Sunday, 30 December 2012

Do I have to say sorry?

Yesterday I did a bit of link clicking and found this blog entry by John Scalzi.  In which he talks about why he tries to be supportive of transfolk.

I think it's a great piece to read, there are lots of home truths in there - even though when it comes to the transition itself I am aware that I have been so lucky and fortunate that it has gone so well for me, so far, that I can't comment on how hard it can be.

But the other points are still valid, the issues in your head and the pain that you go through to reach transition.  The fear of the unknown, and the expectation that your world is going to fall apart.

This is the last paragraph, and I think that it sums everything up quite well:

Indeed, in a general sense “I want you to be happy” covers most of my response to the variation of human identity experience at this point. Is what you’re doing making you a happier and better person? Is what you’re doing hurting anyone else? If the answers are “yes” and “no,” respectively, then not only am I fine with what you’re doing, the fact of the matter is that my approval or consent should be entirely immaterial. Be the person you are.

But there is one sentence in there that bites me.  It shouldn't have to be that way either:

I also readily admit to being a work in progress on trans matters. I occasionally flub the gender of the transfolk I know, which I feel bad about because even if it’s unintentional it’s still a poke, and like a lot of folks, there are probably times when I step in it and don’t know until later.

There is a bit of a paradox here for me.  If you feel bad about it then you shouldn't feel bad about it.  It's a mistake, it happens.

On the last night when my parents were here my dad, whilst tired, sleepy and making bed time drinks for everyone (I don't know why, but it has always been his job and whether in Holland or Scotland it still is...) he got a pronoun wrong.  I can't remember it exactly.  Probably 'sunshine', which they no longer call me - sunshine has always been for their sons.  These days it 'chick' - Leicester term of endearment for a daughter, niece etc.  Anyway I digress!

What I can remember is just how much he was beating himself up over it, and how much I really didn't want him to! I felt bad about him feeling bad (not that I want him to not feel bad because it causes me to feel bad as well).

No, the point is that it was a mistake.  They had a son for 35 1/2 years (wow I feel old!) they have been beyond supportive in the transition, hell they called me Stacy on the phone before I transitioned, as far as they were concerned they had a daughter.  They have no reason at all to feel bad about anything to do with my transition!

I told him this, it didn't help.  So I told him about the 'Shame Sheet' that we had in the office.  I work with jokers, and so when I transitioned someone cleared a quarter of the whiteboard in our office and made a list for when people got it wrong.

I insisted that my name was on the list too (I had also had 35+ years of being him and when doing things like introducing yourself or signing an email you can go onto auto pilot).  I think that it helped them to know that mistakes can happen even to the person going through the transition.

Anyway, my dad was also a little shocked at this, and that I had two marks against my name in the first week (both signing emails, and both caught before I clicked send, but still).  But knowing that did make him feel better.

I'm not saying that people shouldn't try.  They should, it's common decency - just like trying to get the new guy or gals name right when they start at a new job.

But if you are trying then you have already got there, as far as I am concerned.  You are trying, you are doing your best.  There is nothing more that you can do, and I think that should be the important bit.

Of course if you are not trying and deliberately getting it wrong then that is something else entirely.  But, thankfully, that is something that I have yet to come across!

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Turkey, presents and family!

Wow, a flying 4 days! What is it that they say when you are having fun?

At the end of last week we were in a real tiz, running around trying to get the house ready for my parents coming to visit.  Clearing the “guest room” (where we put stuff that we don’t want to put in the attic) and generally trying to make the house pass the mother test J (To be fair she is not that bad! But it doesn’t stop you worrying does it?)

Once we had the house finished we still needed to wrap the presents, which takes an age. We use adverts from magazines for wrapping rather than just buying wrapping paper. It’s amazing how good you can make presents look this way, and also amazing how much longer it takes to actually do the wrapping!

But, we got everything done with 30 minutes to spare before we had to leave and pick up my parents from the airport.  Phew.  We made a cup of tea and sat down to relax, I checked the Schiphol site to make sure their plane wasn’t late and… Shit! They land in 2 minutes, ½ hour early!

Quickly throw the tea down our throats and jump into the car.  Now, we live close enough so that we can make it arrivals at the same time as a passenger if we leave the house at the same point as when the plane lands – but it is close!  We got to the airport arrivals about 20 seconds before they came through.  Timing J

Obviously there was a lot of catching up that first evening, we did a gourmet for dinner and spent a few hours cooking little bits of meat, drinking wine, chatting.  My parents had plane tickets where they could bring a suitcase each. Which they did not need for just 4 days visiting. And so it was packed for us, with things which are really difficult to find in Holland.

Christmas Eve was spent getting the last bits for Christmas dinner – the turkey from the butchers, bread and nibbles for the evening etc.

And then Christmas Day itself J  Me and my mum love Christmas day, something that we get from her dad, as he always used to love it too.

We got up, and had a traditional Dutch (I think) Christmas breakfast – Stolen, croissants and other small rolls with cheese, jam and hagelslag (sorry there is not a translation for that, chocolate sprinkles are the closest but they are not even close in flavour!).

Then we started Christmas dinner.  Prepare the turkey, vegetables, other meats and stuffing.  Make some batter for Yorkshire puddings, prepare two lots of potatoes for roast and mashed and finally wrap some asparagus tips in bacon.  Lovely…

After that we started to open some presents, whilst our present to my parents was their plane tickets we couldn’t not have them with something to open Christmas morning so we got them a couple of books each and something silly. My mum was not happy that we had spent more money on them...  I really wanted to get my dad an airfix Spitfire (seeing as he is rebuilding the real thing for me J), but we couldn’t find one…  So we got him a little radio control race care instead.  And when we went to the Christmas market we got my mum a couple of angel elephants.

We got through about half of the presents and then it was time to put the vegetables to on to cook, and to get the starter prepared.  So we all chipped in (it was great cooking with my mum again!) and sat down for the starter.

