Next Steps: Vocal Therapy(!) and Facial Surgery(?)

In my last post, I talked about some of the celebrations that should have happened, but did not:  my court date, my birthday, telling my story publicly for the first time.  It has been a busy summer, even though it does not really feel like it.  The sadness I have felt over the lack of celebration has been looming over me, especially as my wife helps plan two weddings and, a few weeks ago, a neighbor’s birthday.  Combined with the continuing dysphoria surrounding my face & voice and my family’s financial struggles, I have not been in the best of moods lately.  I am tired, lonely, and isolated.  But, as I said in my last post, I do trod on.

I finally received some good news this week.  My insurance has approved me (without a fight!) to begin specialized vocal therapy, so that I can begin to properly address my voice and work to make it sound more feminine.  That should be a great relief to me, but the excitement was muted by the fact that my first appointment will not be until December due to scheduling availability!  I will have to wait for this about as long as I had to wait for my court date to come, and that was tiring.  Hopefully, a cancellation will move me up the wait list.

On the face front, I am flummoxed.  I am beginning to struggle mightily when it comes to how my face looks.  I really long to restart electrolysis that I suspended in June due to financial stresses.  That means I have to shave every day and then work hard to conceal that shadow that remains.  It is exhausting.  I love make-up, but I would like to be able to walk out the door without it every once in awhile if I am in a hurry.  Doing so now would just make me look awkward.  Also, for the first time, I have really started to take some time to look at the potential for surgery.

Since the beginning of my transition over two years ago, I have put off the notion of surgeries.  I had soooooooo much other stuff to work through that the idea of any surgery was put out of my mind, as I deal with the here-and-now.  But as time passes and I settle into my life as woman, I begin to think about the future.  My facial dysphoria has put the idea of facial feminization surgery (FFS) as an attainable way to correct the masculine features of my face.  To that end, for the first time, I have begun to ask questions of friends, analyzed my face to project the kinds of work I need (and luckily don’t need), and even gone so far as to begin researching potential surgeons.  The latter may be a bit premature, but at the same time, I know consults and surgeries have long wait lists, and it could be to my advantage to start the ball rolling now.  However, I really want to resume and finish electrolysis.  FFS does not seem smart unless I have finished what I can do without it.  So many questions, and no money to do it.  The thoughts weigh me down and compound my frustration with myself.

And of course, opening the door to surgery discussions, cracks open the idea of potential gender reconstruction surgery (GRS) down the road.  I am not quite ready to start that process, but I definitely lean in that direction.  But as I have done all along, I try not to jump ahead too much.  One step at a time.  I don’t really consider GRS right now because there are more pressing needs.  I don’t really consider breast augmentation because my breasts are still growing, even if at a slower rate than I would like.  But FFS seems attainable with the right surgeon and the right timeline.  It is something I need to bring up to my family, too, and I really have no idea how to begin to introduce that topic.  Surgery is a big deal and a big step.  It requires doctor’s visits, consults, the procedure, and the post-op aftercare.  How much support can my family provide if I take this step?

I am markedly happier as a woman.  Now 7 1/2 months full-time, I am still secure this is how I was meant to live my life.  But until a few things change, I continue to be insecure of how I present to the world.  That change will not happen on its own, and I continue to look for ways to make those changes happen.  I just wish I had more of a support system behind me to encourage me on my journey. Maybe then, someone would celebrate me and my accomplishments.

Alone & Keeping Busy

For the last six weeks or so, I have begun to fall on a downward emotional turn as I have begun to feel more isolated.  There have been moments of happiness, yes, but they have been tempered by a feeling I cannot shake.

I am lonely.

June was a busy month.  Early in the month, I finally had my day in court, where I officially was recognized with my new name and proper gender.  While the hearing itself was a formality, the significance of the day was incredible.  I longed for members of my family to be present, but alas, I only had one friend and no family present at the hearing.  And even that friend had to reorganize her day a bit to be there so that I was not entirely solo (and I do thank her for that!).  Still, while I had someone to celebrate with, I was still disappointed that no one else took the time to recognize the importance of what was happening.  Had my mom still been alive, she would have moved heaven and earth to be there.  No one else seemed to understand.

