The Cranky Uterus
Each day the decision gets easier but it is still a hurdle. Do I wear the bra or the binder? Bra... binder... bra... binder... It's enough to make me crazy sometimes. If I put the bra on, it is the only piece of "drag" that I'm wearing (yeah, let that one twist your brain). If I put on the binder, then I have to worry if my co-workers (who don't know about my trans identity yet) will notice that my breasts have suddenly gone into hiding.
Barbwire and Roses
Part 1: The Cranky Uterus
I’ve decided to label my journey through transition as “Barbwire and Roses”. I like the imagery of it. This may be one of the most painful series of experiences I’ll go through, but it also has much beauty. Sometimes the pain is the main focus but I have to remember that there is also much joy.
I’ve had a certain medical issue for a while. A sort of “over-active uterus” if you will. A month ago it got extremely bad. So bad, that I had to miss work and could no longer travel to do my job.
Take a minute and think about your morning routine. Done? Good. Let me tell you about mine for a moment so you can have an idea of me at this time. I get up every morning at 7 a.m. and get into the shower. I wash my scant inch of hair on my head and scrub my body. I get out, dry off, and clear the mirror of fog. While my skin is still warm, I lather up my face and shave. At this point, it is mostly “going through the motions” as I’m not growing any “real” facial hair. But I like the sense of “rightness” this act gives me. Also, a baby-smooth face is a wonderful sensation.
Then it’s time to get dressed. I open up my closet and stare at the rainbow array of dress shirts I own and the khaki and black dress pants. I pick out a combination that appeals to me that day and lay it out on the bed before picking up a pair of boxer briefs and socks. This is the point I’m faced with a decision. Each day the decision gets easier but it is still a hurdle. Do I wear the bra or the binder? Bra… binder…. bra… binder… It’s enough to make me crazy sometimes. If I put the bra on, it is the only piece of “drag” that I’m wearing (yeah, let that one twist your brain). If I put on the binder, then I have to worry if my co-workers (who don’t know about my trans identity yet) will notice that my breasts have suddenly gone into hiding.
These days I usually opt for the binder. For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, visit Underworks for a better explanation. The people at Underworks are amazingly kind to trans folks and their products are excellent. I currently use their double-front compression shirt. It does a decent job of making my chest appear flatter. Not as flat as I would like, though. However, I think that’s the case with almost any binder.
So after I wiggle into my binder and get dressed, I stand in front of the mirror and look at the image reflected back. Not quite what I want, but getting there. Most of it is mental, of course. Every day I feel like I “fit” a bit more. Every day it’s easier to look at my reflection and not feel guilt. You have to understand that for most of my adult life I have dressed in a similar fashion but I always felt such guilt at looking “so butch” or “so masculine”. I mean I was supposed to look like a girl, right? But when I put on men’s clothing I always just looked “too manly”. So much time wasted feeling guilty about what was supposed to make me feel good. It is easier now though. I like my reflection a bit more every time I see it. I feel attractive in a way I haven’t in years.
So about a month ago, my condition becomes so bad that my morning routine is interrupted by trips to the bathroom so I can bleed freely. I’m in so much pain that I want to curl up into a ball and die. As much as I was dreading it, I made an emergency appointment with my doctor who told me I’d have to go in, 2 weeks earlier than expected, to see the gynecologist. Now, the gynecologist I was supposed to see 2 weeks from then is a female. In fact, she’s the only female gynecologist on staff for my insurance company. I had been waiting to see her for months. I have an extremely bad track record with male doctors. In fact, I avoid them at all costs at this point.
However, bleeding as heavily as I was, I was in no position to say no. The visit was painful; emotionally and physically. I told him I was trans and what did he do? He put me on estrogen. He wanted me to take 3 birth control pills a day for a week, then two a day for two weeks, and then just one a day. I wanted to scream at him, throw things, hit him.
But, I wasn’t given a choice. They could have scheduled a D&C right away, but this man, whom I just told how I ID, put me on female hormones. My first taste of medical professionals being biased.
Three weeks later I was still bleeding just as heavily, and sick as a dog from all of the hormones. I was still taking three a day because anything less increased the bleeding. The truly bad side-effect (from my point of view) was the fact that I suddenly felt as if I had lost my damn mind. I literally felt crazy. My emotions were everywhere. And in the middle of all of this I suddenly start having those feelings of “Oh my god, did I make the wrong decision about my relationship?”
Definitely not a good feeling all the way around.
I decided I had suffered enough and I made another emergency visit to my regular doctor. I poured my heart out to her and explained how the hormones weren’t working and that they were making me feel crazy. I told her I wanted the D&C but she told me that decision was up to the gynecologist and not her. Back to the women’s clinic I went and stood up to the doctor. He looked at me for a moment before sighing and agreeing to the procedure. He gave me a date of a week from that day and said I could stop taking the female hormones. I was relieved and scared all at the same time.
At work, I had a run-in with a co-worker regarding a rumor. Because I’m gay, the run-in got blown completely out of proportion. My co-worker and I wound up talking everything out and I explained that perhaps I had just been more sensitive to it because of how hormonal I’ve been. Of course, seeing it written up and placed in my personnel record completely changed how well I took the whole thing. Now, the hormones were messing with my job performance. I couldn’t wait to be free of the estrogen.
Just 3 days ago I finally had my D&C. It was a truly horrific incident (emotionally speaking) and I don’t think I could have made it through without my sister being there for me. Physically speaking, it wasn’t that bad. I’ve got several bruises up and down my arms and hands from the many attempts they made to find veins for the IV and blood test. I was so relieved when they told me they knock you out before they do anything to you. I don’t think I could have gotten on the bed and put my feet in the stirrups myself.
Since the bleeding has stopped I feel amazing! No more feeling like I’m giving birth just sitting at my desk. No more horrible mood swings.
The funny part is that I didn’t even realize how I was being ignored by the doctor until someone pointed it out. My friend was telling another friend and she said, “They put him on ESTROGEN!” Well, I sat there a moment and realized, damn, that *isn’t* right, is it? The doctor never discussed what would make me most comfortable. He just came in, stuck his fingers and instruments in me, and told me what he was going to do. He never just ASKED. I spent over a month pumped up on hormones that made me feel crazy, have horrible headaches and hot flashes, and that weren’t doing anything for the problem he prescribed them.
I’ve never been one to “stand up” to a health professional but I realize more and more how much I will have to while transitioning. I already know that the doctor in town who handles hormone therapy isn’t the most approachable person. My own personal doctor doesn’t know the first thing about transitioning and has left everything up to me. My therapist, while completely on my side, has no clue, either. I’m left to walk this path with no real guide book. See, the thing is, many guys have transitioned before me but everyone’s path is a little bit different. You have to work within the confines of your budget, doctors, therapists, and state governments.
But, every time I feel like the light is going out, there is a small break. Next issue I will be able to share with you my coming Out as trans at work story. I’m nervous and excited and pretty much scared out of my mind. That’s life, though, right?