Afterwards I was given the job of carving the turkey (I don’t know why, I’ve never done it before and have no idea how to!) and after ruining one side my mum took over and showed me how to do it…

After the meal we opened the rest of the presents.  I had one gift that I knew about from Mrs Stace – a box of NYX Smokey Eye colours. I am boring when it comes to eye make-up.  I have two combinations that I wear; either dark brown or grey and then a beige tint.  I’d love to experiment, but don’t want to spend 5 euros per colour only to find I don’t like them.  But, a box of colours where I can try lots of combinations and then pick the ones I like best seemed liked a good idea.

And… She got me something that I wanted a few years ago but we couldn’t find! You see a couple of years ago there was a poll by Mattel to pick Barbie’s new career.  Some geeks managed to rig the poll and software engineer it was J But we never saw them in the shops; until this year when Mrs Stace spotted one!

So, 36 years old and I have my first doll!  With a laptop, smartphone, laptop case and Bluetooth headset.  I’m trying to work out whether or not to take it into the office and keep it on my desk, or whether to keep it in the study here.  But I love it J

I got Mrs Stace lots of Mayan chocolate from Mexico.  Chilli chocolate, normal dark chocolate, a special edition made for the end of the world (or to enjoy should it not happen – actually Mrs Stace said I should have given her that one before the 21st to enjoy, just in case…

And of course we got each other some jewellery, and bits and bobs.  It was wonderful watching her open her presents, and my parents open theirs.  And I imagine that they enjoyed watching me open mine as well J

All in all it was a great day, a wonderful visit and it was all I could do not to cry when they left to go through to the departure lounge. Or now whilst I’m typing this…

An absolutely wonderful Christmas J  

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Merry Christmas

OK...  I'm hypocritical, I'll admit it.  I am not religious (agonistic - I have no idea...) but I adore Christmas.  More the Victorian Christmas I suppose - peace on earth, good will to all etc.

Anyway, this year I get to spend it with my parents for the first time in 9 years.  I plan to enjoy it a lot!  I pick them up from the airport later today (and I'm so excited!  I can't wait!), so expect it to be quiet around here for the time being :)

Anyway, whatever you celebrate, I hope you have a wonderful time with your nearest and dearest!

Friday, 21 December 2012

You are my MUSE!

Christmas is nearly here, and back in the summer Mrs Stace and I treated ourselves to our first joint Christmas present.  An evening watching a little known band from Teignmouth.  Apparently they were recently voted the best band in the world by Q magazine.  Not that we are biased, owning all of their albums, but I would have to agree.

So Monday evening we went for a gourmet meal (at BK – for the first time in years and probably the last time for years too!) and joined the other 17000 people or so trying to get in. The organisation was actually very good though, and it wasn’t raining!  So inside of 20 minutes or so we were inside, and trying to decide where we were going to stand.  Too close and deafen ourselves, or too far away and not see anything.

We got a place, and waited for the opening act (and waited, and waited).  Andy Burrows came and did his set of about 30 minutes or so and then the stage hands started preparing the stage for the main act.

In an age where everything is controlled by computer I was amazed to see 4 people still being hoisted up to control the 4 lights for each of the members.

15 minutes later the lights came down and the title track of their new album blasts from the speakers, red lights and mist fills the stage and the crowd starts to go mad.

Out come the guys and the concert starts for real.


Just Wow…

Old and new songs played next to each other, sounding just as amazing as I was hoping for!

Then, the centre piece of the stage came to life!  An inverted pyramid drops from the ceiling, made from 4 or 5 different levels, and each one a TV screen.  And then a monster starts dancing on it.  Surreal, but stunning.

Then a few songs later the light shows started:

We spent the evening jumping, waving, dancing and of course being bathed in the sweat of those other 17000 people.  But it was so worth it!

Here are the people waiting for the encore replacing lighters with the flashes from mobile phones.

Assuming you are a fan of Space Rock I could not recommend seeing them enough - a great night, and quite cheap for such a concert too!

Something I have always wanted to know.  Just what does it feel like to stand on the stage and see all of those people there to watch you play your music, and have almost off of them jumping to your songs?

And there was no ban on cameras, as you may have noticed J At one stage I stopped taking photos as all I could see were camera phones pointing at the stage, really I should have taken one as it was a great sight.

And speaking of cameras…

I still need to do a review of the little camera that I bought for the Christmas market trip at the start of December – these shots were all taken holding the camera above my head and hoping for the best! (Without a flash obviously

Thursday, 20 December 2012

A compliment, a piece of good news and an embarrassing situation

Just a quick post about a few incidents from yesterday...

The first was in the office. Due to an issue we had recently a couple of external visitors were in to try and assure that a problem we had would not happen again.  We offered them a coffee or tea (we have a great espresso machine in the office since a couple of months ago - real espresso from freshly ground beans), but one of them wanted hot chocolate.  Something our old machine did, but the new one can't.

So I went to our car insurance help desk to use one of the old machines. There was a woman on a trip for coffee for lots of people and as I was trying to get a drink for an external visitor I asked if I could possibly get a couple of hot chocolates in between cups (something I wouldn't normally do, but I did not want to keep the visitors waiting).

Anyway, whilst I was getting my chocolate she turned to me and said, "I just have to tell you, you always dress so nice and look so good!  Seriously, I know a lot of women who could learn from you." Comments like that really give me a boost (something that I really need just before meetings with external people!)

Later on in the day I had to call our town hall to check that my name change form last week had gone through OK.  The local town hall needs legalized documents for name changes and this took some organising from the UK foreign office.  Once done though I can get my new drivers license and residency permit - with new picture, name and gender marker.  On the phone I was told, "Yes, it's all arranged.  You can get apply for your license tomorrow if you want."  OK, so the name is now Stacy and the gender female? "Yes, it's all in the system."

Woohoo!  That is something I was expecting to be difficult as Holland has different laws than the UK for these things, but it seems they will accept a UK passport to change things.  Another task ticked off!

And finally...  The embarrassment.

In a couple of weekends I start laser in preparation for surgery.  I know it's needed, but I am so not looking forward to it!

