After popping down for another session of electrolysis, making it the 3rd week in a row, this time I was lying on the table for 5.5 hrs and did not leave the spa until twenty to one in the morning. Eventually the cream had worn off and I was lying digging deep marks into my hand with my fingernails to take my mind off the pain of the needle.
I was up at 8am for parkrun so neither of us was getting much sleep after that session.
Before the visit I had popped into the closest decent sized chemists and tried to get my estradiol prescription filled.
The pharmacist passed a comment about my address and I said I spent most of my weekends down here so it was easier to get. I was due 3 boxes but he only had 2. (Depending on who you ask the inability of places to stock E patches was a direct result of brexit, but I thought it had been resolved) I signed up for a text alert and at some point in the next few weeks I will get a text to collect my last box.
As soon as I got home, at roughly 1 in the morning I applied the first patch and did my best to fall asleep. I was obviously too tired and did something wrong as it was half off by morning so I straightened it out and covered it with a waterproof plaster which will tide me over until Tuesday when I will apply the next one. For something I had waited so long for this was a bit anticlimactic, but my life has a way of being either zero or 100 miles an hr and never a steady 45-50!
I dropped my sister home after parkrun and was in male mode for the first time in the last few weeks in front of her because I was going too collect the kids from their grannies. She started an interesting conversation with me about feeling awkward with me as Dee. I could tell she was trying to talk without upsetting me so I tried to help out, but she was asking about why I was so quiet and sensible, she likes her little brother and enjoys doing things with him, but she has found it hard to connect with me and is worried that my personality is going to change.
We started talking about my name and she told me again how much she hates DeeDee and will never use it because it sounds too childish. I said when has she ever met someone and told them that she hates their name and refuses to use it?
The only reason she is doing it is because it’s me. I said I do understand it, becauser I ahve been thinking about it on and off for ages, for me seeing DEEDEE printed on the prescription box just looked really odd. I think Dee works as a nickname, but on it’s own I do not like it as a formal name as it seems to be missing something I can’t quite put my finger on.
I had been thinking during my electrolysis of names that would naturally get shortened to Dee. I really like Deanna as a name, and my mums middle name is Denise, but the problem with being a transwoman with a feminised male name is that everyone would assume I was just called Dennis in my former life.
I said there is a lot of pressure in getting a name that everyone calls you right because we are never put in that situation, every name we hear is coloured by people we meet and everyone has names they like and dont like. I could never call myself Daisy or Delilah or Deidre because to me they just dont sit right. All the proffessionals have been calling me DeeDee since I started using it and it has lots of positive connotations, but I know for a fact even without her saying she doesnt like it I have been pondering over my name for a while. She asked how they could say it with a straight face and I reminded her that for them whther I present male or female they are at work and use my preferred name and pronouns just like she would, the only reason she feels entitled not to is because she is my big sister. She acknowledged my point and said that she does like Deanna, she doesnt want me to lose my second middle name but dislikes my choice of Joy for a 1st middle name. I said that I don’t really care if she likes it or not, no one tends to like their names and they only ever talk about middle names in the pub when people are guessing them, for me it’s more about acknowledging my old initials and their place in family tradition while trying to find a new version that works for who I’m becoming. She said she couldn’t imagine the pressure of picking a new name for herself.
After much waffling I explained that my personality is still the same, but I had a lot of practice with the character she knew. It was easy to slip into and the only time I had to watch myself and be really controlled was usually when I was drinking, which is why alcohol tended to bring out my more misogynistic and stupid “bloke” jokes, especially when I was in my 20’s. If people were laughing then they weren’t looking.
I mentioned that it isn’t just me transitioning but all of my relationships need to change too, I have established habits and little routines that I have used for years and while that was fine for the brother/friend, not all of those will extend to Dee moving forwards.
I said as Dee I am extremely self conscious, I am wearing clothes I have cobbled together from charity shops, from donatations from her and mum and I still don’t have my own style, most of the time the only way to see if I like something is to wear it and see, I know my friends and family will stop me going out looking a total mess, but everyone is trying to dress me in their own style and I have to accept the help until I grow into my own.
I said there is also the fear of being looked at as a man by anyone.
