High Heels Aren't Compulsory

Gender: (Unspecified)

Better counselling session than last time
ms_chatelaine
The doctor even apologised to me for making me feel I was being pressured.

The new administration appears to have calmed down from their strict interpretation of the letter of the rules and are agreeing that some people have different circumstances and needs than others. I have to be examined by their new resident psychiatrist by way of checking up on my counsellor, but I am not to feel that it is a test, that they'll take me off the hormones if they decide I am in some way doing it wrong.

The counsellor was actually quite nervous, as if he was afraid that I'd make a complaint, which I was actually ready to do if he pushed me.

And I got waxed this morning and I got my nails done this afternoon. I'm actually enjoying going out and about as me, less nervous than I have been. Should do it more. Walking around Queen Street, even in the rain, was fun.

That went better than I feared it would
ms_chatelaine
So I told them. I have never been comfortable male, I have been in gender counselling for the last two years, I have been on hormones for a year, I am considering the possibility of transitioning.

Their reaction - shock of course, and speechlessness, and then a fairly reasonable discussion for about an hour. They are, predictably, not in favour. Neither of them would be able to accept me as female. They wouldn't be able to tell anyone else in the family, or anyone else for that matter. I didn't discuss what other family members already know. I would effectively lose my family life though not my family.

They did say that they would respect my position if I were to go ahead even though there was no way they could support or condone it and they entreated me to consider the things that I would be throwing away. They were dubious about the counselling system, that some people involved were too ... they didn't say 'liberal' and I didn't fill it in for them, although I called them on a couple of manipulations that they tried setting up, including a couple of nasty guilt trips that I was ready for.

Selfishness. Think of the big picture and not just yourself. Quote - "it's an 'Icky Me' position" - truly. Answer - yes it's selfish to say 'it's my life', but that remains the case, and is it not selfish to insist that I remain unhappy for the remainder of it? I wasn't as blunt as my mother, but that was the gist that I got across. Honestly that was the one that I expected them to trot out.

Think of what you'll be throwing away. Answer - it's an incredibly hard step and one would have to be desperately unhappy to consider throwing away all I have, job, family, male privilege, safety from neds. Implication - see me consider it.

God made you male. Answer - And God made me such that I'm not happy being male. That line of argument didn't go any further. It amounted to 'put up and shut up,' anyway, which isn't an argument I've ever stood for.

It's guaranteed to end in disaster, possibly even suicide. Answer - yes, I know of several cases where it has ended in death either at their own hand or at the hands of others. This is why there are rules, and psychiatrists, but see also argument re. 'desperately unhappy'.

I pointed out that I am happier and more capable now than I have been in several years; that the psychiatric evaluation that I have already gone through shows that my anxieties are coming from my gender problem and not vice versa. I will sleep tonight a lot better than I would have if I hadn't screwed my courage to the sticking place and driven over to see them.

They remain gobmacked, but also to an extent grateful that I had told them of my trouble. They consider that whatever I do in the privacy of my own home is up to me and may be good for my troubles, but taking the change would be a supremely bad idea. I assured them that the decision is in no way made.

Then they gave me the book that had arrived for me as the last part of my Christmas present and told me of the shenanigans with the local cats and that I'm expected to come to my niece's birthday in two weeks and to bring something pink. (She'll be five, going on about fourteen.)

Now I have a ragu cooking and a glass of red wine.

I'm getting waxed tomorrow and I'm really looking forward to it.
ms_chatelaine
... and anyone who's ever been waxed is now saying ... What?!?

And I'd prefer that the stripping of hair from my body would not be necessary and I accept that it's incredibly painful.

But I end up free of hair. And it really makes a difference when you put on a pair of tights. And the shaving the chest thing, well really.

And here's the thing, I'm going in for this painful procedure that I'll have to get done next month and the month after that and the month after that. And I'll hopefully have tea with my friends after. Because I want femininity. I would be happiest being female.

But I don't have the courage to take it.

Between the above and now has been quite a while. it's nearly morning. I don't know what I want from being female and I don't know what kind of female I want to be but I'm sure that I want to be female.

