My Progress Continues

Back in January of 2020 I wrote My Amazing Progress as I was just finishing my social transition and made arrangements to embark on hrt and voice feminization training. I will say straight off say that I am even more pleased with my progress than I was back then. Of course, the road has been bumpy at times, but the overall direction and progress is very good indeed.

I will say now at the start that I feel very fortunate, not wanting to take anything for granted, to have made the progress I have made. I know many do not have the advantages and privileges (I am Privileged) that I do, and their transitions are much more problematic then mine.

I started out that previous post describing how far I had already come in presenting as a woman fulltime. That is now the complete reality of the situation. I have not worn either in the apartment or outside of the apartment anything other then feminine looking clothing since January of 2020. And cross hormone treatment (commonly called hrt) makes my body more presentable (see below). I also now have a decent wardrobe thanks to the first covid-19 stimulus check, and the additions before and afterwards. I think it is nice that I actually have to choose my outfit for the day. I mentioned wigs in that old post; now I have 4 wigs, and my hair is getting longer so wearing scarfs and hats is looking pretty good.

I mentioned the comfortability factor. All I can say (yeah right) is I feel all is right with the world. I have no qualms about stepping out as Stephie, and I take particular care of what I wear and how I look. It just seems natural to approach presenting in this way, like many other woman. I am comfortable with all this. And, why shouldn’t I? In every way in my mind I see myself as a woman. This is so even though I have not had my bottom surgery (see more below) yet. I did an experiment the other night before I fell asleep. I tried to think like I was a man. I had absolutely no idea how to do it. If I ever had a sense of being a man (for another post), it is absolutely gone. So, yes I have made progress in being comfortable presenting as the woman I am. Besides things that most other women worry about, this is 100%.

I can report that I no longer hide my womanly presentation to my girlfriend’s Christian friend. This is after I came out to her after I got my ears pierced, so I thought it was time to explain myself as a woman. Gradually, I began to dress more feminine around her, and now she sees me in my skirts and wigs. She still won’t call me Stephie, and probably doesn’t even acknowledge that there are trans* persons. She told me “god create them male and female.” Little does she know that that biblical phrase can support the idea that we were create as androgynous creatures. It is all bullshit! So, she won’t call me Stephie, but will go out to lunch with me, dressed in a skirt and wig.

Bette (my girlfriend) and I have now come out to all of her immediate family. I did most of the talking, but she gave me the go ahead. Some of these family members I gave permission to to come out to spouses. Her relatives from afar do not need to know as there is little chance of seeing them, but I would like it still if Bette were to mention that I no longer go by my birthname and wish to go by Stephie to those that know or know about me as my birth name. The news was best received from her younger sister and her niece-in-law. I even heard that the brother-in-law connected to this sister referred to me as Stephie not to long ago.

I have come out to one more provider, since my earlier post. It was to my gastroenterology provider. Again I had no problem there. I have seen her only by one tele-appointment thus far. She was kind and thorough as always, minus the physical exam, of course. There are two other current providers that I have yet to come out to. One is my neurosurgeon, who has operated on my neck twice. This will happen soon as I will need refills on the pain meds he prescribes for residual pain. The other is my pain management doctor. Here there is no immediate need. He had seen my shaved pubic region when he gave me a shot in the groin for nerve pain cause my a mesh used to repair a hernia. If and when I need his services I will reveal to him prior to the needed visit.

Things are still going good at the mental health program I attend (now via Zoom). There are new clients who joined the program, and I come out to them as need be, which is sooner rather than later because I often talk about my transition, which I feel free to do so there. And, except for one small incidence (see Why is This Bothering Me So Much?) I have only been called or referred to as Stephie, and only my proper pronouns (she/her) have been used.

