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I’m in my second year of a PhD program in mathematics.  This year, I start the process of finding a thesis adviser.  The search for an adviser in grad school is often likened to dating: the student first meets the professor by taking his class, thus having the opportunity to talk with him/her in a low-pressure situation.  The student then nervously asks the prof if he/she would like to do a private reading course the next term.  If the reading course goes well and student and prof hit it off, reading slowly morphs into research, and after several terms, the student musters the courage to pop  the question: will you be my adviser?  It’s a delicate dance.  When a prof and student don’t work out it can be for any number of reasons: the prof’s math doesn’t interest the student, the prof manages the student’s work too little or too much, or perhaps there’s just a clash of personalities.  If a student wants to work with a particular prof, it’s important to foster a good working relationship from the very beginning.

So here’s where I’m at: I’ve found a professor who I can see myself working with in the long term.  He does interesting math and we get along.  He’s very old, maybe 80 or 82, and he’s eccentric to say the least.  He’s a genius who can’t attach things to emails.  He drinks nothing but grape Crush.  And he happens to have read me as male upon first meeting me.  In fact, I recognized right off the bat that he was chummier with me than his female student, who was a friend of mine.  He felt free to tell certain stories to me that he wouldn’t disclose to her, for instance.  And he made an assumption, however subconscious, that I was a good mathematician.  I didn’t have to prove a damn thing for him to think that; he just assumed it was so.  Being a woman in math is different: once you show that you are indeed as good as your male counterparts, you are generally accepted as an equal.  But as a default, many profs are skeptical of women at first.  It’s an incredibly subtle trend in math, and unless you’d experienced it you’d probably think it was imagined or exaggerated.  But this professor treated me differently than he would have if he’d thought I was female, I am sure of it.  It felt a little slimy, but I must admit it was nice to feel that privilege.

I’ve been working with this professor now for only a couple weeks.  Last night, one of his other students told me that he had heard that my “real” name was Anna.  He was confused and asked her if it was true. Bless her, she said, “No, his name’s Adrian.  And why are you asking me instead of him?”  Oh fuck.  My secret is threatening to burst out of the closet!  I have never been stealth to anyone before, and it’s never seemed to matter.  But now, I want him to continue to think I’m a boy, because that gets my foot in the door.  If I worked with him for six months and gave him evidence that I really am good at math, then my trans status would probably be a non-issue.  I don’t know if it will be an issue as it stands, but I am so scared that it will deter him from working with me further.  This is the first time that being trans has threatened to negatively impact my career.  It’s easy to be out and proud and appear brave and confident when you’re not the one targeted for discrimination.  Now that I might be (and I don’t even know if I will be) that target, I am desperately pulling the closet doors shut!

I’m hoping for the best but damn, am I scared shitless.

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Overdue T Update

Hi all – I’ve been totally slacking on updating this site.  Sorry!  I’m now in the middle of my sixth month on T.  Gosh, that is hard to believe!  About a month ago I went back to my endo to talk about the benefits of injections over creams.  He previously had me on 1/4 teaspoon of the 5% testosterone cream daily.  I’d heard from a few friends that the creams work slower than the injections, and I’d noticed that my results were occurring at a somewhat slower rate than the transguys I knew on injections.  My endo confirmed the rumor that the cream works slower, and started me that day on injections, 100mL once a week.  The nurse taught me how to do it at that visit, and I’ve been injecting myself every Tuesday morning since.

Results: zits!  I have some acne on my face now 😦  But, my voice has dropped to a recognizably male range, albeit somewhat androgynous still.  Also, I’m growing hair!  Lots of hair.  My legs are turning into hairy masses.  The hair on my arms is definitely thicker but it’s also constantly getting bleached by sun, so it’s not noticeably darker.  The hair on my face is growing in consistently but is still thin and light in color.  It definitely won’t look like “good” facial hair for some time.  Besides the hair and voice and zits, I have an insane libido.  And strangely, porn is more appealing now than it has ever been.  Pre-T I never watched porn, but now it’s a semi-regular event.  Along with libido I still have noticed an increase in my physical energy.  Sadly, I haven’t had time in my schedule to be a regular at the weight room, but my running has really improved over the last few months.  I ran AIDS Run, a 10K, in October, and came in 14th out of 120 among the 20-29 year old females (I was registered as female because my license still had female on it).  It was my first 10K, and I know I would have done much worse if it weren’t for the T.

