Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Day 7 in the hormonal house

Well I FINALLY started hormones - estradiol (female hormone) and finasteride (male hormone blocker). My dose has been titrated up this week and I'm now at my full dose of 2mg estradiol and 5mg finasteride daily. Over the months and years the dose will be reviewed and (blood pressure and blood results permitting) will be put up as needed. The only reason the dose would go down would be if my liver function tests showed damage caused by processing the hormones or if my blood pressure goes through the roof. But there is then the option of patches rather than tablets as they get the hormones directly in to your blood stream without the liver having to break them down. So it's clean living for me from here on in other than the odd night out here and there.

After becoming dispondent and being convinced that I wouldn't get my hormone prescription until August 15th (when I'm next at the gender clinic) I got a letter off my GP last Tuesday to say the gender clinic had now contacted them and could I book a routine appointment with my GP. Routine - my arse! It's about a 3 week wait for a routine appointment and so I went to the open access clinic on Wednesday before work and stood in line from 8am so I could be first seen and then get to work by 9.

It was a surreal experience to - at long last - be handed a prescription for hormones. I went in there fully expecting and prepared to have to do battle with my GP to be given them. Even when you get a diagnosis and the gender clinic write to your GP saying what hormones you should be commenced on, some GP's just aren't understanding or accepting of trans issues plus there's the whole postcode lottery of health care with some practices refusing to fund your hormone treatment. Things are improving a bit with the NHS patient charter but it's still a bit hit and miss. Here endeth the political rant.

But my GP just said the gender clinic had written to them stating what hormones I should be on and the follow up care I'd need (blood tests, blood pressure checks, and ongoing quarterly follow ups at the clinic in London. It was like 'Here's a three month script. You can order repeats online on our website and good luck with everything.' The shock of it being that easy (and of me clutching a bag with two long awaited boxes of medication) was a bit overwhelming. I just felt stunned really. I don't think it really sank in at the time that my wait was finally over and I feel that 7 days in to taking them that it is finally registering in that thick skull of mine.

A couple of my trans mates may read this so for their information (and just for general entertainment) I've compiled a bif of a list of changes and side effects that i've noticed in the last week. The side effects haven't been too bad. My blood pressure has gone up a bit so I just need to watch my diet and booze intake to try to get that down. I have had a couple of headaches plus one migraine and in general I just feel exhausted a lot of the time and a metalic sicklie feeling in my mouth and throat. But that's pretty much it for the nasty side effects.

In terms of positive effects/changes it is very early days yet but my boobs are growing plus I have more feeling and sensation in my breasts, which is awesome. Emotionally I'm generally pretty stable at the moment but I have had a couple of monumental wobbles particularly at night time when I'm at home on my own. I used to be pretty calm and in control of my thoughts and feelings but be warned my trans women mates... hormones can and most likely WILL make you become emotional from time to time. Often without warning as I discovered when randomly crying during a scene in the film Hancock at the cinema on Saturday with my mates. But I think quite aside from the hormones, the emotional work I've been doing in psychotherapy and the joy/relief at being on the meds has played a part too.

My house is an interesting mish mash of hormones at the moment. My cats were taken to the vet today to be castrated and so Pete and Paul are feeling very sorry for their little selves looking between their legs wondering where their 'two veg' have gone. Meanwhile I'm getting accustomed to the meds while juggling work, divorce, selling my house, financial struggles, and trying to get to see my mates at least once a week if I can. Other than the gender transition it certainly feels like my life is just one big transition at the moment with all of the stuff I have going on at the same time.

I'm very happy though and a big shout out and hug to all of my mates for their continued friendship and support. I'm back off down to London in August for my next assessment at the clinic and I'm looking forward to a fun filled weekend in Soho with Paul (my mate - not my cat) when we are down there. Right well I'm off to go and see if Pete and Paul are speaking to me yet as they have sulked and ignored me since we got home this evening.

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Handbags at dawn.

Bethmeister has returned after almost a year away from the blogging community. The story so far...

I was born a man but FINALLY realised with 100% certainty that I was a woman trapped in my birth body in May 2007 and came out as transsexual to work, family, and friends at the very start of my psychological, physical, and emotional transition from male to female.

Having had weekly psychotherapy specifically geared towards gender issues and two full on psychiatric assessments at Charing Cross NHS gender identity clinic earlier on in 2008, I am now just waiting for the gender clinic to write to my GP to say what hormones they should prescribe me on on the good old NHS. Then it is a year of hormones at least before I am eligable for surgery (depending on waiting lists).

All my documentation and paperwork is now in the name of Miss Beth and once I have lived as Beth for 2 years (including name change by deed poll) I can change my birth certificate to say sex - female. At that point I'll no longer be transsexual. Just a woman in name, mind, body, soul, and law. Bring it on!

So yes... handbags at dawn. My therapist has said that he feels I take my transition in a bit too literally and linear. I kind of thought 'ok. First I come out, then dress gradually more feminine, then change my name, then get assessed, then get the green light to start hormones, and at that point when I start physically changing I'll start dressing more feminine'.

Lots of therapy and self acceptance later has led me to realise that I am all woman right now. Right here in this very moment while typing this blog. Hormones and surgery will make my body get with the picture. But I should dress how I want to as a woman and have the self belief and confidence to pull it off as this transition is purely and simply for me, myself and I.

So with that in mind I went shopping yesterday and for the first time ever I purchased items I would like to see myself in rather than the previous gender neutral clothing look I had gone with so as to not rock the boat with family and society at large.

The most significant purchase for me was a handbag and purse. In a strange sort of way my shoulder bag and wallet were the last relics of my previous existance. They had served me well and it was hard to let them go as it was basically the birth me losing his last grip on my new happier and more fulfilling life. So I ceremonially transferred my cash and cards from wallet to purse this morning and oddly enough I shed a tear or two. It's one small step for tran. One giant leap for Beth kind!

Having a handbag is an interesting experience. Pre hormones I obviously hadn't changed physically since I was last at work on Monday. But the visual gender clue of a handbag literally opened doors for me today and I lost count of the amount of times I got called love or lass rather the usual gender neutral 'mate' or even worse 'fella'. Amusingly the woman at my local shop (who has been asking me why I'm so much happier these days) seemed to finally 'get it' today when I got my purse out to pay. :o)

This all came about from a disasterous fashion faux pas on Monday. My 'last blouse in the wardrobe look' resulted in me wearing a blouse that was too big (as I bought it ages ago when I was much bigger) and masculine looking (as I bought it right at the start of my transition). It confused my colleagues, it upset me, and it was time for a new wardrobe.

I am getting pretty impatient waiting to start hormones the very second that my GP gets confirmation off the gender clinic that they have assessed me and instruct my GP on what to prescribe me. I've been waiting 6 weeks and counting but in reality I've been waiting the whole of my 29 and a bit years to finally have the right hormones circulating through my system!

But today was amazing. After the wardrobe malfunction of Monday I owed it to myself and my colleagues to present as feminine today. So I went in in black skirt, boots, and all in one blouse/sweater top plus the magical handbag. Life is good. Now just give me hormones!!!