{I have one other coming out to report before moving on to other matters. I came out to my two male roommates last spring. I share a piggyback townhome with them. We are part of a special housing program for those who have mental health concerns. I am rarely there as I am at Bette’s almost all the time. I still go over to get my mail and hang out a bit. My first step was to come out to the property manager, which went very well. Since, then he has not misnamed or misgendered me. The setting for coming out to my roommates was via a conference call with a tenant mediator available to residents to work out any issues between them. This went well as well. I have not encountered any issues with my roommates. Since, coming out I finally went to my place to collected my mail and present as a woman. I had not been there since I had become a fulltime presenter since the previous January. One roommate who has been my roommate for 18 years is adjusting to using my name (Stephie). He still has many slips, but corrects himself immediately. The other one, who has only been there for less than a year, has smoothly transition to using my name. Last weekend he called me Steph, which I find endearing from the right person. I see it as being comfortable enough with me to refer to me casually.

My relationship with Bette is also going very well. It continues to go as it has gone in the past with the exception of a lot of conversations involving my gender identity and transition. I had reported that at times she would call me Stephie, especially when she wanted my attention. Now, it is a definite majority of the time. If she slips, and refers to me by my birthname, she soon corrects herself. She hardly ever slips up when she refers to me when speaking with others (even her Christian friend), and uses my proper pronouns. It now appears that she is fully accepting and supportive. She may still not understand it all, but neither do I, granted I know a lot more than she does.

I have indeed started cross hormone treatment (commonly referred to as hrt). This began in April of last year (2020), and my one year transversary (a commonly used title for the celebration† of big events in one’s transition) for hrt is little over a month over away. I am currently on 6 mg of estradiol and 200 mg spironolactone per day. My breasts have grown in, still no more than an A-cup in bra size, but pretty noticeable. Even enough to fill out my sports bras. My body also now has a more feminine figure with weight going to my hips and upper thighs. Bette is always remarking on how my buns have grown too. Hair growth on my body appears to have slowed a bit. This is most noticeable on my back. Not much has occurred above my torso, but there appears to be a very slight thickening in connection with my androgynous alopecia. With my meticulous skin care the supposed softening of my skin is not really noticeable as it has been soft for several years. The only thing as far as my skin is concerned is more sensitive facial skin.

I had started my voice feminization training in February (2020), but it was cancelled after four sessions because the speech lab at the university I began to work with closed down due to covid-19 safety concerns. The university began tele-sessions with the fall semester, which I accepted. I managed to make some progress, but began to feel frustrated during the last half of the semester. It seems like they were adding thing after thing and I mentally started to tank when they started to work with intonations.

There was a reason for this situation. I had developed hypothyroidism. This had me very fatigued, irritable, and depressed at times. These symptoms prevent me from doing my home practice most of the time. I completely lost it when ask to do a voice recording prior to receiving my home program for the school winter break. My dysphoria connected with my voice came roaring in, and I feared that I would not be able to handle it. Thankfully, I have almost completely recovered with medication with some residual fatigue, but no more irritability or depressive episodes. The bit of fatigue does not prevent me from my normal activities as my motivation is at its usual high level.

So, I was able to begin the spring semester’s sessions with greater ability to apply the training and the energy to do my home practicing. It has only been 4 weeks in, but the professor who is supervising the graduate student I am working with, and so far has been in the sessions with a few times going off for short periods of time, is saying I have already made very good progress. Supposedly, I accomplished something unheard of. This was going from basic sounds (“mmm”) and vowels to short phrases (2 or 3 words) in one session (my second). Does this give me more confidence? Maybe a small bit, but my doubts are still alive and well, albeit in attenuated form.

By June last year I had made up my mind and decided to seek vaginoplasty surgery (frequently referred to as bottom surgery). Toward this end I have secured a surgeon and have had a telephone intake and received a follow up call. Initially, I was misinformed that Medicare would be covering the cost. I was disabused of this during the intake. However, the clinical program director, the person I had my intake with, at the transgender health center where I will be having the surgery at, said that I could get all the preliminaries done, but would not be able to get my first appointment with the surgeon until Medicare approves the surgery,^ or I get some other source of funding. Not very likely in my opinion.

These requirements include the two required letters of recommendation from qualified mental health providers, both of which the first drafts have already been written. They need my medical records, which they actually have, since I use physicians in my area connected with the university where the center resides. Also, I will need to submit the records for all my surgeries of the last ten years. This should not present a problem. The requirement for being on hrt for a year will certainly be attained on April 8th.