I do have a prescription for local aesthetic cream, and after work I went to get it.

The chemists was empty when it was my turn.  Happy face.  I gave her the prescription and she went away.  For a long time.  Three people showed up in the mean time.  She came back.  And started asking questions about the why and where it was going to be used so that they could give me the correct bottles.  Unhappy face.  Now I know that she was really trying to be helpful, but there was no way I could have answered her in such a crowded public place :(  I told her that and with nice vague answers we managed to get to a solution.  But, wow, was it difficult :)

Oh well, as the Dutch saying goes "Het hoort erbij!" :)

Monday, 17 December 2012

Amazing, wonderful, fantastic colleagues!

Well… Wow…

As I wrote last week it has been (now a little longer than) a year since I transitioned. I got everyone in my close(ish) group breakfast pastries last week, on the anniversary of telling people, to thank them for all of the support over the last year.  I’ve said it before, and will again, it would not have been anywhere near as easy as it has been without their support!

I spent the day speaking with people and finding out that the people who have started during the year never actually knew that I was transsexual – double woohoo; they didn’t see anyone except for Stacy and no one has been gossiping J There was only one downer from the conversations, and that was the one person who did say, “Oh I didn’t know!” during a conversation where the fact that it was a year came up (I was not present at that time, “But now you say it, yes I can see”.  Jammer, but never mind!

Then the day of 1 year living as Stacy came and I didn’t do anything special, living as me has been special enough as it is.

Half way through the day our DBA came and ask my boss for a quick word and they disappeared from the room.  Now I know that he wasn’t feeling well last week, so I just thought it was that.  Then suddenly there was a huge commotion in the hallway, with people starting to sing ‘Lang zal ze leven!’  I just assumed it was someone’s birthday (I can be rather stupid at times!), but then the whole department of development and projects came into the room and surrounded my desk.  My turn for the bowling ball eyes I think!  Something that I was just so not expecting J

My boss gave a little speech about what happened twelve months ago, and gave me a birthday card, with 1 on it of course, and a gift voucher for The Body Shop.  Wow…  Apparently on Monday evening someone in the team noticed that it was 12 months, went and spoke to my boss and they organised a collection and card for me.

I had to give a little speech of course, basically saying what I said above.  And, I’m ashamed to say it, ended up chocked up and could not finish – so my boss finished for me.

The words in the cards were wonderful, a little message from many of my colleagues.  My two favourite were (maybe paraphrased as the card is at home J):

“A year already? I hadn’t noticed; probably because you did it so well that there was nothing to notice; you’re still you!”

“You’ve grown so much in the last year, and are so happy.  And you’re not even (that much) more bitchy than you used to be”

Thinking back still brings a huge smile to my face.  I was gobsmacked, completely!

BTW Did I mention that I work with some absolutely amazing people!

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Accidentally Outing Myself... Oops

As I wrote yesterday, today marks 12 months since I told the people at work that as of the following day I would be living, and so working, as Stacy.

Also, as I wrote yesterday, the people have been really supportive.

So...  Today I bought breakfast in for everyone who works on my floor, and in my wing of the building.  Croissants (plain + cheese), pain au chocolate, Dutch egg cookies, fruit teacakes and a large Stollen.  I sent a mail to everyone saying thank you and letting them know where they could find the food.

And so a steady stream of people came to congratulate me on making a year (I don't know how many times I have told someone - today, and the breakfast, is about me saying thank you more than celebrating making it 12 months - but thanks!) and taking food.

And then marketing arrived en mass...  And apparently I have just outed myself to the new members of the team. One of the women who started in the last 12 months was really confused by the mail, what news?  What support?  And so someone told her what the mail was about.

Apparently she had no idea.  I said thank you to her well :)  That kind of thing can really make your day!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

12 Months

There are a few stories to tell at the moment, “fun” stories about documentation and about life in general.

But I couldn’t let this week go by without another timeline post.

And so it is…  12 months ago, a Sunday evening, and a very stressed me climbing the walls in fear.  I was two days from going full time and one day from informing everyone in my life about what was going on.

I was trying to figure out what on earth was I going to wear for the first day, such a shallow question, and yet at the time so very important.

Just how was I going to break the news to my team?  And, assuming I came up with a plan what were the chances that it would remain in place once I got into the room with them.  Would I managed to hold myself together long enough to tell people?  Would I just be a nervous wreck and not have the ability to tell them.

How would they react?  Would they laugh?  Call me insane? Or worse?  Would they still be talking to me, and would I be able to keep their respect?

And once that challenge was done…  The department meeting where my boss would tell everyone. I was not sure what his plan was, although I had every faith that he would do it well; but it was still an unknown.   And again, 30 people finding out in one go! Shock? Fear? Ridicule?  Ug!

And finally (professionally at least!) the whole company.  Finding out in drips and drabs as we are a service company and it’s just not feasible to close down the phones to tell all 160 people in one go.  And many of these are not people that I know personally.  How are people who do not know me going to react?

And of course, finding out is one thing – but what would they do when they saw me for the first time.  It’s one thing to hear about something, quite another to see someone for the first time.

Well, as you know it all went really very well.

My team took it in their stride, shock of course, but with a lot of understanding and a lot of support.

The department meeting went very well.  Tomorrow we will have a new team leader Stacy will be joining us for the running of [old name]’s team. Obviously he put more into it than that, but I’ll be honest my head was spinning that much that I can’t remember all of it.  I do quite clearly remember someone asking, “But what will [old name] be doing?”  That is when I joined in, “Err… I’ll be Stacy” Cue lots of ‘er?’ faces and slow realization.  The rest of the day was spent with people coming to my desk to congratulate me on the decision and to wish me luck.

And the company?  Well, lots of emails, obviously.  All of them positive and offering support. And as we had a company initiative to write cards for people and putting them in the Christmas tree.  And I got loads! I cannot tell you how much of a difference it makes to know that the people you work with are so much with you!

12 months ago.  Seems like years, seems like yesterday.  One of the scariest days of my life, one of the best.  One of the strangest years!  And definitely the best!

