1. Some brief thoughts about financing later surgeries

    I know I said I wasn’t going to think about this for at least another year, and it’s not like I’m putting too much thought into it now, just kind of documenting some thoughts. 

    Anyway, I know that at some point during grad school I want to get a hysterectomy done. Partly because of health concerns - I want to get it done within a 5 year period of starting T. Plus I could lower my dose of T, which would be nice. It’s also partly because then I could finish changing all of my documentation and be done with the majority of my transition. 

    Depending on my grad school, I may be able to get insurance that covers the procedure. If I can, then I may only need a few hundred dollars to finance the surgery, which I’m certain I could save easily. If it can’t be covered, then I would go through something like CreditCare, which is a credit card for medical procedures. This is what I tried to do for top surgery, but I didn’t get approved because I don’t have credit. 

    My general thought that I was having as I was trying to organize stuff for school is that 1) I need to get a credit card. I don’t really care for them or the idea of them, but unfortunately it’s so important now to build a credit score that I need to suck it up and get one. I plan on getting one this summer and using it during the school year to buy the stuff I’d need to buy anyway, so I know I can pay everything off without a problem. This way, whenever I try to get the CreditCare card, I should be able to. 

    2) After I get back on my feet from this surgery and organizing school, I’d like to start putting just a little bit away every month to start preparing for this next surgery. Before I even try to start seeing surgeons and dealing with insurance, I want $1,000-1,500 put away just for the surgery. That way, if insurance covers it, I’ll have some money set aside to pay for any little things that come up not covered. And, if insurance doesn’t cover it, then I have money already put away to start paying off the bills from the credit card. I’m estimating the cost of this surgery to be about $6,000. So that amount would keep me a little ahead of the game. 

    My real hope would be to have this goal reached by / during next summer. At the end of the summer, I’d probably start doing my research on who to go to. Idealistically, I’d like to get the surgery done next winter break (the first winter break while I’m at grad school). But depending on my situation, money, etc, it’ll more than likely happen in two summers from now. 

    Like I said, I don’t intend on putting too much thought into this for another year. I’m not going to start researching anything until next summer, when it becomes a real prospect. But I did think that it was good to consider money matters a little bit now. It would definitely be good of me to put just a little aside, so I’m not doing what I did this time, where I had to come up with everything in one short period of time. And, if it’s going to take longer to arrange than hoped, I could just keep saving slowly. 

  2. Change Gender with Social Security

    This is the last step in my transition that I plan on taking for a while. 

    I tried to change my gender when I changed my name but was told that I needed a letter from a surgeon who had performed the sex change operation. The statement of what was required was rather vague and I’ve heard that some guys have gotten their gender changed with a letter from their top surgeon, though I believe the intention is that you’re supposed to have proof of a hysto. 

    I asked my surgeon and he said he’d write the letter and give me a copy of the operative report. So even if they reject my request to change it, I’ll have the documentation I’ll need later from him to change my birth certificate (in NYS, I need top surgery and hysto documentation). 

    I plan on going to the Social Security office nearby as soon as I get the letter from him, probably next Tuesday when I go in for a visit. 

    For anyone wondering, the documentation you need for this is:

    • Proof of citizenship (birth certificate)
    • Photo identification (license)
    • Social Security Card
    • Change of information form (found on their website)
    • Letter from surgeon
    • (Name change forms, since my birth certificate doesn’t match my current name)
  3. Top Surgery, update

    Today I met with the surgeon for my pre-op appointment. 

    Read More

  4. FINALLY, a little of that last surviving hip fat has disappeared. My hips have always had the tendency of losing a little fat in the front, then losing a little in the middle / back a few days later. At the moment, it looks like it’s just the front that’s lost some. Hoping to see a little more decrease in the next few days. This make me really hopeful that, as I approach 1 year on T, I’ll be almost hip-fat free. :) 

    Also, I’m calling my mom on Sunday to talk about taxes and FASFA and fun shit like that. She said several months ago that, if I needed a little help paying for surgery, she’d be able to loan me some money come summer. While I’m pretty certain that I’ll have enough on my own, I want to confirm that I still have that cushion to fall back on if something happens before I make an appointment. As long as she says yes (and probably even if she doesn’t), I’ll be calling the surgeon on Monday and scheduling an appointment. I’m hoping for May 15. 

    Also, Gabbie is coming here in 6 days. Who can get work done under those conditions? So much to do, no focus to do it with…. 

  5. Random Thoughts About My Transition Thus Far

    I’m about 9 days away from hitting my 6 month mark on T (!!) and, in the past month or so, I’ve noticed a couple of random things that I’ve wanted to comment on, but keep forgetting to. So I thought I’d post them here now as a rambling kind of post. I’m hoping that, next week, I’ll have time to write up something about being 6 months on T, including the actual T changes, life changes, and how I feel about everything.