I've just spent the last few hours rehearsing the scene where I tell my parents I haven't ever been comfortable as a male and I'm changing sex. And one of the things I have just realised is that the only person in my visualisations is myself. I'm making up my objections.

I'm still terrified. I'm going to tell them. I won't handle it well and neither will they, but I've got to. It's one of those things, I've made the decision that it's going to happen. I'll be really fucked up until I do, so it's going to have to be as soon as possible.

I'm getting over being very drunk, but I just scrawled 'Going to be a Woman' on my mirror in lipstick and took a photo of it. It's getting on for morning.

I need to unload, somehow.
ms_chatelaine
I'm finding myself doing, or more properly failing to do, things that are self-destructive. Last week I couldn't move all of Sunday, when I had a flat inspection the next day. This week I'm having to retrieve a situation with my car insurance. There are many things to do with work that I am being hit with but for the most part that's working out all right. But still I'm falling into the pattern of, for example, spending money that I shouldn't on things I want but don't need. This kind of comfort spending has led me before into debt situations that I'm only now digging myself out of.

I would be better to find out what is the thing or things that are worrying me and deal with them, but I suspect that what I really need is a hug. An actual, physical, being able to put my head on someone's shoulder and relax because for just that moment, it's all right and nothing else matters.

I'm not able to relax in hugs, normally. I find myself always in the masculine situation of being the one who should make it all right. And I do my best, but I have a combination of low self-esteem and a history of hooking up with women who really need for it to be made all right. And I can do that. But a hug, to me, is work. I'm always the comforter. I have talked some people down from some really horrible positions, and I have become good at it, but what about me?

Culturally, that isn't a thing that a man should be looking for in a relationship. It's fine for a woman to be looking for someone who will look after her or to put her together after a bad experience (done that more than once, been trying to avoid that kind of woman for at least fifteen years, not being so successful at it). For a man to even admit to needing a break or a hug or to be comforted is somehow wrong.

I've been more stable than I am right now. I need a break or a hug or to be comforted. What I need is a good cry, and here comes 'Halleluja' to set me off. Excuse me.

In better news, thanks to the advice of helenex and psychochicken, I'm managing to get rid of the weight I put on over the last couple of months, next target the weight I put on over the last year. I know how to do it right, now.

More struggles with the cousellor
ms_chatelaine
I don't fit in the box. That's fine with me, but the medical powers that be apparently don't approve. Apparently they will come down with a heavy hand on any doctor who doesn't follow a rigid set of guidelines in dealing with transgender patients.

Apparently the Charing Cross Centre (I think) in London is very prescriptive about what a transgender patient should do and how they should behave, and their view of gender roles and behaviour is narrow and conservative. Patients can get treatment denied for turning up wearing trousers rather than a skirt, for example.

More importantly, this big important clinic says that hormones should not be prescribed until after a patient has been living at least three months in their transgender role, and is going by their transgender name full-time. And they must supply proof of this. This role having been conservatively defined by the clinic as noted above.

They also have a tendency to accuse doctors who don't toe their line of malpractice and one has been struck off recently for not following these guidelines exactly.

I mention all this because my counsellor informed me of it all this afternoon, as well as informing me that there is a change in the management of the gender unit that I go to and the head of the unit is much more inclined than the previous one to this clinic's views.

Now I don't argue with the existence of guidelines and oversight. They are there to prevent errors and there are people who really shouldn't be allowed in their current state of mind to make the kind of irreversible decisions that gender reassignment requires. But I have had a psych evaluation and I'm fine and in command of my own decisions.

There is also a fear of the gutter press in the NHS establishment and this is another consideration that my doctor has mentioned to me more than once, and intimated that it is more of a concern to his bosses. I personally view that attitude as caving in to an attack on my civil rights of privacy and freedom from discrimination, but that's an argument for another time.

I'm allowed to stay on the level of hormones that I am currently following, but I predict that I will have this 'discussion' at every session. If that is the case I am going to have to figure out what to do. I am tending to consider all of this information as unfair pressure to follow a path that I'm not currently and for good reasons prepared to follow.