Thanks to being on hormones, I was also able to change the gender marker on my California license to male!  I made a stop at the DMV after legally changing my name two weeks ago.  It’s a huge relief to finally have an ID that looks like me and has my chosen name on it!  Hooray!

Ghost Boy

It’s been getting harder to post on a regular basis.  It’s not that things have stopped happening, or that transition is not in my thoughts and in my life, but the feelings and ideas are fleeting and unfocused.  Some of the experiences I’ve had lately are too personal to share here, so I’ve been trying to decide if and how I want to write about the last couple of months.  I will say for now that I’ve been having a lot of interesting dating experiences, but as for details…we’ll see 🙂

The impetus for writing tonight is that I’m again in Minnesota.  I came out because my parents asked me to, and I think it will make my transition easier for them if they can physically see me as often as possible as testosterone takes hold.  This visit has been short but charged, and as I come to the end of it I am emotionally drained.  The situation with my parents has remained a frustrating stalemate; this entire visit, I did not bring up transition and neither did they.  Obviously, however, I have begun to change.  My voice is deeper.  I’m shaving.  My physique has begun to take a slightly more male shape.  I eat differently.  And yet, we don’t talk about it.  They do not use my chosen name nor the correct pronoun.  I do not expect that they will stop calling me Anna anytime soon, but the silence, the denial, is unbearable.  I am their son but they see nothing but a troubled daughter.  And yet, I have no wish to stop speaking with them.  They do so many wonderful things for me, and love me in such quirky, unforgettable ways, that there is no way to turn my back, nor would I ever have any desire to.

Me and one of my best friends from high school went out for ice cream on Tuesday night.  We have been close for years, but we’ve always been different kinds of people.  As time has passed, our paths have diverged.  She is the picture of femininity, and although she is a successful, smart woman, she desires nothing more in life than a solid, professional career (to which she is well on her way) and a heterosexual family of her own.  Perhaps the most striking part about her is how very much she knows what she wants; I am not nearly so certain, and prefer to leap off cliffs and wander aimlessly in order to find my way.  Although she knows I am trans and we talk about certain aspects of it, I can tell she does not want to hear any more than is absolutely necessary for the conversation.  She is the only person outside my family who still uses my birth name.  Each time we hang out, I wonder how long our fragile bond can survive.  We are so very, very different, and that fact is becoming impossible to ignore.

Tonight was my last night in Minnesota, and I spent it with a transmale friend of mine seeing an incredible duo, Coyote Grace.  They’re partners, Joe and Ingrid, and Joe is trans.  The music is acoustic, with Joe on guitar and Ingrid on double bass, both doing vocals.  I’m not usually into this kind of music, but Coyote Grace moved me beyond words.  Joe’s voice said so much of what we all feel, and it was the first time I had ever heard it put to music or poetry.  The audience was filled with transpeople and their partners and friends.  Sitting there listening made me feel, for the first time, grateful to be trans.  How else could I see all that there is to see on this unbelievable path?  What better way to live than to experience being two distinct people who are connected on some deep and complex level?  I am trans.  I am fucking absolutely and undeniably trans.

A Long Overdue Update

It’s been two and a half months since I started taking testosterone.  Each dose reaffirms that this decision was indeed the right one for me.  My body feels balanced and aligned.  Since the last time I posted about T, I’ve continued to notice many of the same changes.  My running continues to improve daily.  Whereas I was previously a slow 2-3 mile running, maybe three times a week, I’m now a 4-6 mile running, five or six times a week.  Cycling has also improved; I can climb hills much more efficiently than before.  Part of the athletic improvement may be related to the weight loss I’ve experienced.  Since starting, I’ve dropped 10 pounds and 2 pants sizes.  Now I’m thinning out of my new 32-inch waisted pants.  Interestingly, I feel like I’m eating a lot, just differently.  My sweet tooth is still absent, so I’ve been eating sugar only occasionally the last few weeks.  I’ve been downing nuts, eggs, and beef like there’s no tomorrow, and I seem to always be hungry.  I can tell that muscle is developing all over; last week I suddenly had defined triceps, even though I haven’t been lifting of late.

