25 June 2018
I first came out to a family member who happens to also be a retired therapist. I remember them saying in regards to transitioning that, “It takes time!”
And it does!
Whether or not you are ready for hormone therapy, or gender affirmation surgery, or living full-time in the gender in which you identify, it all takes time. I started this journey in late 2015. It took months just to locate a therapist who specialized in gender dysphoria and then I had to wait for an available appointment. And really, It’s not the actions that take time but the space in-between.
I’m currently in one of those spaces in-between. I’m in the process of planning my top and bottom surgery and I’m hoping to have them done at the same time. I had an initial meeting with the plastic surgeon whom I absolutely loved and definitely want performing these procedures. At the moment I’m in the process of getting my letters of approval from two therapists. I will be eligible for gender affirmation surgeries in July 2018 (next week!) when I will have completed a full-year living 24/7 as Tiffany and as a woman. W-PATH standards of care dictate that this must be accomplished before a person is eligible for genital surgery.
I’ve been trying to get a jump on things because I first need to know what, if anything, my insurance company will cover. After that I’ll have a better idea of how to schedule it with as little impact to the rest of my life as possible. I know that this will all happen very soon and that next year at this time I could have all of my transition surgeries completed. I’ll no longer be “in transition.” I’ll just “be!”
I love that the terms for these surgeries has changed from SRS or “Sexual Reassignment Surgery” to GCS/GAS “Gender Confirmation Surgery” or “Gender Affirmation Surgery”. It’s about “affirming” what the person is feeling inside. It feels more nurturing.
It’s been 15 weeks already since I had my Facial Feminization Surgery. It seems like it was only yesterday that I was just beginning my investigation into prospective surgeons for facial surgery. I couldn’t be happier with what the doctor was able to do for me. Sure I’m still unhappy with certain aspects of my appearance but that’s gender dysphoria. The benefit of having had facial feminization surgery is that I’m no longer misgendered. My wife and I have resigned ourselves to the question of “separate checks?” when we’re out to eat. Let’s face it, Milwaukee, Wisconsin is not the hub of alternative lifestyles. I haven’t been publicly shamed or threatened from being identified as trans but it is nice to be referred to as “Ladies” when we’re out.
But let’s get back to time, or really, let’s get back to patience. For those of us in transition or those of you just beginning your transition, it is all going to take time but it WILL happen. I’m already two years into my journey, two and a half if you count that first time I revealed my true self to someone in my family, and I can’t believe how quickly this is all moving.
To help me with my patience while waiting for the next operation or appointment I’ve found ways to occupy my time . I’ve been doing my own research into what’s available for transitioning, especially being a non-HRT transwomen who can’t benefit from the softening effects of estrogen. It may not be important to others in completely “passing” as a cisgender woman, but for me I want to appear as naturally feminine as I can.
Some trans-people want to sound more in-line with their chosen gender. For trans-males, I believe testosterone will assist in the deepening of the voice. For trans-women who have already gone through puberty there are the options of vocal training and voice feminization surgery. Voice feminization is not a new or experimental procedure. The surgeon who performed my facial surgery has been performing voice feminization for 15+ years. The Yeson (Yay-Zahn) Voice Center in Korea (yesonvc.net) appears to represent the Rolls Royce of voice feminization options. A YouTube search on “Yeson Vocal Feminization” will return an impressive list of pre and post examples.
I’ve had people say “Well, you’re not going to do that are you? Your voice sounds fine!”
Yeah, sure, my voice sounds fine. These are also some of the people that said, “You don’t need facial surgery! You look fine!” This is for my benefit beyond it being for anyone else. I think that’s something that needs to be expressed more, that any and all of these surgeries or even hormone therapy is about allowing the trans-individual to feel more “normal” or more “in-line” with the gender in which they identify. It’s for them. It’s for me.
So I think patience presents itself to us in multiple ways. It take patience during this period of transitioning when we are chomping at the bit to get everything done so we can feel “normal.” We need patience for wading through the insurance red tape. We need patience to find the right doctors and determine the right procedures. But there is another kind of patience. It’s the patience we need to summon for those around us. We may have known inside ourselves that we didn’t feel complete for a very long time, and now we’re ready to hear the starter pistol so that we can run as fast as we can to our finish line. In my case it took me 40+ years to figure it out what was “wrong” with me, what didn’t connect in my mind and heart. But even though we may just have found our solution, our “ah-ha!” moment, and now we’re ecstatic about it, it may take a while yet for our friends and families to come to terms with what we are revealing. They may only hear the part about our changing from someone they’ve always known, or the person they think they’ve always known, to what they think will be a completely different person that they won’t recognize physically and socially. They may not see that this new person is the true person, the “complete” person. You’ll need patience to give them time and possibly gentle reiteration about our lifetime of uncertainty and unhappiness, and of this new hope. It will take patience for allowing them to get used to the new name and pronoun. For some of them it may never happen. They may not like to “real” you. That will require you to have patience with yourself. But it’s OK. You can’t force anyone to like you anymore than you could have forced yourself to like and tolerate being the incomplete person you have had to be for however long. In the end your patience will teach you that life is short, that there are many people there to help you along your journey, and that finding yourself and making yourself “whole” is worth all of that patience, and yes time. And when you are whole and complete, friends, family and even strangers will see a truly happy person. And those that have known you for any length of time won’t be able to ignore the fact that you are a happier, more complete, and authentic person. The won’t be able to ignore that any more than a moth can ignore a flame and neither will you!