This post looks back to my thoughts when I first began to transition. Before that when I first recognized my womanhood I was quite unsure of myself. What do I do? It took about five months to come out to my partner, Bette. Even then I didn’t know whether I would transition or be a stay at home girl. Four months later on July 10, 2019 I made the leap and officially started my transition. What at that time seem to be beyond the possible or was a big unknown? That’s what this post is going to explore. This is also somewhat of a sister post to (Things I Didn’t Expect) in a mirror image sort of way. This one looks to the feelings back then and the steps that occurred to make these doubts go away; the other one looks at it from the perspective of now-a-days.

Will I do okay with makeup? Will there be a time when I will not have to wear a wig? Will hormone treatment really feminize my body? Is passing† possible? Will I ever feel comfortable navigating the world out there as a woman? Will Bette ever see me as a woman? These are the questions (doubts) that were in the forefront of my mind as I began to transition.

Well, I did managed to do my makeup to the satisfaction of Bette (who taught me how to apply it) and myself. But, it didn’t start off to smoothly. I had to learn how to apply the foundation and powder smoothly, do my eyebrows with an eyebrow pencil (I tried other methods, but they were worse), apply mascara appropriately, selecting and putting on lipstick, and the most difficult for me applying eyeshadow appropriately.

The foundation and powder didn’t take too long. Several months at most. Eyebrows took a bit more, and they can still frustrate me. Getting them even is the prob. I also eventually switched to a lighter shade. I used soft black mainly because it matched my wigs’ color when I was wearing them. Now it is most often light brunette, which is more forgiving than the black or even the brunette, which would be a closer match to my hair color. Mascara and lipstick fell into place next. Mascara can be tricky to get right, so even today I make mistakes. And, finally the eyeshadow issue was resolved by light application and choosing lighter colors (Bette’s preference). At the six month mark I felt I had hit a stage that my makeup was satisfactory on most days.

I have continue to refine my overall makeup routine as well as improve my application techniques. I switch to Elf face primer instead of foundation under my powder. Blush also came and went. I didn’t really care for it. I also found that using mascara primer made my lashes look thicker, and for the most part easier to apply. With mascara I found that rolling the applicator from based to the tips works well. I also switch applicators on my eyeshadow. I went from brush to small foam pads. I found I had much more control over the amount of shadow and the actual application. Most recently I use both foundation and powder of my primer application.

What amazed me was when I began to get compliments, even from strangers in line at a cash register. Many have said my eyes are beautiful and asked how I do my eyebrows. That was pretty wild being ask how when only a short time ago really I hadn’t a clue other than Bette’s coaching. The last time I got a compliment on my eyes I was told that they were “gorgeous.” I will leave Bette’s comments until later, but she began to give them the thumps up too.

Okay, so I have androgynous alopecia (sounds marginally better than male-patterned baldness, yuck). So, it was imperative that I cover my forehead and crown areas, except at home where it does not matter so much. But, when I would go out it was absolutely essential that those parts would be covered. For the most part it was wigs, especially in the beginning. When I was out walking for exercise I wore what are sold as chemo scarfs, but if I was going anywhere else I chose a wig with or without a hat.

When I started out as Stephie my hair was crop short as it was easy to take care of. So, any time I covered it with a hat or scarf I felt it looked strange. Eventually, it began to grow out slowly. Month by month it grew longer until I felt it looked natural enough to wear hats or scarfs and be comfortable with how it looked. This took at least a year. Slowly I stop wearing my wigs (I had four) at all.

Now days I don’t wear any wigs, and haven’t for over a year. It had finally reach the trimming stage, which I had done on September 18, 2021 (My First Hair Trim). At this point Bette packed them away and put away my wig hangers as well. I have even gone out with my hair in a pony tail. I really never thought I would see these days. Days of freedom from wigs. Not that they looked bad. They were just a hassle to don. They could also be a bit cumbersome and always felt odd on my head. So, as with being comfortable with my makeup application, I was also comfortable with my own hair, although it is essential to keep it covered except at home, and then only in front of Bette.

With feminizing hormone treatment (commonly called hrt) was where my biggest doubts had been. Among these doubts the strongest was would my face become more feminine in appearance or at least less masculine. To a certain degree I don’t have overly masculine facial features, nor a prominent Adam’s apple. Still, I did not care for my facial features even with the illusion towards the feminine that makeup creates. Time proved me wrong. At about the 8 – 9 month hrt mark, I began to notice significant changes. Even without makeup these days I don’t see much masculinity in my face. But, this is now. Back before the changes came about the doubts were there; I could not see how hormones would be able to do much. So this doubt was worrisome.

The next doubt that my mind entertained was the appearance of a feminine figure. According to most (all?) lists of results fat is deposited or shifted to ones butt, hips, and thighs. How could I hope to pass or even be comfortable with my own image? My attitude would slowly change. It began with noticing that my upper thighs looked fuller on sides from a looking down perspective. I noticed this on a walk. I even remarked about this to a woman friend I ran into on that walk, who I had previously come out to, and she agreed with my assessment. This change occurred at about the 4 – 5 month mark.

The next change was first noticed by Bette; this was that my butt was bigger. It took a while for me to see this myself, but I could eventually see that my butt stuck out more from the back. When I did notice this change I realized that my hips also appeared bigger. From the back view in the mirror I could definitely see a figure. The front view is marred by my big tummy. Supposedly, fat is suppose to redistribute from the stomach to the hips and thighs. For me this did not happen. It could be do to significant weight gain since starting hrt. Still, my fears were allayed over time in regards to obtaining a feminine figure. But the days before I had significant doubts, maybe not as strong as the facial doubts but still prominent.

