Tag Archives: trans

Being A Man – Complicated Feelings

Ok, I had a recent experience that I really want to talk about. But to be honest, this is really not an easy thing to talk about at all. Like, it might end up sounding like a humble brag or complaining about people respecting me or something. But it is a real thing, and I have since learned that other trans men have also had this experience, but it seems like we just don’t talk about it. Because again, it might sound like we’re complaining about something that “should” be good. So it’s hard to talk about. Well, I’m going to try anyway. Here’s hoping it works. 

Now, to be clear, I did not transition in order to gain male privilege. It was, however, something that I knew would come with it. And yes, no longer dealing with sexism or sexist assumptions about me when dealing with random men was something I was (still am, I’m still not always gendered correctly in person so I’m not actually there yet) looking forward to.

But there is another side to random strangers seeing me as a man that I actually hadn’t thought about. And I feel incredibly silly that it hadn’t occurred to me before because of just HOW MUCH I’ve experienced the female end of it all. 

OK, I promise I’m getting to the point. So while I am not always gendered correctly when people look at me, I am always gendered correctly on the phone because my voice dropped and it dropped hard. I have a Man Voice now. Which is great! I love my voice! But here’s the thing – women treat me differently now.

Women don’t treat me with more respect, exactly – they treat me with more fear. And… of course they do. So ok, I had to call my vet to make an appointment for my cat. Turns out they didn’t have any slots open for weeks thanks to the pandemic plus they lost one of their vets. And the poor lady on the other end of the phone was noticeably nervous to tell me this. Am I going to be ok? Or am I going to be, you know, one of THOSE guys, who yells and hollers as though that will make any difference at all? 

But see, here’s the thing – she sounded EXACTLY HOW I DID when I was talking to men I don’t know, particularly if I had to give them bad news. Her nervousness was my nervousness. My caution was her caution. Yet despite that, despite the fact that I have spent literal decades tiptoeing around men’s feelings, it still caught me completely off-guard to encounter a woman tiptoeing around my feelings.

I don’t like it. At all.

I’m not upset at HER, to be clear. Not at all. I know EXACTLY why she sounded like that because I sound like that. I probably still do; my vocal patterns are definitely still feminine and I have not put any effort into changing them. But knowing how she feels, knowing that I am causing those feelings, knowing that while one segment of the population will suddenly treat me with more respect another segment of the population will be nervous around me – it’s just really sad. 

There’s this youtube video I recently watched by Shaaba called “scary men being more than okay.” It’s just Shaaba reading lovely stories about men being decent human beings. Here’s the thing though – just about all of those stories started out with the woman being nervous because she isn’t sure if that man is going to be ok or be a jerk. She isn’t sure if she’s safe. She’s on her guard. She’s careful. She’s cautious. Because that’s just how it is for women. It’s how it was for me.

I wound up talking to my therapist about this (he is also a trans man) and he shared that he has had similar experiences with similar feelings. Women being nervous when needing to talk to him. Women crossing the street to keep their distance. We talked about how we can display respect and just be ok men, but in the end we can’t fix the problem because it isn’t really about us at all. It’s not about ME, it’s about the society in which I live and the gender dynamics and how male privilege runs deep. 

It also got me wondering how man cis men notice any of this. Or even – would I notice it if I had been born male? The thought that I wouldn’t notice it – that I would just see it as normal and unremarkable – is downright distressing to me. I know I’ve heard of cis men noticing the more obvious things. Things like crossing to the other side of the street or a woman walking faster if she’s alone at night and there is a man behind her. But what about the quieter things? Like that little tone of caution on the phone, or that extra bit of care when having a conversation? I can’t say I’ve ever heard any cis men comment on that – even the horrible cis men who get ANGRY when women fear them. As much as the dynamic makes me sad, I definitely prefer to notice it.

I have no good conclusion to this post. It’s just an unfortunate part of the world. I am crossing to the other side of a divide that shouldn’t exist in the first place. And while the side I’m moving to is the “better” side, I can’t say that I love it. I guess in the end, I just wish things were different. In the meantime, I’ll do my best to be an ok man.