A few weeks later, my birthday rolled around.  For the first time in a very long time, I was actually excited about my birthday because I could celebrate it as my “first.”  My wife said she wanted to get me a pink balloon shaped like a “1” for my birthday.  I thought that was actually kind of cool (although, she didn’t end up doing it).  I expanded on that idea and came up with an idea for a birthday party themed like a one-year-old’s princess party.  I could wear a princess dress and a tiara, and we could make the party fun and childlike.  But that never happened.  My wife ended up away at a conference that weekend, which will be a benefit to her résumé.  She also took the children with her, which made sense she was running a children’s program at the conference.  That left me all alone to figure out my birthday.  I got a good friend to go out to dinner with me (split check), and then on the day I had reserved for my unplanned party, I ended up taking myself (with my tiara) on a solo day trip to San Francisco.  While I made the best of it, the day ended up a long way from the princess party for which I had got myself so excited.

Later in the month, I attended Pride.  I attended Trans March with a the same friend that went to my hearing with me, and we had a good day.  But she needed to leave when the march was over, so I ended up latching on to another group with my best friend, who I ran into while I was there.  It made for a good evening, but it certainly wasn’t planned.  When I returned to San Francisco for the big celebration and parade on Sunday, I had no one to go with me.  When I left the house, I had no plan.  Miraculously, on my way to the festival, I ended up running in to a former co-worker who I had not seen in years.  He was meeting up with friends in the City, too, so that’s how I spent the rest of my day.  Again, it worked out, but I much would have rather been travelling with a group of my closer friends.

At the end of the month, I told my story publicly for the first time.  Again, this was a significant moment for me, but there was no one to support me in the moment.  My wife was worried I was going to make her out to be some monster (which I don’t), and she did not stay to hear me actually give my talk.  Granted, she had to entertain the children, but again, I felt alone and solo for a milestone moment for me.

July was simply full of the stresses of life.  I feel like I walk on pins and needles at a job that underpays me for the amount of work I perform.  Money is tight for the first time in years.  My eldest child continues to show behavioral signs that highlight his lack of focus, which is especially problematic since school starts again in just a couple of weeks.  Family health issues, a minor car accident, volunteer commitments, complaining children, paying a babysitter more money than I earned at work that day, jealousy over my wife’s bachelorette getaway weekend…  It’s just getting to be overwhelming lately.

On the transition side of things, I am almost 7 months into full-time status.  I continue to remain comfortable and confident in myself—for the most part.  My dysphoria has been highlighted lately as I continue to stare in the mirror at the shadows on my face that continue to haunt me.  I had to stop electrolysis in June because of money issues, so I continue to have to shave.  And no matter how closely I shave, the shadow remains.  I have become very adept at applying makeup to hide and blend the shadows into my face, but it can be a chore.  I cannot simply wake up in the morning and leave the house without at least a foundation on to mask this blue undertones.  And the more I look at my face, the more I start to see the more male features that still exist, despite a significant softening of my skin.  My square jaw line and my large nose take away from the femininity I feel and I attempt to express to the world.  Combined with my unaltered voice, and I start getting in my head that no matter how awesome I look in the dress I am wearing, I still out myself as as trans simply by having my facial structure and my voice.  I am working on trying to find ways to get insurance to cover speech therapy and maybe even facial feminization surgery in the future because the longer I do not continue moving forward, the more I chip away at the confidence I have built up in myself.

Through all the issues I am encountering, I have found little solace in the majority of my friends, who all seems to have there own issues right now.  They do not seek me out as much.  I barely talk with my best friend these days.  My dad has not talked to me since my birthday, and my stepbrother still has trouble dealing with my transition.  My wife continues to do her best to support and shield me, but with the pain I have caused her, she may never be able to fully be ready to be there—physically nor emotionally—in those highly significant moments because she has more than enough to sort out on her own.

Combining the stresses of life with the distance I currently have with my friends and family, I am feeling more alone.  I am falling into an old trap of feeling like I need to solve my own problems and power ahead.  I have been so successful during my transition reaching out to others.  I really do not want to backtrack there.  But I also want to feel important enough that my friends and family actively include me in their plans and in their thoughts.

Life goes on, and so shall I.  I just need a little help from my friends and family to continue looking on the bright side of life in the face of challenges I still must overcome.