And I could not have done it without all of the help that I have had, from friends, family, the VU hospital, the company I work for and all of my colleagues.

Thank you all!

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Three years ago today...

Three years ago today I had a massive panic attack and ended up telling Mrs Stace everything

As a result we talked all night and she sent me to the doctor, who sent me to the VU

It's strange to look back now.  It's only three years ago, and yet it seems like a lifetime.

In the mean time I have fallen apart (the three or four months after) and gotten myself together again

I have had 2 1/2 years of therapy leading to the conclusion that I needed to transition

I have had several firsts, first time out as me, first time meeting my boss and friends etc.
And I managed to get through them unscathed :)

I have transitioned at home and work.

I have had 9 months of anti-androgen and 6 months of hormones

I have started, and finished, speech therapy

I am a different person, and yet still the old me in many ways

I am me :)

I am so much happier in life!

What on earth are the next three years going to bring?!

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

OK I’ll admit it, I adore Christmas.  Or rather I love our romanticized Victorian and Dickensian interpretation of Christmas.  Peace on earth, goodwill to all and the chance to make your living room chintzy without feeling too guilty about it!  And of course buying those special people in your life something special.

Mrs Stace feels the same way and that is why at the weekend we drove down to Cologne for a day wondering around the markets (they have 7 there!) drinking mulled wine, eating wonderful German outdoor food (bratwurst, weird little potato cakes that drip fat as they are freshly fried, and pork on a stick – a meter of port BBQ’d on a stick that is!).  And, yes, I have done another 10KM today to try and make up for it!

The journey there was fairly pleasant, the motorways in Holland were clear, and the autobahns were clear enough get there a little earlier than planned (even if not clear enough to see what the new car can do L).  We got to the hotel too early to check in so we left our luggage with the concierge and went into the bitter cold to go looking for the first market.

Wow…  Busy…  Of course considering that it was the first weekend of the market it should have been expected, but there were places where you just couldn’t walk!  Still, the general atmosphere was good and we took a quick look at the first 3 markets before moving onto the 4th (and the furthest away from the hotel, we though) and starting to really take a look.  Whilst the atmosphere at this market, in the harbor, was not the best – the stalls were just white tents with no decoration – the goods that they had there were really interesting.

From little cats, to collections of baubles and a stall that sold little branches and trunks hollowed out with little windows.  You put a tea light in the hollowed out bit and get the shadow of whatever is in the little window.

We walked back through two smaller markets, starting with the mulled wine and food at the same time J, and got some more knickknacks for home, and a couple of gifts for family.  A few of the stalls had some great little tea light holders.  An opaque glass, with a smaller painted glass in the middle.  When you light the tea light the picture is projected onto the opaque surface, and jumps around as the flame flickers.  Really cute.  So a couple of those came back with us.  They are really difficult to photograph, so sorry for the awful pictures below J

A bit more wandering and we decided that we needed a break.  So a walk back to the hotel to see if our room was ready (it was) and if we could get the keys (we could).  The room was gorgeous, and we collapsed on the bed for a quick rest. Well, it was supposed to.  I fell asleep L I had been on the go for 10 hours at the time, and had driven 300km’s.  Well that is my excuse and I am keeping to it!

One rest later and we were on the way again, it had got much colder!  We walked to the angels market (quite a distance from the hotel) and it was definitely worth the walk! More mulled wine, more fried potato and more interesting stalls! There was one double sized stall that was so popular that it had a queue to get in!  But it was worth it, the decorations there were really well made, and had price to match, but there was a nativity scene that was just too cute not to buy.  I picked up one of the figurines and changed my mind!  Until I realised it was the cost of the set, and not the single figure J

We finished there and stopped for a non-mulled wine drink (there are times when you just need something normal!) in a café before walking back to the other markets to see what they were like at night.

And got distracted by a department store.  I miss department stores.  When I was growing up Lewis’ always made an effort for the Christmas window displays, and I was always so excited to see what they had done for the grotto…  And we past one that had done exactly that!

After a brief detour, and getting lost in the store, or rather getting lost trying to get out, we continued on our way.  The first one did not disappoint with the lights and decorations.

And the wooden sculptures that they had there were beautifully illuminated, making them very impressive

And then back to the Dom Market, in the shadow of the cathedral!  Ultra busy, lots of lights and really nice to walk around.  The only problem was that by this point we had been on the go for a long time and the cold was really starting to get to me (it took me an hour after getting back to the hotel room to stop shivering, Mrs Stace was getting a little (quite) concerned) so we stopped for more BBQ’d food - a meter of port on a skewer each, really nice!  I can say that Germans know how to make good outdoor food!

(Oh, and on a side note - I treated myself to a Sony RX100 camera for the trip.  As close to a DSLR whilst still being ultra compact as you can get, none of shots used a flash!  I'll do a mini review at some point I think)

A wonderful day out, and a really nice hotel to recover in at the end of it.  The next morning was wet and miserable, and I felt sorry for the people arriving to do the markets in that weather!  We jumped in the car after a too large breakfast (on holiday you have to don’t you!) and drove back home.

And of course…  Spending hours the day before in the markets really got us in the mood so once we had lunch I started baking mince pies from the mincemeat I made at the start of November and we put our tree and decorations up.  Ahhh…..

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Pleasantly Surprised...

I was reading a technology news site today and came across a gutter press story about a Belgian man who found out that his wife was cheating on him.

It turned out that she is also transsexual, something that she didn't tell him.

The story is not a good read, and really is gutter press. But I was drawn to the comments section...

Against my expectations the comments there were actually very reasonable and thought out.  For the most part, there are of course the obligatory Neanderthals in there. 

I was pleasantly surprised...

You can find the story here, the link to the comments is at the bottom.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

That would certainly help...

I just had a wonderful off the cuff complement from a colleague who works in a different department.

I was microwaving milk for my coffee, and standing eating morning ontbijtkoek (sorry, I have no what it is in English, kind of a spiced cake) and she walked up and said (my poor translation coming up, sorry!):

I think it's fantastic that you still radiate happiness, since the first day of your transformation you have looked so happy it's been wonderful.  And that you still do now, congratulations!

