Things I wanted to know when I first started transitioning

My sister tagged me in a Tik Tok video comment that read: You didn’t always know what you know now so that’s important to keep in mind when educating others. Ps I love you @Layne Ingram.

She’s so right; and so much more right than she knows. I put a lot of pressure on myself in almost every facet of my life and sometimes it paralyzes me and then I start to second guess myself or doubt that I have anything to say. But of course I do. I’m a living and breathing example of what a younger Trans person could grow up to be. The main reason I came out publicly is to share my experience in the hope that it helps someone else. How am I going to help anyone if I don’t use the tools at my fingertips?

There is so much I didn’t know at the beginning of this journey and so much I was starving to learn. I watched so many videos and did so many Google searches. Once I realized I was Trans, I couldn’t wait to get started on finally getting to be me. I had already waited 36 years – was not willing to wait one minute more more. So I understand how that hunger for information feels and the want to know that there are others out there just like you.

Here’s my answers to some of the burning questions I had at the beginning of my transition. Everybody goes through this differently but here’s what it was like for me.

  1. When was I going to be able to start transitioning?
    • For me, I realized I was Trans in late 2016. I was scared and nervous but also so excited and impatient. After coming out to my wife and talking to a Trans friend of mine I searched for a therapist who had experience working with the Trans community. I found an amazing one right in my hometown and I’ll never forget my first appointment. I sat down on her couch and she said, “now tell me, are you transitioning male to female or female to male?” And I was stunned, shocked, happy and kind of validated all at once; it was like at least I’m kinda portraying what I had hoped because my gender seems ambiguous to this professional. Thinking back on it now, I often wonder if she just said that to kind of gas me up and get me on her side – I’ll never know but it had its desired effect.

      That’s a long answer to say that typically before you can start medically transitioning (using hormones), you need a letter from a licensed therapist that you can present to the medical doctor that will be prescribing. In Michigan, we now have a program through Planned Parenthood that will provide this life-saving gender-affirming care for Trans people with minimal red tape and built in services to help you through the process. I do recommend a good therapist though. There is a lot to sort out and unpack. How did you get here? Is there anything traumatic you need to deal with so you can be your best self? How long have you been feeling this way? These are just some things to explore on this journey. There doesn’t always have to be trauma attached to us – it’s just the world we live in, it’s quite likely that there’s something in there and therapy is such a great way to work though it.
  2. What was it going to be like to be a Trans person?
    • What’s it like? Honestly being Trans is so much more than I could have hoped for. It’s so right. I always go back to the first time I really saw myself in the mirror. When you’re transitioning you are constantly looking for changes, (and I was especially looking forward to growing a beard), and since you’re looking so intently everyday it’s hard to really tell when it happens. But that day, I was positioned just right and when I first turned my head, I saw my side profile and noticed that it was a bit squarer and then I turned to fully face the mirror and I saw this guy looking back at me. A guy that felt like me – and looked like the me I should have been. It made my heart beat fast and that’s when I knew it was working.

      And it’s going to be like that; a bunch of little, great moments as you become yourself. There’s the cracking voice moments, and the patiently waiting for your beard to grow in, and the fluctuation in weight but I think it’s going to be what you hoped. I think it’s going to save your life; that’s what it did for me. I was also scared of what it was going to be like – was I actually going to be able to do it in my hometown? Would I have to live somewhere else? Find someone else to love me? I mean thinking back on it, it was kinda risky but being a Trans person to me is cool, and fun, and exciting and brave and awesome. It’s also so real and validating to walk through this world and be myself.

      It’s also sometimes difficult and scary to be a Trans person right now. Everywhere you look there is misinformation and hate designed to knock you down, make you second guess, or even not want to be here. But if you keep looking you’ll find your people, your allies, your supporters – like me.
  3. When would I start to see changes? More specifically, when was my beard going to grow in?
    • You’re going to get sick of hearing this but it’s different for every person… it just is. These things will all happen, it’s just a matter of when and to what extent. Your body fat is going to distribute elsewhere and this took me about a year and half for everything to move around. I went through what I would call a real roly-poly phase where I just kind of swelled up and then boom! Slim Layney over here. Then I noticed my shoulders starting to get a little broader and my face and jaw starting to square.

      What happened first for me right out of the gate was the voice dropping and cracking. A whole mess that wasn’t the most enjoyable time especially when you do a lot of talking in front of people. It really did remind me of all the things I knew about male puberty and even when my whiskers started to come in, I wondered what to do. Should I get beard balm and cream? One thing I did was get an actual barber. And my barber has my hair and beard looking tight. Shout out to Meek at Klassy Kutts!

      I feel like the first couple of years are going to be slow and painful as you wait for things to happen; it is going to be more emotional as the T gets into your body and your levels even out. Physical things are certainly happening but they didn’t happen as fast as I would have liked and so patience is so important. By the end of year two and beginning of year three, things kind of start rocking. It also depends on what transitioning looks like for you. If you’re medically transitioning, does that include hormones and surgery? Because there’s lots of changes related to that too.
  4. What’s it like to have surgery?
    • Having surgery FOR ME was like a dream come true. After I had my top surgery I just felt free. Free of something that had been holding me back for so long; free from something I had been embarrassed of; free from something I didn’t understand why I had. I’d be so jealous of slender female athletes like why did I have to have these??? So for me, surgery was life-saving and amazing. Of course you’re nervous whenever you’re going to go under the knife but I was in good hands. I was at THE University of Michigan and under the great care of specialists in the field.

      There was a lot of prep and appointments ahead of the surgery. There is a ‘before’ picture floating around somewhere I think that they used for teaching – I hope I never see it.

      The recovery was kind of rough – I mean depending on the type of procedure you have I think it varies. I had the double incision because there was a lot to deal, ya know what I’m sayin… and so as a result I had these drains under my armpits for the excess blood. Was hard to move my arms for a while, very sensitive to touch but when I took the bandages off the first time, (honestly thinking back now, it was a crime scene), I was SO HAPPY! Like wow – I’m ME, I’m alive, I’m HOT. It was just better. My confidence soared and that was it for me – I never looked back.

      I suppose you could say it was a SIGNIFICANT weight off my chest, pun intended.

Those are just a few of the questions I had when I was starting out. If you’re reading this before November 8 and you’re 18 or older…. please vote. VOTE! It is your right and it matters. Rights are on the ballot – and your vote is your voice. Be heard.

Layne

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