Hello, Estrogen – Farewell, Heteronormative Privilege

I love hormones. I’ve been on estrogen for nearly eleven weeks, and I still count down the hours (seven) until I can take my next dose.

Sure, it sometimes causes the dramatic mood swings that everyone warned me about- imagine birth control pills but ten times stronger. I can now start and resolve a heated argument with my girlfriend without her having to say a word. At times, I find myself tearing up at work for absolutely no reason (get a grip, Annika, you don’t want your mascara to run).

I can cycle between euphoria, despair, anger, and back again in the course of an hour.

But I’m learning to manage the ups and downs. And overall, I’m in a better mental state than I’ve ever been before. It’s hard to describe, but everything just feels more natural now that my mind and body are no longer flooded with testosterone. It’s as though after 23 years, I have finally stopped trying to fill up a diesel car with unleaded gas. My brain was made to run on estrogen.

Besides the occasional emotional instability, I’ve noticed some other pretty crazy effects, like food cravings. I finally understand what my girlfriend has been talking about all these years, because now when I want some ice cream it feels like a matter of life and death. I’m also pretty sure that estrogen has improved my allergies, as this is the first April in recent memory where I haven’t gone through a box of tissues every few days. Curiously, my eyes are slowly turning from blue to green. And my body and face have been feminized to the point where I now pass as a girl in public 100% of the time. In fact, as I discovered at the Toronto airport last month, I am no longer able to present myself as male without causing serious confusion. As you can imagine, this is super exciting and wonderful because people are finally seeing me for who I actually am.

It also means that after more than three years together, my girlfriend and I are now read as a lesbian couple for the first time.

 

 

 

 

at first we were like…

but now we’re like

 

 

 

 

I never really stopped to appreciate the privileges of our seemingly heterosexual relationship. Let’s travel back in time to France 2008. There was no ‘coming out’ moment for either of us when we started dating- no thoughts of “wow, I’m actually holding another girl’s hand in front of all these people!” We never had to worry about kissing in public or what the neighbors would think if they found us cuddling on the stairs of 8 Rue de Madrid. We travelled as an obvious couple in Morocco without concerns that our one-bed hotel room would raise suspicion or put us in danger. You know, things that most people never have to think about unless you’re queer. We fell in love in Paris, after all, where public displays of affection are welcomed, if not highly encouraged. Young cute white upper-middle-class heterosexual cisgender couple? Bienvenue a Paris.

Now let’s fast forward back to 2011. It’s before dawn and my girlfriend and I are in the back seat of a taxi on the way to the airport in the middle of nowhere. I reach over to tuck her hair behind her ear but she brushes my arm away. I whisper that I love her and she doesn’t respond. I spend the rest of the drive in silence, thinking of what I could have possibly done to make her upset. “I’m not mad at you,” she tells me once we’ve been dropped off at the terminal, “you just need to be more aware of your surroundings now. Didn’t you see how much attention the taxi driver was giving us?” I hadn’t even noticed.

Others certainly notice us now though. We seem to draw attention everywhere we go. You can see it in people’s faces- the initial look of confusion when someone tries to determine if we’re a couple eventually leads to an expression that says “oooh, lesbians!” Teenage boys are particularly excited to see us. Elderly women have turned up their noses in disgust. Fellow queers smile and nod in approval.

 

Sometimes it’s fun to flaunt it and leave little doubt in onlookers’ minds that we are in fact two girls in love, but I’m starting to realize that there’s no magic switch to turn off all of this newfound attention. Three years into our relationship, we’re having to re-learn how to behave in public and when to be more discreet. And when we’re not physically affectionate, strangers assume that we’re not a couple. Store clerks, waiters, and new acquaintances all respond in the same way: “Wow, you moved here from LA together? You two must be such good friends!”

And then of course there’s the legal headaches that await us. As of today we can get married because I am still considered male under California law, even though the gender marker on my passport and driver’s license will soon say “F”. If and when I am able to change my legal gender (CA currently requires a surgeon’s note, so tough luck if you can’t afford or don’t want surgery), some magic threshold will be crossed and my girlfriend and I will no longer be considered fit for marriage.