Considering my last post this was such a welcome compliment, I have such a smile on my face at the moment :)

Sunday, 25 November 2012

If someone sees my self-confidence can you tell her I’ve been looking for her?

 I can’t wait for next week to start…

Considering how good my week has been in most respects, the only thing that I remember is how awful I have felt myself… And it’s not fun.

I am going to stick with blaming the extra testosterone for now I think, as it’s still the only change in my life in the last week, and I can imagine that it’s not a case of taking two tablets a day instantly going to back the old levels.  That the remaining testosterone has to be worked out of my system first.

So what was / is so wrong?  I have stopped feeling myself, and it has scared me terribly. I have been panicking again when leaving the house. I’ve started to feel that people are staring at me.

And, hopefully that is also the cause, I have lost myself in the mirror again. After being so happy at finding myself in the mirror losing it again was just plain scary.  It is, I am pleased to add, starting to come back again – I saw me when drying my hair after my shower this afternoon.

My concentration at work has been terrible this week as well.  The rush things where you don’t have time to think are fine, but as soon as they are done I am struggling to pick up the next thing on my list when it is not urgent.

Who would have thought that 50mg per day less androcur would cause so many problems?

After being tipped off for the documentary about the transsexual beauty queen that was on BBC I ended up seeing it yesterday.  And spent an hour choking back tears trying not to cry.  I failed.

You see whilst I have never wanted to take part in a beauty pageant – or breast augmentation – the rest of her story rang so true for me.  How I felt when I was 4 or 5.  How I felt when puberty hit and I knew what the outcome would be.  I started to wonder how different my life would have been if I had had the nerve to have said something to my parents when I was that age.  Actually, that has been on my mind a lot in the last week (also down to the testosterone maybe?).  Would I have loved to have grown up a girl and into a young woman?  Oh my, yes! Am I glad that I am at least the woman I need to be at 36? Again, oh my, yes! Would I be prepared to have forgone my life to date to have done it earlier?  No.  Really, really not.  But it is a paradox that has also had me in tears this week when I was discussing it with my mum on the phone.

The one sentence that really got me going is when she was in tears saying, “I just don’t want people to laugh at me.”  I well up typing it. Over the last week it’s been plaguing me again, it had stopped months ago, and it isn’t a welcome return as you can imagine. It’s something that really plagued me when I first stepped into the work as Stacy.  Hopefully it’s going to die down again now.

All in all though I was really impressed with the documentary.  For once I didn’t see the sensationalism UK documentary, I saw a fly on the wall documentary.  It’s a big difference between Holland and the UK – here most documentaries here are very fairly done, documenting the journey that a person is making.  Most of the ones that I see in the UK always seem to have an angle, and not just on transsexuals, but other subjects too.

Right, let’s try an end on something that is making me happy…

After about a month of exercise I am now up to 8.4km per run, and doing it at 9.4kmph. And running 5 times in two weeks. I used to do the 5km Hilversum run for the company I work for, this year I was not ready to be seen sweaty and disheveled by so many people so I didn’t take part.  I’m thinking that next year I may do the 10KM though.  If I am up to 8.4 now then by April I should be ready for a 10km competition J

That said today’s run was really hard, and I can’t say that I enjoyed most of it, but the satisfaction of getting to the end certainly made it worth it!  It was cold, grey, windy and miserable.  But with headphones on my ears (bringing triple benefits of music, audio coaching for the run and keeping my ears warm and out of the wind!) and with layers on to keep warm at the start I set off!

For most of the run the wind was tempered somewhat by the houses as I run through the neighborhood.  In fact the only road where the wind was channeled was behind me, and it meant that I had to try and stop myself being pushed forward too much.  But then at the end I ran past a lake and suddenly I’m being blown sideways, my feet are being blown into each other almost tripping me up.  Then, for the last stretch (had to be didn’t it) my heart beat was up to 166bpm and I was barely moving.  Each time both feet were off of the ground I stopped and almost went backwards.  I was so happy when I got home! J

Right, relax then time to make pizza!  Mrs Stace is going out with a fiend this evening and as they are in a bit of a rush we are making some pizzas for Sunday dinner.  One chicken pesto, one ham and mushroom and one creamy bacon!

Sorry for the randomness of the post, but it was actually great to write (and was the original reason for starting the blog!)

Hmm, I think I almost see someone who has been missing for a week now, hopefully she’s coming back to stay! J

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Hmmm... That wasn't in my plan...

A little more than a week after my very, very happy post about the VU and I was back there again in not so happy circumstances.

The endocrinologist asked me how I was feeling last time and I said I was tired, but wasn't sure if it was just the stress from work at the moment.  He looked at my last blood test and said that  my testosterone was very low, in fact it was to low to measure, and that could be a cause and halved my androcur.

Over the last 9 days though I have been getting more and more stressed, and I've been so irritable and argumentative at times that I just thought something wasn't going well. I hadn't felt that way for quite some time, and didn't like the me that I was when I was feeling like that.

Last night I was travelling in rush hour traffic and at the end of the journey I was so stressed I should have been called Eric :)  Even sitting still in the dark car when I reached my destination for 5 minutes doing a breathing exercise did nothing to help, and I went in a instead used 4 glasses of wine.  Not good.

And this morning I was climbing the walls in the office even before my first cup of coffee - even two of my colleagues noticed and asked what was wrong.  The only thing I could think of, and the one I didn't want to blame as I thought it sounded stupid, was the change to the medication.

But...  I called the VU and they managed to get me an appointment with the endocrinologist on the same day (something that I was not expecting).  I went in this afternoon, told her what was going on with me.  She asked about some other symptoms (and guessed the ones I had correctly) told me I wasn't being stupid for getting an appointment and put me back on my old dose.

So, as of tomorrow I'm back on two tablets twice a day - I just hope they don't take too long to kick in again!