I don't want to live full-time as a woman. I don't feel desperately enough out of place in my current life that I would wreck it to change sex. And that is what I would have to do. I'd lose my career, and a large part of my family, both of which are important to me. I'd keep some family contacts and most of my friends, for which I'm eternally grateful, but still.

But the British medical establishment doesn't have a box labelled with what I need: you can be a man or a woman, and by their rules or don't play. I told the doctor that most of my female friends would consider that clinic's view of their gender role as an affront, and he agreed, but he has been going out on a limb to allow me to go as far as I have.

I'm not going to be railroaded. I'm not. But I'm not sure how to make the system fulfil my needs, and just as importantly how to get it to stop putting pressure on me that could become damaging. It's clearly only set up to cater for cases that require the full gender reassignment intervention. It isn't set up to consider any kind of flexibility outside that, for fear of accusations of malpractice.

But I have been made more happy than I was by being allowed to grow breasts. My hips and thighs are widening too, which pleases me. My blood pressure is significantly lower when I am cross-dressed, and that is now my normal mode in the house; I change when I get home from work. I intend to continue with hormone treatments but I may never transition; be transgendered, either gender at need or in between. I may have to find support outside the NHS - does anyone have any information about where to ask?

Apart from that everything's going swimmingly. I'm going to start going out more often, which will go some way to making the doctor happier too. It's extra work to do makeup and put on a wig and padding and corsetry, but when I do it nobody bats an eye in the shops which is exactly what I'm after. I couldn't get away with going out the way I am in the house, which is still all female clothes including underwear, because I still have too masculine a shape, and I have to wear makeup to feminise my face. And of course the wig.

But my bust is still growing to reasonably fill a 38A in fact rather than by wishful thinking. If you know to look when I'm not wearing a bra it's noticeable and a padded bra does wonders. I'm dieting and exercising to reduce the masculine belly and hoping it won't retard my hips too much.

In the rest of my life, I went back to fiddle lessons this evening and got on fine. And I'm getting a consistent note out of the wooden flute I bought a couple of weeks ago. I'm planning to build a harp this year too - it's like a kit car: you buy a kit of parts pre-cut and finish and assemble them yourself. Later on I might start building them from scratch, but I'd need a workshop space to cut and drill the wood.

There, now, woodwork, that's hardly a typical feminine activity, is it? In the words of Amanda Palmer, fuck that shit.

What he said ...
ms_chatelaine
Good cheer to everyone.

More later.

A visit to the counsellor
ms_chatelaine
This time round it was very positive. I haven't been since February - I kept postponing the appointment due to wurk - but because I'm spending much more time as Elaine I was determined to check in and get a sanity check.

This time I was up front about the idea that I don't see myself transitioning permanently, and that I was happy with developing female characteristics and being able to be female sometimes and male at others. I must have seemed like I'd considered what I was saying, because he went along with it.

He made one comment - there are those among his colleagues who are not comfortable with prescribing hormones to anyone who is not committed to transitioning completely and he would have to justify himself to them. There must be some kind of oversight where he discusses my case with reviewers. This makes sense to me from a quality point of view, but I'm not so keen to be discussed by people I haven't met and can't persuade myself. Especially if they're not so flexible, as fjm has been saying; doctors who only think in terms of male and female with no in between.

His point of view on the idea is that he's fine with it. His criterion for success is a happy functional patient, and he was looking at a happy patient. I'm obviously not messed up and confused in what I want - this is in fact true, I want it all and I want it now! - and he was very complimentary to me in how I look and present myself. His first words in the consultation were, "look at you!"; I was wearing a pretty indigo skirt with flower details that I got in the sale at Markies yesterday, and black tights and black top, and I'm getting quite practiced at makeup.

So, there was none of the feeling that I got last time, however faint, of disapproval. I'm in charge of this exercise in finding myself, I've considered the questions that he puts to me and I'm thinking about what happens to me. He's happy to sign off on me going the way I want to go, which is to continue the hormones, and get to a position where I can comfortably be female without losing the facility to be male when I need to be, and vice versa.

That begs the question about surgery. As I explained to him, since I could meet a woman and turn male all of a sudden, I don't see surgically remodelling my genitals as being an option right now. However, we agreed, I could conceivably see a situation where I'm so much more often female than male that I might want go all the way. Time might tell and for right now, the way to go is the way that I've planned.

