transitioning

Another set of blood tests

I had my blood drawn last week for another set of labs. Everything came back pretty well. I’m sitting right in the middle of normal male range for everything, except for my AST levels (aspartate aminotransferase). It’s an enzyme that is in red blood cells, heart, liver, muscle tissue, pancreas, and kidneys. When taking testosterone, you want to have this checked because it’s a marker that the liver is being damaged, and we know that taking testosterone increases this risk. My doctor likes to send me my lab results before my appointments with her. Of course, when I saw that this was elevated, I first had to find out what it was, but during my research I found that weightlifting can cause these levels to increase, as well. When lifting weights, you break down the tissue, releasing all kind of things into the bloodstream. One of those things is this particular enzyme. All in all, I noticed this increased significantly only after starting CrossFit, so it’s not likely that there is damage to my liver. My doctor isn’t concerned either; she just likes to keep an eye on things. I haven’t heard of any other trans guys talk about this if they’ve started intense exercise programs and testosterone around the same time.

My cholesterol has actually improved since my last labs, probably due to a better diet and exercise. My HDL (otherwise known as the good cholesterol) went up, and my LDL (bad cholesterol) went down. It was a concern before since they went down and up, respectively, compared to my pre-T values at my last blood test. So, it’s good to see these things returning to a better level. Oh and my doctor finally didn’t give me crap about my BMI. I’m about 20 lbs “overweight,” but I’m gaining muscle like crazy. I’m pretty sure I haven’t gained any fat since starting T.

My 6 months on testosterone is coming up at the end of next week. I can’t believe it’s been that long already. Until then.

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Passing Awkwardness

Last night, I went to a local burger joint because I was too lazy to cook, and I wanted a beer. I skipped being seated at a table and sat down at the bar in an empty chair. There was a couple to my right and a guy who wasn’t with anyone to my left. I ordered a beer and some food. Some time passes before my food shows up. During the time, I’m sipping on my beer and staring at the TV, not really watching it though. Finally, my food comes, and I begin to eat. Then, the guy to my left starts talking to me about the college football game that is on the TV. Now, anyone who knows me knows that I have very little interest in football, except for the fact that I have a relative that plays in the NFL, so I occasionally check to see how his team is doing. But anyway, it was only slightly awkward for me. I know enough about football to get by. As I left, I told him to have a good night, and he replied with, “have a good night, man.” That pretty much made my night.

But that isn’t really where the awkwardness comes in. I still use the women’s restroom in the building where I work because of the fact that most people there know me, and I don’t feel comfortable at all using the men’s restroom, especially with the guys that I work with. It’s not that they treat me any differently than any other guy, it’s really just my own awkwardness and insecurities. However, lately I’ve gone into the women’s restroom and gotten strange or surprised looks. There was even a time when a janitor was cleaning the restroom and tried to tell me that I was in the wrong restroom. Outside of where I work, I’ve been making myself use the men’s restroom. But, I’m at a point where gendered spaces are really awkward for me, whether they are men’s or women’s spaces. It probably has more to do with my own insecurities than anything. I haven’t gotten any strange looks in the men’s bathroom, just the women’s bathroom. I just need to work on being confident and feeling like I belong.

As the frequency of being identified correctly increases, the better I feel about moving within men only spaces. I just want to be able to use the restroom without any anxiety.

In other news, CrossFit has been going really well. Today was an outdoor workout at the beach since the gym was being use for a weightlifting clinic. I met another CrossFitter (Bill) who typically works out in the morning (6:30am, bleh), so I haven’t met him yet. I introduced myself to him, and we chatted a bit. Then, the coach, Jesse, came up and told us today was a partner WOD and that we should partner with the same gender. Bill chose me as his partner, and we completed the workout awesomely.

Jesse has been talking about upcoming CrossFit competitions. I think it sounds like a fun way to motivate and push myself. I talked to him about competing as a beginner male, and he assured me that he could have me ready to compete with a couple more months of experience and training. I’m pretty excited to compete just to prove to myself that I can do it.