Facial hair has started to come in, although it’s fair in color.  I’ve decided it’s enough to justify shaving about once a week.  So far I’ve only got sideburns and mustache hair, neither of which I intend to grow in until it looks decent.  Other hair has started to grow here and there, mostly on my stomach and thighs.

My voice has been cracky and adolescent of late.  Last week I was teaching a class, cleared my throat mid-sentence, and my voice dropped a couple notches.  I’m thinking about spreading the rumor to my students that I’m a fourteen-year-old prodigy.  My Superman lunchbox should be helpful in making that plausible.

I’ve noticed irritability and directness.  Little things sometimes set me off these days, especially when I’m hungry.  The fortunate thing about “hanger” is that it’s predictable and has a cure, so I’ve been doing my best to keep it in check.

Ehhh, sex.  The sex drive has been insane.  And, my attractions are very, very strong in the male direction lately.  To my delight and surprise, I’ve been passing as male to men in gay bars for the last couple of weeks.  I don’t know what it is: the voice, the change in physique, or just a change in confidence perhaps.  Whatever the reason, I’m finding it quite fun to be a young (and more to the point, young looking) gay man on the scene.  Men even buy me drinks in the bar!  Okay, some of them are just gross old trolls, but still.

Speaking of sex, soon I plan to post on the wacky adventures I’ve had relating to the so-called kink community, tranny chasers, and being a gay transman on the scene.  For now, a little testosterone update is all I have time to post, but I’ll be back soon.  Cheers.

I grew up with an older brother.  Ironically, he was much more timid than I was.  As a kid I was aggressive, physical, and strong.  Most of the time, I was chasing Ben, not the other way around.  I was a girl who could look out for herself.  Although this quality made me an all-star freak at the time, I later met many women who shared my toughness, mostly in the realm of martial arts.  I respected those women and learned that I liked that I could stand up for myself.  We were women warriors, facing a world made for men with our heads held high and our muscles and brains twitching with readiness.  Being such a woman, nothing was more infuriating, more demeaning, than men treating us like we were made of glass.  Men who felt the need to talk down, over-protect, and constantly play the leader and the hero.  “Don’t you want some help with that heavy box?”  No thanks!  “Do you want me to talk to the car salesman?  He might listen to me.”  Nope, I can deal with a slick dick as well as you can.  “Let me know if you want me to go light on you when we spar.”  Fuck no!  Go ahead and hit me, because I can take it.

As a man, this quality is translating much less well than one might think.  The cameraderie of tough-girl sisterhood is now gone.  No more play is aloud; if I am to be accepted as a man, some say, I must resort to the same demeaning, patronizing behavior with which men treated me when I was a feminine, but still physically capable, woman.  Clearly there is an incident motivating this post.  There is a female friend in my life who I respect, who I think of as strong, smart, and independent.  We play and we tease.  We tease the way bear cubs tease — with fake threats and friendly jabs to the arm.  Well, being the impulsive and imprudent guy that I am, I took it too far with one light punch.  It was meant to be as joking as any other, and didn’t do a lick of damage.  She laughed it off, but her boyfriend, on the other hand, did not.  Infuriated, he proclaimed that “if Adrian wants to be treated like a man then he should stop acting like a little bitch.”  Ouch.  He was ready to beat the shit out of me.  I regret anything I did to hurt her.  I regret it if I was disrespectful.  But as a former woman, I would find it far more disrespectful for my boyfriend to take up my battles for me, than for a male friend to hit me in a teasing way.  That being said, now that I’ve seen and pushed the social boundaries of this particular realm of maleness, I will not be returning to the edge.  I’ll stay away from her, and err on the side of caution with any other women I encounter, no matter how tough I perceive them to be.