Thank you, Prop 8- the gift that keeps on taking. In some states and countries, our marriage would be forcibly revoked if I became legally female. It really highlights the absurdity of marriage inequality laws, because no matter what, we’ll still the same people we’ve always been and still feel the same love. Oh well, at least we don’t live in Texas.

Annika blogs at Transgender Express. Follow her on tumblr!

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I'm a 23 year old femme lesbian living in SF. Once upon a time, I was a USC frat boy ;) I ♥ music so please recommend your favorite artists to me!

annika has written 21 articles for us.

99 Comments

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      From what I understand, trans* guys usually get their testosterone via injection (Sebastian feel free to correct me on this). Estrogen injections are an option for trans* girls as well, but I think it’s easier (and cheaper) to just take estradiol and spironolactone pills twice a day. They are taxing on the liver though so most women who transition after age 40 have to get injections or patches because of health concerns.

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          “but most guys stick with the shot because the gel is sort of gross, and it can rub off on others”

          not true. I’m a trans guy who switch to the gel after years of being on intramuscular injection. the gel isn’t gross and it’s actually a lifesaver after injecting a needle into my thigh every week for god only knows how many weeks. doctors also say it is better for long term use as it gives your body a more steady daily dose instead of once a week (or once every two weeks) where you will have more of a spike and a trough.

          the risk of it rubbing onto someone else is only there if you have intimate physical contact right after putting it on. so for example, you don’t put it on and then have sex or lay naked with someone. you put it on during the time of the day when you are not going to be intimate with someone. it also can’t go through clothing, so it’s seriously only a risk if you are naked with someone.

          most guys stick to injections because they are significantly cheaper. the gel is expensive. the gel is also better if you are post-hysto in that, if you start out with the gel, your changes will generally be slightly slower. also, if you start out on injection and then switch to gel, there is a chance you could menstruate again, usually only once or twice, if you haven’t had a hysto of course.

          the long and short of it, i started out on injections because they were cheaper and they are good for changes in the beginning. after hysto, i decided to switch to gel because my insurance now pays for it (as i am legally male on my insurance now) and it’s so much better than having to deal with injection every week. they aren’t fun

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        Yep, most of us take intramuscular injections. Think long needles you have to stab yrself with. So glamorous.

        There are other options (though no oral), including topical (gels and creams like The Vegetarian mentioned), and a fairly new form of testosterone pellets that are surgically inserted in a fatty area and slowly dissolve.

        Injections are BY FAR the most affordable, though each form has its pros and cons

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          And immediately my needle-phobic brain goes, “Look, Dina! More cisgender privilege you have!” ;)

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        Just to throw in a little more info:

        I take estradiol valerate orally as well, which is a plant based synthetic estrogen that seems to be well tolerated. Spironolactone is an anti-androgen (works to inhibit testosterone, among other things) and I have a repeat 3 month subdermal implant injection of Goserelin instead, which does the same thing via a different method; this takes pressure off the liver, as Annika mentions, but my clinician recommended it because he felt it was less likely to produce complicating side effects, given that I have a history of depression.

        I understand it’s expensive, but for the NHS to recommend it anyway, I suppose there has to be a compelling clinical reason for my situation: since I started female hormones in my late 20s :)

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    Welcome to the dark underbelly of womanhood: girl fight club.
    Just kidding!
    (Half kidding. I wrote a poem today about how my hormones drive me crazy.)

    I like this, you said it nicely:
    “In some states and countries, our marriage would be forcibly revoked if I became legally female. It really highlights the absurdity of marriage inequality laws, because no matter what, we’ll still the same people we’ve always been and still feel the same love.”

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    This is a great story. I think it’s wonderful that you’re making this transition. It’s really sad, though, that you now have to be more discreet with your relationship. I hope that as time goes on you and your girl are more comfortable being “together” in public.

