Saturday, August 9, 2014

2012: MTF Transition Begins, The Magical Year in Pictures

2012 was the most magical year of my life and the beginning of my transition from male to female.  For a long time I'd looked to this year as something potentially special and a possible time for me to change my life.  As 2011 drew to a close it looked as if I was finally going to have the courage to pull things together and start the transition process.

When does transition begin?  Everyone has a different definition of it but for me I will say it was when I began HRT (hormone replacement therapy) on May 15, 2012.  In a greater sense it might be generally stated that the year 2012 was the beginning of my transition.  Before the end of 2011 I'd had my first session with a gender therapist and had my first attempt at facial hair removal, with a single laser session.  I came into the new year dedicated to change and committed to give this transition 100%.  For me that was easy because at this point I had gone way beyond wanting to transition, I needed it badly.

At the beginning of the year I was splitting my life maybe 50/50 between male and female presentations.  My last "male" haircut was at Thanksgiving 2011, so as the year progressed my hair appeared more and more "female".  By the time I started hormones I had evolved into a more androgynous presentation when I couldn't fully be myself, Tammy. 

I was still invoked in the real estate business as my old self but as the yer progressed I pulled out more and more in preparation for my transition to full time.  At the time I didn't see a way I could practice real estate in my town after transition and the truth of the matter is the business was barely breaking even at that point, so I didn't see the logic in continuing it at that time. 

I had no idea how my parents would react after I came out to them but I did intend to stay in town as I was committed to taking care of them in their old age.  At this point I was living on investments intended for my retirement and I didn't think they would last for the rest of my life, but I knew I would be ok financially for awhile.

My goal was to come out to my parents at some point during the year and go full time on December 31, 2012.  This was so I could start the new year as a new me and transition during the magical year that I felt was bringing me luck, and so much promise.  Things didn't work out exactly that way, but it was pretty close and better than expected. 

2012 was a year of Major change for me.  My appearance changed, my feelings changed, everything changed.  That is what I signed up for and I was not disappointed.  This whole transition I believe, and my life since I accepted myself, has been blessed.  Although my organic anxiety had lifted with the introduction of female hormones, I went through a lot of anxiety during the year over the daunting prospect of coming out to my parents, transitioning in my hometown and eventually the end of my marriage.

I have to say that while I knew inside that transition was what I needed in my life, I had no idea how unbelievable I would feel when I got started.  The hormones made me feel amazing, in a way that I wasn't even expecting.  Having my own hair was a therapy unto itself.  I didn't anticipate how incredible that would make me feel.  Perhaps most of all, just being able to live increasing amounts of my life as myself and finally becoming my authentic self full time, was just what the doctor ordered, literally.

Like everyone else that transitions, I wish I'd done it sooner, but I've learned to accept the blessings that life gives me and simply be thankful to have this chance.  Sure, I'd suffered through the vast majority of my life in a dark, depressive, numbed out haze.  Coming out of that cloud was liberating in itself but feeling the changes inside and seeing them in the mirror gave me a high I'd never felt before.  Reality wasn't so bad now.  It was Awesome! 

The following pictures and captions document my first 7.5 months on hormones and my journey from the first trip to the doctor's office to going full time to my first Christmas as myself with my parents to a fabulous New Year's Eve with my boyfriend Mitchell.  It was a whirlwind year for sure and while it wasn't without pain and tears, it was the most absolutely fabulous time of my life.  Does it get better?  Yes, but I don't think I will ever experience a more special, magical year than 2012... 

The next day I would drive to my new doctor in Cary and get my first hormone prescriptions.
The hormones had an almost immediate effect on me mentally and emotionally.  Within a couple of weeks a wave of calm had settled upon me.  I'd heard of others experiencing something similar but there was another effect I that surprised me.  For the first few months I was on sort of a constant high.  After awhile that became the new normal, and not so noticeable anymore, but I was finally at ease with myself and able to truly enjoy life.  During this time the dark cloud of depression (that had haunted me in varying degrees since I was teen) began to lift and I was able to stop taking an anxiety medicine that I'd been prescribed for years.  When I started estrogen it was like my mind cleared up and I began to see a bright future for myself.  I did not remember ever having those positive feelings although I had a happy childhood overall, before puberty when things fell apart.
Just me..2 weeks HRT...
My everyday "androgynous" look at that time..looking into my mirror wondering, "is this stuff working yet"?  I was already feeling different inside and a Lot better than I had remembered ever feeling.
2 weeks into my MTF transition and out with my boyfriend Mitchell.
Having him in my life to love and support me made all the difference during this pivotal year.
Besides love, one thing we've always had is great communication.
June 2012
Almost one month on hormones.
Making my first ventures out as myself without a wig and

