What if he changes his mind?

This question baffles me.

No one has ever asked me what I would do if Matt changed his mind, but I’ve read of many parents of gender-nonconforming kids being asked this relentlessly.

I don’t think a person could meet Matt and then ask me what we would do if he “changed his mind”. There isn’t a fiber in his being that suggests he’s anything other than male.

But, I love Matt. I love him immensely.

If he changed his mind, about being trans, I’d do everything in my power to help him feel loved and safe.

Would it be easy? Absolutely not. Generally speaking I don’t find myself attracted to feminine features. I love beards. I love treasure trails. I love deep voices. I love tough, strong men. But would I still want to be with him? Yes.

I would do everything in my power to help get him back to a place where he feels comfortable in his body.

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masculinity, hamanity, and dysphoria

One of the things that really helps to pull me out of my dysphoria is to do things that are both intrinsically masculine* as well as a reflection of my humanity. It’s not always the deep chasms of dysphoria that I’m escaping; sometimes it’s just a twinge of sadness after something trivial happens or a moment of frustration when my body isn’t being the body that I want/need it to be.

The intrinsically masculine part seems a bit obvious in that if I’m not feeling masculine enough then reaffirming my masculinity in a personal way would be helpful, but the bit about doing something that reflects my humanity is equally as, if not more, important.

In the moments that I’m feeling dysphoric, I feel like my physical body is so wrong that the rest of me feels hopeless and lost. It’s a terrible thing to feel like the only tangible thing that is truly yours is false, and not only that it’s false but that it is so incredibly false that every intangible thing doesn’t even have value or worth anymore.

I can’t even count how many times I’ve been stuck in my cyclical dysphoric thoughts and reasoned that if a body is only as good as the sum of it’s parts, and if all of my parts were offensively inaccurate, then I as a sum of my parts must also be offensively inaccurate.

It’s a horrible place to be in, but it’s also completely incorrect; which is why it’s so important to do things that reflect my humanity.

In the most diluted and simplistic way, when I need a pick-me-up I like doing things that require me to use tools, that make me connect with other people, that make me use my strength and power, that make me reflect on what it means to be alive and what it means to live.

Things that I’ve done to help get myself out of a dysphoric place:

  • Wet shaving
  • Weight lifting
  • Volunteering at a men’s homeless shelter
  • Going for a meditative walk in the woods
  • Calling my dad and talking to him about life
  • Cleaning my apartment and thinking about the things in my life
  • Building things, whether it’s made of wood, cloth, or Legos
  • Playing with children
  • Visiting my parents or grandparents
  • Asking someone else how they are feeling and getting a real answer

Some of these things seem like normal things to do, and that’s the beauty of it. For me, dysphoria is all about losing perspective of what it means to be a normal version of yourself. Sometimes just doing normal things is all it takes to remember that the sum of your parts, no matter how offensively inaccurate they might feel, will always be exponentially more valuable and extraordinary than they would ever be divided.

* Of course, what is intrinsically masculine to me could be intrinsically feminine to someone else or, more likely, not necessarily intrinsically anything. It could lack association to either end of the spectrum. What I classify as “masculine” is based on how I feel, so bear that in mind through this post and this blog.

dealing with dysphoria as a cis-partner

I am so lucky to have met Matt at this point in his transition. I feel so lucky that he is established as a man in his (and everyone in his life’s mind). Blessed, actually.

I see stories often on the /r/MyPartnerIsTrans subreddit of couples who have been together, as seemingly cisgender individuals, now faced with one partner transitioning. The toll on each partner, not to mention the relationship, their families, their friends… it’s unimaginable.

I like to think that I am a strong woman. I like to think that the love that I feel for Matt is unconditional. That being said, I can never begin to guess how I would feel if he told me he needed to transition for the first time or even to detransition.

In trying to understand dysphoria’s place in my life, Matt’s life, and our relationship I had been pondering what I thought dysphoria felt like for Matt and not what it felt like for me.

I’ve been struggling to find words to find something I’ve never felt before. It doesn’t really feel like my topic to talk about. Dysphoria is a trans thing. Right?

Dysphoria is something I can witness, but it feels weird for me to talk about it from my perspective. No one has ever asked me what it feels like to be dysphoric, so I never considered it. But it still exists in my life. I still encounter dysphoria because I have a trans boyfriend.

Matt is generally really comfortable in his skin. Suddenly he didn’t want to be naked in front of me. I’m not sure if it was embarrassment fueled by the dysphoria, but I went a few days without seeing him totally naked. I’d tug at his boxers and he’d give me a look of discomfort. Like, what was underneath was foreign and he didn’t want to have to look at it.