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    I just wrote a paper on the drawbacks of legally requiring people to be listed as male or female. I concluded that either we should abolish sex as a legal category (I live in Canada, so marriage requirements that you be listed as one “m” and one “f” aren’t an issue) or at least make it much easier to change your legal sex later, more like changing your name. I’m falling on the side of abolishing sex as legal category which is probably the most radical thing I’ve ever argued in an academic paper. One possibility I’m considering is that having your gender listed correctly on government documents and such can affirm your identity if you’re binary-identified, though. I know you can’t speak for the whole trans community, but what do you think you’d like better: not listing your sex at all on id, or making it easier to change it to “F”?

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      Personally… I’d prefer not to have it listed at all. I’m pretty much an androgynous transperson… not close enough to either side of the spectrum to want to identify completely as either male or female, but too close to one at the moment to be comfortable. It’s kind of strange… even to me.

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    “It’s hard to describe, but everything just feels more natural now that my mind and body are no longer flooded with testosterone. It’s as though after 23 years, I have finally stopped trying to fill up a diesel car with unleaded gas. My brain was made to run on estrogen.”

    this was a super cool way to describe it. i as a non trans person can sort of a little bit grasp how that must feel.

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    “Besides the occasional emotional instability, I’ve noticed some other pretty crazy effects, like food cravings. I finally understand what my girlfriend has been talking about all these years, because now when I want some ice cream it feels like a matter of life and death.”
    THIS. People always think I’m nuts when I angrily tell them that I’d kill them for some yogurt covered pretzels.

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    It starts to make me wonder why exactly is it that they list gender on ID. I mean, is it that important? Really? REALLY? It’s like if they asked us to list race or something, people would say it is a mean of discrimination. Then why is gender listing mandatory??

    Also, about the pills, I used to take those, years ago, because I didn’t have my period, and the mood swings… soooo aweful! Good luck Annika!

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    Annika,
    You write beautifully and help me understand what it is to be transgender more easily.

    Before I came out of the closet I had no understanding of transgender people really. I honestly thought that it was usually men just wanting to wear dresses (sorry, I was uneducated and uninformed) for the longest time. Then I saw an episode on “Oprah” about it and realized it was a real condition/problem/issue/etc. Then I came out of the closet, found Autostraddle, and got all sorts of enlightened about transgender peeps.

    My point to the above, babbling, paragraph is that now I can understand a little better exactly what you are going thru by being born one sex but knowing your outside didn’t match your inside. And I respect you for coming out and being true to yourself in this manner!

    In addition – I did not come out of the closet until late in life (32) and so I totally understood what you meant about no longer fitting into the hetronormative world. I don’t either and it’s such an adjustment. A crazy, wild, fun, one…but still an adjustment.

    I wish you and your girlfriend alll the best and I really look forward to reading more of your story as you continue your transition!!

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    “Teenage boys are particularly excited to see us. Elderly women have turned up their noses in disgust. Fellow queers smile and nod in approval.”

    Okay SO TRUE. I swoooon every time I see a queer couple. Just the other day I say this adorable lesbian couple walking together. You could see, by the way they were playing with their hands that they wanted to hold hands as they walked. But they abstained. My heart broke a little bit. IF ONLY Y’ALL KNEW. :C

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      THIS!!

      “Fellow queers smile and nod in approval.”

      I also love this about being queer – the smile and nod, the “yup, we’re in the club too” part of things!

      And then the assumption that sometimes you are not a couple – like the bank guy who asked if we were *sisters* as we held hands, cuddling, and opening a joint bank account. Really?! I live in Vancouver – get with the program.

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        That line about “Wow, you moved here from LA together? You two must be such good friends!” Yeah, my partner and I get that. Quite often, actually.

        Thing is, we moved from Washington State to AUSTRALIA. Um, guys, that’s not something you can do if you’re just “good friends” unless some circumstances really lined up to give you both visas/citizenship.

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      YES. I was on the skytrain (like a rapid transit system thing) yesterday and there was this really cute kid in a stroller who kept looking my way, so I started playing peekaboo (lol hormones/biological clock, kill me now). The kid’s moms initially were like ‘wait, what’s going on now?’ and then they saw I was wearing a rainbow pin and gave me the best smile I’ve ever gotten. Brightened up the rest of my day.

