transitioning

10 months on T

Photos first:

20140225 Back

20140225 Body

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I’ve been feeling really good this month. I mostly attribute that to the changes in my diet due to the Whole30. I only have one more week of that before I can begin reintroducing foods that I want to eat.  I’ve been eating a lot of food. I’m amazed at how I look now despite that fact. There seems to be a noticeable change in my body composition. I’ve also made some huge strength gains this month. Overall, I’m pretty sure I’ll stick pretty closely to my new diet changes. Although, I will admit, I’m really excited to get to drink a Starbucks hazelnut macchiato in a week.

I also participated in my second CrossFit competition a few days ago. I felt less awkward competing as male this time. I had really supportive teammates. (It was a team competition.) Overall, it was a really fun day. My family came down and watched me compete and helped me clean my apartment after my roommates moved out. They’re still having some trouble with my name and pronouns. They seem to be getting it right about 75% of the time. They are trying, but it’s a little frustrating. I know there are people who have it much worse than I do, so I can’t really complain.

I’ve had to talk on the phone a couple of times the past month. (I really hate talking on the phone and try to avoid it as much as possible.) I’ve noticed that people pretty consistently call me sir now on the phone. It’s definitely a change. For a while, people avoided assigning a gender to me at all.

I’m not sure when someone who is transitioning moves out of the transitioning phase. It’s been months since someone who didn’t know me used female pronouns or honorifics. I feel like I’m nearing that point. My body is still changing, but I feel like that’s more due to working out than testosterone. I’m still getting more facial and body hair, but I don’t think that means that I’m still transitioning. I don’t think there is any definitive answer to this question. I think it’s based on how a person perceives themselves, and an answer for one person won’t be the same answer for another person.

I’m looking forward to graduation and top surgery which are in less than 4 months now!

Note: Yesterday was my 6 months of doing CrossFit. I posted comparison photos on my Tumblr blog (transathleticism) of one day after joining and this morning. They are really just my normal monthly photos, but side-by-side. There’s also a picture of my chest which I’m pretty proud of. =)

Blood Work Again

I’ve been on my new dosage for a little over two months now. I finally got my blood tested last week. My total testosterone levels are at 524 ng/dL. I’m pretty happy with this. This was taken about 24 hours before my weekly injection. I don’t know if I’m supposed to get my free testosterone tested too. Honestly, I feel like things are changing at a decent pace. I’m not really sure how essential it is to have this done. I think next time I go in for blood work (lipids, hematocrit, etc.), I’ll ask for another testosterone test, both total and free.

I also asked for an estrogen test, which I assume was a test for estradiol. My levels came out to 85 pg/mL. From a quick Google search, I think this falls pretty close to normal male range. It’s a little high, but not by much. It does make me wonder though, even if I’m not getting periods, do my hormones still do their approximately monthly cycle? If so, estrogen levels could be higher at different times of the month. I suppose to test the theory one could have their estrogen levels at various times of the month. Maybe the information is out there already. One day, I’ll find the time to do a more thorough search on the topic.

I’m not as concerned about that at the moment. I’m finally seeing some progress as far as fat loss in the hip region goes. I think this is mostly due to the Whole30 I’m doing, which I’m now half way through. My clothes are fitting a lot better now, I’ve been sleeping really well, I’ve overcome my caffeine addiction, and my therapist told me my skin looked clearer from the last time I saw her (on the first day of the Whole30). Overall, I’m very glad I’m doing this Whole30.

Battle with the Scale

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always considered myself overweight. I was always a little “chubby.”

My obsession with attaining a certain number on the scale didn’t start until I joined the Marine Corps though. One of the first things that happens when you talk to a recruiter is they pull a scale out and weigh you. In my case, I was 7 or 8 pounds over my max allowed for me height. This should have been okay since I had a few months before I’d be heading out to boot camp. I could easily lose that weight with a bit of exercise and eating. (Note: I ate atrociously as a child/teenager).