I look nervous.  This was an awkward stage.
4 weeks HRT...
Just mascara and lip gloss...what am I am gonna do with this hair???
Relaxing at home with my man, early July 2012.
Almost 7 weeks into my HRT journey...
Yes if I put on the make up, wig, and in this case high heels, I could look pretty good...
1.5 months HRT with "full" makeup, at home .
1.5 months HRT...Minutes after the previous picture was taken.  The wig gave me a completely different look.
7 weeks my natural habitat..
July, 4, 2012
Getting more confident without my wig
Having my hormone levels tested for the first time.  This is the only time I ever wore my wig to the doctor's office.

Going back to the doctor, becoming me.

He doubled my hormone prescriptions that day and my physical transition went into a higher gear
7-28-2012, about 2.5 months into HRT.
7-28-2012, about 2.5 months of HRT.
Getting out more often without the aid of a wig.
At home getting used to a more natural look.
Side view...My hair is getting longer and I noticed it getting thicker.
Out shopping as myself, August 2012
8-13-2012...No longer padding the bra, still wearing the wig sometimes.
I turned 48 years old the week before but I was feeling like a teenager...
Later that night I went out with Mitchell.  Pictured here at a hotel in Raleigh where we spent the weekend.
With my friend Kate Bell at the Body, Mind, Spirit Expo in Raleigh, NC. This was our second day at the crowded Expo. The first day I wore my wig and this day I brought it with me and I asked her if she thought I would be ok going in without it. She told me I didn't need it so I went in without it and this was my first time being around large crowds presenting female without a wig. I was not ready for prime time yet but it was a growth experience, liberating..
With my dad on his birthday, still presenting male and not out to my family yet.
I am like, help, I need to take the next step.
Almost 4 months HRT...out and about as myself.
Starting to feel I am close....
I was finally getting happier with my hair.
Still wearing a wig when going out with Mitchell.  I was (and still am) so happy to have him in my world.
Driving to Greensboro, NC for a class at the UNCG on Transgender Voice and Communication. Not only was this class important self improvement for me but it was awesome going to a university as myself and taking a class. I went as my natural self for every class, no wigs.
10-1-2012... getting much more comfortable out as myself..
I think at this point was starting to realize that I was "there". After almost 5 months of hormones and almost 11 months growing my hair out and an improved voice..I had no more problems passing. In 6 weeks I would go full time...
..same day as the previous picture but I was not quite ready to ditch the wig, although the only times I still wore it were when going out with my boyfriend Mitchell. I didn't always wear the wig around him but I still wore it when we went out, although I probably didn't need to anymore...
A couple of loving pictures with my baby...
Going to the State Fair, by myself, a new challenge. Only one year earlier Mitchell took me and it was my first exposure to a huge crowd of people.  On this day it was not quite as crowded but I went by myself, another growth experience..
In my class at UNCG I met a new friend, now a dear friend, Donna Simms. I usually drove to Raleigh and rode the rest of the way to Greensboro and back with her. Not only was it nice to spend time with such a fun, positive person, but Donna also helped me out greatly in my struggle to come out to my parents.
Halloween Party Picture. The next day I went to lunch with Mitchel, who was also a pirate at the party with me (I was his wench, lol). On the way home that evening I took off my wig and that was the last time I ever wore it. The day was 10-29-2012.
Me as a wench with my Pirate.  I'm sort of tall here in 6" high heel boots...
The day after the Halloween party having dinner in Raleigh with Mitchell.  When I got home I took my wig off and watched television with Joan.  After that day I put my wig up and haven't worn one since...:)
Day 1 of totally wig free life.
Basically at this point I was full time with the exception of the time I spent with my parents.  Mt. Everest, as I referred to the mountain of fear I had about coming out to them, loomed but I was spending most of my life as me.
Out with Mitchell on his birthday.  First date with no wig!
This was a Big day for me. It was Mitchell's birthday and I had my hair styled for the first time at a salon. When I arrived at the hotel suite he had for us he commented on how nice my hair looked but when we got ready to go out he asked me if I was going to wear my wig. I told him no, I thought I would go without it. For a couple of months he had been asking me this same question before we went out and I took it to me that he wanted me to wear it, but later this night he told me how proud he was of me for going out with him with my natural hair. He said lots of women have hair shorter than this and he loved my hair. I guess in my desire to please and be appealing to him I had misread him on this, but we were on the same page from then on and I would just go with my own hair. That is for better or for worse because a lot of times there are bad hair days...

