A little over a month ago I was having a pretty bad day. The dysphoric triggers seemed to be everywhere.
- As I got ready for work, seeing my feminine clothes and knowing I can’t yet wear them to work.
- My dangly earrings and a hair scrunchy on the bathroom counter as I brushed my teeth. I need to wear them.
- At work, walking past the women’s room to the men’s room for a bathroom break was a painful reminder that I’m Dana, but only a select few know it.
When my work day was finally through I was greeted at home by my wife. “How was your day?” Why that question? Why that day? I don’t like unloading my burden on her. I don’t wish to cause her pain with my troubles. She has reminded me time and time again that she only asks so she may lighten or share my burden. We are, after all, married and are each other’s person. I relayed the pain and discomfort my triggers had caused. I felt the burden lift but only slightly. Later, the burden was back on top of me “like a ummmm ummmm a 2 ton heavy thing”. My wife knew I was uncomfortable. We discussed how I could hopefully lessen the degree to which the triggers impact me. She made the suggestion of trying to look for and think of the good things in my day and my transition.
I took about a week to let this sink in. Most of my life, I had focused on bad or discomforting things. I always thought I did this so I could plan an attack to overcome the issue. Focusing on the negative has become very tiring. Compound this tiring effect with the additional knowledge I now have about being Dana and the total effect was pushing me downward. Preventing me from enjoying any progress. I decided to take my wife’s advice. I began a list of little things which made me happy to be a transgender woman. I’ll go over some of these and the circumstances surrounding them. Hopefully this may inspire others to also see more than the bad and to recognize there is a lot of good in our transgender lives.
I (as Dana) recently went to a Brazilian steak house with my wife, a good friend, and her new fiance. I did my hair a bit, put on some light makeup and wore a nice but casual outfit. We were celebrating my wife’s belated birthday, our anniversary, and our friends engagement. Once we had ordered drinks, I noticed the wait staff really only talked our friend’s fiance, the one male in our group. I was frustrated at first. Why was this happening? It then dawned on me. This was normal, even though not acceptable, behavior which I had never noticed before. I was being treated as just another woman in a dining group. Strange as it seems, I was filled with happiness at knowing I was being treated poorly.
I began to think back to other times when I was treated as just another woman in the group, my mind came upon one instance which occurred a few weeks earlier than my bad day. I went for a ride with our good friend, just two biker girls out for a hundred or so miles of Harley driven wind therapy. We traveled from our Denver suburb on the two lane highways through a few small Colorado towns. On the way home we decided to stop for lunch. I thought nothing of the fact that when the check came our waitress brought two checks and asked if she could bring us ladies anything else. My friend asked if that felt great. I was confused. What felt great? She explained to me that when out to lunch with just the girls it is common to have each woman be brought her own check rather than one group check to split.
As I was changing clothes one weekend, I noticed how my bra strap had left a small indent on my shoulder. I also thought of the exciting possibility of seeing a tan line from MY bra strap. These thoughts brought tears to my eyes.
Damn it! I chipped a nail! I used to laugh at that phrase. Now I have a very personal reaction when this happens. My first response is that I am deeply saddened. It took weeks to get my nails looking the way they do. Next I begin to feel a small wave of anger build. Now I have to start over again! This anger forces me to turn to a girl’s best friend. No, not diamonds. The other best friend, Google. “How to repair a broken nail” I soon learn that using the paper from a tea bag, and superglue I can keep the length on my nails without having to start over. When the repair is complete I feel pride in knowing I saved myself from weeks of not having long feminine nails.
A Home Repair
What does one do when the fan in the bathroom doesn’t work? If you have been taught by a great father how to perform minor home repairs, you repair it. I put it off for about a week. I then began the repair. Either the switch has failed or the fan motor has failed. Having had a different bathroom fan motor fail in our home a year or so ago, I took a bet that the motor was again the issue. I removed the ceiling louver, unplugged the motor, and removed the screw holding it in the duct. I then plugged the motor into an outlet to test my theory. Yes, it was the motor.
