Rounding the Curve

  • Reading time:2 mins read

On one of the many occasions I had to drag myself out of bed last night to pee, I glanced at the mirror and—heck, my side-boob is looking really nice. There are all these artful curves now that I didn’t notice before. That whole arc from the armpit, down and under, is all filling out in this neat way. Gee whiz.

I’ve talked a little of the stages, where first all this mass builds up—this rough heap of tissue—then more recently that tissue has started to take more definite shape. Where there had been lumps, we’re starting to sculpt all that same stuff into more confident curves. It’s this slow process, hard to really notice day-to-day; hard to measure. Then one morning at 3 am you look at your tits from a new angle and realize, whoa. How long has that been a thing? It’s so fascinating!

And for that matter, since when did my butt look like this? The heck? That kinda came out of nowhere. Even when I stretch into a more masculine posture—which is starting to feel a little awkward now—there it is. It’s just, there are these curves now. All over the darned place.

Then, it’s a work in progress, but—I’ve always worn tights or stockings under my skirts, right. Beyond the whole issue of cold, I’ve just been deeply insecure about my legs my whole life. Like, it really really bothers me. And now, it’s… not terrible?? I yanked my tights off, and I was like: huh!

I’m not gonna say they’re rocking my, uh, socks off… aside from… my… just… doing that. But, it’s not making me want to die, to look at them! They’re just sort of there, and fine, and whatever.

So. That’s… something. I guess?

The birthmarks still make me feel weird, and there’s no real doing anything about them. But again, better. I’m starting to look almost look human!

I guess it has been a year, huh. A year and a day.

Happy birthday to me.

Neutral Femme

  • Reading time:2 mins read

Ten months in, it’s starting to get to the point where the femme is just standard—makeup, wardrobe, or not. Even on a garbage day like today, I can look at myself and see basically the person I know myself to be. We’re already so close to where we wanted, and this becoming is gonna keep happening for another couple years probably. I’m extraordinarily far along for, what, ten months? That’s nothing.

It’s such a shift in reality to walk into the bathroom, and even when I’m not trying to do anything really, there she is. There I am. This is a real thing. I actually exist. I’m bending reality back the way it’s supposed to be, and that old story is becoming just some phantom loose end.

Back before I began this, I had a vague target—an ideal scenario, that I didn’t know if I’d ever hit. It would be nice, I thought, to present more feminine than not even if I were to dress neutrally, do nothing special. Jeans and t-shirt, right. Ten months into, like, a five-year journey probably, and despite all these complicating factors like my height, I think we’re pretty close already.

This whole thing is exploration, right. I’m always gonna be non-binary, but the more I lean in to the girl zone, the more I map out all the territory that was denied me for so long, the more I realize how great it is over here. The more that I enjoy being a girl, that I realize this is just who I am. It’s who I’ve always been. I’ve never been this happy.

Hell, I’ve never been happy at all. This is an emotion that I literally never experienced until like two and a half months ago. and now, I just… love me. Which is so bonkers. I’d never have imagined I could do that.

But then, I’m not the same person I used to be. That person wasn’t made to be loved. They were made to bring me here safely. Well, as safely as they could.

Critical Mass

  • Reading time:3 mins read

For a while there I was almost concerned. That ongoing breast tenderness had ebbed down to a whisper, barely noticeable at all. Was this it, were we somehow reaching the end of the story after mere months? But—okay, never mind. Tits back to fire again. I haven’t mapped it out, but it feels like it moves in cycles—a certain number of days on, then off.

On top of that, generally I feel so fucking crampy and gross.

Which… with a more than a cursory understanding of biology, would make sense, right?

So yeah, I guess I should probably start to keep track of this business. Because on the basis of… really every month since February, but absolutely since August, there is a clear cycle going on.

It is established, if not particularly well-studied—because, trans healthcare; who gives a shit, right—that regardless of your genital situation, once you got a certain level of estrogen in your system, you start to experience periods. It’s not about the hardware (which is all basically the same anyway); it’s about the instructions that the firmware sends around. Of particular note is that at a certain threshold, breast tissue begins to produce a cyclical amount of estrogen, along with some other compounds that contribute to the process.