I feel that pressure more with people who have known me longer and are used to me being bald, so when I turn up in a wig everyone knows it’s fake but it does stand out, but when I am walking down the street being passed by strangers I am also thinking about my stride and how big my steps are as well as where my arms are going, I am trying to not stand slouching with my hands in my pockets when I queue or look at something because women (much to their chagrin) do not tend to have pockets and so it makes me stand out. I naturally tend to cross my legs rather than spread them out, but in general women hold themselves differently to men.
Quite apart from that as soon as I speak I am trying to manage my pitch, my resonance, my words, my voume and my patterns to fit in with the women around me. Laughing, sneezing and coughing need to be held in a little more.
If I get any one of those things wrong people start to sense that something is off and then look harder, and I do not want them to look harder.
For example I know I start my voice too high the first time I talk to someone as Dee, it comes out in a not quite falsetto that is obviously false, but it allows for the drop in pitch to make me sound more natural for a longer period of time, but those first few conversations are excruciating.
I am a natural empath and I can feel the exact moment that someone’s mood or attitude changes or when their body language shifts and they start to pay attention. It is a fantastic tool to have as a person, but makes me more hyper aware when I stand out, which is something I have spent my whole life trying not to do!
I explained that it is the difference between a new driver and an experienced one. I have so much going on that I have to shut up and concentrate. I am looking and learning at the women around me and because I am not simply trying to be a mand pretending to be a woman I am translating all of those little things into what I need to do as Dee.
She has had years to learn all of the unwritten social rules and ettiquette and style faux pas that people can avoid, but unless someone helps me out the only way I will know is by blundering into them.
She pointed out the amount of pink I wear and said no one does that, it makes me look old. I have a pair of grey trainers with pink stripes and my pink rain jacket, on that day I wore them to walk a dog and meet my friends in the park.
I explained that the jacket was a charity shop purchase because I needed a coat and didn’t have one, and I still havent found one I like yet, and while I hate it being bright pink, because I prefer purple or light blue it does the job. The trainers are the only shoes I actually ever bought in my true size and are really comfortable. She was trying to offer constructive advice without sounding catty but then the conversation got a little weirder and now I am wondering if she is actually mourning her brother and trying to hold onto him rather than trying to help her sister.
She asked why I did not buy from the mens department for Dee. I said she doesnt do it for herself, so why would I?
I don’t want to buy from the mens department, I want to buy from the womens department, she said that my body shape hasnt changed yet and there are lots of andorgynous clothes that she thinks would look really good on me. I said that until I get bigger thighs and a butt then the womens jeans are not going to fit as well, but I actually wear both mens and womens jeans interchageably now as unless they are fitted then no one can tell.
As I go through this period of having to be seen as male part of the time and female the rest I know my style is going to change and alter and drift, I will move towards androgyny or be seen as camp because I cannot help but want to express more of my girly self. The important difference is that I do not give a monkey how my male self looks and never have. I don’t want to look or come across as a well dressed or gay man because that is not who I am, I care about my appearance and presentation as Dee.
She said that I have big winter coats that I wear that arent pink and I agreed but said there was a huge difference between the style of mens and womens coats – even puffer jackets tend to be longer for women or more shaped and tailored. She disagreed but I said that the coats I have are blatently mens coats and no one would ever think of them as womens coats.
More to the point I am trying to move myself from being seen as a man to being seen as a woman, and you could have two identical teeshirts for sale and I would still want to buy the one with the womans label on it, because mentally that helps me feel happier inside.
I dont think she understands this part of transitioning, she may know a transwoman, and she was the first person I told when I was questioning, and even now is taking emotional flack from my mum because of it, but I am different and this felt like she was trying to herd me back into the box she had me in.
All of my other friends said that they had found me more relaxed and comfortable. I sat and drank tea with them, I chatted and played with their kids and we even went out for dinner in a busy family restaurant, they all loved interacting with me as Dee so I cannot believe my character changed that much at my sisters house that it was like I was someone different. She did stress that she still loves and supports me and was glad she was able to ask me, so it has probably been building up since I first turned up to her house, but it did make me a little defensive, I want to educate as I go because it will make my life easier if people understand what I am going through, but equally I cannot work through someone elses emotional issues for them…
(I wrote this for a more personal blog I keep just to get it out of my system, but it felt appropriate to share here too as I am almost certain someone else must have experienced something silmilar to this, plus – I finally started Estrogen. Whoop! Whoop!)