So, what does it feel like for me when Matt feels dysphoric? I feel helpless. I feel absolutely useless.

There is nothing I can read on the internet to help me understand dysphoria. There is no quick guide for dealing with a dysphoric boyfriend. These first six months of our relationship have consisted of me learning about trans-ness as a general topic. There isn’t any way for me to understand away dysphoria. It’s not something I said, it’s not something I did, it’s not something I triggered.

I wanted to caress his face, and feel his beard, but I was worried he’d think I was drawing attention to one of his “manlier” characteristics. I wanted to lay my head across his chest, he always loves that, but I was worried he’d think I was drawing attention to his post-op chest. I wanted to tell him that I’m here for him. That I love him, no matter what. That I would do anything in my power to ease his pain. But I still fight an internal struggle. I don’t want him feel demasculinized. In that moment, I want to help him forget all the things that hurt him, not emphasize the things that are hurting him.

And then suddenly, the dysphoria passed.

It was like a switch. It seemed to be a really short time  between Matt wanting his boxers to stay plastered just beneath his belly button and Matt wanting me to rip his clothes off and screw like little bunnies.

It was surprising. We didn’t really change anything in his routine, I didn’t do anything differently… There wasn’t a fix that I could see and it was unsettling for me.

In a perfect world, I wish that he had the ability to communicate what he’s feeling. Not just to help me visualize what hurts (emotionally or otherwise), but to help see how he went from 0 to 60. What triggered him. What flipped the switch.

That being said, I recognize that Matt generally does things to the best of his ability. When he’s dealing with dysphoria, I might as well be talking to Harry Potter seated next to a dementor. I get that that’s all he’s got in him. There are some days where I come home from work in a huffy. It had nothing to do with Matt, but I’m in the fuck-everyone mood. I understand that Matt is human, and that he probably wants the exact same thing out of me, when I’m in a bad place.

The best I have to offer is this: Ask your partner, in a time that they’re not feeling dysphoric, what they want, need, or expect from you. Respect their response, whether it was what you expected or not, whether it’s how you would want from them in the same position.

Know that you cannot solve their dysphoria. The best you can do is love and support them in the same way you have in every other aspect of your life together.

on levels, deadlines, and impending dysphoria

I like deadlines. Well, no. I hate deadlines, but I find them useful.

Without deadlines I tend to not do things… have you noticed?

So, after a little bit of nagging from Steph–and to be clear it’s the only nagging she ever does and only because I’ve given my approval for her to nag–we came up with a day that seemed to be ok.

Actually, the conversation went more like this…

Matt: I think that since I’m doing weekly injections now that I’m going to start doing them on Wednesdays.

Steph: Alright, cool. Sounds Great.

LATER

Steph: We need to start posting more.

Matt: Ok. Yeah. You’re right. I need a deadline.

Steph: How about on Wednesdays, the same as your injections.

Matt: Yeah, that’s a good idea.

Steph: Yeah, and then you can’t do your injection until you post on the blog.

Matt: *a look of horror*

Now, this is all in jest. Really, it is. But then I had an idea since I’ve been going through a rough time lately with my T levels and it’s been sooo bad some days… I’m going to tell you all what my levels are (to be followed up with some posts about dysphoria from both of us).

Prescribed Dosage (May 2011 – September 2013): 200 mg / every other week

New prescribed dosage (September 2013 – present): 100 mg / weekly

4/4/2013

  • Total Testosterone = 1010 ng/dL, normal range is 240-950 ng/dL
  • Free Testosterone = 46.0 ng/dL, normal range is 9.0-30.0 ng/dL
  • Hemoglobin = 14.9 g/dL, normal range is 13.5-17.5
  • MCV aka Average Red Blood Cell Volume = 93 fL, normal range is 80-100 fL

9/9/2013

  • Total Cholesterol = 164 mg/dL, normal range is 100-199 mg/dL
  • Triglycerides = 122 mg/dL, normal range is less than 150 mg/dL
  • HDL Cholesterol = 44 mg/dL, normal range is greater than 40 mg/dL
  • LDL Cholesterol =  96 mg/dL, normal range is less than 131 mg/dL
  • ALT (SGPT) aka Liver Test = 19 IU/L, normal range is 8-45 IU/L
  • Hemoglobin = 15.1 g/dL, normal range is 13.5-17.5
  • MCV aka Average Red Blood Cell Volume = 90 fL, normal range is 80-100 fL

As you can see, my levels were completely bonkers back in April, and while I don’t have new T levels since I’m in the middle of switching doses and stuff, all of my other labs came back squeaky clean.

I should, according to my labs, be growing two beards a day and be in tip-top fighting shape.