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Figuring things out “late”

This is something that I recently saw from a friend, and my mind just started chewing on it. I realized that I’ve seen this a LOT, about all sorts of things. 

That being, sometimes we figure things out or act on them “late” in life. Like how I was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum at 30. Or how it was a few years after that, that I started on medication to help my depression and anxiety. Or how I didn’t start to transition until my mid-to-late 30’s. When I see other people talking about similar experiences, with figuring out neurodivergence or their gender or getting help, they often speak of their time before that as being “lost.” 

So before I start with my own opinion, I really want to emphasize that that is an entirely valid and understandable way to feel. To look back on ways that you were struggling and to realize that maybe you didn’t actually have to struggle like that – that there were solutions, there were things that could have been done – that’s hard. There is absolutely grief involved. I have felt that grief as well.

That said, I have found that at least for me, looking at my life before I knew what was going on as time that has been lost has never done me any favors. So, once I worked through my own feelings and was at a point of constructing how I want to view the story of myself, I took a different view as much as I could.

I am a trans man who spent over 30 years living as a woman. Those 30+ years are completely full of me wishing desperately to be a boy/man. Those years are also part of who I am now. They have shaped me in so many ways that to reject that part of my past would be to reject myself and who I am now. And honestly? I rather like who I am now. I’m pretty cool. 

I can say much the same about learning that I am autistic. Would it have been nice to have been diagnosed earlier? Yeah, definitely. Were those years of not knowing why I was different or why I struggled hard? Yes, yes they were. But I can also say with complete honesty that I did my very best with what I had and I still made progress and grew as a person. That time wasn’t lost or wasted. I was still me, I still made things and helped others and had friendships and did my best.

With my timeline of psychiatric medication this is even easier. Yes, I was reluctant to get on meds and refused to do so for years on end. I am also very VERY glad that I waited until after I was diagnosed as autistic and was able to get a psychiatrist who knows how to medicate autistic people. Because the fact is – my medication needs are different from neurotypical medication needs, and I need to have a psychiatrist who understands that. I also, on a personal level, needed to know that I had done EVERYTHING I COULD to manage my depression and anxiety on my own before I went and got medications that alter my brain chemistry. I know not everyone feels that way, but it’s how I felt. And it’s what I did. And when I reached that point when I knew that there was nothing more I could do on my own and if I was going to get any better I needed help, I went and found that help. 

If viewing that “before time” as time that has been lost genuinely works for you and how you conceptualize your life, I’m not going to tell you that you’re wrong. You get to tell the Story of You in whatever way gives you the most meaning. But if it doesn’t – if it leaves you with grief or pain that you struggle to resolve, consider that you don’t actually have to see your life that way. Time spent differently isn’t necessarily time that is lost. It’s still part of who you are. It has still shaped you, and how you respond to it will also shape you. You have some power as to the shape you take; don’t be afraid to use it.

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Binding made my dysphoria worse

I really want to talk about the overlap between autism and trans people. Because there is a distinct overlap, and because I exist on that overlap.

So to sum things up quickly – there is an elevated number of autistic people among people who do not identify as their assigned sex, and there is an elevated number of trans people who are autistic. 

This is fascinating, and I really want to talk about it. I don’t just want to write an essay about it, though. I want to find specific things to talk about. And since this is just my lived experience – I literally don’t know any other way of being – it’s kind of hard for me to figure out what, exactly, to talk about.

That said, I thought of something!

A little bit of explanation first; my apologies if you already know this stuff, I’m just trying to be thorough. 

In general, trans masculine people (such as myself) have chest dysphoria. We developed breasts we didn’t want in puberty, and it’s hard to deal with that. Also in general, trans masc people reduce this dysphoria with binding, often either with chest binders or trans tape. The end result is a visually flatter, more masculine chest. For many trans men, the improved visual greatly alleviates dysphoria.

But of course, I had to go and be weird. 

Binding made my dysphoria worse. MUCH worse.

I am a very sensory-focused person. The physical sensation of interacting with the world can often be much more real to me than the visual aspect. And that physical sensation was where a lot of my chest dysphoria centered around.

