It’s been a while since I’ve done a proper blog post and I’m really feeling the need to just ramble a bit. So if you’ll join me, I want to just chat about what’s been going on lately.
I know it’s groaningly cliché but the reason I’ve not been writing about my life is because I’ve been busy living it. Not that there’s a link between time spent blogging vs. living, but in the sense that I’m so exhausted at the end of the day lately that I just don’t have the drive to spend even more time on a computer. Most evenings I spend in bed catching up on my latest super-hero related television or trying to get an early night.
So as you may remember, I got offered a job. I’ve now done over a month in the role. I’m getting settled, I know everyone in the office now and I’ve basically learnt my way around the place. I no longer quite feel like the new girl.
Prior to starting I did wonder if me being trans would be a bit of an elephant in the room. Would people be thinking about it in the back of their mind? Would they think it was weird? Would it stop them from forming friendships with me? Well I’m happy to say I’ve noticed absolutely no negativity or weirdness from colleagues whatsoever.
It’s beyond liberating to be myself at work. The fact I’m trans is simply just a mundane part of my life as far as my day-to-day experience goes. Obviously my workmates know about it, but it’s just not a big deal. If someone pops over to my desk to chat it’s either about work matters or a casual conversation about comic book media. Yes, it was established pretty early on that I’m a total nerd, no surprises there!
Although I work in an office it’s a fairly casual environment. Jeans + t-shirt is appropriate attire here and there’s a range of clothing styles that people choose to wear, it’s very rare to see anyone in a suit. Still, I generally dress in “business casual” or at least on the formal side. My average workwear is a black sleeveless dress over a patterned blouse. With black leggings and then a scarf to add some extra colour (and cover my neck). I go fairly light on makeup, choosing just foundation, mascara and soft pink lipstick. Altogether it’s nice to get a bit dressed up every day without feeling the need to really go overboard. Ultimately I dress in a manner to make me happy, which is something I’ve not been able to do in previous years. It’s nice not to be longing to wear something else, or being jealous of female peers, as I always was at University and in earlier life.
The anxiety about having an overtly feminine presentation in a work environment, which I had just over a year ago now, just isn’t there now. I take the bus every morning alongside school teenagers and other commuters, everybody is too focused on their own life to care what I look like. As always I do want to acknowledge I’m in a privileged position, now living down on the South Coast the atmosphere is sleepier and friendlier than my former Northern home. And as a young, white person I’m also more forgettable than I could be otherwise. I never realised the grumpy hostility of my old hometown wasn’t normal until I moved somewhere radically different, with a very different atmosphere. I don’t foresee any situation that would leave me to go back to my birthplace beyond just visiting. This is a good place to transition and a nice place to live, why would I want to be anywhere else?
Still, it’s not all been smooth sailing. I’ve been pretty stressed lately, to be honest. Working a fulltime job, where I’m up at 5:45am and home at 6pm, is leaving me exhausted. It wouldn’t be so bad on its own but roll in transition and it’s tough to balance everything out. Cramming all my errands into the weekend means I feel like I never stop. I’ve always been someone whose idea of a good time is TV, a couple of friends and some nachos, or even just a stack of comics and some nice music. I feel like I need that downtime, a bit of time just for me with no pressure or responsibility, but I’m struggling to squeeze it in on top of everything else.
My partner has been an amazing well of support throughout transition but she also needs her own support. With me at work I’m leaving a lot of day-to-day responsibilities to her such as laundry and shopping, but she’s chronically ill and going to the shop can sometimes be Herculean. I can’t, and don’t, leave those tasks entirely to her, but it’s tough on us both now that I have so little time.
I’m reminded of something someone said to me about a year ago: Transition is a full-time job, but you’re expected to do a normal full-time job as well. I’m really feeling that now. My colleagues are lovely and are as understanding as they can be, but I do wish work could be as extra mundane as it is for them. There’s the HRT mood swings, annoyance over my facial hair growing back in at the end of the day, the knowledge that my voice doesn’t match my presentation, knowing that I do stand out when walking around the building… none of these things are a tremendous big deal on their own but they add up to make each average day of work just a little bit tougher than it ideally would be.