So where’s my dysphoria coming from and what is it doing to me and Steph?

We’ll try to get to the bottom of that…

stay tuned,

Matt (and Steph)

meta musings | living through a transition that either never started or will never end

I’ve always had a hard time coming to terms with the idea of transition, of having a moment or series of moments that define a transition. On one hand, it’s kind of a perpetual thing with a few very distinct mile markers; but then on the other hand, every life is a life in transition and it really is only those distinct mile markers that make it possible to differentiate between mine and yours and someone else’s.

I get to thinking about this kind of stuff whenever I have something going on with my trans-ness; whether that be dealing with hormones or meeting a new potential partner or figuring out a new way that I like to have sex. Sometimes they happen sporadically and it’s doesn’t really phase me that my trans-ness is more apparent then (when I’m coming out or picking out a new dick or whatever), but other times they happen all together and it just kind of hits me like a freight train.

For a while now my hormone levels have felt pretty wonky, but I’m all headstrong and whatever so I’ve chosen not to go to the doctor. I’ll be rectifying this mistake this week, but this has been a big weight on my shoulders for months and months.

Meanwhile I met Steph and we’ve been having this amazing sexual relationship. We have some awesome sex and part of it has been exploring ways of having sex that I didn’t think I’d be ok with. Being ok with having sex in whichever way I like is actually pretty anxiety inducing. Basically, we escalated from pegging (her strapping in and me receiving anal) to what I call “front pegging” (her strapping in and me receiving in the… front hole…). Now, being a guy (and a manly-man-guy at that), it’s quite scary to suddenly realize that apparently I like dick-like-things in my front hole. What does that mean? Should I be concerned that I made a mistake somewhere? Am I different now? The short answer is: nothing, probably not, and no. The long answer is: bodies feel pleasure so I guess mine is working pretty well, definitely not but kudos to me for finding a new way to get off, and no other than coming harder than I’ve ever before.

Alright, so wonky hormones and fun new sex aside, I’ve also decided that I want a way for me to wear my packer when I go swimming. This is such a common issue with trans dudes, and we know by now that when there’s a void, I like to provide a solution. So, I’m working out a version of a backing harness that I think will work well, but this seems to be putting my trans-ness on the forefront of my mind more often than any of the other things that I should be thinking about. Am I having some sort of internal trans revolution or liberation? Am I suddenly embracing my trans-ness?

What I struggle with is that while my thoughts seem to be very trans-focused the way that I just described them, they don’t seem that way to me. My hormone levels are messed up, and while this stems from being trans, I see it as a basic medical need. To me, it’s a chronic medical issue, but it’s not really any different than my boss’ bum knee or my coworker’s IBS in the way I go about dealing with it. All couples explore their sexual needs and desires together, sometimes that means that one person second guesses themselves and what they want or how they want, and how great that Steph and I are able to do so with such passion and understanding of each other. As for the packer harness, I can’t be the only guy in the world who doesn’t like swimming with my wang flapping around in my shorts, so I hardly think that even this SPECIFIC goal is all that different; I just happen to be doing something about it.

Life is a weird place. It’s always changing, evolving, backtracking, giving you hindsight and wisdom; a constant transitional phase.

Just when I think that I’m exceptionally different, I remember that I’m just as different as everyone else.

— Matt

How do we display pictures of his childhood when he’s wearing pink and his hair is in pigtails?

There are a few really simple answers:

1. Don’t. Not everyone displays kid-pictures, right?

This one just isn’t good enough for Steph. I love having pictures up. It’s one of those things that turns a house into a home.

2. Just do it. People might ask questions, but if we’ve let them into our home, then that’s “to be expected”.

This one just didn’t sit well with Matt. There are a lot of people in our life together that don’t know Matt is trans. While some of our readers don’t believe this is the best way for us to “live our life”, we feel it is. For instance: Neither of us are ready to out Matt to Steph’s parents. There may be a time and a place, but here and now is not it. Having pictures of Matt, with long pigtails and pink dresses, doesn’t bode well for keeping stealth.

So, like always, we went into brainstorm mode to find a solution.

3. Reddit. Check out one of the many subreddits: /r/picrequests.

Matt and Steph submitted a request for the photo manipulation masters of the web to give his pink clothes a blue-tint and shorten his hair. The results? Absolutely fantastic and 100% framable. We’ve actually shared the digital copies with Matt’s parents, who were thrilled.

Image

Remember, if the solutions presented to you aren’t adequate, keep thinking.

Our thoughts from the holiday weekend with our families: shirtless with scars, beer, and everything being just fine

This past weekend was a monumental one, both in our relationship and in Matt’s life as a whole. For Matt, it was his first time being shirtless around people who weren’t aware of his trans past, it was the first time we faced the possibility of needing to come out to Steph’s family (with Matt being shirtless and all), and it was the first time ever that Matt brought a girl to meet his extended family.