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      I’m in a relationship with another trans woman who happens to be very, very tall (like 6’7″ in flats) and rail thin. When we’re out together there’s the potential to be read four different ways, depending on the observer.

      There’s times where we’re taken to be a lesbian couple (which we are), and others where one of us is read as male or both of us as crossdressers (ugh…I know crossdressers and respect them, but I also know that when we get read this way we get a lot more insults from strangers…). And sometimes it’s not always clear how the observer really sees us, which can be alternately amusing/irritating/terrifying depending on the situation. Accenting the issue is that we’re far more likely to be read when together – the old law of trans squares (2 TGs together are 4 times as likely to be read).

      So it’s always great to be in a queer friendly space where we don’t have to rachet up our situational awareness. And we love it when we see other queer couple of all stripes on the streets (bonus points for couples composed of an MtF and an FtM ^_^)

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    I have to add myself to the list of people who are saying that the posts by you and Sebastian have helped me understand at least a little bit about what it’s like to be transgender.
    I’m lucky enough that I was exposed to information about being transgender relatively early- around when I was 12 or so, but being cisgender it’s difficult to understand simply because I’m not living that reality.

    What I’m trying to say is that I’m incredibly happy that you’re writing for Autostraddle and providing your perspective.

    “It’s hard to describe, but everything just feels more natural now that my mind and body are no longer flooded with testosterone. It’s as though after 23 years, I have finally stopped trying to fill up a diesel car with unleaded gas. My brain was made to run on estrogen.”

    ^^^That paragraph, as soon as I read it things just kind of clicked all at once for me.

    I’ll end this nonsensical comment (running low on caffeine today) just by saying I’m really happy for you that things are feeling more right for you now, and I wish you and your girlfriend the best :)

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    Getting the chance to read your perspective is always awesome. It never would have occurred to me that trans* people would also experience things like a gain or loss of heteronormative privilege. Thanks again for sharing and good luck to you and your girlfriend as you figure this out. She sounds amazing.

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    This is the second article I’ve read of yours and it really spikes my interest because I’ve always thought that if I think I have it tough in terms of sexual identity or familial/public acceptance, it can’t nearly compare to a transsexual’s experience.
    I’m glad to hear things are working out though physically and what not. And, as a side note, unfortunately I live in Texas. :(

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    Having dated men for ten years before I dated women, I noticed that when I was out with another girl who looked femmy, we’d get catcalled and looked at and propositioned constantly to the point where it was uncomfortable to even hold hands on the street.

    My first girlfriend though was more on the butch side and it shocked me how immediately those comments and that attention screeched to a halt. I felt basically invisible when I was out with her, it was a HUGE change, and it was also a huge relief. To feel like everyone else.

    Ditto right now, my gf is more masculine and we’re basically ignored as well. Not ’cause she or my ex pass as men but because I think they just have no interest in the activities of women who look masculine, regardless of who they’re with.

    ANYHOW

    But the QUEER EYE CONTACT and the QUEER NOD are like, my favorite things about being gay. it’s like this brief, brilliant little bond.

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      ah the queer eye contact/nod.. i miss that. now that i’m no longer seen as visibly queer, when i try to do that nod towards a visibly queer person they think i’m just a creepy hetero cis man

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        As mentioned above, I also dig the queer nod and eye contact!

        When I present as more femme/kinda girly-andro, I get it a bit less – but my extensive button collection helps with that ( “Equal opportunity lover” is popular, as is the simple “queer” written across a rainbow triangle).

        When I cut my hair short, I get the rad eye contact all the time. I always wonder how it is for truly femme girls. My shy femme friend practically has to scream from the rooftops she is gay.

        Regarding your comment re visibly queer folks thinking you are a creepy hetero cis man (this made me laugh out loud) – we should make a “those who present as gender/sexually/hetero-normative/cis eye-wink-hand-shake-lip curl or something… special fist jab??

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          This shy, femme girl never gets the nod…unless I’m out with my girlfriend…& that’s only once people realize she is a girl. The rest of the time we either pass or people look at me with pity, like, “Oh how can that poor girl not see that her boyfriend is gay?” Lol.