5 Months on T

This month’s update feels more obligatory than any leading up to this post. I have been excited to write the updates until this point. I took photos of myself this morning before running off to lab, but I was mostly disappointed by the lack of changes from last month. Of course, if I compare them to earlier months, it’s fantastic. I’ve been doing CrossFit for a month now (I started a day before my 4 month mark, actually), and I thought I’d make these huge changes in body composition, but it appears to have stayed the same. This, of course, coming from my slightly skewed perception. On the other hand, I have noticed changes in my strength and ability in CrossFit, so that’s a plus. I hope by the time my one year mark comes up, I will be doing male weights instead of female weights.

I don’t really have much to report in the way of changes, just more of the typical changes I’ve seen others experience: growing more hair on my upper thighs, sideburns are coming in more now, more chin hair, a little in the stomach region, etc. I’ve noticed that the frequency of me getting identified as male by strangers has increased, also.

I’ve been on my new dose/frequency (80 mg/week) for about a month now. It’s been a really nice change. I’m not anxious at all like I was when I was doing injections every 2 weeks. It kind of sneaks up on me, and I think to myself, “Wow, it’s time for another injection already.” With that, I also feel like my emotions are much more stable now and less like a roller coaster. I get blood drawn in two weeks, so we’ll see if this new dose has had any negative effects or if things (RBC, liver enzymes, cholesterol, etc) are remaining the same.

Finally, on to the pictures. (Next month, I may do a side-by-side comparison for fun in my regular monthly photo update for fun.)

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20130925 Full Body 1

20130925 Full Body 2

 

Name Change Complete (Mostly)

I made a trip to Austin, TX over the weekend to visit a close friend. It’s the first time I’ve seen him since beginning my transition. He surprised me at how well he did at calling me by the correct name and pronouns, especially. Pronouns seem to be the thing that’s hardest for people to switch, in my limited experience.

Anyway, my new birth certificate finally came the afternoon that I left for Austin (Sept 5th)! That was the last major part of my name change to be completed. Now, all I have are some minor accounts to change over still which I’ve been slacking off. But, I feel pretty good now that all my major identifying documents now have the correct name and gender. Pretty soon it will be much easier and cheaper for transgender people to get this done in California. Yay AB 1121.

My transition is coming along smoothly. Today marks 20 weeks on testosterone. I listened to a recording of my voice that I made today and one from day 7; the difference is pretty incredible. I could not stand the sound of my voice before, but now I actually like the way it sounds. Another thing I’ve noticed since switching my injections from every two weeks to weekly is that I haven’t been anxious for the next injection like I had been previously. I feel like the more frequent doses have leveled out my hormone levels which result in more stable emotional states as well.

Life of a grad student is very busy. I feel like I’ve been slacking on making regular updates, but I will keep trying. Until next time.

Binder Problems

I thought it was pretty awesome when I first got my binders. I got two binders, both in the same style. but different colors. I would fasten all the fasteners and then pull it on as you would a t-shirt. It was amazing how it felt wearing the binders. That feeling has worn off as time has passed. Now, the binders are more of a nuisance. I honestly wouldn’t even both wearing them anymore, but the more I physically change, the more self-conscious I feel about my chest. It’s probably because I care too much about what other people think of me; this dude who is just sprouting facial hair, gaining muscle mass, and voice is deepening is walking around with size C breasts when not binding. It’s awkward, for me at least. I’m not sure what other people think or if they even notice, but the only thing I can think about is trying to hide them when I’m not binding.

This is where my problem comes in. I’ve been gaining a lot of muscle since I started testosterone and ramping up my workouts, so much so that it’s nearly impossible to get into one of my binders. (I have two binders which are the same size, but one is significantly smaller for some reason). Once I get the damned thing on, the sweating begins. Not only is it just annoying to be sweaty while binding, it makes it feel like it’s digging into my skin. Not to mention, no matter how much I try to adjust the breasts underneath the binder, it definitely doesn’t look like a male chest to me. At the end of the day, I come home and take my binder off, which can take me 5 minutes or more. I struggle so much that I’ve come to the point several times now that I’ve been about 2 seconds away from grabbing scissors and cutting it off.

I’d buy another one, but I’m worried that in another couple of minutes, I’ll just run into the same problem. I’m not sure which is more uncomfortable… the physical discomfort of the binder or the mental discomfort of having a visibly female-bodied chest.

