My Great Journey Part 4
In this post, I would like to explore some of the challenges I have faced in the short time since I began my transition. I do not say “transitioned” because it is an ongoing process of physical, emotional and spiritual growth.
As of this posting, I’ll have been on cross-gender hormone therapy for about five weeks, and been out for about three weeks. So far things have been largely positive, but I have faced some challenges in my transition, and I would like to share them. I am, of course, writing from the perspective of being a transwoman; I don’t know and can’t share the experience of being a transman...
First off, there tends to be a perception among many cis-gender people that trans-gender people aren’t really trans; they are either crazy, or are doing this for some gratuitous, frivolous reason, or for sexual perversion. This couldn’t be further from the truth. I have already detailed some of the scientific basis of gender dysphoria and being transgender in Part 3 of “My Great Journey.”
People who are transgender do not “Choose” to be trans. People choose what top they will wear today, or what to have for dinner tonight. Being trans isn’t about choice; rather it’s about life. It’s about living the life we were born to live. We aren’t faking being trans; but many of us have been faking living in our birth genders. Some do it consciously, others like me, unconsciously. As I detailed in Part 1, I wasn’t fully cognizant of my dysphoria until this calendar year. But once I understood what was going on, I jumped in with both feet, because I needed to be who I really am.
So, this is the first challenge all transgender people face: perception by people do not understand, or who do not WANT to understand, what we are going through.
The next big hurdle I face is family. My mother has said I should definitely proceed with my transition, but she doesn’t understand it, and it will take her time. More challenging is my brother, who not only doesn’t understand what I’m dealing with, he’s not able to talk about it effectively, and as a result, we aren’t communicating well. He says that he wants to support me, but he isn’t able to show it in actions. I am very grateful to my sister, and her kids, who are offering me unlimited love and support.
I am very fortunate that I am financially sound, so the costs of transition won’t be a huge burden to me. But for most transgender people, especially younger ones, money is a huge issue. This is why so many transwomen are sex workers, and one of the reasons why so many transgender youth end up on the street.
Of course, for transgender youth, the biggest cause of ending up on the street is that their families reject or abuse them, and so they feel that it’s safer for them on the streets, than in the very dangerous setting of their homes. Some are fortunate that they are taken in by generous, caring families; most are not so fortunate...
To be trans means taking many difficult steps; many of these are painful and or costly.
One of the first things is to find a physician who will manage your hormone therapy. This is harder than it sounds.
The next step is wardrobe. When you transition, most of the clothing you already have need to be replaced.
Then there are the cosmetic procedures. As a transwoman, I am undergoing laser hair reduction on my face, and will need to follow it with electrolysis. I may well need to do this on my body as well, as I have a hairy body. Further, I may well need some facial cosmetic work.
I have a fairly large size bald area on the top of my head. I may need hair transplantation for this area; I will definitely need hair coloring and styling. The alternative is to wear wigs the rest of my life.
These concerns are because when I look in the mirror, I still see “Jaron”. I don’t see “Rona” unless I’m wearing a wig, and have my makeup on, and even then, I still see Jaron shining through...
Going on Estrogen therapy means loss of muscle mass, and a reduction in metabolism. This makes weight control more difficult. For me, an additional complication is that Spironolactone, the testosterone blocker, causes me severe muscle spasms, so I am not able to tolerate the therapeutic dose. I will likely need orchiotomy (castration) to manage my hormones for an effective transition, long before I become eligible for Gender Confirmation Surgery (GCS).
GCS is major, invasive surgery. It has a painful recovery and is very costly. Some, but not all, insurance plans cover it. Even if your plan does cover it, finding a surgeon who contracts with your plan is tricky. And once you find your surgeon, it can be over two years until you can have your surgery.
In the meantime, you have to live with what some call “a benign tumor” between your legs, for a very long time. This has its own difficulties. These include the need to tuck when wearing swimsuits, gym clothing etc., and the difficulties transwomen face when going through TSA checkpoints at airports.
As with my other posts, this posting is neither exhaustive nor definitive. It only speaks to my experience, and not that of anyone else...
I welcome feedback, but please keep it polite and friendly.