The game of anxiety life

Life with anxiety is like a game of whack-a-mole. If you deal with one thing, another will just pop up. And adding more estrogen to my system shakes it up and switches the game to advanced mode. I am (re)discovering so many things that I thought I had dealt with hiding beneath the surface.

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Affirming photo

So often when there’s a photo of me I go back and look at it only a few days later and dislike it because of dysphoria. But I took this one the other day using my iPhone portrait mode that I’m really loving. It feels like I can actually see myself looking back at me. My hair is extra curly here because my spouse had just helped me style it.

Caleb board portrait

Breasts are cool – HRT week 9

Last night I was admiring how different my breasts feel now. Before I took estrogen I did have some fairly visible breasts due to my weight and low testosterone levels but they were just pockets of fat with pectoral muscles deep below. Now there is definitely tissue underneath and they feel totally different. My spouse described them last night as “somehow soft yet firm” because underneath the initial layer of squish they have a layer that is clearly not muscle but also not fat. I think my nipples are already bigger than hers too but she disagrees.

One of the funniest parts is watching how they grow unevenly. The pattern seems to be that my left breast will grow one week and then my right will catch up. Sometimes they are the same size but right now the left is significantly bigger. Currently they are pretty tender and painful with pressure but don’t actively hurt. We just redid my measurements last night so I guess it’s time to start trying out some bras.

Last week I increased my dose of estrogen to 6 mg a day which seems to really be helping my mood. I no longer appear to have the radical mood swings. At first I was taking 4 in the morning and 2 at night but I was seeing a dip in mood and energy in the early afternoon. I spoke to my doc and she recommended spacing it out evenly which seems to be solving the problem. Apparently my body likes estrogen, just not low levels of both hormones.

Realization of the day

I think I’m a transwoman in a nonbinary body.

I’ve talked about this before but when I think about the steps required to bring my body into alignment with my internal gender I get extremely overwhelmed, not only by the amount of work but the realization that I wouldn’t be doing it as much for myself as I would to change how people see me. I have no problem with my beard or 80%+ of my body. I don’t want to spend years trying to learn how to change my voice so that I can pass. And I don’t want to give up a perfectly functional penis to gain a vagina that I don’t even know if I would like as much.

What I do want are breasts (working on it), less body hair (need to get back on that), and a more feminine distribution of fat (hopefully that will start soon). I also want access to motherhood which seems like the far more challenging thing to achieve since I can’t/won’t do that alone. I want to be treated like the woman I am without needing to jump through the unattainable hoops of passing.

But the more I think about it, the less I think my internal gender is actually nonbinary. As in I don’t know of any masculine traits that I identify with. I have the gender of a lesbian woman and the gender blurriness that comes packaged with perceptions queer femmeness. I am just as much a woman internally as any lesbian and probably more feminine than most. I just happened to not be born with a cis woman’s body and I can never attain that no matter how hard I try.

In other news, I am toying with the idea of trying out she/her pronouns but I’m not sure I’m quite ready to make that switch yet. So many complex feelings where I’m torn between what I feel I deserve and what I feel I can reasonably fight for.

HRT Week 8 update

I just got the results back from my first checkup post-hormones. My estrogen is twice the maximum for recommended male range and on the low end for women (90.5 pg/mL). My testosterone is almost nonexistent (21 ng/dL). I’ve been swinging pretty radically between extremely depressed to extremely euphoric throughout the course of the week and my breasts continue to grow. I talked to my doc about the mood and she said that there is a 50/50 chance that more estrogen will make that either better or worse. So tomorrow I start with 4 mg in the morning and 2 mg at night (currently 2 twice a day). We’ll see what happens!

PS – I’m not taking spiro to suppress my testosterone because my T levels were already below the male range before I started and clearly I don’t need them now.

Affirming selfie

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It’s been too long since I’ve shared a photo. Here’s the one that’s giving me joy lately from my first attempt to put on my own eye makeup.

Dysphoria and depression

I’ve been experiencing a lot more dysphoria lately, mostly about the shape and hairiness of my body. I’m very self conscious of my masculine fat-distributed belly and how hairy my chest in particular is. I think the changes in my body and brain are bringing that into sharper relief.

Partly because of that and partly because I see people and communities I care about dying and suffering all over the world, I have been experiencing a lot more depression this week as well. And between the two I’ve been feeling very unsexy which is contributing to my already lowered libido.

I’ve been longing a lot lately for the simpler times in my life when it was easier to ignore who I was and what was going on in the world around me. Sometimes it does feel like ignorance is bliss or at least less painful. But now that I’ve woken up to those facts I can’t go back. And I feel powerless to change most of it so I feel stuck in this terrible place.

There are definitely days I wish I wasn’t an empath or trans. But then I wouldn’t be me. And I’d probably be contributing to the problems instead of trying to make things better in the little ways I can. I hope that my actions do some good to make this worth it.