Off to Home Depot. As I entered the store carrying the old dusty dirty fan motor in a used grocery bag, I was approached by a male store employee. “May I help you find anything Ma’am?” Wow! I got Ma’am-ed! That made me feel great! But my experience doesn’t end there. I open the bag and say I’m looking for one of these. The employee escorted me to the location, pulled the replacement from way back on the shelf and asked if I knew how to install it. My reply, Well I removed this one. He smiled and further explained there are detailed instructions on and inside the box just in case I got stuck.
I successfully evaded being man-splained on how to do a minor household repair. I have to admit I thought I was man-splained only to be later wife-splained that the Home Depot employee was probably just trying to provide good customer service.
The magic of hormone replacement therapy
Nearly all transgender women will tell other new transgender women; “Get ready for a wild emotional ride!” This has not failed to deliver in my case. I have become much more emotional. I have now cried for many reasons and even for no reason. I also now understand the phrase “A good cry”. I find such a relief in being associated with the women of the world and to now be “Allowed” to show my feelings.
Ooo my legs are smooth! This discovery happened to me after about six months of HRT. I was putting on a skirt and my hand brushed my leg. Wow! My legs felt much more feminine. I had been shaving them for now over a year. I also exfoliate and moisturize. This did not prepare me for what I immediately thought. That’s a woman’s thigh. It definitely did not prepare me to know that the woman’s thigh I felt was attached to ME!
Ouch! My boobs hurt! When I started HRT I was told there would be breast pain. This pain is associated with the growth of mammary tissue. OK, I can deal with that to get the body I feel is correct for the person I am. My doctor started me on estradiol injections every two weeks. The first three injections were to be in her office. Before I went back to have my second dose, my nipples were extremely sensitive. Feeling this pain meant the hormones had begun to work their magic. This pain has continued to spread all over my breast tissue. It is very painful at times but it is the most joyful pain I have ever felt. Every bump of my breasts reminds me I am slowly bringing my physical body into alignment with the person I am.
Day to day activities
For years I have watched women. Some may think this statement a bit creepy. Let me explain. This began as just a fascination. I watched them to notice how they moved, sat, and interacted with the world around them. When I came to the realization that I am a woman, I had a reason to continue my watching of women. I would need this knowledge to portray a more feminine persona if I didn’t wish to be the topic of every conversation or worse, clocked and outed. I have now integrated multiple versions of crossing my legs, playing a with my hair, and adjusting my arm movements as I walk. I have stopped greeting people with the bro head nod. You know the one, the quick upward nod a guy usually makes when greeting anyone. Instead, I now have begun to look a person in the eyes and just say hi.
My posture has also seen improvements. I have breasts now. They are small but I am very proud of this fact. When I notice my posture is poor, I return to a catch phrase from one of the many books I researched, Becoming Kimberly : A Transgender ‘s Journey—Kim Davis “Chin up! Tits Out!”
One of my day off activities is to take our two dogs Lu C Fur and L.C. to a local dog park. I really enjoy being just another dog-mom when at the park. I smile almost the entire time. I greet people. I get boob sweat! Yes, you read that right! I get boob sweat and I LOVE it! I’ve heard the women in my life complain for years about boob sweat. I’m sure as time passes my enjoyment of boob sweat will be less of an affirming thing. For now I am totally enthralled by it.
This morning while being just another dog mom at the park, I looked down as I walked near a pond. I saw a woman’s shadow. She was wearing a short, athletic style skort. I stood there alone, in the early morning light, tears flowing, simply staring at MY shadow on the ground. When I regained my composure, I took this photo and immediately posted it to multiple Facebook transgender oriented groups of which I am a member. The caption I added, “I so love seeing a skirt on MY shadow!” The photo while simple has gained as many like and love reactions as any other image or supporting comment I have made. The simple joy I felt in being myself and seeing that even my shadow now resembles who I am is indescribable.
I am beginning to feel more complete.
Every transgender person will tell you one of the very best things they can hear is their name. Not the name they were given at birth by well meaning parents, but our own true names. In many cases we choose our names after a great deal of thought. I spent months agonizing over what mine should be if I were to change my name. I beam with pride, and joy when I hear my true name. The first time my wife used my name it was a two tissue event! And that was before any hormones!
Soon I will be legally known as Dana. I hope the joy I feel when hearing my name will not fade as time goes on. The process we as transgender people go through to find ourselves is a monumental one. I highly doubt anything I have done or will yet do will compare to finding myself and my name, Dana.