However, one day, I was at home playing on my computer, and the phone rang. It was my recruiter. He asked me if I wanted to leave in two days. I wasn’t doing anything, and I wanted to get out of my house. I jumped on the opportunity. I was still overweight though. For the next two days, I ate next to nothing and sipped on water to “quench” my thirst. My recruiter took me to the gym to exercise (i.e. do lots of cardio) and sit in the sauna. I remember wearing plastic bags underneath sweat pants and shirts to lose as much water as possible. At the time, I didn’t know any better. I just did whatever my recruiter said. I managed to squeak by for my weigh-in at MEPS.

For the next five years, I struggled with the number that appeared on the scale. For every weigh-in, I stressed about what the number would be. In the Marine Corps, there were harsh repercussions to being even a pound or two over your max weight. If you were over, they would then pull out a tape measure and measure the circumference of your neck, waist, and hips if you were female, and your neck and waist if you were male. These measurements, along with your height, were plugged into a formula, and out popped your body fat percentage. Anyone who had to go through these knows that they are horribly inaccurate, especially for females who have what would be called “child-bearing hips.” For me, if I had to get tape measured, there was no hope of passing.

I would do everything in my power to make weight. I would not eat, drink fluids (or drink very little), and exercise for the days leading up to a weigh-in, sometimes even a week before depending on how far away I was from making weight. Despite my efforts, I’d sometimes be over my weight. I got punished by having to do two PTs a day, one in the morning with the “fat bodies” and then again in the afternoon with my platoon. I’d get talked to about going on calorie restricted diets. I’d get yelled at, made to feel ashamed because I was two pounds overweight. I took supplements that were supposed to burn fat. I obsessed. It had a huge psychological impact on my sense of self worth.

In the years after I got out of the Marine Corps, it still affected me. I still obsessed about my weight. I went up to 160 pounds and freaked out. I fluctuated a bit, but then finally ended up settling at around 145 pounds. This was an okay weight for me; it was only 3 pounds over my max as if I were still in the Marine Corps.

Then, I began taking testosterone. Within three months, I gained 15-20 pounds. But, this didn’t have the same psychological effect it would have had in the past. I saw my body composition change. As I put on more weight, I saw my body become more muscular. But even then, I still wished I could weigh less, but not because I wanted the number to go down, but because I wanted to lose the fat that I had before I started transitioning.

I think testosterone has broken a lot of the negative associations I’ve had with the number that appears on my scale, but I’d like to break away from relying on my scale as a measure of self-worth at all. It still nags at me from time to time. Last weekend, Stephanie from stupideasypaleo.com came to my gym and talked about nutrition. Later that night, she posted an article about how to love yourself instantly (which basically involves throwing out your scale). I’ve known for a long time that the number I see on the scale doesn’t reflect anything about my health, but I’ve never been able to take that step of throwing out my scale.

Starting tomorrow, I will begin the Whole30 challenge. I measured my weight this morning, and I will measure my weight again at the end of the challenge. I’m hoping by doing this, I will finally be able to convince myself that it reflects nothing about how I look or feel and especially not about my value as a person.

I started a blog on Tumblr to kind of document my Whole30 experience to not flood this blog with complaining about how I want to eat a certain food but can’t, etc. Please check it out if you get a chance!

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.

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.

8 months on T!

Well, today is Christmas, and I woke up with a sore throat and a headache. Nonetheless, I made myself take my monthly photos.

20131225 Back 20131225 Body 20131225 Body

 

I feel like I took a step back from last month as far as losing fat goes. It was a really busy time after the end of the Reindeer Games. I had to immediately jump into studying for finals and writing a paper. Once those were done, I traveled throughout the state to visit family and friends; during that time, I didn’t work out and didn’t eat as well as I normally do. Once I start feeling better, I’ll jump back into my routine.

I got my test results from when I saw my primary care physician at the end of last month. My testosterone was super high (~1200) the day before my injection, so I reduced my dose to half of what I was taking. I was at 100 mg per week, and now I’m taking 50 mg per week. I haven’t noticed any differences between the two, but I’ve been so busy lately, I wasn’t really looking for differences. I will get it tested again along with my estrogen levels next time I go in for a refill.