And, uh. whee:

It’s hard to get a good sense in two dimensions with bad lighting…
but yeah, we’re entering the active cleavage zone. Bringing the gang together!

I guess my breasts are at critical mass already? I mean, seven months into my regimen they were at a size that the literature tells me a trans femme half my age might expect to reach after 2-5 years—and today they’re two cup sizes larger than that…

As I say, the real monthly roller coaster kicked off in maybe August, September? Which, yeah, would line up, right? And good grief, the soreness I’ve been getting since last night. It’s that kind of tenderness where you feel if you poke it too hard you’re gonna barf. Like a pair of giant cystic pimples, connected to nerve lines running from my toes to my teeth.

I guess It follows that it would build in intensity, month on month, as development progresses, right. And I mean, I’ll take it. Whatever! I’m used to feeling like shit every day of my life. It’s fine. If the trade-off is that life is worth living? That finally I don’t feel like this the other 80% of the time? Sure, whatever, lol.

On top of all that, today I… seem to have entered the chocolate zone. I’ve talked a little about my change in taste and food preferences, some of which has been weirdly cyclical as well, and… yeah, okay. We may have an answer to some of that as well.

Due to fairly systemic ignorance about this topic I was not aware that this feature came with the territory until I got here. But, I, uh. I guess I’m part of the club now, huh? One imagines a uterus just makes this all the more fun. At least the discomfort doesn’t come with a mess over here.

It’s just…

Yeah. so. With how much more bothersome it’s gotten month on month, it will be an adventure to see where these waves will go in the future.

So, I’m. For now…

I’m just—i’m gonna… stand in the shower and groan for an hour, I guess.

Skirting the Center

  • Reading time:5 mins read

So yesterday for my nine-month follow-up, we went on a little adventure. Got a little bold. Previously the only time I’d worn a skirt outside is that once, to the mailbox around the corner—and at the time it felt like I was running through fire. But here I figured, I’m basically a girl now. It’s getting kinda hard to hide, even when I dress androgynously. The more femme I go, the better I do psychologically. So why not just do it.

And I did. I wore a skirt and tights. Put on a lacy top. Did my above-mask makeup. Walked the two miles to my appointment. Only got hit on once.

The whole time, I just felt chill. No one gave a shit (aside from that one creepo), because why would they. People are people; everyone’s got their own thing going on. I am who I am. It’s fine. It’s whatever. I can just be myself now.

I got there a few minutes early and after waiting over two and a half hours, I got to see the… less helpful doctor for like five minutes. She barely titrated me up at all, though it seems there’s plenty of headroom. We’ll get back to that, though.

Everyone there did, however, keep calling me “ma’am.” That was novel.

After my session, I walked the two miles back, then halfway to the CVS to fill my prescription—before I realized I’d forgotten my wallet at home. So that’s halfway back again, then all the way to the CVS and back. Altogether that was like seven miles in a day, and oh my God I do not have New York legs anymore, never mind lockdown torpor, and I may never walk again after this.

So, I only got my estradiol bumped up to the level I had been unofficially taking anyway, which blows because I was looking for a tangible increase. Every time this goes up, I feel a little bit more human, a little bit less gross and ill, a little more myself. But, we’ll take what we can get I guess.

What’s interesting here is my hormone levels, which I don’t think I’d been given before. So the goal is to get my T down below 100, into a normal feminine range, right. I’m just on a moderate dose of spiro—150mg out of a theoretical max of 400. As it turns out, my T levels are… 9.

Nine.

I don’t know what they’d be without the spiro, but that seems… uh, low. Considering the modest dose I’m on, and that the target is below 100. This of course does not surprise me in the shape of it—I know I’ve never been brimming with testosterone, right—but the exact number strikes me as hilarious.

I guess this would help to inform why I have suffered so little damage, broadly speaking, to the point where I figured my shit out and started to get my health in order.