Not on my plan of things for today! I had to cancel and move meetings and appointments with my boss to make the appointment at the VU, but I guess it will be worth it! Hopefully my work will pick again as well, that has suffered the last couple of days :(

But...  Always end on a high note if you can.  When the guys asked me this morning what was wrong and I told them what I thought it was and how I was feeling one said 'Yup, testosterone will do that too you!"

"Well, you can bloody keep it then!"

So the other answered: "Hey, hey!!!!! Calm down - chill honey bunny!"  It made me laugh anyway, which I needed at the time :)

Monday, 19 November 2012

Older, Wiser… Or just less Testosterone?

I’ve always been really careful about what to attribute to hormones, or rather changes in hormonal levels.  When I get tired I try to push through it and think about stress levels (even though the Endocrinologist disagreed and did say testosterone levels that are not measurable can do that to a person…) and whether I may have been pushing myself too hard (also quite likely).

Since starting on hormones I have been more emotional, that much I can’t deny, but I have not had any rollercoaster rides.

And yet…  Something happened this week to make me question whether they could be having an effect.

Grand Theft Auto V is due for release next year.  I have brought every installment since GTA III, and I find it quite good fun.  I know that there are lots of thoughts about whether violent computer games should be allowed, and my opinion is that as long as the age on the game is stuck to then I have no issues – never after playing have I felt the need to put it into real life (just the same as whenever I played cops and robbers as children we never felt the need to go out and hold up the corner shop afterwards).  If parents choose to buy their 6 year old children 18 games then the parents are at fault, not the games makers.

But I digress…

There was a trailer for GTA V this week, and I was looking forward to it.  But…  After watching the trailer I can say that I won’t be buying the game – I was actually shocked and almost turned the video off half way through.  The reason was one scene that just didn’t seem cartoony computer game violence and just came across as so real that it’s something I don’t want to do for fun.

And there is my question.  Am I older, and so not growing out of those types of games?  I am hesitant to say wiser, as I won’t complain if anyone else buys it (I know half of the office will have it on pre-order – good for them J).  Or is it down to a change in hormones, I’m wondering?

I’m really not sure…

Mrs Stace did at least joke that she saw one advantage for the process though…

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Questions about myself

I was catching up on blogs over the weekend and I found this from Lynn.  She has kindly asked for me to provide some answers as well. I thought it sounded interesting, and as I was struggling for a topic today I did it straight away!  Sorry if they are long winded J

AWARENESS: When did you first feel trans? How did it make you feel? Did you embrace or run from it?
I want to say I knew I should have been a girl right from my earliest memories. But I’m not sure that saying I should have been a girl is the right way to put it.  I so desperately wanted to be a girl, and I wished for it so badly, and was always so disappointed when nothing happened (hey I was very young, you can believe in wishes at that time!).  I never did understand why I wasn’t one throughout my childhood.

Did I embrace it?  That is a tough one to answer.  When playing on my own I was always the girl I wanted to be, and when playing with my female cousins I never complained about playing with their dolls and toys.

Me and my female cousins also put on plays for the adults (as kids do) and I always made sure that I dressed up as a girl when we did.

I had a few girlfriends when young (which the adults thought was ever so cute), and spent time after school with them baking with their mothers or playing with them whilst on holiay.  My male friends thought it was funny and made fun of me for it, though at that time I didn’t care.

But when playing at home in the same room as my parents, or with friends or my brother I hid it as well as I could.

Does that count as both embracing and running?  I’m not sure.

ADOLESCENT COPING: How did you cope with growing up? What about puberty? How was school, or teenage life?
People say that they would love to go back their teenage years.  I really, really wouldn’t.  It was hell – from the bullying at and after school to the fact that I was growing up and going through puberty which brought home the fact that I was going to lose the frame that I had and become man.  When my shoe size went above 5 (and yes, I know now that I have it very lucky with my frame – but at the time…) and my legs started to get quite hairy I really got upset over it.

I didn’t feel a connection with many people and outside of a small group of friends became somewhat of a loner. I started to get really emotional about things (which didn’t help the bullying obviously, it was somewhat of a game to see just how much they could make me cry).  The teachers in my school were zero help; they just told me man up and ignore the bullying and stop crying. Until I did something back to the bullies and then I was again told I should just ignore them and punished for rising to them.

I do not have pleasant memories of that school.

My parents were great, but really didn’t get the fact that I was crying so much and, for my own sake, I really did need to stop crying because it’s something that boys just don’t do.  But, they gave me a huge amount of support through school, both for academic things (ensuring I studied when I should and that I took time out when I should) and when I was bullied.  The teachers may have ignored it completely but they never did, and did their best to stop it.

As for the dressing, well whilst I knew something was wrong all of my life, it was not until I was a teenager that I started to dress (except for the play clothes as a youngster).  Quite how it can feel so right, and yet so guilty at the same time is strange.

EARLY LIFE/ UNIVERSITY / COLLEGE: Having grown up - at least physically, how was life? Did you fit in or fall out? Did you stay home, work away or go to University, college or work?
I think that growing up where I did, and the crap I had to deal with at school actually helped me here.  I was discussing it with an old friend recently.  Where I grew up nothing was expected of anyone.  You got some dead end job, or you started stealing.  That was the choice, and not one that I was prepared to accept.  By the time I was 15 I had decided that, screw it, I was going to get out of there.  And the only way to do it was to study and get a nice job. This also didn’t help with the bullying of course.  When you turn down joy riding to study you get called lots of names, when you go to 6th form and university people start telling you that you have ideas above your station and that you think you are too good for where you came from. Looking back…  Yes, I had ideas above my station I was not going to sell myself short just because people expected it!

I think one of the most shocking things is that some family members (not, I hasten to add my parents who supported me all the way) thought the same thing about me – for daring to want to go to university and study for decent job.