Generally speaking, binding is not comfortable. You’re kinda smashing your chest lumps as flat as they can go and shaping them into something that more resembles pecs. It doesn’t necessarily feel great, on a sensory level. And for me, it made me VERY AWARE of my chest, ALL THE TIME. Without a binder, I could often just dissociate away from having an awareness of my chest, but that was completely impossible with a binder. 

And I tried binding for real, I really did. I got a proper, quality binder, I read up on the proper way to use them, I really tried my best. Repeatedly. All I got for it was misery. I was physically uncomfortable and hyper aware of my chest, and it did literally nothing to help other people see me as male because I looked too feminine in too many other ways for that one thing to change that. 

So I didn’t bind, because that was the right choice for me. I did get top surgery eventually, once my dysphoria was getting so severe and uncontrolled that I was actually wishing for extreme scenarios to happen that would end with my chest being gone. 

Looking back, I am a little sad that I had to spend so much of my life with a chest that I hated. I never wanted to grow breasts, and I can remember as a pre-pubescent child dreading the fact that I would eventually grow these things on my chest that I really didn’t want. 

Anyway, I really doubt I’m alone in my experience with binders, but this possibility doesn’t really seem to be talked about in trans masc spaces. There’s a common assumption that the way to deal with chest dysphoria is with binding. But that wasn’t my truth, and my truth is valid. 

I’m pretty sure (though I cannot be certain) that my experience with this is due to my being autistic and how that impacts my sensory sensitivity. 

So, since I want to talk about this but am struggling to come up with ideas – what would you like to read about? Do you have any questions about the experience of being both autistic and trans? If you do but are worried the question is too personal or invasive – it’s cool! I have total control over what blog posts I write or don’t, and if I decide something is too personal to answer, I just won’t. But also, you might just have a brilliant idea that would make an excellent blog post. So let me know!

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My Hysterectomy

I definitely seem to get something out of writing out and sharing my experiences, just in general. So I’m going to write about what it was like getting a hysterectomy. If you’re interested in reading one person’s take of what it was like or maybe you just like reading what I write, read on.

CONTENT NOTE: There is a LOT of medical stuff in here. If you find that triggering or difficult to read, please take care of yourself.

I had my surgery on Monday, June 19th. I’ve already written about most of the process that led up to my surgery. After I wrote and published it there was some drama with my insurance (because of course there was) and my surgery date had to be rescheduled, but other than that mess it’s a pretty complete timeline. Oh, also, in the week leading up to my surgery there were several phone calls going over my medication list and getting checked into their system and whatnot. ANYWAY.

The “about to have surgery” stuff actually started the day before, with making sure I have clean bedding and cleaning my torso with the disinfecting wipes they sent me in the mail. 

Then the morning of the surgery I got up at 4am so that I could leave no later than 5:30am, in order to be at the hospital no later than 6am, for a surgery that was scheduled for 8am. Turns out I probably could have slept a little bit longer as I was not allowed to eat or drink or shower, so there wasn’t exactly a whole lot for me to do. So I just did the basics of bathroom, brush teeth, get dressed, and sit around and wait. I made sure to wear clothes that were loose and wouldn’t constrict my midsection at all later on.

Once at the hospital the front desk directed me towards the surgery area, and I went to get checked in. Oh, and masks were required in the hospital, unsurprisingly. I found myself in an absolutely bizarrely shaped trapezoidal waiting room and signed in on a paper sign in sheet. I got to sit for a few minutes before they called me for the check in. This hospital requests that people getting surgery have a “support person” with them and really take steps to include the support person in the process. I was asked who my support person was, how the hospital should send updates to my support person, was given paperwork to hand over to my support person giving them information on what was going on, etc. They also asked a little bit about me, had me sign a form, and I got my hospital bracelet. Then I got to sit and wait until they called me back. I may have spent that time inspecting the shape of the room and marvelling over its asymmetry. You know, maybe.