So yeah, they felt no particular need to mess with my spiro dose. And that’s fine.

In terms of headroom for estrogen—okay, the ceiling is vaguely defined, but for an adult woman it’s around 350. Right now, my levels are at 170—so just under the square middle again, right? We can double my estrogen and I’ll still be in a healthy range, if close to scraping the top.

All of which is to say, in three months I’m gonna make a right old fuss about increasing my dose. There’s no reason to trickle this out, guys. I’m fine, I’m getting healthier. And this is what I need to get there. Just gimme my darned hormones, jeez.

But there’s a sort of nutty day. My legs are dead, but my hormones are awesome (if not quite where I want them yet) and very normal for a healthy adult woman. And, like. That’s what I am. I can go outside, dress how I want, act in a way that comes naturally to me, and no one cares.

On the way back from the CVS, I felt this weight fall from me despite my fatigue. All of this, everything I was doing, it was under my control. This was me, living my life. And it was fine. I didn’t have to watch the way I walked, try to control my autistic arm movements to avoid weirding out passers-by. If anything, all my neurodivergent tics seem that much less strange from a girl than from a boy—such is the culture we have, and the associations we make.

I just felt so relaxed, and inside myself, and present in the world. I saw all the young people walking around on a Friday night… in the middle of a pandemic… none of them wearing a fucking mask… living their lives, chatting, laughing, going to restaurants, and I realized, holy shit, I’m a real person too. If not for the plague and poverty, that could be me. I could have friends. I could be going out and doing things. And no one would care that I am me. If anything, they’d probably be nicer to me than they ever were to that awkward lumbering shell.

Like, I could be doing this. I could be alive. I could have a life. One of my choosing. I could make a world for myself.

But first, well.

Let’s get the world in order, I guess. And see if I can find a way to support myself.

God, though, when all of this is over? Everything is going to be so very different for me. For the first time, I feel so much potential. I want to be here. I want to live. I want to be free to simply fucking exist.

And I can be. And it will be good.

Eventually.

Planting the Forest

  • Reading time:11 mins read

So there’s this online clothes service… thing, where you give them your measurements and vague preferences and on request or stated interval they send you a mystery box of curated stuff with a free return envelope for whatever you don’t want/can’t afford. I got a $35 credit, so I figured what the hell. Worst case scenario, they send a bunch of stuff I don’t like; I send it back, and don’t pay anything. Best case, I get one or two things I do like, that are covered by the $35 credit, and I send back the rest—and still pay nothing. If I get just one piece of free affirming clothing that I like, it’s worth a trip to the fucking mailbox.

Right?

Turns out, I was both overly and inadequately optimistic.

Like most places that carry women’s clothing, this service, their sizing is all weird and byzantine and bespoke, but I did my best with the fairly rigorous measurements I have assembled—which to my surprise mostly worked out. Sometimes astonishingly well.

I woke after a few days to a phone alert that the box had been delivered. And—well! As it happens there’s no fucking way I could afford any of this, but the experience did make my head swim with new ideas and help me to confirm a few things about this new person whom I am.

Like, say, jewelry. I mused earlier about piercings, and have rattled on internally about necklaces and rings and bracelets—and this package has only solidified those thoughts.

As would become a trend, the piece they sent was… not quite right, and I doubt I’d have kept it even if the price had been other than ludicrous, ($74?! Haha! I’m no expert, but I’ve passed mall kiosks before.) But more importantly, it felt good to wear. I liked the weight and the movement. It just feels good to have something like this (if not this in particular) on my wrist.

There is, as it turns out, a real stim value to jewelry, which—the concept feels like a revelation to me. I want to associate jewelry with, like, Christmas trees, right? I’ve always thought of it as pointless baubles and decoration. But there’s this visceral quality that matters, on a nerdy psychological level. It’s so soothing to have this jangly thing on me that I can fuss with as needed. The sensation makes me feel more grounded, more present and real.