It had been an idea I'd had in the back of my mind before I started all this, and apparently it's done quite a lot among TS's who can't come out to their families, to get reassignment surgery and still pass as male. I described to him the transphobia I've run across that would prevent me from continuing with my career if I should change sex. And then there's the acceptance of my family. Which means that I have a strong stake in being able to be male when I need to be. However, this is not an option allowed by the UK medical establishment. Before they'll allow you to have surgery, you have to transition completely and be fully socially female for at least a year. And, possibly, quite rightly, because it must be a nightmare to have altered your body irreversibly and to find it intolerable. I did say to him that if it were possible to change reversibly, then I'd do it like a shot.

To me, I think what I'm looking for most is to be able to exist in a feminine mode. To be pretty, to like and to wear pretty clothes. Being feminine is an entire hobby, vocation and to some women, career. Much more popular than cars and computers are for guys, judging by the number of magazines there are on the subject. I've written before about how I don't see a distinction between the roles that women and men should be able to play (except that I don't fancy bearing kids), but when people talk about equality of the sexes, what they always seem to mean is that women should be free to be as hard as men. Annie Lennox from the eighties and power suits. Going the other way is still a social taboo.

Well, tough.

So, having taken the afternoon off and dolled myself up for the doctor, I went for a stroll through the new shopping centre at Pollokshaws. Nobody batted an eye. I wandered through Markies looking at the new clothes for this winter, walked the length of the mall to the Tesco, got the makings of supper and walked the length of the mall again back to my car. No hassle, not even a snigger at the guy in the skirt, even a nice smile from the lady at the Tesco checkout. My feet hurt by the end of it though. Just going to have to do it more often.

Now I've got helenex's bolognese on the cooker while I write this and I'm going to watch more of my new box set of New Who season two.

Mildly contemplative
ms_chatelaine
I've just been out with friends who are all very supportive of me whether I wish to be Mike or Elaine. In fact I came away with a compliment, I'm told I'm beautiful. It was the best picture I have, and yes, it is a pretty one. Still, smug.

But in general, this is still a balance I am working on. I am sufficiently advanced in my hormone treatments that I successfully fill out a bra, but I still have a masculine figure. Among other things, the beer that I drank this evening will still go to bulk out the keg that I carry in lieu of a six-pack. Or will it go to my hips? and is that a good thing?

One of the other things that came out - I passed that picture around everyone there, and from the people who didn't know about Elaine/Mike, the first question was, "why?"

Why?

The first and most facile answer is "because I want to." But I have always been the 'but why?' child. And there are levels and levels to the answer to that question, and, be warned, some of the answers are, 'because'. I just do. Deal with it. But that hasn't stopped me from searching for the answer to, 'but, why?'

So, why Elaine? Why does Michael Gallagher feel that he would be happier as a woman?

I like looking down my chest and seeing a lace-covered breast. I'm not turned on by this, or not as a male seeing a breast in close proximity, although I'm satisfied in some way. It feels good, it has yet to feel so natural that it feels right, but it doesn't feel wrong and the only reasons I would refrain from wearing a bra would be that I'm going to be in a situation that other people would object. At the weekend and in the evenings I wear a bra unless I'm meeting people I know will notice and object. I am emphasizing to my body that I am growing breasts and like a girl wearing a training bra, I am learning to feel natural with it.

And the rest of it?

I want to lose my belly and I keep meaning to do more exercise and I have all this incentive to diet and exercise and the rest of it. I haven't figured out how to reduce my shoulders and the rest of my musculature without drastic - starvation-level - dieting which, let's face it, is not going to happen, my limit will be the Wii Fit or perhaps if I manage to take up running. I seem to be growing at the hips and I seem to be keeping the same overall weight, so I dare say that I'm transferring some weight from belly to breasts and hips. I keep meaning to buy a couple of sports bras to fit my current bust and make an incentive to do exercise so I can wear them.