Going to class at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
At UNCG with Donna Simms for our Transgender Communication Class...
I went back to the salon for a hair trim , as the previous week we only had time to do the color and style. This time I got a different style, I didn't really like it that much, but it showed me that the same hair can be styled very differently.
Meeting my friend Lisa Lesher in person for the first time...
We had both seen our therapist that day, then went out to dinner in Raleigh.

She said I was the first trans person she'd met in person and we have since become best friends.
Thanksgiving week 2012...
6 months of HRT and starting to show some (all natural) curves....happy and relaxed in my back yard and anywhere else else I went, but still hiding from my parents and a few other people in my life...but that was about to change. the mall....less than 3 weeks from coming out to my family and 23 days before going full time...
Entering December 2012, the most pivotal month of my life...
6.5 months of HRT transition.
Driving into Destiny

This was taken on my way to Danville, Virginia on Saturday. Sunday I would return home only to discover that my spouse had left me and also left me a letter from an attorney she had hired to file for divorce. Talk about a blast from the past, this was the day before my world crashed in on me and I saw an opening to begin my new world. 3 days after this picture was taken I came out to my parents and 6 days later, on the Winter Solstice and last day of the Mayan calendar, I began my new life; full time as Tammy Ann Matthews.
After a happy weekend with Mitchell, I returned home later that night to find out my spouse had left me.  She knew about my relationship with him but I believe she left me at the time she did because she knew I was preparing to come out to my parents and determined to transition to full time by the end of the year.
World Changes....
My parents had just met the real me for the first time and as I sat at my house and thought about things, I decided that I did not Have to go back to pretending for anyone anymore. This is the very moment that I decided I was full time, that I was never going back again. If my smile seems sort of subdued it is because I was still reeling from my spouse leaving me just days before. Because I had not been myself All day I waited until the next day to call it my first day of being full time. That day was 12-21-2012, the last day of the Mayan Calender and the so called "end of the world"...
For me it was a new beginning...

"December 21, 2012 marks the completion of the Great Mayan Cycle, and the beginning of a New World Age. There are many predictions of what might happen on this day that, if they do not occur, could mislead many to perceive this date as meaningless. By focusing too heavily on external events, one may be missing the true significance of this prophetic date. Regardless of what happens externally on this day, December 21, 2012 is a clear marker of the transition of World Ages. This synchronization is inviting all of humanity to open to imagining, envisioning and actualizing the possibilities of gradual, positive transformation of our human culture in harmony with the Earth. As we internally align with this grand shifting of cycles we can contribute our personal inspiration and commitment to being part of this collective transformation... "

Mitchell came to town to take me out to a celebration dinner, 2 days after my going full time. 
Christmas 2012
My first Christmas with my family as myself and my last Christmas with Jumper.  Jumper had been Joan's dog but she became a major part of our family when we got married. She passed away the following spring at the age of 16.5.
My first Christmas as me with my dad.  He was so happy to have a daughter!  He was also finally happy to see me at ease.   That night we shared a father daughter dance which I will always remember as one of the most special moments ever with him, and in my life in general.  I was blessed to be able to have this time with him after coming out, and have his full acceptance.  I just wish we'd had a Lot more time together.
My first Christmas as myself with my loving, accepting Mama and Daddy
Mitchell showed up with flowers, as he is apt to do...<3
Out with my baby
Full time as my authentic self...:)
Celebrating New Year's Eve with Mitchell, at home before going out to dinner, then a bar.  He had been with me when this magical year came in and he was there for me all year...
New Year's Eve dinner with my baby...
One of many celebratory New year's Eve kisses..
New Year's Eve 2012
The magical year had brought everything I'd hoped for.
I'd been on hormones 7.5 months and full time 10 days when the new year came in..

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