So here’s a look into how it went down for each of us:

1. How were you feeling about the holiday weekend before it started?

Matt

I was pretty nervous about the initial shock of her family seeing my chest and what their first impression would be. I had my excuse ready but I’ve had some experiences in the past where people have been violently shocked, and I hated that.

Steph

Nervous and excited. We had a lot planned and we were both coming off of stressful weeks. Often vacation with family (especially new family) is more stressful than relaxing. I prepared for this to be the case.

2. What was your biggest fear with Steph’s family?

Matt

That they would know what my scars were from and I wouldn’t have been able to use my gynecomastia excuse. It was actually a tie between that and not being able to water ski/sky ski/wakeboard/etc. They’re big into water activities (which I have virtually no experience in), so I didn’t wanna suck.

Steph

The drinking! Oh, the drinking. My extended family tends to do a lot of our bonding over drinks. Often… that trickles into naked swimming. Naked swimming and trans-boyfriends (even cis-boyfriends…) don’t exactly mix well. I was worried that Matt would get pressure to take off his clothes. Thankfully, the drinking was minimal.

3. How did you recall the shirtless situation going down?

Matt

I think her sister-in-law saw first and was like, “woah, those are wicked,” or something and I was like, “yeah, I had gynecomastia as a kid.” I don’t think she really know what that meant (expected) so just went with it. Repeat for Steph’s dad and uncles. No one else cared.

Steph
A few family members asked about them. My sister-in-law inquired with a few questions out of concern, being that she’s in the health field. My father/uncle asked out of awe of the gnarly scarring. Matt’s response was smooth; I had gynocomastia as a kid. The guys nodded and moved on. It was a non-issue.

4. What was the most memorable moment with Steph’s family?

Matt

Getting up on the sky ski on my first go at it. Apparently it’s really hard to do that, so it was pretty great that I did. Also, they didn’t want us to leave early (to go see my family) so it was nice to feel wanted.

Steph

My family’s cabin experience, when not centered around drinking, is focused heavily on water sports. Matt got up on my dad’s SkySki on the first try. No, that’s not him, but he did look pretty darn great 🙂

5. Overall, how do you think it went with Steph’s family?

Matt

Really well. I’m more of an introvert and it takes me a bit to open up, but Steph’s family is great and I’ve gotten pretty comfortable around them. The being shirtless thing was a non-issue, which I’m glad for.

Steph

Great! He’d already met everyone there, so I wasn’t really worried about much other than the swimming. Once that cat was out of the bag, it was smooth sailing. (Omg. So many cliches!)

6. What was your biggest fear with Matt’s family?

Matt

That my less that sensitive uncle would mess up my pronouns or name (on accident or purpose). I knew it wouldn’t bother Steph, but he can be a huge dick. Also that I would get shit from my family for needing time away from them since I can only handle them for a few hours before I need some “me time” or “Matt and Steph time.”

Steph

Interrogation. My first meeting with Matt’s mom and her boyfriend included a lot of questions. Including, but not limited to, what my favorite part of sex is.

7. What was the most memorable moment with Matt’s family?

Matt

My Uncle saying “fuck you” to my mom when she was razzing him in front of the WHOLE family and my grandfather telling Steph and I jokes and just talking with him for once.

Steph

Probably the whole picture taking ordeal and Christmas name drawing. In my dating history I’ve never felt so accepted into a partners’ family so soon. I was asked to be in all the family pictures AND to be a part of the name drawing. Very, very cool.

8. Overall, how do you think it went with Matt’s family?

Matt

Well, no one fucked up my name or pronouns in front of me and my tiny cousins think I’m the best cousin ever, so there’s that.

Steph

Pretty good. There were a few minutes where I wish I’d have bitten my tongue, but the whole weekend went really well. It was great to get to put faces with names.

9. What would you have done differently?

Matt

Made the weekend longer. I had a great time, actually. Once I got over the nerves of being shirtless around her family for the first time, I had a lot of fun swimming and hanging around drinking beer.

Steph

There was one memorable negative moment, in which I was teasing Matt for a long-ago bonding experience with his cousin. I’ve since replayed that two minute segment in my head a number of times, and wish I could get a do-over. I won’t go into specifics, but I teased him for being compassionate. I wish I would have just “aww’d”.

10. Did you have fun?

Matt

Enough to keep Steph around for a little while longer…

Steph

Absolutely. There hasn’t been a day in the last four months that I haven’t been having fun. I guess that’s how I know I found the one. 🙂