Things did in fact become too much for me last month. After a very long day I came home, crawled into the bath… and cried. A lot. It wasn’t just one particular thing that triggered it, it was the list of problems that just built up and overwhelmed me; it was money worries, the recent lack of downtime and sleep, the stress of transition, and finally: the fact I miss my dog. I’m sure the chemical changes going on in my body right now didn’t help either.
Afterwards, and after eating an entire pizza, I felt significantly better. My mind felt calmer and emptier than it had in weeks. Although it was a rather dramatic outburst, it was something I needed. I’ve had some tough moments since but nothing as cataclysmic as that night.
One extra source of stress is that I’ve not had time to keep up to my pop culture blogging. As I’m fully out to everyone now I have no reservations passing on the link to anyone interested, for the last few years I’ve been writing about nerdy media (mainly comics) over at panelsandpixels.com
I love it. I find writing reviews and opinion pieces very relaxing. My dream career situation would be a part-time job coupled with online writing. My little blog has always been something I’ve primarily done for myself, for fun, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I see it as a place to practice and hone writing ability, that one day I would like to earn money from my hobby.
What’s bother me though is the knowledge that I’m not able to have these two worlds at once. I can’t give my focus to blogging and reviews anymore, not just on a practical level of time management but in terms of the mental drain. Transition, my job and reviews/blogging are three things that take up a lot of energy. Right now transition and my job are vital, there just isn’t enough energy left in me to tackle the blogging too without endangering my mental health, I need to use the rest of my free time to relax and recover. But the idea of dropping out of blogging altogether is itself an equally stressful idea, it feels like giving up, abandoning something that’s important to me. I don’t know what the solution is yet here, but I’d like to imagine there’s a way I can have all three without breaking my brain in the process. We’ll see.
To deal with my dreaded facial hair I’ve started laser hair removal. As I’m still about half a year away from seeing the GIC, minimum, I’ve struggled to get funding (see my last blog post for more on my money woes). Speaking with other trans folk they’ve said it’s barely worth bothering waiting for NHS funding, as in an ideal world it will still take a long time and a lot of pushing to get it. My current plan is to get laser now, privately, and use the eventual NHS funding for electrolysis. My facial hair is an annoying blend of dark and light hairs meaning I’ll need the combination of both treatments to banish the hair. Right now I’m not realistically seeking or expecting complete annihilation of facial hair, just something to make it easier on me is enough. The current growth rate and spread is too much for me to put up with, anything that makes it a little easier will be well worth it.
One thing that always put me off laser was the knowledge of how much it would hurt. I knew I’d need it eventually, but with stories of people being brought to tears, I wasn’t in any rush. At least, until I started a full-time job and realised how much dealing with it bothered me.
Well, I’ve had my first session now and it was both better and worse than I imagined. Having my cheeks lasered wasn’t as bad I thought it would be, it hurts but it can be endured. My upper lip? Holy crap that stings. I couldn’t distract myself in any way while my upper lip was getting fried, all I could think about was how much it hurt. My next session is scheduled for a month after the first and I was grateful for the break, I want laser treatment but I’m in no rush to experience that again.
I walked into the clinic after a full day of work, a little sleepy but otherwise feeling okay. After the session I looked at myself in the mirror and nearly laughed at the difference. I looked exhausted, with dishevelled hair, red sore skin and smudged eye makeup, I looked like I’d just crawled through a hedge for 20 minutes. I walked out of the clinic with the least regard for my appearance in months. Again I’m thankful to now live in a nice town, as if I look strange in day-to-day life then I looked downright bizarre that evening.
…And a 3-month anniversary
Meanwhile, in and amongst everything else going on, I passed my 3 month mark of being on HRT. This involved a rather nervous check of my hormone levels. I really didn’t know what to expect. I felt like things had been going well but as for what my levels were, I had no clue.
Thankfully the results are just fine. My E is way up, my T is way down, but neither alarmingly so. Three months of HRT have dramatically changed my hormone levels, I’m well on track and it looks like my transition is off to a good start. As a result my dose has been bumped up just a tiny bit, with no need for any significant change, as this entry-level dose seems to be working just fine for me. Fingers crossed that things continue to go well on this front.
So as an update I think that’ll do it. As always thank you for reading and feel free to keep up with me on Twitter, where you can find me rambling away everyday, in a more digestible and frequent manner than this blog.