Ok, so then they call me back, and me and my support person (my nesting partner, Nee) were called back. I was brought into a little exam room for, what I’m calling Part One. This involved taking my shirt off, the nurse wiping my torso down with those disinfecting wipes, the nurse helping me into the gown for some reason, and then handing Nee a plastic bag for all my stuff to go into. She asked me to disrobe entirely underneath the gown and left to give me some privacy for that. Poor Nee was carrying so much stuff at that point. On a side note, I don’t really care for hospital slippers. When the nurse came back she asked me for a urine sample, and when that was done Nee and I were led off to Part Two.

This was the pre-op room, set up with all the surgery patients in little bays of semi-privacy. Nee got a chair and I hopped up onto a bed. I got hooked up to the various monitors and then had the privilege of laying there bored for at least half an hour. One thing I did find a little amusing – generally blood oxygen meters look like little clips that they stick on your index finger. Well, clearly this hospital had had many instances of people messing with those meters and making the machines freak out and was just DONE with that. My oxygen meter was a little sensor that got VERY firmly taped to the tip of my finger. 

Nee was still allowed to be with me, unlike my top surgery experience, and I was also allowed to keep my glasses. Both of those things were VERY nice. So Nee and I chatted some, and I learned that apparently I have a very low breathing rate. I know this is probably not what you’re here for but look, I found it interesting. Nee informed me that my monitor would flash any time my breathing rate went below 10 (no, I’m not sure how exactly it was being measured) and it went below 10 a LOT. Really a lot. I was able to see other people’s monitors showing 16 or 22 and being perfectly happy, and meanwhile mine was sticking to 7 or so. No one seemed to care though, probably because my oxygen levels were just fine (95 and up). So… yeah. Random anecdote about me. I breathe slowly. 

Eventually the hospital staff got around to me, and everything got very hectic, very quickly. I can’t really go over this part in step by step detail, because it’s all such a blur in my memory. Here’s what I can say – a nurse (?) came by with one of those little computer carts and started doing that check in (there appear to be MANY check-ins with surgery. I think this is the third one). Apparently there were three surgeons on my surgical team, and they all came by individually to introduce themselves and explain their role. One of them had a med student tagging along, I guess observing or something. I’m assuming that if that made me uncomfortable I could have asked for the med student to not be there, but honestly I was fine with it. Every single person asked about my support person, and I introduced them to Nee. I think that question was part of their script or something. 

I had to get hooked up to an IV. This involved, of course, the anesthesiologist introducing herself and asking about my support person and whatnot before she actually got started on the IV. For whatever reason the veins in my elbows are REALLY skinny so it’s difficult to place IVs in them. Since I want as few things to be difficult as possible, I went ahead and pointed out a spot on my arm that I knew from past experience was good for an IV hookup. I swear, when the anesthesiologist saw that vein she legit went “ooh!” The actual placement of the IV was… not great. I think they try to use the distraction technique, so someone else was talking to me and asking questions while the anesthesiologist did her thing. This technique is not great for me, as I prefer to do diaphragmatic breathing, deliberately relax my body as much as possible, and look at my other arm. I couldn’t do that this time, and I just ended up flustered and rattled. I don’t know, maybe I could have asked, but everything was happening very quickly very suddenly. 

On a random note – IVs make my arm cold from the inside, and I find that absolutely fascinating.

ANYWAY. I was given some pills to swallow (and just enough water to do it) that were supposed to help with pain immediately post-surgery, and some kind of relaxant through the IV. I was warned the relaxant might sting, but I didn’t feel anything at all. Oh, and they stuck some kind of pad on my tailbone that apparently protects it from the surgical table, and compression wraps on my lower legs to help prevent blood clots.

After all that hustle and bustle I got to wait for a few more minutes when they were, I assume, hustling and bustling somewhere else, and then they came back to unhook my various wires from whatever they were plugged into and wheel me off to surgery. I know that at the same time, someone else came to get Nee and escort them off to wherever they were supposed to wait, but I didn’t witness that part. I also learned that while I was in surgery (or possibly in post-op, I don’t actually know) someone sat down with Nee to give them info about the kind of care I would need after surgery. Again, I didn’t witness any of this, so I only vaguely know what happened. 