I'm fairly sure that, gender dysphoria and all the rest of it acknowledged, what is going on with me and part of the answer to the 'why?' question, is that I have an attraction to things female. I like women's clothes and I like to see women wearing them and I like them so much that I wish to look like that myself. Do I feel that I'm the wrong gender? Sometimes and then again sometimes not. I do masculine very well. As I've said, I like my baritone voice, although I've learned how to make myself contralto, or perhaps counter-tenor, it's in the resonance. I'd like for there to be a spectrum available, so that I could be spread across it, not a point either 'male' or 'female', or even a point with a defined 'not in those other boxes,' like 'homosexual' or even 'transsexual'.

Can I not be, 'male with many feminine aspects, including a very strong supportive streak, who is not very dominant but is buggered if they will be bullied, who feels comfortable wearing a dress, and wishes to be pretty wearing it but who is not really interested in men and wants a female partner?'

Is that so hard?

Why the hell not, I have a bottle of wine here.
ms_chatelaine
1. Do you like blue cheese? Yes.
2. Have you ever smoked a cigarette? Yes, a couple of times, they are too bitter unless I am really drunk. I used to smoke cigars on a regular basis but they give me bronchitis now, so I don't, any more.
3. Do you own a gun? no. I'm a better shot than the guy who introduced me to the gun club, though
4. What flavor do you add to your drink at Sonic? Que ... ?
5. Do you get nervous before doctor appointments? Not really. Dentists, hell yes.
6. What do you think of hot dogs? Bockwursts, bratwursts, with proper mustard and sauerkraut, yum. Or Canadian smokies and relish, yum yum.
7. Favorite Christmas Song? a choice between mainstream favourite the Pogues' A Fairytale of New York, bitter anti-commercial favourite Greg Lake's I Believe in Father Christmas, or wide-eyed childhood favourite Wombling Merry Christmas.
8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning? coffee, and then some
9. Can you do push ups? yes. don't often. Don't really want the biceps any more
10. What's your favorite meal? a medium rare pope's-eye steak with new potatoes, fried mushrooms and fried onions, and maybe red wine jus
11. What's your favorite piece of jewelry? the necklace that Aoife picked out for me
12. Favorite hobby? Reading.
13. Do you work with people who idolize you? I don't think so. I seem to intimidate the people I work with who are at the same level as me, quite a lot of my juniors, and one or two of my seniors as well, but I'm pretty sure that I am nobody's idol. I'm also pretty sure that my boss is idolised by some of the people I intimidate, and I think quite well of him too.
14. Do you have A.D.D? No.
15. What's one trait that you dislike about yourself? Lack of confidence, which, given my answer to 13 above might seem ironic, but think about how one might overcompensate to cover up
16. Middle name? I don't have one, and as a result, neither do any of my siblings because my parents forgot in my case and didn't want me to feel left out in their cases
17. Name 3 thoughts at this moment. I should delete the previous answers before filling these things in, interesting but not surprising that Liz Williams listens to the Mediaeval Baebes, I'm going to see Amanda Palmer next month.
18. Name 3 things you bought yesterday. Toothpaste, onions, windscreen wipers
20. Current worry right now? debts
21. Current hate right now? the guy who drove his skip lorry into my car on Wednesday
22. Favorite place to be? in a world of my own
23. How did you bring in New Years? A good party with good friends
24. Where would you like to go? the list is long and covers most of Europe, some of the New World, oddly little of the rest of the world although I fancy Hong Kong and Singapore.
25. Name three people who will complete this? be interesting to find out but I wouldn't care to hazard a guess. The sole respondent to the last one was a complete stranger.
26. Whose answer do you want to read the most? Whoever cares to do the thing.
27. What color shirt are you wearing? stripy blue and white
28. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets? never tried it, nor silk, neither. I like satin nighties, though.
29. Can you whistle? Yes, much better than most people
30. Favorite color(s)? the average wingspeed of an unladen swallow.
31. Would you be a pirate? Arrr, we be murderin', rapin' mutineers who don't dare sleep with but half an eye open for our 'mates' ... possibly not.
32. What songs do you sing in the shower? Patricia the Stripper
33. Favorite girl's name? Elaine (I chose it for myself after all)
34. Favorite boy's name? Michael, after all it's the one I was given
35. What's in your pocket right now? a ring I didn't know I had ... the world looks funny, where's my hand, what's that sniffing sound?
36. Last thing that made you laugh? my boss's descriptions of the 'processes' an old client used
37. Best bed sheets as a child? I don't remember paying attention to that, although my mother has just found my old sheets in a suitcase, that had hockey players on. I still have my old baby blanket, though.
38. Worst injury you've ever had? suspected cracked elbow (bruise the length of my entire arm but I didn't lose any function and it didn't hurt too much so I never had it x-rayed)
39. Do you love where you live? my country, yes. my city, yes. my flat, yes. the location where my flat stands in my city ... could stand improvement.
40. How many TVs do you have in your house? One.
41. Who is your loudest friend? Jim Campbell
42. How many dogs do you have? none
43. Does someone have a crush on you? I doubt it.
44. What's your favourite beer? Orkney Dark Island. I brought home a bottle from Orkney of Dark Island Special Reserve ... bliss
45. What is your favorite book? Toss-up between Bridge of Birds, Last Chance to See and To Kill a Mockingbird.
46. What is your favorite candy? Co-Op Fairtrade Spiced Orange Chocolate
47. What is your favorite sports team? Montreal Canadiens
48. What song do you want played at your funeral? Dunno. I attended a funeral where 'Another One Bites the Dust' got played, and 'Isn't It Grand Boys' (to be bloody well dead) is another good one. But, and this is the pompous streak in me coming out, I'd quite like the 'Fanfare for the Common Man' to be playing as the coffin goes into the furnace.
49. What were you doing at 12 AM last night? realising that I shouldn't be reading, I should be going to sleep
50. What was the first thing you thought of when you woke up this morning? shit I should have got to sleep earlier

