I am sitting outside the local Walgreens in my car holding the pill in my hands. The sun is gently breaking through the clouds as if to create a boundary around which my world would pivot. My heart is beating a nervous tune infused with melodies of contentment. As I swallow the pill the next stage of my journey to womanhood begins. Thursday September 9th 2010 at 4:30pm.
Coincidentally it was many years ago at this same store I had begun an earlier leg of my journey. I made my first admission to a checkout clerk that the feminine paraphernalia I had gathered for purchase were mine. But today the questions and consequences were different.
Then I had feared rejection, embarrassment and ridicule. Today my thoughts lingered on the fuller consequences of gender transition, and the irreversible changes that will be created.
One month on testosterone blockers. Slowly ramping up to give my body a chance to adapt. They will allow the estrogen I start taking next month to work to it’s fullest potential. I’ll take testosterone blockers until bottom surgery is complete. I’ll take estrogen for the rest of my life.
Over time my body hair growth will slow, fat will redistribute throughout my body and I’ll lose muscle mass. Breasts will grow, skin will soften and I’ll become infertile. I won’t dwell on any unintended side effects – I’ve long pondered what could go wrong physically and chemically. The risks cannot compare to the interminable pain of spending the rest of my life as the wrong gender.
As I pill disappears inside to work it’s magic I’m left with a deep sense of contentment. It’s impossibly soon for even a thought of physical changes, but my emotional changes have already begun. ‘Will do’ has been replaced by ‘doing’. Intention has been replaced with reality. The world around me moved on as if nothing happened – at most someone spied a woman taking a water bottle from her lips and thought nothing of it. Softly she took her first step.
Getting to this point in my life has itself been a marathon journey of self discovery. Regular readers have shared in my journey through acceptance and first steps, mishaps and learnings. Yet my inner journey was only part of my careful travel. Before hormone therapy can begin you need to see a counselor for at least three months. Once they write a recommendation letter your doctor then runs a battery of tests – blood work, physicals and anything else needed to satisfy safety’s caution. Blood tests and regular monitoring will become a regular diet.
I feel blessed that this portion of the ‘standards of care‘ has gone so smoothly for me. My counselor and doctor have been partners to help me, not gatekeepers to stop me. I know that others are not as lucky. Despite all my years of working through being transgendered, I am happy so far with the pace prescribed. 3 months seemed like an eternity, yet the decision is so large that it will affect my eternity. 3 months is a small price to pay.
The Narrow, Untrodden Path
I’m not the first transgendered woman to walk this path. So few have traveled it I can barely see the trail through the overgrowth. Yet I am grateful to those who forged ahead before me – transgender care is light years ahead of where it was just fifty years ago. Despite all this progress, and even though optimistically we number in the hundreds of thousands, drug treatments for transgender woman are still classified as experimental. And health insurance benefits to cover surgery are still few and far between.
To you, my dear reader, I thank you for reading this far and for sharing my journey. It feels like I’m just started, but when I look back I can see how far I’ve come. I pray that your journey is fulfilling, and leads to the destination which is right for you.
Hugs and blessings,
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