook.

With Thursday being my last final, graduation is within my grasp, finally. It’s taken me six years to get my undergraduate degree. I started taking classes at the local community college after my second deployment while I was waiting to leave the Marine Corps back at the end of 2007. I’d like to say I feel accomplished, but with another year of school looming ahead of me to complete my Master’s… I don’t know. People keep asking me what I want to do after that; I’m not really sure. I really only have two options: continue on for my PhD or get a jobs. My feelings on the subject vary, but lately I’ve been leaning heavily towards wanting to get a job. While I think it would be cool to get a PhD for the sake of getting a PhD, I still have to think about the practical side of life. First, Alex and I want to adopt a child, and children are expensive. If I spend another 5 years in school getting a PhD, we’re going to be living on rice and beans for that 5 years. Second, we want to buy a house. Now, while we could get a VA Home Loan (which require no down payment), I’d still like to a down payment sized sum of money in savings, just in case. Third, I like to buy expensive clothes and toys. Okay, so those things aren’t necessities, but it doesn’t mean I don’t like having nice things or going out to nice dinners, etc. Another thing to consider is that I’m not sure how a Master’s versus a PhD will affect my job opportunities in the future. Things to consider, I suppose. Mostly likely, I will apply to a couple of PhD programs at the end of this year and begin applying to jobs as the end of next school year rolls around.

Name Change – Part 1

On Wednesday, I had a check up with my doctor. I had planned to ask her about getting an affidavit for my legal gender change that must be submitted to the courts. So, I showed up to my appointment and discussed some of the changes that have happened and how I’ve been feeling. I walked out feeling pretty good. Then, I realized that I completely forgot to ask about the affidavit to state that I was undergoing “clinically appropriate treatment” for my gender change. I ran home and wrote a message asking about getting that done. She responded that night and said she would write it in the next day.

I picked the letter up this morning from student health services and hopped on my motorcycle to head downtown to the central location for San Diego Superior Court. I went up to the filing court, feeling pretty nervous, as she looked through my paperwork and told me things I needed to fill in. She didn’t even bat an eyelash though. By the time I finished, I was sweating through the many layers I had on: binder, t-shirt, long-sleeved button down shirt, and my motorcycle jacket. I finally finished and paid my $435 filing fee. Luckily, my mom is pretty supportive and sent me a check earlier this week to take care of this. My court hearing date is July 5th, then hopefully everything will be official!

Next thing I had to do was find a news paper to publish my name change announcement, in case anyone objects. That was another $50 to have the announcement published for four weeks. I’m not sure what other people have to do in other states, but California is kind of a pain in the ass sometimes.

All in all though, I’m glad to have the wheels set in motion. With the name and gender change coming up in the relatively near future, I’ll have to find a way to come out at both jobs. That is something I really need to put some thought into.

Also, another thing that is looming over me is my graduation. I’m definitely looking forward to being done, but also nervous about having to see family members that I haven’t seen since before coming out. I think they’re all pretty supportive, but I get anxious about these things.