I’m getting close to my first year, and what have I experienced?
Without doubt the mental journey is far more difficult than the physical one. Let’s be honest the physical change does that by itself…the psychological…is down to me.
Leaving all the physical to one side, I will try and explain what the first year was like.
It began with excitement, a sense of euphoria of releasing the inner woman. I had no understanding of what was coming but I did have an over confidence that believed I could overcome anything. That is how most everything in life starts though eh?
In my mind this was a program of planned events but in fact it was much more an emotional one, without predictable outcomes or a known timetable. A journey to a fixed destination, I thought, which was both wrong and ill conceived.
There is no destination, I’m not going to wake up one day and be that ‘perfect woman’ I have always wanted to be. Nor is the trip going to be predictable or lined with events I am used too. I’m not even going to be who I was at the outset.
When I began my hormones were in male balance and my everyday life was as it has always been. Looking at transition through rose tinted spectacles is to be expected. I could only see what I wanted to see. I had looked at all those before/after transwomen photos online…and I couldn’t wait for mine. The fact that I blindly accepted them as genuine was a mistake, I can see that now.
I couldn’t have prepared for this, how can you? What was coming was my mind would not see and process my life in the way it had always done. Hormones spiked my brain. It no longer functioned in the same way. Emotions, depression, anxiety, happiness, stress all different. Some I could handle and some, without support and help…I couldn’t.
The first few months
I wanted to tell everyone, create a new Facebook profile and be Alex! In the early weeks it was all about me, I had the support of my sister and my home life was safe. I didn’t have any women’s clothes but I figured I could put that right with a shopping trip into town. My hair was a lot shorter than it had ever been which was a pity, but still long enough to appear female.
Going outside in make-up was high on my list. Was I brave enough?
Walking down a high street where plenty of people might know me was made slightly easier because of Covid facemasks. It was still a big challenge though. I was going to be 80% male dressed and looking, only the make-up would be different. I had yet to buy some women’s shoes.
It comes down to commitment, when to go outside and show the world. In itself not a big physical challenge but it did feel a big moment (even though I had often worn makeup in the past for various reasons)
This initial stage for me wasn’t too difficult, I have a lot of self confidence and a strong personality. The first few outings, walking into supermarkets and down the high street felt comfortable, if a little awkward, I went unchallenged. There was a desire to look for reaction in peoples faces but after all I was only wearing eye makeup…not a huge thing in itself.
I did become more self aware in the those first days, keen to look and act the part but not knowing how exactly to walk or stand. Hands out of pockets was a hard habit to break…one of many.
There is a desire to watch women and how they act. It was more important than ever now.
The first month was rewarding and largely unchallenging, I spent a lot of time trying to be and act female, more than was necessary looking back. It must have looked false in many ways. I doubt I was fooling anyone.
There is a psychological shift in the early days but it is largely superficial, everything is easy and fun. There was over-estimation of how quickly I would change and also how much of my old life I would leave behind.
Telling friends and family
I had already told my sister…as we lived in the same house. Her support and wealth of knowledge have made my transition not only easier but looking back, possible at all. It is hard to overstate how much I needed a close female friend.
I added a few personal close friends to my list; all woman, I don’t actually have any male friends. Also I work for myself, mostly online or in my studio, so I didn’t have to come out in the workplace. That was a big plus. Their enthusiasm and support helped my self confidence and commitment.
There is a turning point here, once you have told people you are transitioning and explained the reasons, there is no turning back. These things can never be unsaid.
There is a feeling of self worth and also I was the star of the show. A nice feeling. Had I met any resistance or lack of support it would have been harder, in my case I hadn’t.
Also though there is a sense of responsibility to carrying it forward, it is no longer just what I want to do…it is now an expectation by others. The journey is already changing. These things alter my perspective on life and the role I play in my world. This is when the inner conflicts begin.