And I think the same thing occurred to me for the fact that I was trans.  Whilst I did not embrace it during my early adult life I did decide that it was not going to get in the way of trying to do well.  It made things harder, but it was just something I was going to have to deal with. (That would come back to bite me in my thirties…)

But…  The school I went to did not prepare me well for college and uni.  As nothing was expected from the students nothing was really done for those who wanted to try – this even came back in the Ofsted reports for the school, in a positive light no less!  Paraphrased: the standard of results for the school is poor – but considering the area that sends the pupils, nothing more could be expected and it is doing its best.  As an ex-pupil I would like to disagree. My math background in math made physics A level a struggle (I barely passed that exam – I got the concepts, but could not prove any of the equations).  And the first year of computing was not simple as the rest of the class had been taught at school, and I only had what I had taught myself at home (on a C64 – in the 90’s not a good choice of development machine!)

I made it through 6th form with a few, but not many, friends, and then went on to uni.  Again, anything where I just needed to understand the concepts I had no problem with (programming, problem solving, database design etc) but those things that needed good math skills (advanced math, data communications – calculating entropy etc) I struggled with.  My results list looks like it’s from two different people.  I either got very high marks or barely scrapped a pass, but nothing in between. At university I started the pattern for friends that I have now. Lots of acquaintances, and I get on with most people, but not many close friends.

I went to university at home, as it was a choice of having my own transport and living with my parents, or selling the car and renting a student flat elsewhere.  It’s a poor reason to pick a university, but I’ll be honest I have never regretted the decision.

CAREER: What you do and how you think it has shaped you (for better or worse). Is there something you long to do?
I studied Information Technology at university.  A mixture of programming (I wouldn’t say software engineering as that covers different concepts and levels of knowledge), database design, network and communication studies and micro-architecture. On top of this professional studies were also included.  I decided that this was much more my personality than the software engineering course itself – as it was described by students during our visit to the uni whilst in the decision process: IT is for those who like daylight, and software engineering is for those who like basements and pizza – by a software engineering student.

Whilst in my sandwich year I worked for a production control company – converting their dos system to windows. Things went so well that when I returned to uni I stayed on part time, and when I finished uni I went to work for them full time.  It was a great company and I was working directly for the MD.

After 6 months I got a job offer in Holland and jumped at it – also a programmer, but in a job that I quickly realized I could mold as I wanted to.  Take on responsibilities that look interesting and try to solve issues.

It’s something I kept in all of my jobs since, and as a result I have gone from senior developer in my current company to team lead / project manager / Scrum champion.

Is there something that I long to do? I would love to open my own bakery or restaurant.  But seeing as I cook as a hobby and not as a job I don’t see it every happening…  At least this way I keep it fun!
RELATIONSHIPS: Single, married, long term relationship, divorced, happy to be single? How is family life?
Married for 8 years now, and loving it!

A blind date in 2000, and a week later a day walking around Amsterdam chatting and leading to living together and getting married. She knew about my dressing from early on living with each other, but I lied to her about the why.  And yes I do feel as guilty as hell about that.

Life is still good, and we are learning what our new relationship is.  Who knows what the future holds, but I am not as concerned as I was two years ago.

COMING OUT: Have you? Would you? If so, how was it? If not, why not?
Until three years ago I would never have said that I would come out.  But a few panic attacks and a week recovering from valium put paid to that.

I came out to a colleague first.  He was very understanding and sent me a text the same day. He gave me a lot of help in the weeks that followed trying to keep me calm.

Then there was Mrs Stace.  I was about to have another panic attack and I knew the only way to stop it was to speak to her. 11pm on a Sunday evening is not the time to come out to your wife.  We talked all night and the next day we were both a wreck at work the next week.

She made me go to the doctor and the rest as they say is history.

I came out in the office the day before I started to live full time as Stacy, the reactions were amazing, I got lots of support that day, and on all of the days since. There were one or two people who had issues, but they were never nasty to me, they just didn’t know how to react around me.

And family… My family has been amazing as well.  My parents were adamant that I was not transsexual when I first told them – but they were in shock. After thinking it though, and definitely after seeing the real me for the first time, they stopped calling me by my male name in private and started asking if they could send daughter cards for birthdays and Christmas.

I don’t think that I could have asked for more from people.

THE WAY FORWARD: What’s next for you? What are your hopes - trans, or otherwise?

Well, after the appointment at the VU this week next on the list, trans wise, is to prepare for the operation.  I am not looking forward to the pre-work there…

On the family front it’s just to try and continue figuring out my new relationship with Mrs Stace and to try and continue enjoying life.

On the work front it’s to try and get the best I can from using Scrum in the office, and to try and take my career to the next step in the coming years.

WORDS OF WISDOM: Anything you’d like to share to a younger you or to other trans people?
To a younger me… Stop feeling ashamed of yourself.  It’ll come good in the end, and you know what?  It’s possibly even better for the trials of youth!  Never give up, never stop trying. You are going to be the person that you should have always been. Not at the right time, but then who is to say what the right time is.

You are going to have the most amazing spouse!  Make sure that you tell her that J

Oh, and sorry – by your mid-thirties you are still going to be lost by the more complex advanced math.  Sorry.

To other trans people…  Don’t give up, and don’t let it run your lives for you.

Be the real you that you are, and please note the real!

There are no wrongs and right here as long as you are true to yourself. Please, please do not think that you have to act in a certain way – you do not need to act how you think people expect women, or men, to act. You will only lose yourself this way and end up hiding behind a façade even bigger than before and people will never know the real you.

Try not to feel too sorry for yourself, you’ll be doing a disservice to yourself if you do.  Life sucks, work with what you can and do what you want to do!  You’ll be happier for it!


Lynn passed these questions on to 7 other people, I haven’t really thought about who to ask to take up the mantle…  I’ll come back to that…

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

24 little hours :)

You know what…  24 hours ago I was ready to do an absolute rant of a post about the uselessness of the UK government agencies, along with a comment of how I can’t wait until I can just get a Dutch passport and leave the entire festering mess behind me.  J

But I won’t, because I have had such an afternoon that my mood has lifted to a much, much better place.  And I am probably healthier for it too.  Oh, the post will come – maybe I’ll have even calmed down enough to downgrade it from rant to just an outpouring of frustration; but not today!