Getting more into the meat of the wardrobe, bottoms have long been an issue for me. It’s hard to find men’s trousers that are both long enough to fit the limited range of acceptable cuff lengths and thin enough to fit me without tying a fucking rope around my waist. Also my hips and thighs and waist and butt are changing, if ever so slowly, and it would be nice to get something that I can wear outside when it’s no longer skirt weather. But, well. Here we start to run into some well-documented systemic issues.

These things are still cut a little low for me personally—I want coverage up to my navel, so my hips are taken care of—but otherwise the fit is… absurdly close yet exactly right. It’s funny; my leg length is completely normal in women’s pants, yet causes all these issues in men’s sizes. And with the stretchy material, these sort of mold to my thighs and calves even. I don’t know if I need all my clothes to be as tight as all that, but now I do know my measurements, and that I should be able to find something in my size with little trouble. Finally.

Thing is, I’m used to paying, what, $20 for a new pair of jeans? More often $5-10 from a thrift store. So what do they want for these? $78.

hahahahahahaha get real.

It’s then that we get into the particulars. I start to make concessions and excuses, and think, well, these pants are kind of nice, and maybe the waist isn’t quite what I want, and I didn’t expect them to be this tight but there’s a place for that, and maybe if they cost $55 less I’d keep them. As I strut around, though, I notice all the little things, most prominently that famous bugbear:

There are no pockets.

I don’t mean the pockets are stitched closed (why does this happen?), or are shallow but could maybe be extended with a little seam work. I mean, there are stitches that indicate the appearance of pockets but there is nothing actually there. It’s entirely cosmetic. A false front.

For seventy-eight dollars, fancy dress pants that are entirely useless.

Whee! Yeah, okay. This is the world we’re living in now. Okay. This shouldn’t have been a surprise, but as with so many things sometimes you just need to live it for it to click entirely.

So frustration aside, we now stroll into the realm of confusion.

I don’t know what this top is supposed to be, but, uh. No. I guess I like the whole paisley print thing, but I don’t understand the cut and the fabric is strange, and… it doesn’t suit me in general. On the upside it’s the cheapest thing in the box, at $38—almost affordable! On the downside, it’s not my thing at all. I mean, paisley is good in principle. Otherwise? Yeesh.

Two interjections before we move onto more viable territory:

  • Excuse my bedhead in all of this. As I say, I literally just pulled myself out of bed to find the package delivered.
  • I swear, my mirror cannot be un-gross. I clean it, and ten seconds later it’s magically just a wall of handprints—even if I haven’t touched it (so far as I know). Must be the ghosts.

The next thing is nearer to a thing I might conceivably wear. Thing.

I’m told this shawl-smock whatever is meant to be a kimono. I don’t really see how that makes sense. But whatever it is, it’s rad and I want to see more like it. But, probably not for $44. Because again: i am poor. Chop off, like $15, and maybe we’ll start to think about it. Even then it’s pricey.

If this is meant to go with that paisley top, I’m… like, that seems like a dangerous intersection of patterns. Confuse your enemies. Dazzle your friends. With a flat color it should be fine.

And finally, the centerpiece:

I’ve never actually worn a full dress before, and this one confuses me to put on. I keep burrowing into the wrong holes. But, haha, the cut is novel and it seems to fit just right.

I mean, the dress isn’t super duper interesting in its own right, but gee does it open my head up to new ideas. It seems to fit just right. And I don’t think I’ve worn anything more flattering in my life. It is… a little scary how accurate it is in terms of what it feels it should emphasize, and not.

As with everything, the problem here is the price. I guess maybe $68 could be reasonable for someone, but not for me. That’s just money I don’t have, and if I did it would be going to keep me off the street and to keep the power on. If I could afford it, though? I guess I would be exploring more dresses like this. Because, jeez Louise.

So although I don’t get to keep any of this, the adventure has been constructive. I know I have my sizing correct. And I know that a V-neck is good, for the way I’m shaped now. I guess I work well with a low cut, even. If I go for a dress, a wrap style might not be a bad plan apparently. And now that I know how good I look, it’s hard to keep my mind off of it.