Once I was in the surgical room (Part Three!) it was, once again, hustling and bustling. Oh, they had taken my glasses at this point, so it was quite literally a blur for me as well. I seriously cannot see without my glasses. I got to sorta scooch from the bed I was on to the surgical table, which I really wish I had gotten a better look at. The impression I got was that it was vaguely human-shaped, and barely wider than my hips. I had to center myself on it, and they had me put my arms onto little arm-platforms. Then the anesthesiologist was doing something with my IV, someone else put a strap over my hips and literally strapped me down to the table (not sure why and I somehow find this part a little unsettling), presumably someone was hooking all my wires back up to machines, and someone else was putting a mask on my face and kept nudging me to tilt my head farther back.

And then I woke up in post-op (Part Four! Part three went by very quickly from my perspective).

I can remember when all the “about to have surgery” stuff was happening I was remembering how, the last time I had surgery, I lost memories from before I was actually anesthetized. I was wondering when my memory would cut out this time. Once again, I find myself wondering what happened that I was conscious for, but never made it into my long-term memory. Who knows? I certainly don’t.

Sadly, I don’t have any just-waking-up video to share, but I was definitely loopy. I have learned that when I am in post-operative loopiness, I get really, super, incredibly nice. Everyone is just so lovely, and I’m ever so grateful for every single individual thing they do for me, and I want to compliment everyone. 

At this point I was also INTENSELY uncomfortable in my nether regions, and seriously felt like I needed to pee. I did not need to pee. Part of getting a hysto is having a catheter placed for the surgery itself, and that just leaves a person pretty uncomfortable even after it’s taken out. 

So apparently they typical procedure for a hysto is to leave the catheter in after the surgery. Part of allowing a patient to go home is making sure they can pee, and the usual way they do that is to inflate the bladder through the catheter, take it out, and then have the patient use the bathroom. Since that would be utterly horrible for me, they went ahead and changed how they did it for me. I was still incredibly uncomfortable, though.

Anyway, I was uncomfortable and loopy. After working out that I definitely didn’t have to pee for real the nurse stuck a pad between my legs. In just about any other state I probably would have found it mortifying, but at that point I really didn’t have it in me to care at all. Then they asked if I wanted my support person with me, I said yes, and they brought Nee in to sit next to me. I mostly wanted to hold their hand as I drifted in and out of consciousness and was complimenting everyone around me. I also got very concerned about whether or not Nee had eaten a proper lunch. (at this point it was probably around 2pm)

Eventually the nurse who was taking care of me offered me something to drink (I asked for ginger ale) and something to eat (it was just various forms of crackers. I wanted saltines). The other part of leaving is making sure I can eat and drink and keep it all down. So I sipped my ginger ale and nibbled on my saltines and chatted with Nee and generally just hung out until I guess they decided I was awake enough to head off to Part Five.

This time they unhooked all those wires from me rather than the machines (or possibly in addition to the machines) so, wire free, someone wheeled my bed off to some other part of the hospital and into a small private room. I was still thanking everyone, so I thanked the nurse for taking care of me and thanked the guy who pushed my bed. I think that surprised him. 

Part five was overall pretty chill, especially compared to much of the other stuff. I spent some time resting in relative privacy, and only had one nurse attending to me in any way (he was fabulous. I mean, everyone there was great, but I particularly liked him). I was finally able to use the toilet properly and this time I was able to pee! It did not feel good at all. Oof. Once again, my memories of this time aren’t super clear. I think I was there for less than an hour. I was allowed to get dressed, and the nurse warned me that doing so would exhaust me.

He was right. Once I had my clothes on I just sorta sprawled back onto the bed for a bit. At some point during Part Five we went over post-op instructions around movement restrictions, how and when to take painkillers, when I was allowed to shower again (the next day! So soon!) and suchstuff. 

We also had to make sure I had at least a little bit of capacity to stand and walk before I could go. I could… sort of, but I was literally swaying. It was enough, though, so Nee went off to bring the car around to pick me up, and the nurse got me into a wheelchair to wheel me out front to meet them. Along the way we had the following delightful conversation:

Nurse: So what car are we looking for?