          Although, while walking through the mall the other day, a gay guy saw us holding hands & yelled, “Awww, that’s so awesome!” Half of me wanted to high-five him & the other half wanted to kick him for drawing so much attention to us. (Arkansas can be scary)

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      “I think they just have no interest in the activities of women who look masculine, regardless of who they’re with.”

      That’s been my experience. Both my partner and I are on the butch side and people always ask if we’re sisters. Or, no they don’t ask, they just say “You must be sisters.” Like there can be no other possible explanation for our closeness since masculine women have no sexuality at all. :/

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    I’m looking forward to hearing more about how society treats you now that you have transitioned. I try to explain to people how subtle discrimination like sexism and racism operate. To some people, racism and sexism doesn’t exist anymore because it’s (mostly) not legal to do either in an official context.

    Best of luck!

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      I went back to Malaysia recently for a couple of weeks and saw a lesbian couple walking past in the shopping mall. Considering I came from a smallish city this made me really excited and if they had me at eye level they’d probably see me grinning and squeeing XD

      now I’m just wondering how the heck they got together :P

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      haha i played ‘spot the dyke’ every time i got on the train in new york! i still do it when i’m out and about, i suppose. i also like to guess whether or not we’ve ‘met our quota’ for queers in any given space – like, trying to figure if there’s one queer person to every 9 strai in the coffee shop or something.

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    I was so excited when I saw you had written another article. :D Great job! It was really interesting, especially this part: “It’s hard to describe, but everything just feels more natural now that my mind and body are no longer flooded with testosterone. It’s as though after 23 years, I have finally stopped trying to fill up a diesel car with unleaded gas. My brain was made to run on estrogen.”

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    “It really highlights the absurdity of marriage inequality laws, because no matter what, we’ll still the same people we’ve always been and still feel the same love.”

    like i already knew this, but you just made it even CLEARER.

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    This was a great article, thanks for sharing! The relationship changes are an interesting aspect and probably overlooked quite often.

    Im also glad you pointed out the fact that people often just assume SS couples are friends unless they are being affectionate. My girlfriend and I were at a grocery store once after a long night of work and the cashier mentioned something about us being sisters. We said something like, “oh no, we aren’t sisters” with a little giggle, and she actually said, “Well what are you then?!” How do you answer that question? I think we just stared at her in shock and grabbed our frozen pizza and beer and booked it out of there! :)

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    Annika, congrats on everything going so well! I’m sure it must be both tough and exhilarating to go through puberty for the second time–both the physiology and the socialization.

    So, I realize this is totally unsolicited, and what I am about to say is likely worth even less than what you paid for it, but I’m in the mood to share (I blame it on sleep deprivation in the aftermath of a five hour exam). Also, I may well have been overpowered by the delusion that I am Dear Abby and you actually asked for my opinion. So, with my most sincere apologies in advance, here is my advice:

    First, read up on your feminism; it is an invaluable tool to understand yourself, the world around you, and your place in it.

    Second, give yourself the time and leeway to experiment with what kind of woman you want to be and what feels most comfortable for you in your own skin. You look stunning in your flowered dress (and I will be the first to say that I am always enchanted by a strong and beautiful femme in her finery), but give yourself the freedom to go from being that to being a butch on a bike, everywhere in between, and totally off the map. The pressure on ciswomen to conform to gendered norms is high enough; I have to think that the pressure on transwomen is even greater in the face of not only the expectations put upon women in general, but also those created by the medical establishment and society’s ignorant insistence on quantifying “authenticity.” So, while you’re still finding your own balance, don’t let them hem you in!

    Third, cisgender folks get the privilege of their whole young lives to work out who they are and how they fit in with the world around them. You already had to do it once to get to where you are today (the right place); now, you have the opportunity (and challenge) to do it again all over again. The insides may be the same (albeit happier/more comfortable/alive again), but, in the eyes of most of the world at least, your outsides have/are shifting in about the most fundamentally radical possible way. The way that same most of the world will deal with you will shift accordingly. So, until you find your new voice in it, be patient, be flexible, and, most of all, be ready to learn.

