When I decided to transition I had the intention of vlogging everything, as a technical person I got hung up on camera gear, depth of field, microphones and recorded two vlogs and never published another lol.
Its been one year, five months and 28 days since I started HRT I should digest what I've experienced and learned to in case I forget.
I'd say that my presentation has gone from tomboy to quite feminine over the last year and a half, I think a considerable amount of that has to do with body shape changing, it's hard to feel comfortable in female clothes when you've spent most of your life wearing boy clothes. Your body shape doesn't match the outfits until you're a lot further along HRT, you've got some breast growth going on, you have like zero body hair left. I look back at sort of where I was in Jan when I started a new job, and it was a huge ask for people to see me as a girl, on the other hand, I knew this entire process would be fucking awkward, I am 6.8ft tall so I just sort of bashfully got on with it.
The first time I went to the office wearing a dress was awkward; I spent pretty much four months hiding my arms because of their size and the muscle, it took a while to settle into having more flesh on display especially when it didn't feel like I was quite ready.
I've only just found tights that sort of fit, they only last about 3 days for me but that's better than nothing and has opened up a couple of wardrobe options, not to mention made me feel a bit more stealthy when every other girl in winter is wearing tights and I'm still dressing for summer.
Shoes were a massive challenge for this year, I do have a crazy amount of shoes, some I can't wear standing up for more than 5 minutes, but I've learned to walk in heels pretty much daily, I think my feet have a tolerance budget, walking fast or walking up and down hills will eat that budget up quite quickly and I'll be in pain until I take them off. I have lost the feeling in one of my toes, which is sad, or maybe just half my toe, philosophically would I give up the feeling in half my toe to wear heels....yup, sorry not sorry.
I have also managed to get quite a beautiful collection of over the knee boots which is incredible! Long Tall Sally has been fantastic for clothes and shoes, some of their size 13's can come up a bit small which is a shame but what can you do, I might have to try Shoes of Prey's trainers. Shoes of Prey is a bit more expensive because everything is bespoke to you, figuring out your size in different shoes is quite annoying because it's a bit back and forth until you get the right size in that type of shoe. The one thing that hacks me off is the boots; they won't do them in their largest size which is so &(*&(^ annoying because I love boots and my feet are huge; therefore I'm not the glass slipper kind of girl.
On toilets & changing rooms
Without a doubt one of the worst experiences for any transgender girl, I still kind of count the number of empty stalls and busy stalls and wait for everyone to leave, carefully tracking when it's safe to move like a ninja, old habit from the first year.
I remember the great bathroom debate around the time I started to transition, and I thought if they only had a clue how utterly terrify and out of place we feel in the women's bathroom, how many times have I held on all day rather than use the toilet. How many times did I go home early from dinner or trip to town because I was too afraid to go to the loo?
For about one year my girlfriend would always go to the toilet with me because she knows what a huge issue it is for me, she knows I won't talk to her because my voice gives me up in public so I'm too afraid to speak this can mean lots of silence if we queue and I don't generally queue because it's too scary.
I'm much better these days and sort of approach it with a sense of entitlement, that might sound bad but know there is heaps of insecurity hidden behind that mask you wear all day, I think like most things in the trans world as you become better with your presentation skills and feel more confident then these fears and insecurities mellow out a little bit.
I still have a fear of lots of people, so spaces like London Euston are a bit of a write-off, I usually travel first class, so the virgin first class lounge is a good option if you're still a bit terrified at times.
I do feel like as transgender women we're the ones invading cis women's space so we should take extra care to make them feel safe and comfortable.
On weight gain
I mean a lot of this is my fault for food, on the other hand, I have way less energy than I did as a guy, I seem to turn to food for comfort quite easily whereas before I'd be happy just being angry and killing something in the gym. I need to make a significant effort in 2018 to eat correctly and find a routine that works because I certainly can't gain weight at the pace I've currently been doing it.