Me, totally not remembering what the car looks like: uhhh…. Nee’s car.

Nurse: …

Me: oh, sorry, that wasn’t helpful at all, was it?

Nurse: (laughing) that’s ok, you’re drugged!

We did figure out which car it was, though I was absolutely no help at all in that process. I sorta collapsed into the front seat while vaguely wishing I could hug the nurse. I think he said something to Nee though I’m really not sure, and then we were off home. I mostly dozed on the drive. I was EXHAUSTED. 

We got home a bit before 4 (and I guess that makes this Part Six). I took my first round of pain medication, Nee helped me into my bedroom, and I just collapsed onto my bed and slept for a couple hours. And I mean “collapsed” quite literally here – I basically faceplanted onto my bed and fell asleep immediately. I woke up in that same faceplant position. 

I called Nee to ask for help into the other room (there are a lot of stairs in my house, and I was really not able to navigate stairs on my own), and did more more sipping of water and nibbling of crackers. My primary painkillers are acetaminophen and ibuprofen, which have different schedules for when they are to be taken. So we sorted out what I was to take when, wrote the instructions and times onto the bottles themselves, and then programmed all those times as alarms on my phone so my phone can notify me when it’s painkiller time. That part was remarkably difficult for me – my brain was definitely still not working right. I had Nee check that I got the alarms correct and I guess I got it so wrong that they just re-did all of it. 

Then it was back to sleep (aside from waking up for painkillers and immediately going back to sleep) and that was my Day of Surgery.

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I’m getting surgery!

I’ve been really struggling for the past few weeks to get my brain in the zone for writing. There’s actually a pretty simple reason why – I’m getting surgery soon! And I’ve been REALLY preoccupied with All The Things that happen in the weeks preceding surgery. Sooo… I decided I would just talk about that. Want to get to know me better? Or possibly learn about what’s involved in getting a hysterectomy? Then read on.

Content Warning for medical talk.

Right. So I’m getting a hysterectomy – which is to say, I’m having my uterus removed. YEETERUS. In my case, it’s a trans thing. I’m a trans man, having a uterus causes me distress, so I’m getting it taken out. I kind of wish I could give it to someone who wants a functioning uterus, but as far as I know that’s not a thing yet. Also, while I never had it confirmed, multiple medical providers have considered it possible/likely that I have endometriosis, so my uterus might not be desirable anyway.

This has involved a lot of doctor visits. Step one was choosing a place to go through to get my surgery. At the time I did not have a PCP, so I was pretty much on my own to decide. Once I did that, step two was making an initial appointment. This was basically a consultation where we discussed my options including types of surgery available to me (laparoscopic vs. robotic), exactly how much I wanted removed (all of it, but some cis women who need hysterectomies keep their ovaries for hormonal reasons), what sorts of things I could expect, and the next steps to take towards surgery.

Next step was… basically a second consultation, this time with the surgeon who will be performing the surgery. And as I talked about in a previous post, this is where I really started to be conflicted about whether or not to disclose that I’m autistic. I genuinely get confused and a bit lost with this mix of straightforward and roundabout communication in healthcare settings, and I could tell I was missing cues and not responding the way an allistic person would. 

Anyway, that appointment got far more specific, I had more question, there were things the surgeon wanted to know and… well…

TRIGGER WARNING I’m gonna talk about a pap smear and briefly mention sexual trauma. I do not go into detail on either one.

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Apparently before getting a hysterectomy surgeons REALLY want to get a pap smear first, just so they have more information on what’s going on with those parts. This is a procedure that I find EXTREMELY distressing. It’s physically painful, induces a great deal of dysphoria, and I tend to get PTSD symptoms for at least a week afterwards with vivid and invasive memories of sexual trauma refusing to leave me alone. Technically there was a way to do it with me under anesthesia, but it would mean being put under twice, once for the smear and then AGAIN for the surgery, which isn’t a great option for several reasons. And they didn’t have the capacity to just sedate me, which also would have helped.