    1) A few weeks ago, I went to the dentist and had to get x-rays. Despite the fact that the nurse knew she was supposed to be having an appt with “Sara” but then got who the receptionist introduced as John, I was surprised that she didn’t ask the mandatory question, “is there any chance you could be pregnant”. It made me feel good, honestly, because I’ve always (even before understanding that I was trans) felt extremely uncomfortable and embarrassed by that question.

    2) I’ve noticed that, in the fife and drum world, people seem to take me more seriously as a drummer than they used to. A true fact - it’s rare to see a female drummer. And, in the fife and drum world, there still are a lot of older minded people out there who see drumming (and sometimes fifing as well) as a male dominated thing. Whereas before I might have gotten “hmm you’re pretty good” and nothing more, now I find a lot of the older guys taking a few moments to take me under their wing and give me pointers. They’re more open to just talking to me without me starting a conversation. It’s really great, though saddening to know that male privilege exists inside this hobby. 

    3) All the guys who I spend time with who know I’m trans (which honestly is almost all of them) really could care less. I’ve found that girls are more likely to accept it and then ask a lot of questions. (And, since I invite people to ask questions, I don’t mind at how prying they are.) Guys, on the other hand, seem more to accept it as fact, and treat / continue treating me as a guy. A couple of them even tend to forget I’m trans, which I like actually. The only real question I get from guys, if any at all, is them wondering how bottom surgery works / how I have sex.

    4) For the most part, I really like dating someone who never knew me before I started transitioning and who has limited knowledge of the trans* world. She thinks of me only as a guy, because that’s all she’s ever known me as. Plus she’s always known me as a couple of months on T, so I’ve always looked very male to her. I guess the reason I like this is because she doesn’t make a big deal about it. She doesn’t really ask questions, because she knows that I’ll tell her anything she needs to know. She doesn’t walk around egg shells when it comes to anything - I’ve never really talked to her about dysphoria or things in that nature - so I guess that makes me feel like she’s never hiding things or lying to make me feel better. The only thing I’m working on now is figuring out how much / often to talk about trans related things and when to just leave them alone. Being trans is a big part of my life, at least right now, and I want to be open about it (she also wants to hear about whatever I want to tell her), but I also don’t want to make a big deal out of it. There are somethings that I’ve decided aren’t really that important to bring up.

    5) It’s very strange to be referred to as Sara now. I don’t respond any more and sometimes forget that was my name. This weekend, I met up with some musicians who knew me before. The first one came up to me and asked if I was Sara, to which I said, “No, John”. She was like, “oh, ok” and we moved on. Then the older drummer in the group came over to me and also addressed me as Sara and so I corrected him, then he got confused, and so I tried to explain it as easily and bluntly as possible. Basically it went:

    Me: “No, My name is John.”

    Brad: “What happened to Sara?”

    Me: “Well my name used to be Sara. But I legally changed it to John.”

    Brad: “So you are Sara?”

    Me: “Well I was. But now I’m on hormones. And I’ve changed my name to John.”

    Brad: “Ah… I think I get it.”

    And for the rest of the weekend, he referred to me as a male and by John, no slips on his part at all. Later that day, strangely, one of the fifers who I remembered but she didn’t remember me commented that I looked just like that one drummer they played with a few years ago and she briefly described me when I still presented as a girl. It was kind of awkward because the fifer who originally called me Sara was the one she was talking to - the fifer didn’t really say anything. And my friend Tom was there; he’s really just mastered the name and pronoun change, so he seemed kind of awkward. And then I didn’t know whether to say that was my sister to explain the resemblance, to explain that I’m trans, or to leave the matter alone. I went with the latter, but there were a few brief seconds where I wasn’t sure what was best.

    6) I still have random moments where I feel overly feminine. And not in a gay boy kind of way, but in a I feel like I’m in a female body sort of way. It’s very disorienting and uncomfortable, but thankfully the moment of dysphoria only lasts briefly. Most of those moments take place when I’m getting dressed or showering, because I still feel like my torso is very feminine looking, which I hate. On the same line of thought, I also occasionally panic because I worry I must be close to having my next period, before remembering that I don’t get them any more.

    7) I haven’t particularly noticed any mood shifts related to taking T. I didn’t notice an increase in anger, aggression, frustration, or irritability. I’ve never really been one to cry and don’t find that I cry any more or less, or more or less easily, than I used to. Some guys talk about their mood shifting down just before they take their next shot; I only experienced that once and that was right before my second shot. That was also when I got my last period, so I think in general my hormones were all over the place. I do have to say that, on the whole, I’ve been much happier but I credit that to a mixture of things - a general self-acceptance, a mostly stress free summer, and having a girlfriend.