There will still be the logistics to figure out. This will be rides to and from (around a 50 mile trip) to the center. This in the end will hopefully not be a problem, but I still need to confirm that I can get medical transportation at no cost, or get Bette’s Christian friend to drive me, which I have not ruled out. I will also have to secure housing near the hospital for a week for the immediate follow-up and being close by in case of any complications after being discharged. For a month following surgery I will need to find assistance at home (or so they say). Medicare may provide this. Finally, I will need to have electrolysis around my genitals as prep for the surgery. I have found an experience electrolysist in this procedure, and I have even secured financing (my father has agreed to pay, see – A Daughter and Her Father). This is a lot, but I am convince that I will be able to handle it. And, also be able to handle the surgery and its aftercare.

The surgery is one area that initially Bette had qualms about. I had to put up with the repeated “are you sure?” question. Eventually, I was able to convince her that I was, or at least she has not ask for over a half of a year. Whether she still has inner qualms or not, I do not know. If so, she is keeping a tight lip about it. Although, she has indicate that she still doesn’t understand why I desire it so much.

I have accomplished one more thing I did not mention in the earlier post. This is I have started working on doing advocacy work beyond the personal interactions I have with others or write about in some of my blog posts. I have been accepted into a transgender mentor program as a mentor (I should do a post on my progress). I have already had the first training session, and by the end of March I shall start mentoring a mentee. This, however is only part of the program. We are require to lead at least one workshop, and possibly lead an affinity group (not even sure what that is), which is not required. I see the workshop as good training for doing public advocacy work. I have a couple of topics for the workshop. One of which is using a reframing technique, which is one cognitive behavioral tool, I am familiar with. I have used it quite successfully in dealing with a couple of my dysphoria issues.

One other thing of major note. My name as you may know if you have read any of my post that have mentioned it is now legally Stephie Iris W*******. In addition to the court ordered legal name change, I now have this name at Social Security, but am still awaiting the change to occur at Medicare. Medicaid and most of my financial accounts have been change over to my name. I will be getting my State ID card in April. The 14th was the soonest I could get an appointment. There are a few other changes that need to be address, but I am working on those too.

So, this is me in the present and hopefully near future. And I want to once again say how fortunate I have been in my transitioning, and how amazing it has been.

^ The reason for the lack of ability for Medicare to pay for this type of surgery is that in order for the surgeon to bill them, they need to set the criteria for the surgery. Until then, surgery won’t be possible with Medicare/Medicaid funding. However, the clinical director was optimistic that if the democrats took the White House this situation will be rectified. For my part I sent a message to the White House on day two to move Medicare to set the criteria. I also plan on calling my House of Representative and my two Senators, asking them push for the criteria to be set.

† I plan on celebrating at a Bonefish Grill as I have already have had two transversary celebrations (My One Year Mark of Transitioning Celebration and Stephie’s Two Year Birthday Celebration) there, which were great.

4 thoughts on “My Progress Continues

  1. Your progress Stephie is so positive. I love the way I can feel your optimism as you write. It is such a wonderful journey you are sharing with us and I am a tad jealous of your progress. Thanks so much for writing in such a open way.
    Stay safe
    Jenny 🙋🏻‍♀️

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks Jenny. First for making comment at all, it shows that I have made at least somewhat of a impression, good or bad. Second, for the actual content, that does show the impression I have made.

      My optimism was not always a part of my life (it was absent for the most part for 35 years of depression), but now it is a welcomed guess, and it still surprises me how optimistic I am for myself. I wish I could say the same about the world at large. I seemed to have retain a large part of my cynicism, which had been turned in on myself.

      I won’t say “don’t be jealous at all,” but I do not wish to dictate anyone’s feelings. Your feelings are your and therefore are valid. You may not like the feelings, but they are yours all the same. Feelings were one thing I had to deal with before my eyes were open to my identity as a woman. But, I did learn and continue to learn. The days of ignoring them are over. Now I celebrate all my feelings both the good ones (for the most part easy to deal with) and the bad ones as they are both part of what living has become for me.

      Your welcome Jenny, I don’t know if I can write in any other way. The challenge is how open to be. Is this relevant to my point(s) I am trying to make.

      All the best, Stephie

      Liked by 3 people

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