Separate from the issue of the degree to which I stepped out of line with my female friend is the absolute anger I felt at her boyfriend’s comment.  Who is he to tell me how to be male?  As one of my friends loves to say, I’m not transitioning into a man, I’m transitioning into myself.  The kind of man I will become will most likely be atypical to say the least.  I am short, I am effeminate, and I am queer.  I love to giggle and snap my fingers in a Z.  I dance in public and I show my feelings.  And my respect for women comes in the form of realizing that they are absolute equals to their male counterparts.  I don’t apologize for that and won’t change it.  As I leave womanhood behind, I feel no regret, but I do stand proudly by my history.  I will never be like a cisgendered man, and not just anatomically.  I was raised different, I see things differently than they do, and no matter how deep my voice gets or how many people get my pronoun right or whether I have an F or and M on my driver’s license, that won’t change.  It is not for any other man, regardless of body or upbringing, to tell me how to be my male self.

Six Weeks on T

Hey all.  Sorry, it’s been awhile since I last posted.  Things have been busy.  For the last three weeks I’ve been working at a day camp for academically gifted kids.  Despite the constant kid-corraling, wiping noses, and overly complicated bureacracy, I’ve had a lot of fun at this job.  I love the kids.  The staff are great as well.  And yet again, everyone around is cool with my trans status.  I wasn’t going to come out directly, but about a week into the program, a little girl in my class names Olga walked up to me and asked, “Are you a boy or a girl?”  With the site director standing three feet away, I said, “I’m a boy!”  Curiousity satisfied, she ran off to dodgeball or plastic bottle boat making or whatever.  The director looked intrigued but uncomfortable, so I explained that I was trans.  He asked a couple of questions and asked if he should make a formal announcement to the staff, which I told him was unnecessary.  But it was huge gossip, of course, and so word spread along with my correct pronoun.  People ranged from very polite to quite curious.  I can talk about it openly with the people there I consider my friends, and they’re fine with it.  My kids are confused, but roll with it.  They switch pronouns all the time but it doesn’t seem to phase them.  So, thanks, Olga, for outing me at work 🙂

In other news, I’ve been on T for about six weeks.  My voice has changed!  Not all the way but it’s definitely deeper than it was two weeks ago.  People have been commenting on it, which never ceases to be awesome.  My weight has held steady the last couple weeks, as has the dramatic shift in my eating patterns.  I don’t eat sweets anymore except for very occasionally.  Love meat and eggs and get cranky if I don’t get them.  Sometimes I get “meat-drunk” — I eat a large meaty meal and then feel amazing and wonderfully slothful afterwards.  My strength, especially my running ability, continues to increase, although I can’t see a physical difference in my body yet.  Last week I ran two miles in 15:10, faster than I’ve been since high school.  Oh, and just yesterday I noticed two very small dark hairs among the light-colored soft hairs on my upper lip.  Soon I’ll have to shave!  No other new hair but I do have more visible hand veins.  I’m also still horny, not noticably more but in a different way.  I’m more visual about it than I used to be.  My clit is getting big and sensitive, and being turned on feels more and more like a little miniature hard-on.

Life is great.  I’m on T and it makes me feel…right.  Aligned.  Congruent.  Summer is in full swing.  I’ve been surfing a lot, running a lot, and I even learned how to throw a frisbee at camp recently.  I’ll try to update here more frequently, and I also owe y’all a video/photo update.  That should be up soon.  Till then, cheers!

I’m sitting in my cramped airplane seat, the lucky recipient of the middle position.  I open my complementary can of Diet Pepsi and here the unmistakable sound: FIZZZZZZ  WOOOSH!  It spilled everywhere.  I asked the stewardess for a few napkins, and, exasperated, she handed them to me along with a plastic cup.  “Here, put them in this cup when you’re done.  Oh, never mind, I’ll do it.”  She reached over my seatmate and cleaned up my tray with a big sigh.  I wondered why she was so frustrated with me; I just spilled my pop, after all.  Then another stewardess asked her if she had things under control and she said, “Yep, he’s okay now.”  Ah ha!  I passed, but I passed as a twelve-year-old boy.  That was my M.O. these past couple weeks.  Two days before, I was having lunch with my undergraduate mentor, who is in his mid-thirties.  On our way back to his office, we passed the husband of one of my former colleagues.  He recognized my mentor, but not me, and when his wife later told him who I was, he said, “Oh, I thought that was his son!”  The day before that, my brother, dad and I went to see Star Trek, and the clerk asked my dad, “Are any of them under 12?”  My brother, at 5’10” with a five o’clock shadow, was clearly not the prepubescent boy they were referring to.