    8) I had a random experience when talking with my girlfriend and a mutual female friend of ours. They got onto the topic of their periods and I felt genuinely grossed out. I mean, it seemed strange to me because hell I’ve had them! I’ve spoken with friends about them, ect, ect. But now that I don’t get them and now that I feel pretty removed from their existence, I would prefer to never really have to know about a girl’s cycle ever again. It’s a strange change, but true.

    9) I’ve been noticing random “male posturing” habits. Thanks to my sister who loves animals, I hear all the time about animal instincts and so forth and we talk about how they relate to humans and how humans have adapted them, ect. I’ve also learned about some of it in psych. So I have to say it’s interesting to look back and notice that I do some of it now. Things like sizing up a guy interested in Nicole, mostly as a protective instinct, but also somewhat in a jealous kind of way. I also noticed it a lot just before Gabbie and I started dating. I feel like I had those instincts a little bit before, but knew that I was no way capable of acting on them; whereas now I’m a bit bigger and stronger and it’s a bit more socially acceptable for me to act on them.

    10) I’ve noticed that I get a bit jealous now, where before I never did. Although, honestly, I think it’s more that I feel inadequate next to many other guys.

    11) Sometimes I look at my face and don’t really recognize it, or get surprised by how different it looks. So far, I really like how’s it’s changed. I definitely feel like I look older (maybe more 17 or 18, rather than 15 or 16). I like how much more defined and square my face is. I really like my sideburns and I’m loving the stubble look - though, I need to learn about trimming, because I don’t really like shaving, especially since it makes me suddenly look younger.

    12) My body keeps changing a lot and it’s changing how I fit into clothes. I’ve filled out small shirts and think I look pretty good in them now, but my mom and sister think mediums fit me better. So now I’ve got a couple of medium shirts to add into my wardrobe. I also grew out of my binders and have to wear a medium tri-top now. I used to wear a 30 waist but now that’s confused - my thighs slimmed down, my hips slimmed down, my stomach gained some muscle and some flab, and I’m not sure what my butt is doing which, at the end of everything, makes me fit into 30 shorts and 32 waist jeans.

    13) My appetite / how much I can eat varies. Sometimes I could eat two meals in one sitting or spend all day eating, and sometimes I’m not really all that interested in food at all. I definitely ate a lot when I first started T. On this topic, something I’ve noticed, is that people expect me to eat more all the time. So, when I have dinner with Gabbie’s family, her mom expects Barry and I to finish all the left over food.

  6. A few random feelings about my transition thus far

    I try to think of my transition in steps - one obstacle to overcome, that can be broken down into manageable chunks.

    For me, the three biggest steps, the three most important steps, were starting hormones, getting my name / gender changed, and having top surgery.

    Now that my school has finalized my name and gender change, all that’s left on that step is to call housing to confirm that I’ve got somewhere to stay and then my second step will be completed.

    All that’s left that I really truly want and feel I need to do, at least for a while anyway, is to figure out surgery.

    I have to say that I feel a lot better knowing that two giant things are down and out of the way. I feel better being able to say I’m on hormones and moving closer to looking and feeling like who I want to be. I love that I have a proper ID and a new debit card and will be getting a new school ID in two months. I’m still nervous about having a male roommate; I truly hope to get someone I can get along with, but that’s a fear no matter which gender your roommate is. I already know I’ll be partially living at Ed House again. 

    I am getting a bit frustrated with the whole surgery thing. I want, and need, to speak with my mom about figuring out how to finance this whole thing and deciding if I can go ahead and schedule a surgery for sometime soon, or if we need to wait until I have more money saved up. I’ve looked into payment plans and that sort of thing, and I think I could do it, but I’ll certainly need to speak with my mom first. She’s better at this stuff.

    I know of a doctor nearby (20 minutes away) who a friend went to who I would like to go to for a consultation appointment. I originally went to the other one who was much further away because he supposedly would have been cheaper, but that doesn’t look like it will be true. So I’d like to go to this other one and see if a surgery could be arrange.

    But yeah… I just need to suck it up and speak with my mom first.

  7. Another thing (remembered some stuff I wanted to during my hours of driving)

    I can definitely say that my hands and feet have been growing. My feet I can tell because my sneakers hardly fit any more, my converse nearly don’t, and my flip flops that I bought too big almost fit properly. When I was goofing around at Walmart, I found out I was about a size bigger and I’ve noticed some growth even since then.

    I can’t always tell whether or not my hands have grown, I guess since I look at them dozens of times every day, but once and a while it’s pretty obvious. I really wish that I had traced my hands or something pre-T so I can tell how much they’ve grown.

    I did trace my hands and feet last week, so at least I have that. But it would have been nice to know how much they’ve grown in total.

