One Year Later…

It’s been just over six months since I wrote my last blog. Back then, I only had a terrible netbook, and an even worse job, that kept me from doing any writing. Every day I’d come back home stressed out of my mind, and would be so tired that I’d barely contemplate writing anything more than a few words long. Six months and one new job later, and I’ve decided to buy and iPad. And I love it! But that’s not why I’m writing.

More importantly, I’m writing because it’s been just over a year since I started taking hormones. See, whilst Charing Cross prescribed me everything just a few weeks ago, I’ve been taking oestrogen that I’ve purchased from Hong Kong for much longer than that. And it’s only now, that I’ve passed the one year anniversary since the blue pill first passed my lips, that I can step back and appreciate the changes that have occurred in my life, whether it’s the biological differences like breast growth, or the faith I’ve developed in myself as a transwoman. I’ve lost friends and gained new ones. I’ve had two jobs during a tough recession. I was able to prove myself to my parents. And I got an iPad.

But first things first: the hormones themselves. I started taking them whilst I was staying in London with friends for a few weeks. Back then, I had a different air to me, one that was full of a false confidence. Before moving to the big city, my only real experience of living full time was during my university days. Aberystwyth is a fairly liberal town if you ignore the chavvy locals, where people don’t really judge you (or at least it seemed that way). I had just finished a degree where I received a 2:2, and was feeling pretty awesome. So after following some advice, and finding out my first appointment at Charing Cross was over six months away, I started taking the pills. For the first few weeks, the only difference was the occasional hot flush, and considering London was in the middle of a beatable at the time I couldn’t tell exactly why I was hot (it was only when my friends told me that the room wasn’t very hot that I knew it was hormone related.

These flushes continued for a while, eventually being combined with heightened emotions. After leaving London and heading to Aberystwyth for graduation, the emotions started catching up with me. I realised that some of my friends didn’t want to know me anymore, which was made even harder when I admitted to myself that some of the hearsay I’d heard of them making comments (some transphobic) about me must have had truth to them after all. This would have been hard enough without oestrogen in my system. This caused me to spend a great deal of time crying, which is something I really wasn’t used to then, and is only becoming normal to me now.

Graduation passed, and after a few weeks of staying at home the next changes started to kick in. My breasts (which weren’t really breasts back then) started to get very sore, and I could no longer lie on my front without being in some sort of pain. This lasted about a month without much progress in development. Naturally, I got cynical about what was happening to me, but then I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror whilst getting changed. At that point, I noticed I started to get curves around my hips, something that definitely wasn’t there just a few months ago. I realised that changes were happening, and for the first time in a while I felt truly good about myself.

That good feeling was short-lived. My parents, who I had to live with after moving back from London, we’re still finding my transition very hard to deal with. On a weekly basis I’d be told just how ashamed they were of me, and that my transition was the worst thing that had ever happened to them (to put things in perspective, my mum is a breast cancer survivor). Being told that you are essentially worse than cancer, by your own parents, is a horrible feeling that I can’t even describe. It made me contemplate quitting my hormones and just give up on being myself. I’d always considered myself a selfless person, who would do anything for the people I cared about. And knowing that I was inflicting so much pain was unbearable. I felt that I’d achieved so much with my degree and taking the hormones, but that ecstasy was replaced by a deep shame. And during this time I had very few people to turn to – my old ‘friends’ didn’t want to know me, and I had no family I felt that I could turn to. I only had one local friend who could never understand what I was going through but offered her sympathy nonetheless. Occasional Skype conversations with TMW journalist and new friend Paris Lees (who helped me get set up in London) was the only other contact that I had.

Because of this depression, I stopped paying any attention to myself and any changes that were happening. For quite some time, I felt isolated and useless. I had been applying for jobs and hearing nothing back, and almost considered taking my parents advice of going to any potential interview as a male. Thankfully I didn’t do that and despite everything kept true to myself, and guess what? It paid off!

Towards the end of September, I got a job interview at M&S Money in Chester. I went as myself…and didn’t get the job. But a week later I was offered another interview, with M&S but with the retail side. I went to the interview feeling fairly confident but expecting my trans identity to get in the way. A week later, I got the call confirming I got the job!