    Finally, I again beg your apologies for being utterly presumptuous, long winded, and likely completely out of line. Though my compliments may have a value similar to that of my advice, I think you look beautiful, sound happy, and seem like you’re well on your way to great things. I wish you all the best.

    And PS: way to go Autostraddle lesbian community for being transwoman inclusive and supportive!

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      ^ THIS

      The pressure on trans women to conform to a very general presentation of womanhood is *intense*, and comes from within the trans community as much as anywhere else. And it’s especially toxic when having to perform for the medical establishment. When I went to my doc to request hormones, I went full on high femme, cause I couldn’t shake the feeling that If i showed up in a T-shirt and jeans (let alone boy-mode) it would totally screw my chances. While things have improved (preferring women as sexual partners used to be an automatic disqualifier for a transgender/transsexual diagnosis, and therefore hormones or surgery) I’ve heard many gender clinics, such as CAMH in Ontario, still focus on a very restricted view of womanhood as ‘authentic.’

      I can’t agree with Jackie more – take time to *find* yourself with this, and feel free to experiment. With myself and many of my MtF trans friends, we’ve got closets stuffed with the phases of development. Wild swings from 14 year old hooker (as one of my ex’s put it), to CEO businesswoman, 60’s flower child and goth punk…

      Everyone presents and acts a little differently in different social situations – while society seems to think that multiplicity is duplicity or deception, it’s not – it’s the sign of someone who is flexible and comfortable with themselves at the core.

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        I agree that having to conform to the medical establishment’s concept of ‘femininity’ is wrong on multiple levels (I briefly addressed this issue on my blog). It’s one of several reasons why I chose not to go the Standards of Care route for obtaining hormone therapy.

        I also recognize the social pressure on women (and especially trans* women) to look/act a certain way. The flip side of this though, is that when a trans* girl is femme by nature (which I am), it’s easy to assume that she is doing it as performance to fit in, even when that is not the case. I’m not looking to fulfill anyone else’s expectations, but I do take your advice to heart and certainly won’t limit myself when it comes to my gender presentation. But I’m currently happy with my style :)

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    Annika, another beautifully written and insightful article.

    Having been out all my life I can certainly relate to the uninvited attention of teenage boys. I usually ended up playing matchmaker and helped them get girl friends and that diverted their attention.

    Estrogen, a girl’s best friend…..

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    AB433 in California has a good shot of passing this year which should allow trans folks to change your gender on all docs using the same documentation requirements as the state department currently uses for passports. (Technically a little looser because I didn’t see a requirement for a specialty like the Department of State has or an explicit requirement for letterhead. Though I may just have missed the last bit when I read through the bill. :))

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    Your article really touched me, and I look forward to more of your insightful, personal posts.

    (side note: As a Texan, I’d like to say that I don’t know a single person in my circle of friends who voted for Rick Perry. We aren’t all awful, I swear!)

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    “But I’m learning to manage the ups and downs. And overall, I’m in a better mental state than I’ve ever been before. It’s hard to describe, but everything just feels more natural now that my mind and body are no longer flooded with testosterone. It’s as though after 23 years, I have finally stopped trying to fill up a diesel car with unleaded gas. My brain was made to run on estrogen.”

    It’s really great to see this paragraph resonates with so many people here. Reading your article, as a trans* woman, it was the definate “Yes!” moment in a really enjoyable article for me. It’s really hard to describe, yeah, but it really feels like the difference between being sick and well. I certainly didn’t expect it (and obviously, there were some things I expected; even though I was lucky enough the mood swings never materialised).

    I’m glad the two of you find time to flaunt your relationship as well as be discrete: it’s interesting to consider the contrast, but the pressure to not rock the heteronormative boat always makes me angry. I look forward to reading more =)

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    This is a very interesting article! I’m really enjoying Annika’s and Sebastian’s articles, since trans* voices are so rarely heard, it’s fascinating to get some insight into their experiences and the ways in which being trans* can impact all different areas of life in sometimes unexpected ways.

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    Thanks for this perspective! Brace yourself for all the male attention you’ll be getting, especially the bros who walk behind you talking loudly about how lesbians are “so hot!”