On the one hand, it was nice to pass frequently back home.  On the other, I am not a child, and having my age mis-read so astoundingly is almost as bad as people reading my gender incorrectly.  It’s not that I’ve never been read as a tween boy in SD, but combining this with an extended stay at my parents’ house and the introduction of a new hormone into my system was enough to give me a real and honest case of adolescent angst.  I was angry and frustrated for good portions of my visit.  I felt disconnected from myself and from my family.  I know that I need to be patient with them, especially my parents, but after two weeks of my dad expressing his concerns that I’ll never find a partner, that I’ll have trouble finding a job, that I’ve probably just “fallen into this” and I’ll eventually change my mind…it was hard to calmly answer his questions and reassure him that I could handle the consequences of my decision to transition.  Right before I left, he told me he thought I should start seeing a psychiatrist who specializes in gender issues — it’s a psychological condition that I want to treat medically, he said, and so an outside perspective would be invaluable to tell me if I really am trans.  My question is, what will this psychiatrist be able to tell me about MY gender that I can’t tell him or her?  Not to mention that I’m happily seeing a therapist who respects my gender identity and, though she doesn’t have much experience with transpeople, she has strong ties to the LGBT community.  I saw her Thursday, and she offered to help me find a specialist who I’ll find agreeable, if I want to comply with my dad’s wishes.  I’m too angry still to seriously consider it.

To all the parents out there, if there are any: trans is not something we come up with because we’re bored.  We have spent months, maybe years, agonizing over whether trans suits us as a label, and whether the benefits of transition outweigh the very significant costs.  The truth is, now that I’m off on this path, there is no going back — not because I fear the consequences of stopping T or because I feel stuck in my decision, but because the more male I become, the more I know that I am simply not female. I hope someday my parents can see that as clearly as I can.

Although the family stuff was a little tough, I had some really great visits with old friends and colleagues.  Most of them are very supportive of the trans thing.  They’re getting used to the name and pronoun.  They asked a lot of questions — sometimes so many that I felt a little bad that the conversation was dominated by the trans thing.  I’m happy to share it with them, but it will be nice when the trans thing isn’t a thing anymore.

In other news, I’ve been on T for one month yesterday.  Here’s a little update:

Voice: Still no “real” drop.  I’m waiting.  It’s been cracking and I can feel the tightness and soreness in my throat.

Skin: More oily than usual, but no acne so far.

Mood: I’m less moody than I was the first week.  I think my driving is slightly more aggressive, and I get very touchy when I’m hungry.  Overall it’s been pretty steady though.

Hunger: The insane hunger has subsided, but I still crave different things.  I don’t really like sugary stuff that much, except for occasionally, and I really like meat.  I’ve been trying to cut down on the red meat a little and go for chicken and turkey, just to develop better habits.  I’ve found that I eat more purposefully now; instead of eating because I’m bored or just because it’s lunchtime, I eat only if I’m hungry.

Weight/musculature: I’ve lost about five pounds since starting.  I’ve seen a little bit of upper body development, but it’s very slight.  My biceps are more visible.  I’ve also taken four minutes off my 5K time.  It takes more to tire me out physically these days and I have a lot of energy.

Hair: I have a bit of fuzz on my upper lip and sideburn areas but it’s soft and light.  I can’t tell if it’s new but I think it is.  Not enough to necessitate shaving 🙂

Libido: It’s nothing like it was the first week, but still flares up…sometimes at very inopportune moments.  I’ve been into women lately, too, which makes me feel like sort of a pig.  The other day I couldn’t get over boobs.  It lasted for about 45 minutes, during which I was at my new job orientation.  I had to actively tell myself, okay, don’t look at the boobs.  Don’t do it.  Listen to the person talking, and look at her face.  God I felt like a jerk.