Okay, lets talk breasts. Here I did not have such great doubts, but nonetheless they were there. I had dreamed of having cute A-cup breasts from even before my transition, and my full recognition of being a woman. Would I have my dream breasts? Yes, no, maybe. I suppose the most frequent answer was maybe. But the change started about 3 months into hrt. It began with soreness under the nipple area followed by definite nodules underneath. Soon there would be no mistake; I was growing breasts. By 6 months my breasts began to take shape, and within a year of beginning hrt I had A-cup breasts for sure. Since, then they have gotten fuller, but not a whole lot bigger. I felt I had arrived; my dream had come true. So this doubt, the lesser of them all, subsided the fastest.

The final doubt, a bit different than the others, was would my emotions change significantly on hrt. I noticed that I payed much more attention to my intuitions even before beginning hrt. This could have been an attitude thing. Society deems (rightly or wrongly) that only women are guided by their intuitions. This is actually false; it is my belief that woman are more conscious of their intuitions and more liable to give them heed, as they are given freer latitude by society to do so.

So, intuition is one thing, how about changes I noticed after starting hrt. I felt I had become more sensitive and moody. Some of this was due to low thyroid functioning. Mostly the moodiness. Tears also flowed easier, not that I was gushing tears. None of these changes were in much doubt. But what about a deeper sense of my womanhood. Was this truly a discovery or was it another layer of awareness? Did hrt have anything to do with it? What I can say is it has made me much more comfortable in my own skin. That had been one of the biggest questions in my mind from the beginning. Would I ever be comfortable being a transgender woman? Was it possible? I would, and it is (see more on this below).

Okay, the million dollar question for many beginning their transition—would I ever pass? “Passing” for those that do not know is the ability to be perceived by others (and to a degree by oneself) as their gender of identity, and not as the sex they were assigned at birth. You could also say it is the act of actually being perceived in the way you wish. One is basically behind the scene. In other words what is in the mind. The other is assessing the situation based on verbal or other nonverbal clues which genders one correctly. For me one of the things that indicates it is being called “ma’am” instead of “sir.”

So, could I pass? At the time this seemed beyond my abilities. How would they be able to realized I was a woman, and not a man in a dress (for me most likely a skirt). Fortunately with time and the belief that I could pass it began to look more likely. I realized that most of my mannerisms were feminine. Not that I don’t want to take some credit in my ability to pass, but to a large extent this ability to pass was pushed along by hrt.

Slowly, I began to get gendered correctly (with a large amount of gender euphoria in the beginning). This began to become more and more frequent, so when based on looks and nonverbal clues I do so happen to pass. When based on looks alone this is almost 100% of the time. It is my voice that gives me away if anything these days. My voice training has been interrupted, but still I am able in short bursts to create a feminine sounding voice. I can tell this by being able to pass on the phone. But, it is easy for me to loose focus. I am actually beginning to feel if they misgender me because of my voice, then that is their problem. My reliance on others gendering me correctly to feel I am now walking in the world as the woman I am has lessoned muchly.

This leads to the second to last question I spoke of at the beginning of this post. Would I ever be comfortable as a woman? Both for myself and based on how others see me. This question actually has several stages involved with it. The first stage was the confidence to walk out the door. The second would be when I did not place so much emphasis on passing. The third and maybe the final stage has just been reached recently, which is it doesn’t matter what the world may think of me.

Walking out the door was helped with a behavior I wrote about in my post – The Ta-Da. I would stand in front of the mirror and say “ta-da” with my arms stretched out in front of Bette (most of the time). I only saw in retrospect that this gave me a boost to get out the door, kind of a pep talk. When did I hit this stage? Probably sometime in 2020. About the same time I started hrt. So this confidence came before I even began hormones. I would still do the ta-da moment, but it has become more out of fun at this point.

Stage two came about through a conscious decision to prepare myself to go out or on video meetings, not by whether or not I would pass, but judging it in relation to how nice I looked. The two actually went hand in hand. The more I applied this new approach the more I found that I passed. This most likely occurred at around the time of my one year hrt transversary in April of 2021.

The last stage has only occurred recently. It occurred around the time I realized I had always been a woman back last November. See that post here – I Have Always Been. I never had internal doubt that I wasn’t really woman (imposter syndrome), but the feelings since that time is I see myself moving in the world as a woman with none or little reinforcement from others. Stephie’s growing up explores this maturity.

Seeing myself as a woman in the world also occurred about the time I reach the answer to the last question I posed. Would Bette ever see me as a woman? Back sometime ago she did mention that I was attractive (the compliment I alluded to above), but only recently did I ask point blank—”Do you now see me as a woman?” Her answer was yes with one caveat. This was when my voice was raised in volume when I was upset. It is then that my voice really drops back into solid male pitch territory. This must produce a click in her brain.‡ Still, for quite awhile I did not know if she saw me as a woman. But, now I will be content with the knowledge that she does, if not 100% of the time.

So, all the things I questioned whether they would come to be reality or not indeed have done so. I am confident in my ability to apply my makeup. I no longer wear wigs. Hormone treatment has feminized my body in all the ways I had wished it would. As far as I know I pass most of the time based on other people’s reaction to me. I have become comfortable navigating the world as a woman. And finally, Bette does see me as a woman.

† Passing should not even be a consideration. No one should have to meet some standard of femininity. Perhaps for transgender women it digs deeper as we can be reject just for stating our gender no matter how we appear. I speak as a transgender woman, but I imagine there is a passing issue on the male side, where masculinity is the standard. Passing, also, sounds like your being graded like meat Prime? or Choice? or Reject? I wrote this post Saying “Fuck” to Passing, and I am now working on a new one.

‡ I have come to think that people gender others by voice on an unconscious level. This explains Bette’s thinking, and also my observation that I can be passing swimmingly, and then my voice goes too low. Bingo—the switch in their brain goes off—the misgendering occurs automatically.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s