    Looking forward to more posts about this process!

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    “We seem to draw attention everywhere we go. You can see it in people’s faces- the initial look of confusion when someone tries to determine if we’re a couple eventually leads to an expression that says “oooh, lesbians!” Teenage boys are particularly excited to see us. Elderly women have turned up their noses in disgust. Fellow queers smile and nod in approval.

    Sometimes it’s fun to flaunt it and leave little doubt in onlookers’ minds that we are in fact two girls in love, but I’m starting to realize that there’s no magic switch to turn off all of this newfound attention. Three years into our relationship, we’re having to re-learn how to behave in public and when to be more discreet. And when we’re not physically affectionate, strangers assume that we’re not a couple.”

    Yes to all of this. I’ve noticed these experiences so much more since I started dating a girl seriously, as opposed to my heterosexual relationships. It definitely takes some adjusting, because it’s something that you don’t think about EVER when you’re in a het relationship and now you have to rethink your boundaries with someone you love. Even in a place like San Francisco.

    Another wonderful article, Annika. I look forward to everything you post! Sidenote, are the tops of your prescription bottles pink? Or is that just the lighting of the photo?

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    Thanks, Annika, for sharing your experiences with us.

    One of the things I find most interesting about trans* men and women is that you are in the unique position to be able to experience first hand differences in the men and women are treated in society. And, similarly, the difference in the way society views your relationships (both legally and socially) as your percieved gender/sexuality changes.

    I really enjoyed this article. I look forward to reading more about your experiences, and Sebastian’s as well. I have a huge amount of respect for both of you.

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    Lovely essay and I’m glad to see Autostraddle finally has a trans woman contributing here.

    I just do want to point out that there are many trans women who never experience either ‘typical’ male nor heteronormative privilege. It shouldn’t be assumed that trans women were ‘normal’ men living normal male lives before transitioning. Some did, some absolutely didn’t. Some were absolutely gender variant from the get go and were treated as such accordingly.

    I’d also like to point out that, when speaking about heteronormative issues with trans women, it isn’t as if being a queer-ID’d trans woman is the ultimate transgressive identity. Straight ID’d trans women experience the vast brunt of violence and even murder, rape, homelessness, social ostracizing and sexualization. The vast majority of trans women of color are heterosexual-ID’d yet are, by far, the most discriminated against portion of the LGBTQ community. This reality needs to be centered in honest discussions of trans experiences and discrimination since it’s the brutal reality of societal oppression.

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      I completely agree, which is why I am writing about my own personal experiences and trying to avoid sweeping generalizations about trans* women as a whole. And I am well aware of the unique challenges that trans* women of color face, but I think this has more to do with systemic social injustices than the fact that “vast majority” of them ID as het. Either way, you are right, the experience of people of color needs to be central to any debate on trans* issues.

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    “It’s hard to describe, but everything just feels more natural now that my mind and body are no longer flooded with testosterone. It’s as though after 23 years, I have finally stopped trying to fill up a diesel car with unleaded gas. My brain was made to run on estrogen.”

    Like so many others here, this whole portion really resonated with me. I do not identify as trans*, but I recently (as in, the last year) found out that I am intersex. Being in my mid-20s, this came as quite a shock, and it’s been an intense emotional journey since then (one that, admittedly, I wish I had had the foresight to embark on with a mental health professional). Anyway, since I didn’t know how else to react, and had no one else to talk to, I listened to my doctor when she said it was something to be treated and started taking dexamethasone to suppress the over-production of testosterone in my system.

    I eventually stopped taking dex, though, when I realized that I, as a person, was changing in ways I didn’t like; whereas before I had never given much thought to how my hormonal make-up might affect who I am meant to be as a person, I then suddenly realized that, no, this was part of who I was, and changing it would fundamentally, at my core, change me. Does that make sense? I guess what I’m trying to say is, even though you and I have gone on opposite journeys in terms of hormone therapy (goodness, did I ever hate having more of a proportion of estrogen!), I totally get it when you say that you just felt that something was off until you identified what it was your brain truly needed to run on.