    It also makes me wonder if I’ve grown any taller, or will, since they’re growing. I never really measured myself beforehand, so I guess I won’t know unless I grow a lot…

    Same with my voice. I was so uncomfortable with it pre-T that I couldn’t even bring myself to record it for comparison. At least I recorded it after about a week.

  8. Random Thought about my Transition

    I think what I have the hardest time with transition-wise, is this dichotomy of how I view my age.

    I honestly think of myself as 16/17. It’s how I look. It’s often how I feel. It’s like I stopped aging in high school because things weren’t right or something. There’s a part of me that feels a lot more comfortable around younger guys, in this age group and younger, and it’s a lot easier (for the most part) to do things with them or talk to them or whatever.

    But then, ever now and then, I’m very much reminded of just how old I actually am. I’m 21. I go to college. My friends talk about drinking and grown-up adult things and often it terrifies me because I feel like I’m too young. But I’m not. Plus I feel very young and awkward around guys my age and never know what to say or how to act around them.

    I want to feel my age and do things my age, but at the same time I don’t feel that way. I just don’t think of myself as being this old. And sometimes it scares me because it feels like I’ve lost four years of my life and I won’t get them back. I won’t be able to redo college when I feel more prepared to be there. I don’t get to redo the end of high school.

    It’s not a life-hindering issue or anything and actually doesn’t affect me very often, but once in a while I do think about it and am bothered by it. So I just thought I’d share my thoughts.

  9. 30 Day Challenge - 29) The Year of Your Life You Loved the Most and Why?

    I think, without a doubt, it has been this academic school year. To start with, I came to school with such a better outlook on life. I tried to be more optimistic, I pushed myself harder, made friends with a really great group of people! I’ve never felt more liked or accepted than I have this year. They’re all really fantastic. Most of them even know I’m trans and it’s a complete non-issue. In fact, they enjoy learning about it and have been wonderful as I start my transition, by pointing things out, listening to me talk about it, or just random stuff like that.

    This year, I’ve gotten out more, I’ve done some random things around Boston, I have taken random walks with friends, chilled out about work, and spend a lot more time with people rather than alone in my room / somewhere else.

    There’s also been a phenomenal amount of geeking out!! I love Fallon! And Brigid, though she’s not as good at geeking. We’re working on it. ;)

    Academically, I finally think I have found my footing. I’ve had the chance to be involved in the most amazing Creative Writing class that really helped me embrace my writing. I discorvered Jonathon Young and then it was over - I was becoming a writer. I’m definitely just trying to open up and accept that some of the things that scare me, scare me because I’m passionate about them and that’s exactly why you just have to look straight into life and jump.

    This year has also been the first year in a very long time that I’ve been so comfortable with myself. I’m learning to accept myself and learning to slowly see myself from other people’s points of view and discovering that, while I don’t think I’m attractive, other people think so. I’m 2 months on T and couldn’t be happier and just a few weeks away from getting my name change fully legal. Plus I’ve had eight months in a place where I’m (almost) fully accepted as a male and as John and haven’t had any problems. It’s been fantastic, it really has been.

    I just hope that this summer and next year prove to be even better.

    30 Day Challenge

  10. Perspective

    My answer to this post on FuckYeahFTMs.

    Hey there! I’m John, 21, and I’ve been out for about 1.5 years.
    I think the one thing I really wish that I had known back when I first came out is the idea that medical transition is not a “cure” or permanent fix to anything. For me, I was already suffering from anxiety and depression and coming out was a massive relief, but didn’t stop any of those feelings. Despite what I heard others saying, I still honestly believed that the only way to feel more comfortable with myself (to therefore go out and make friends and be happier and stop feeling so shitty about myself) was to get on hormones and have surgery. It led to the whole “super obsessed with transitioning” phase that I think most trans people go through, for at least a short period, if not months. I was definitely the later.

    I spent my sophomore year of college extremely internalized and just obsessing about how much I needed to start hormones, that I didn’t take any time to enjoy my year, to hang out with friends, or explore this new world I was getting into. I think that was my worst year ever, in terms of depression, and just made everything a lot worse with my parents.

    I walked into Junior year, still pre-everything, with a new outlook on myself and my life. I knew that I needed to push myself to go out and meet people, to do things that I enjoyed, to find a peace with myself all on my own, that no medicine or surgery or anything could ever do that for me. It definitely wasn’t easy; there were definitely days where dysphoria flared up or I lost confidence in myself. But, on the whole, I’ve felt the happiest I have in years. I have a much greater confidence in myself, I have more friends than I’ve ever had before, and my family is starting to get more behind me the more they see that I’m mentally stable enough for this path.

    One of my greatest regrets at the moment, is letting that year get so bad and letting myself get so caught up in “transition obsession” that it made things worse. One of the things I’m most grateful for, however, was getting the kick in the ass I needed this summer that made me re-evaluate things.