On the boys club
So this is actually only something that I noticed much later on in transition, I guess the more you lean towards female on the gender spectrum to more apparent this becomes, some of the social cues are really interesting, guys waiting for me to step out of the lift or letting me go first, it's become quite a good tell as to if I'm passing or telegraphing the right gender.
I've experienced the bad side of this, more exclusionary behaviour, not being invited to join in etc., some of that was deliberate, I think it just manifested in a sort of favourites club, and on a couple of occasions, it was entirely intentional.
At the same time, I'm suddenly overwhelmed by this new flood of emotions, very public displays of crying, it's been equally impressive seeing some guys handle me better than others, I've had some incredible empathic colleagues who spent time looking after me and being as understanding as they could be.
Honestly, if I could control my emotions I'd be hiding them like men typically do, it's weird how externalised suddenly what you feel becomes on HRT. On the hand, I don't feel quite as emotionally overburdened as I did as a guy because I guess everything leaks out.
I guess only a trans person would be able to articulate the difference between testosterone and estrogen.
On dan (my fantastic girlfriend)
Dan has been a fantastic person to have with me on this journey; it would have been unimaginable not to have her support, I don't know how I'd have dealt with a lot of things without her.
She's had to carefully learn when to let me make mistakes growing up very quickly and when to save me from my self, at times shes shouldered the fallout from this because I don't always 'get' what a mess I could have been if she didn't save me, equally even if I'm ready for something new she sometimes knows no amount of convincing can get me to do something
Dans had to also deal with my getting way more clothes, shoes, makeup this last year than shes maybe used to, I started with nothing, so capsule collections are less helpful this time around.
We've both had to learn to handle getting upset with each other in different ways; shes used to barking at me as a boy and getting not much of a rise, now she can upset me which means I will run off in tears and she has to fetch me back.
On the tube
More than anything I hate the tube, I'm 6.8ft tall, which makes me 1 inch shy of 7ft tall in 3 inch heels, I feel like people feel like they have some sense of entitlement to stare at me, it's straightforward to walk into a tube and sit down in an empty seat and have people around you start sniggering or commenting without earshot.
I once got trapped in a tube with about 8 Chinese children who enjoyed pointing and laughing for five stops, things like this can wipe out months of confidence in just moments. It can be awful to start your day with just a barrage of negative experiences.
There is also a high risk of bumping into school kids who are utterly merciless when it comes to women like me; we have very little of anything in the way of defence.
On court & hate crimes
There is a long story behind this, but primarily a homeless woman started yelling transphobic things at in Starbucks before I took my train back to London from Birmingham. I initially let this slide, but unfortunately, when I passed her a few weeks later, she repeated something. I was furious, contacted the police, and reported it as a hate crime. Ultimately it ended in a court date, she didn't attend, and I've yet to hear what will happen to her, I believe a warrant has been issued for her arrest.
The experience sucked; court was worse because I ended up waiting with other people to be called in, when I stood-up to actually give my testimony the family next to us started laughing at me, I can usually see this stuff coming from a mile away so tbh when they walked in it was kind of sad waiting 2 hours for the inevitable happening.
On public speaking
I've spent the last part of 2017 doing public speaking for meet-ups, I was terrified of doing this initially because my voice doesn't match my appearance these days but meh I think you get used to it. It's been rewarding gaining more public acknowledgement for some of my technical achievements; It's also opened up more opportunities for me professionally and privately.
All in all, I think I've come a long way since the beginning of 2017, have a couple of goals for 2018.
- Get teeth straightened
- Breast Augmentation
- Facial Feminisation Surgery
- Voice Feminisation Surgery
- Loose weight
I think the chances of all of those things happeing at the end of 2018 is slim but let's see. Losing weight was comfortable once but it's about three times as hard, the commute each week from Birmingham to London doesn't help, but I will have to put more effort into it.
I've finished off the year by joining the Arcadia group as Head of DevOps, I'm excited about the great things we're going to do with the DevOps function and hopefully move towards an SRE model.