In any case, I consented to the pap smear, and it was painful and dysphoric and I basically had flashbacks for a week after, and I dissociated so badly I basically couldn’t walk when it was done. After, the surgeon asked me if I wanted water and all my brain came up with was ERROR. ERROR. ERROR. Point being, I was in a bad place. This part of things was HARD.

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Ok, done with that part. You can pick up reading here if you needed to skip it.

Another lovely (/s, it isn’t lovely at all) thing I have going on is a hypertonic pelvic floor. This basically means that my pelvic floor muscles are too tight all the time and don’t know how to relax. I need physical therapy (PT). So my surgeon wanted me to get an initial assessment just to make sure my pelvic floor issues won’t interfere with healing. 

That turned into yet another situation in which I wasn’t sure whether or not to disclose that I’m autistic, and the physical therapist was yet another person who mixed direct communication with indirect communication. My therapist (mental health, in this case) has suggested that if I’m uncertain about disclosing that I’m autistic but also struggling with understanding everything, I could just start out by directly asking for all communication to be extremely direct – to the point that it might feel rude to them – and just blame it on anxiety or something.

It’s not a bad idea, but I haven’t tried it yet. And one thing I have found is that people will readily agree to being direct, and even totally believe they’re being direct, while in fact continuing to be totally indirect. It’s just such a THING, and it can be so incredibly tiresome to navigate.

ANYWAY. I digress. The PT appointment went fine and nothing happened that caused significant dysphoria or any dissociation. (ok, I did briefly dissociate once while we were talking and was extremely disoriented when I “came back.” The physical therapist probably noticed that I suddenly looked a little confused, but I think she took it as not quite understanding the last thing she said. I did some grounding exercises to stay more present after that. No idea why it happened) The pelvic floor is a very intimate area, but to my benefit I know someone who knows someone who is explicitly open about treating pelvic floor issues in trans patients, so I jumped on that in a heartbeat. The exam was external, I only had to partially disrobe, and while I did get a little stressed, it really wasn’t that bad at all.

She also confirmed to me that I am doing this in the best order – hysterectomy first, then PT. Apparently she and her colleagues have anecdotally found (no studies on this as of yet) that a hysterectomy can itself greatly alleviate the symptoms of a hypertonic pelvic floor. It’s not a cure, but it helps, which means hopefully less PT will be needed once I’m ready to do that.

I have also spoken on the phone with my HRT provider, as there is a high chance my dose will need to be adjusted after I no longer have ovaries. So we have a post-surgery plan in place to track my T levels and see what needs to be fiddled with. Sadly, this is exactly the kind of thing that can’t really be predicted – it’s going to be blood tests and gradual adjustments, much like it was when I first started T.

Next up is an appointment that’s basically dedicated to signing consent forms and making sure I’m squared away, and then finally it’s the surgery itself.

Roughly around the time of the second consultation when I was getting things going for real, I had a bit over a week of a flurry of phone calls and emails and appointment making and getting my schedule arranged. I struggle to talk on the phone as the sound quality on phone calls is so low that I have to really focus hard to understand what the person is saying. This means that ALL of my processing power is focused on understanding what the person is saying and there is pretty much nothing left over for the conversation itself. I deal with this by anticipating as much as possible of what will be spoken about and what I will be asked, and then writing it all down so I can just reference my “phone call” notes. I mean, I even write down my phone number for every single phone call where I’m likely to be asked for my number. 

And that’s what I’ve been doing! I’ve been a little bit too overwhelmed to actually feel excited about it, but the “overwhelmed” feeling is gradually decreasing, making more room for excitement. I’ll admit, though – I’m pretty proud of myself for how much I’ve done. I am apparently VERY motivated here.

Anyway, that’s what the process has been like for a trans man in the US. Thank you for reading. If you have any questions go ahead and ask. I’m feeling pretty open about all this.

ADDENDUM: I wrote this post yesterday. Today I got a package in the mail from my surgeon’s office with sterilizing wipes and instructions on how to use them before surgery. I believe I got the same basic thing before top surgery. So sterilizing my torso as much as I can is part of things as well.

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