People react to you differently, especially friends. Women give men more respect and position than women…once on their level you aren’t so special anymore. Not yet a threat but the dialogue begins to change. You now have to fit in with their view of what is acceptable and appropriate. In some cases I got pushed down the pecking order, this new position takes some getting used too. Not being a man removes privileges. It is still early days, and most people will still treat you as male but that is the path ahead.
The hormone effect
By the second month physical things had changed. Libido stops, while for me that was expected and welcomed, it does have an effect on who I feel I am.
Maleness shows itself in so many ways, what I took for granted was now seriously undermined.
An example is a car journey home:
I had put on nice clothes and makeup, my hair done too. Driving along the motorway some 100miles from home my car broke down. I’m on a busy road and a stranded woman! This is a stressful situation and my female hormones went on full alert. I got incredibly stressed not least because my breakdown cover didn’t cover this car. Normally I would have coped…but I couldn’t. Emotionally I was a wreck as it headed towards getting dark. After nearly 2hours a friend came to my rescue and I got back home but I was ill from the stress for 2 days. Nothing like that had ever happened before, I have always coped…and from far worse than that.
These are watersheds in transition, the reliance on yourself are seriously undermined. Whenever I get in a car now…I am aware of my vulnerability. When I went to pick the car up from the garage, I couldn’t rely on a male attitude to work with. I had changed and that is just one of many things.
There is a positive side of course. I had always cried at songs, films, weddings and tried to disguise it…now I don’t have too. I can be my emotional self as much as I want.
Then there is the darker side of the hormone effect, the dark days the self doubt the depressions and the recurring gender dysphoria that likes to tear apart my self confidence and self image.
The devil on my back, my own subconscious and inner monologue. Life is hard enough without having to fight yourself surely. It is part of the process too; mind games.
My preparation had been quite thorough, the months on plant based estrogen allowed me to be quite focused on not only being a women on the outside but also what I was going to do when it finally happened. I could decide before I began. My name Alexandria itself grew from a long standing salute I had given myself.
I had discussed it with my sister in advance, we talked about all the implications and the effect I would have on my family and friends. I guess it would be dramatic to just come ‘out’ in a theatrical moment….but that is not my style.
the mind of a women
By the third month I had bought plenty of women’s clothes. That in itself is a mindset and a jungle of problems and confusion. I have talked about clothing, shoes, makeup, jewellery, shoes elsewhere on this site so I won’t duplicate it here.
Buying things is easy, what works on my figure and with my personality is a very different thing. That is something I have to learn, like a young to teenage girl, trial and error, Influence and interpretation. I bought a lot of things I wore, looked ridiculous and didn’t wear again. There is no way round this one. I am a woman not yet formed, that is a crash course for the more mature trans person. A women takes years to find her image…I have a few months.
I’m not saying it isn’t fun and being in and out of women’s changing rooms is a good thing. The constant contact and interaction with other woman is a vital part I believe. This trans woman is not going to be an island. I’m one of them, not separate. I have been amazes and very grateful that woman have tolerated and had support for my transition. If I ask for help and advice…I generally get it…and I ask a lot.
This female outlook and attitude isn’t always instinctive, the male side still shows itself. My biggest problem is jumping into a conversation too quickly or talking over people…a little…not a lot. But that is not feminine, women generally don’t do that. Another is curtesy, I need to leave more space and give way more. It may sound like I am changing myself to new gender conventions…and I am. These things are largely instilled into gender roles, they are not natural instincts.
Somedays I felt a fraud, that I wasn’t a woman at all. I’d look in the mirror and think, ‘really?’ Who do you think you are fooling? On those days I would only put on the most basic of makeup…but always my perfume?
That self doubt made me feel very male…but looking back it wasn’t, women have days like that to. There was a tendency to see everything negative as male. Transition of my mind took all the baggage with it, why would I think it would’t? Emotions are heightened by hormones so of course my view was distorted.
Self appreciation increased, in particular health. I saw my body as a more special thing, something to be kept healthy and respected, unlike the male view of the body as a sort of works van to be used, abused and neglected.
…more here soon