Getting a job alone is good enough in Cameron’s Britain, but getting it as a transwoman was an even bigger achievement. More importantly, it proved to my parents that I could make it in the real world despite being trans. A few weeks later my mum admitted this, and even believed that i probably wouldn’t have got the job had I gone for it as a male, because I would have lacked the confidence needed. The job turned out to be not exactly suited to me – I learned the hard way that customers can be vile people if they want. Every day someone would call in about the most inane thing and demand the world in return. Complaints include; the Christmas advert featuring homosexuals, demanding a £30 gift card for waiting in line on Christmas eve, being mad that you can’t return a 16 year old jumper that has shrank in the tumble dryer, a pack of nuts having too many nuts, a store being sold out of a particular item that the customer hated, that the 10p bags for life were 1 inch too small (this particular lady wanted to stay on the line whilst she expected me to speak to the suppliers and get them changed on the spot), the hand driers being Japanese and, on my last day, a woman who was furious that her out of date chicken had gone mouldy. I left that job in March.

When I started my job, despite not enjoying it, things finally started to turn around for me. Just a few days after I began, my friend found a decent house with cheap rent, and we moved in November. My parents, having realised that I could succeed as a transwoman, became more openly supportive, along with my brother. And with everything going well, I could get back to noticing changes within myself because of oestrogen (I know, I haven’t spoke about it in an age!).

For a while, I usually wore a rather poorly-fitted bra to make myself feel more feminine. By December, I realised I was starting to get bigger in the chest department, and would need a bra that would actually be useful. My breasts had stopped being majorly painful, and started taking shape. My nipples had also changed in appearance, being more female in appearance than the flater male nipple I was used to. I soon went bra shopping, which is a trivial action but felt like a milestone to me. I felt like I was becoming more of who I was supposed to be, and more valid as a woman. I bought two – one padded and one not – in a 36A. It was a small size, but it was certainly a step in the right direction.

It was a few days before Christmas when I had my first appointment at Charing Cross. I was surprised to find out that the hospital isn’t in Charing Cross, but in Hammersmith. Not only that, but the main Gender Identity Clinic in the UK is located above a Sainsbury’s (a fact that I found out from a pre-Big Brother Luke Anderson). My meeting with the doctor lasted an hour, but admittedly it felt rather dull and pointless. I was asked the same questions doctors all over Wales had asked me – when did I realise I was female, when did I first wear female clothes, etc. I understood that I needed this appointment, and they needed to be sure I was trans, but it felt like yet another hoop that I had to jump through, as though I was a performing dog. I felt like everything I said was being scrutinised (I probably was). At the end of the session, my next appointment was scheduled for June 14th. It was that appointment I was sure things would really start going my way, and that the NHS would start helping me. I started counting down the days.

In between the appointments, I had noticed more subtle changes in my appearance, thanks to the wonders of oestrogen. My face had started to take a more feminine appearance by itself. On top of that, even the way I walked was changing. I felt like I could walk more like a woman, and less like an oaf. With an ever improving relationship with my parents, I felt even more confident than ever. I left my job at M&S Retail Customer Services, and went over to deal with PPI complaints at M&S Money, where I am to this day. It pays better, and I don’t get yelled at on a daily basis. I love it.

It’s the past month, where it’s come to my first year anniversary of oestrogen, where I’ve really noticed just how different I’ve become. I had my second appointment at Charing Cross, with the rather awesome Dr Barrett (who reminds me of David Mitchell). I was prescribed my hormones at long last (so I no longer had to buy from Hong Kong), along with an anti-androgen, an implant called Zoladex. The actual injection was much less painful than I expected, but I felt its effects almost instantly. For the first few weeks it increased testosterone production, so I had to take a blocker. It was horrible. It would make me feel all tired and depressed. I now no longer have to take it as the Zoladex is now working properly. I can feel there being less testosterone in my system, which feels kinda euphoric.

I recently got bored one day and decided to get an actual bra fitting at M&S, literally just as a spur of the moment kinda thing. After being measured, it turned out my boobs had actually become much bigger than I’d expected. It turns out they now stand at a rather impressive 36C, and when you consider that’s after only a year on hormones, that’s rather good if I don’t say so myself.

Which now brings me to the present. With my testosterone levels dropping quickly, I’m expecting bigger changes (ie bigger tits). Combined with my forthcoming move to London, I feel like I have much to look forward to. The past year has been eventful for me, with so many changes both socially and physically. Things are only going to get better, as far as I’m concerned.

Before:

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After:

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