I’ve noticed I’ve started getting hair on my shoulders now, and my stomach is nearly covered with hair now. I guess I’m going to end up being really hairy. That also means I’ve been getting a lot more facial hair which I’m pretty excited about. Honestly though, the changes are just gradually happening. I don’t even really notice them much anymore. It’s definitely not like it was in the beginning months. I don’t think I remember the last time I got identified as female (excluding some family and friends who still sometimes use the wrong name and pronouns). I haven’t tried going to a predominantly gay space in a while though. It’d be interesting to see which way it would go.

I did see family last weekend for our Christmas gathering. They all pretty much used female pronouns except for one of my uncles and my grandmother who has seen me a couple of times since I began transitioning. I decided to let it slide since they were at least trying to call me by the right name. I also feel like Christmas isn’t the time to bring up situations in which others could see as confrontational. I feel like I’m comfortable enough with myself now to let those things go without it bothering me. If it were a few months ago, I probably would have felt differently. I’m just grateful that I have family and friends that support me. I know a lot of people don’t have that, so I can’t really complain if they accidentally use the wrong name or have trouble using male pronouns. I visited a friend that I knew from the military. He socially transitioned maybe a year ago, and even I had a slip up with pronouns twice during the three days that I visited him and his boyfriend. I know it can be tough for others, so I try to give people a break.

Anyway, I hope everyone had a good Christmas and you all stay safe on New Year’s Eve/Day!

6 months on T!

I can’t believe it’s been half a year already. Time has both flown and crawled by depending on the perspective I take when thinking about it.

First thing’s first because who wants to scroll all the way to the bottom of this post to see pictures.

20131025 Back

20131025 Body 1

20131025 Body 2

Harry decided he wanted to be part of the pictures this morning, haha.

Voice: I don’t think it’s changed that much since last month. I think that is either starting to level out or changing so gradually that I can’t tell anymore. If my voice doesn’t change at all from now, I wouldn’t mind at all, though. I like how it is now.

Hair: Oh man, there’s a lot more of that than I expected. My upper thighs are almost as hairy as the lower part of my legs now. I even have hair on my butt now, which I wasn’t really expecting at all. There is some I’ve noticed that is coming in on my stomach and chest now, but it’s still pretty fine and light in color. Oh, and I’m getting more facial hair now. I’ve noticed in the last month that’s it’s starting to come in not only along my jaw line, but underneath my jaw towards the neck area.

Fat distribution: This is probably the part that I thought would have changed more by now, but hasn’t really changed at all. So, I’m slightly disappointed by that. My hips and thighs are still the same size as they were at the beginning, if not slightly bigger. I know some of that is due to muscle, but the fat that I started with in those areas seems to be sticking around for the long haul. It also makes for finding pants that fit right (or the way I want) a bit of a problem. I’ve been working out consistently for 5 days a week for about the past month now. So, I’m going to try to make some slight changes to my diet to see if that helps any, though the season for gluttony is coming up, so we’ll see how that goes.

Muscles: I am still getting stronger. My muscles are still increasing in size, and I’ve seen huge gains in my performance at CrossFit. I think that’s more of a product of just working hard and pushing myself beyond my comfort zone than the testosterone so much.

Overall: I’m feeling pretty good, even though Alex is gone for a few more months. My research isn’t going as well as I’d like either, but I’ve been trying really hard to keep a healthy balance between work/school and everything outside of that. The injections have become a normal part of my life now, and I don’t look forward to them with any anxiousness now. In fact, sometimes I almost forget that it’s the day of my injections. I keep a reminder in my Google calendar, or else there are some days when I would have forgotten.

Other news: I contacted the two surgeons that are covered by my insurance. One of them is in Beverly Hills, Dr. Gary Alter, and the other in San Francisco, Dr. Scott Mosser. Just based on my phone interactions with both of their offices, I’m already leaning towards Dr. Mosser. I’ve got an in office consultation with Dr. Alter set up and a virtual consultation with Dr. Mosser, both for next week. I also have family in the Bay Area, so that would make post-op recovery a little easier, probably, as opposed to Beverly Hills, where I’d have to get a hotel there since I think San Diego is too far for comfort.