Just as a garment, this is so comfortable and natural to me. I mean, yes, the fabric is soft and warm and stretchy and nice. But also, I just feel confident in a way I’m not used to. It’s like, wearing a dress like this, everything clicks. I make sense to myself.

So! Guess this is fully my thing now! Every day, becoming a little more human, huh.

I think if I had a dress like this, I’d want some kind of a necklace to break up that space. I guess we’re entering the jewelry zone, huh. (It’s mostly gonna be silver. Or, you know, white metallic.)

All in all this was a reasonable, if not quite right, menagerie. That top is kind of weird. The rest of it, some good beginnings of ideas at least. I like the feel and cut of this dress. Turns out, I like a jangly bracelet. Everything beyond the ideas, it needs to go right back before I do it any damage or wear. (This is making me a little paranoid. Better hope the return mail works properly.)

Altogether that’s $302 they wanted for those five items—which… you know, I’d hope to have paid like maybe $75 for, by whatever impoverished fantasy bubble my mental calculator currently lives in.

Someone out there surely will mock me for this, but I don’t get paying that much for clothes. If we weren’t in a pandemic, thrift shops are of course a thing that exists. Often you can get a decent top for a couple bucks. Maybe five, for a pair of jeans?

So yeah, this service ain’t gonna work out. But hey, fun dress-up session. Again also, it’s also good to know that my measurements seem to be right on—and that it is possible to find clothes that fit me! This is such a novelty! And an important point. I have never in my life found masculine clothes for my frame. And, that’s because, not only am I not a dude; I’ve never been shaped like one. And now I’m really not.

All of which speaks to—hrm.

A thing I’ve been learning just recently is—presentation-wise, my tendency has been to play it slow and safe, right? Dress down in public, even as my tits become harder to hide and my face changes and my hips grow. I’ve been reluctant to go too overtly femme, as I didn’t imagine I could pull it off and I felt kind of vulnerable to think about it.

But, turns out. It suits me. Like, this is actually me.

It’s not only fine; it’s not just that it works okay and I shouldn’t worry about it. It actively works really really well. way better than the half-steps I’ve been settling with and way better than anything I’ve worn in my life. And I feel amazing. Like, I found something here. Maybe if I could dig up something similar, but cheaper—and with a bit of lace? A dress, and maybe some cheap, stimmy white-metal jewelry. I hadn’t at all considered the stim factor, and now I want to keep going with it. (Again, god, I wish thrift stores were a thing one could reasonably visit in the year 2020.)

I just had this flash. Imagine waking up in the morning and actually being excited to get dressed—like, it being a fun thing that served to enrich one’s day, rather than a thing one had to do. I bet that’s what it’s like for some people, assembling themselves each day.

It also is becoming clear to me just how much clothing affects one’s presentation. I mean—duh, right? But normally I don’t much notice clothing. It’s just a thing that rests atop the essence of a person, and my attention brushes right past it like the furniture of an entryway. It’s decorative, not structural.

The thing is, no detail exists in a bubble and clothing isn’t just about the clothing; it affects how everything else is read. Weirdly I think even my face looks different when attached to well-fitted, clearly feminine-coded dress. The brain, it picks up all these different peripheral contextual clues, which add up to change the overall perception, the meaning of any component detail. Change the bulk of the signals, and that changes how one reads what’s left.

Even a face, it’s relative, not absolute in what it serves to communicate. My face is more masculinized than feels comfortable to me—the jaw, the brow, the chin—but much of the significance to those elements seems to dissolve next to a form-fitting, low-cut dress and other distractions.

Masculinity, femininity; they’re arbitrary and exist on a scale. Different people have different faces, and even with testosterone damage mine is fairly androgynous really. So take a broadly androgynous face and surround it with all these other signifiers, and one’s perception shifts to fit one’s expectation. It’s kind of like color theory. The features look different as dimensions in a broader context than they might seem on their own. Lots of women have an angular face, and if everything else is coded feminine nothing seems all that strange about it.

Figuring out a lot here that I hadn’t really thought about. I’m going to be chewing on all this for a long time.