38A
ms_chatelaine
I seem to be swinging back into feminine mode. What I wrote in my last post still holds and I'm still sure that I'll be both male and female, but I'm finding myself looking at a pretty girl and wishing I looked like that rather than or as well as being attracted to her. So, I decided a couple of weeks ago to take up the hormone prescription I've had sitting around for a couple of months and to go back with the patches. I seem to have quite a quick response to them and my bust has filled out again. I'm having trouble keeping my weight down as well, but my belt is still on the same notch although I haven't found yet that my trouser seat doesn't fit. Be interesting when that happens.

So I now fill the cups of a 36AA bra I have that I didn't used to. That back size is far too small but I bought it years ago to see whether I could feel what it was like to actually fill a bra. It didn't work at the time without chicken fillets but now it does, which led me to go bra shopping today. Properly, my back size should be 40 but a 40A just hangs slack off my chest, and that's the smallest cup size I could find on the high street. I have a 40AAA bra ordered off the internet and I'll be interested to see how that works and if it does anything for my bust. 38A is problematic, but I found that some cuts actually fit just fine although I'm not big enough to fit others. Balcony style don't seem to work but plunge style do. If Wonderbra did size 38A I'd be laughing. So I tried on more than a dozen bras and came away from Markies with two padded ones and one lacy, and some pairs of lace knickers. I'm lucky in my sizes that I can find a lot of what I'm looking for on the sale rail. Two bras for £4. Not quite as good as two pairs of high heeled sandals for £4, but it'll do. Gloat.

More seriously, I'm still going to have to be careful in my working life. A couple of months ago I was out for dinner with some business connections. The conversation got round to a TS that a couple of the men had met, and their extreme transphobia was ... not surprising, but still uncomfortable. I work very often among construction and property professionals and it's dominated by very conservative alpha males. All of the women I have encountered recently are in sales, and they are all flirts. Most of the others I know are in environmental management and the builder boys ignore them utterly, even if they are highly competent civil engineers - I fix that whenever I can. I am uncomfortable in a milieu where a powerful sales tool is an open blouse, and I guarantee that, the law notwithstanding, most of the people I run across in that milieu would be uncomfortable with me.

So, I'm back to wanting to lose weight, both to avoid any complications with the hormones and to reduce the masculine belly that I carry around. And given also the train wreck that has been my most recent romantic endeavour, here is a song that I'm finding quite apt right now. I'm definitely going to have to learn it and perform it.

Pretty Little Miss Dysmorphia

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