    So: brava. And bravo to AS for publishing your amazing articles.

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    Just wanted to say thanks for this insight – I don’t (knowingly) know any trans peeps, but this has made me understand a little better what it must be like. Having been in a long term (ish, 2 yrs) relationship with a guy before coming out, I can sympathise with the feeling of ‘what? suddenly it’s not ok to just kiss you in public, or tell you that I love you?’. For me, over time that turned into a ‘fuck you, I’ll kiss whoever I fucking want to. Something to say about that?’,but then I’m 6ft and big built, so usually people just zip it :)

    Looking forward to the next piece, and the next from Sebastian too. Keep up the good work guys!

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    I can’t tell you how glad I am to see this article here. As a trans woman I’ve been wondering how welcome I would be in this space. It also gives me hope that there is a woman out there who might find a relationship with me desirable.

    That, and it reminds me of my own story. Two bisexuals active in the LGBT community who got legally married and how we immediately became invisible to that same community. After our divorce I finally felt I had the freedom and knowledge to transition. It has been a roller coaster ride, but I feel more comfortable in my body than I ever have before.

    Thank you Annika for sharing!

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    I didn’t know you had a blog, so this was the first post I’ve read. It’s so beautiful and interesting. The only thing that bothered me was this statement: “…we’re having to re-learn how to behave in public and when to be more discreet.” I COMPLETELY disagree. The only way non-heterosexual couples will be deemed just as normal as heterosexual couples in the public eye is if they ACT like they’re just as normal. I don’t think you guys or ANY couple, no matter the sexuality, ought to act differently in public from heterosexual couples. Do you understand what I mean?

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      I would agree with you, except for the fact that there are times when acting gay can put you into physical danger. There are also times when I just don’t feel like having the discussion and let shit slide.

      No one should *have* to act differently, of course, but unfortunately we don’t live in that world.

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      It’s to include trans* identities aside from trans men and women, such as genderqueer, intersex, and various other identities (cannot for the life of me remember anything else, damn finals week) that do not fit the cisgender label. That’s how it was explained to me, at least.

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    Thank you so much for this article. My girlfriend is looking at starting hormones in the next couple of months, and I have been quite anxious about losing het privilege. I also worry about not being accepted as a gay couple by other queers (if they’re cissexist about her identity), so the whole queer nod/eye contact thing is *really* heartening. I hope it’s just as strong in my city!

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    As someone raised in a suburban Catholic family who ended up at a Catholic high school and a small Catholic college, I have not had the opportunity to encounter or interact with any transpeople. When discussions of transexual people do come up, I find that even some of my supposedly queer-friendly friends are quite ill-informed, even transphobic at times. That is why this article is so important and struck such a chord for me.

    Reading both of your articles, I understood for the first time the day to day realities of a transperson. I wish everyone would read about your experience, because I think your approach to the topic has the potential to change some hearts and minds.

    This is the first time that I have ever commented on here. I made an account just to say how important I believe it is to have this perspective available to the public, especially when it is so well articulated.

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    You inspire me girl! I have a hard time thinking about my petty complaints and concerns when I’m not even going through a transition or have to have surgery. Or worry about things that you have to worry about. Your strong and courageous. And I’m proud to have you as part of my sex. :) be blessed girl!

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    I just joined but Annika, I’m so glad we have a font supplied voice at Auto and congrats on ‘moning. I deduce from your description of roller coaster of emotions you are already enjoying the ride.

    I would like to address the general population. Transwomen, unless they say otherwise, should be identified with female pronouns some of us get really touchy about this and others have learned to schluff it off, but it is considered insulting.

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    “It’s as though after 23 years, I have finally stopped trying to fill up a diesel car with unleaded gas.”

    This. Totally this. Just started spiro recently waiting to get approved for estrogen and this is EXACTLY how I feel!

  36. Pingback: 10 Things I Wish I’d Known When I Started My Transition - ALL GAY Voices | Gay News, Gay Supporters, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, World Gay Pride, Military Gay Pride, LGBT News, Politics, Sports, & Entertainment

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