Oh how I can’t wait until next summer when I can take enough time off to recover from top surgery.

4 months on T!

That means I have photos.

20130825 Back

20130825 Full Body 1

20130825 Full Body 2

Looking back at my photos from three months, I don’t see much of a change. Half the month though, I was both sick and waiting for my hand to heal. The other half, I was trying to spend time with Alex before he left on his deployment. But now, I’m ready to get back into the swing of working out, especially if I decide to officially join the CrossFit gym I checked out on Saturday after my week trial is up. I am pretty sore from the workout yesterday, but it’s the kind of sore that makes you feel really good about yourself.

As far as other transition things go, my voice is gradually getting deeper. I’m not sure what it sounds like to other people, but I think it may be on the edge of teenage boy – adult male sounding. I’ve been getting a lot of comments from friends and people I work with about how they notice that it’s getting lower. It’s definitely one of those things that kind of makes my day.

I’m getting darker, longer hair on my upper thighs, whereas before it was so fine and light in color it was hardly noticeable. I’ve also noticed hair sprouting up on my stomach. And of course, I’m sprouting more hair on my chin, upper lip, and side burn region. I shave about once a week, but I probably should be shaving every 3-4 days because it honestly looks kind of silly after a week since it’s just a few hairs and not a full beard. The acne on my face has gradually been getting worse as well, but I’m okay with it. It’s nothing like it was when I went through my first puberty, and I’m sure it will calm down as time goes by.

I still haven’t noticed any changes in my fat distribution. I still have obnoxiously big hips and thighs. I can’t wait for those two areas to change more than anything. I’m hoping that by doing CrossFit, it will ignite some fat burning and get rid of that fat once and for all. That’s probably the area on my body that I am most dysphoric about; it’s always the area that I get frustrated about when my clothes (pants) don’t fit right. I eat pretty well, so I think it’s just being stubborn. Even if CrossFit doesn’t help with the fat, it will definitely build muscle. It’s as if I’m fighting a losing battle though by both trying to lose fat and build muscle at the same time. I’m not sure which I want to focus on more at the moment since fat burning requires a calorie deficit while muscle building requires a calorie surplus. I’ve definitely been in the calorie surplus area, considering all the muscle I’ve put on in the past 4 months. I just don’t want to purposely try to lose fat by eating fewer calories and then lose all the muscle I’ve been working so hard to get. Eh… I’ll figure something out. It’s just kind of frustrating at the moment.

Anyway, that pretty much covers the noticeable changes for this month. I’m still waiting on my new birth certificate to arrive, but other than that, most of my name change stuff is going smoothly. The only big thing I really have left to get is a new passport.

Until next time!

 

They spelled my name right

I haven’t updated much lately because not much has been going on as far as transition things go. There are a few things to note though. I got blood work done last week and saw my doctor this morning. My hemoglobin and hematocrit have gone up, but they are still within the healthy make range (pretty much in the middle). Also, my LDL has gone up some and my HDL has gone down, but again they are both in the healthy range. Last thing to note is that my BMI has gone up too (I’ve gained nearly 20 pounds since beginning testosterone injections), bit I’m pretty convinced that it has all been muscle. My waist and hips have remained the same size, while my neck has increased (along with my biceps, forearms, calves, and shoulders). Overall, my health is still very good, but my doctor still wants to keep an eye on things. We also discussed changing my injection frequency. I was on 1.5 mL (100 mg/mL) every two weeks to .8 mL (100 mg/mL) every week. I noticed the last two injections that some would leak out of the injection site, so I asked about reducing the volume per injection and increasing the frequency.

In other news, this month when I was paying my car insurance, I noticed that it was cheaper than normal. I went back through my statements to figure out why and apparently when I changed my gender with my insurance company, they decreased my premium. That was a nice, unexpected surprise.

Last, I got my degrees in the mail yesterday. I’ve been kind of bummed about them because I didn’t have my name change in the system before I graduated, so I was expecting to just hide them away. However, when I opened the envelope, I saw this:

image

I was pretty excited about this, since I was sure my old name would be on it.

Anyway, I will be doing a picture update soon for my 4 months on testosterone.

Until then.