So what has happened to make my mood life so much?  An afternoon in the hospital is what.  Today was my three monthly meeting with the gender team at the hospital.  Plus, as an added treat, I needed to have a bone density test (I think I wrote about that a couple of weeks ago).

Not knowing where the radiology department is I got there really early in case I could not find it.  Erm..  Right next to the entrance.  Oh well, I went to the radiology reception an hour earlier than I should have been there, told the receptionist that I was very early, just wanted to make sure that I knew where I needed to be and that I would grab a coffee in the café and come back in an hour.  No, no – go through to waiting room R2 and we’ll fetch you from there.

OK, I got out my e-reader (love paper books in home, love the e-reader for on the move!) and settled down to an hour or more wait – after all what is the chance of the appointments staying on schedule.

About 10 minutes later I was called in.  Told what I needed to remove, and what I could keep on and then went into the x-ray room.  It was so not what I was expecting.  Instead of the large and scary piece of kit hanging from the ceiling there was a table that looked as though it came from the sick bay in Star Trek.  A flat bed, with an arm coming from one side that could move up and down the bed.

The radiologist measured me (I’m shrinking!  A few months ago I was 176cm, now 175.5!  I always thought I was 178!) and weighed me (no you don’t get to know what!) and at least told me that I have a very healthy weight in the middle of the range (but still at least 5KG more than I want to be!).

I asked if it was going to hurt, making myself sound like a fool.  I could see what the machine was and I could figure out how much it was going to hurt.  Oh well.  She laughed and told me that it I wouldn’t feel a thing (I didn’t) and that all I had to do was lie on the table and it would be done quickly (it was).  You do have to lie in some interesting positions though J

She told me why it was being done, to check that I have no issues with my bones already, and to give them a baseline and I would be called back for another in a couple of years.  If there was any decalcification then I would probably be put on supplements to put the calcium back.  She was really friendly, wished me luck for the future and gave me a wonderful compliment as I left J

One appointment down, three to go!

The next was with my psychologist at the clinic. Again, I was about an hour early and she was surprised to see me there, asking if I did not have an appointment for a bone density test before I should be at the clinic’s reception.  I told her that I had had it already, and that I was very early – I would go to the café for a drink and come back in an hour.  She said that she did not expect her next appointment to take a full hour and to come back in 30 minutes or so.  So I took a walk to the new café at the VU hospital and enjoyed a relaxing 30 minutes reading an awful novel (kind of like watching some bad films; it’s entertainment without having to think too hard!) and drinking quite an acceptable cappuccino. After the 30 minutes I paid the waitress (yup, service in a hospital café!) and went back to the clinics reception.

The appointment with the therapist went brilliantly!  To be fair, except for the issues with the British government (which, naturally, I told her about) things are going well.  After nearly a year it’s so obviously the right decision and I feel so much better for it.  I said that I should have done it a long time ago, but then I wouldn’t be me now so who knows…

At the end of the appointment she said that as it was nearly a year since going full time it would be our last official appointment, that as I was obviously doing so well and that it really is the right thing that in the December team meeting my case would be brought up and there was no doubt in her mind about whether I should continue in the process.  As long as I wanted to.

That is where it gets interesting (skip a bit, of course I want to continue).  I have spent my whole life looking in a mirror and knowing the person looking back at me is me.  Obviously.  But  I have never recognized the person in the mirror.  Until a few months ago, when I started to occasionally, and now most of the time.  I cannot say how weird it feels to actually recognize the reflection for the first time.  Shocking, intense, amazing.  I’m still getting used to it! J When checking myself before leaving the house I see myself in the mirror, not just checking that a reflection is presentable.

And yet…  There are times when you have to get undressed.  And then it’s all a mismatch again and…  I don’t know how to describe it.  It’s kind of like it’s half me.  But, that is the long version of ”Yes, I want to continue!”  I am terrified.  Really.  The thought of another operation, and I think maybe the longest one I have had with possibly the most possibly complications.  Of the recovery time. Of the thought of being under anesthetic again.

Obviously she understood why I was scared and said that it’s understandable J

As I said to her, at the moment I really feel – as I posted a few weeks ago – that I’m reaching the end of a phase.  I only have two appointments with my therapist (outside of the gender clinic) before we stop seeing each other, inside the clinic I have no more official appointments for therapy.  I can make them when I go to see the endocrinologist I can ask for a 15 minute appointment if I want, but she does not need to see me again for the process. My last appointment with the speech therapist is on Thursday – after 11 months of appointments she feels that I am perfectly fine to continue without her. And I should be on the waiting list as of Thursday.

Her comment was quite simple.  It is. Time to live life!

Then endocrinologist tool a look at my last blood test and apparently it was so good that he didn’t need more blood this time (I may have said ‘yea’ at that point ;p) and that everything was looking good.  I said that I was feeling a little tired, but that I was stressed with work at this time of year. He said that as my testosterone was not measurable since March it could be that, and as it is so low I can half my anti-androgen tablets and see what difference that makes.  So we’ll find out.  He also commented on my blood pressure.  I have white coat syndrome.  I see the blood pressure test and I feel my heart rate go through the roof!  It was lower this time than last time (previously 175 over something, and this time 155 over 95) but he is concerned.  When he checks the results of the bone density test (if I hear nothing in the next two weeks then everything is fine) he is going to send a  note to my GP asking her to keep a check me over the coming months.

So…  Get my next three months of hormones in the hospital chemists, and then drive home.

And… In tears – good tears.  After the last three years I was just so…  I don’t know.  Happy (certainly, I was walking through the hospital like the Cheshire cat!), relieved that everything has gone so well so far.  I don’t know.  But it came flooding out whilst driving home!

Now I’m here, with Mrs Stace on the sofa (feeling a little guilty, this is not easy for her and my joy is not hers obviously) drinking an exceedingly good South African Shiraz and relaxing!


Sorry for the long post, it got away from me a little – but feeling this good I had to get it out today whilst it’s still burning its way across my brain!