Exactly one year ago at this very minute (I have set this to publish at a very specific time), I woke up following the completion of my transition from male to female. Even now, a full year on, it still doesn’t feel real. I waited 34 years and 29 days for that moment, and now, a further 365 days later, it still hasn’t really sunk in that the whole process is over. So to celebrate the year, I have decided to share some thoughts, share a few thank you messages to people, as well as answering a few questions that were directed at me on social media after I opened up the floor.
So firstly, as usual for me, a song…..
So yeah, it’s been a strange year and I’m not really going to cover the old territory. It still doesn’t feel real. I can look down and see a vagina, I walk into a toilet knowing that no matter what I have to sit down (or make a big mess) and can put on underwear without having to readjust, but despite all that, it still doesn’t feel real. It’s an insane thought, but I am definitely glad the process is over and in the last year, I’ve not once regretted the decision, other than the few days after the operation, but that was predicted to happen by the nurses as my body got used to not having a natural source of hormones any more.
Having a vagina is strange when you’ve spent most of your life with a penis, but you know what, It’s a good strange.
Before I move onto the questions, I’m going to start thanking five people…..
Dr Curtis and Mr Thomas – These were my two doctors following during the transition. Dr Curtis was the gender specialist and Mr Thomas (a traditionalist surgeon that didn’t like to use the title of doctor) performed the op. Whilst I know little about the former and precisely sod all about the latter, these two played a huge role in helping me complete the transition. Dr Curtis gave me confidence during some very vulnerable moments in his office, and Mr Thomas has done a wonderful job.
Dr Curtis has now left his practice in Marylebone, closing the doors to it in late 2017 and if he ever reads this, which I very much doubt he will…..thank you. I may have only met you around ten or so times, but you helped more than you ever know and I would urge anyone who wants to transition to seek his help if he ever becomes active in the field again.
Also on a side note, thank you to his assistant, Richard, who whilst he doesn’t get a main mention, was always very open and welcoming when I came into the clinic.
Jess – Jess is a rock, not literally of course :P. Jess is probably my favourite person in the world and one of the few I trust with absolutely everything. She and I started on the same day at Odeon and whilst she met me at 2/5 of the way through the transition, the 60% or so she was present, she was incredible. She gives me support when I need it, cheers me up and makes me feel like an actual human being sometimes. Jess is amazing and I love the girl. Whilst I have many friends who have been excellent and true, Jess is head and shoulders above them all.
On the right is a picture and she and I together in late August and she is one of the few people that I think is actually genuinely pleased to see me when I walk into a room. She does literally run across the room and hug me. I’m pretty confident in saying that she probably wishes that I didn’t distract her so much when she is working, but to sum Jess up, when I went out to celebrate my 35th birthday in September, she was the only person who turned up (some had told me in advance that they couldn’t come and I was fine with that).
Everyone needs a Jess in their life!
My Mum and Dad – Considering that they were initially very against the idea, so much to the point where we didn’t talk for nearly a year, my relationship with my parents has rarely been stronger. I now stay with them whenever I go home, they are very supportive and whilst they still occasionally call me Nathan and use the male pronouns to describe me (I don’t get angry as it is a lot to get used to), they’re starting to call me Kate on a regular basis and always mark me down as such in their diary.
Right, so let’s move onto the questions that were asked to me through social media 🙂
How painful was the healing process? (from Leah P)
Whilst in the hospital the actual healing process was surprisingly pain-free in terms of at the operation site, then again that might have been because I was on copious amounts of oramorph and other such painkillers at the time.
In terms of general pain, the most painful part of the transition was simply laying in the hospital bed for five days straight. It wasn’t too bad on the day of the operation because I was still drowsy from everything that had happened. After I woke up from the op, all I wanted to do was fall asleep. On the second day, so the day after the op, I started to get horrible pains in my back because of not being allowed to move from the bed, or even sit up. I had to lay perfectly horizontal for five days straight and my back started hurting in an indescribable way. I took more painkillers for my back than I did the actual op.
Following on from leaving the hospital, I was very ill for a few weeks and got a bad staph infection, tearing apart some of the suture lines and causing me to lose a lot of blood. To quote my friends at the time “Kate, you look like death!”. At one point I bled into a toilet for twenty-five minutes and if I was to share the pictures of what it looked like down there, it’d make you not want your lunch……for a long time to come.
On a side note, oramorph is some good stuff!
Do you want to do any other operations on your body or face to complete the transition? (also from Leah)
Well strictly speaking, in terms of the head down, I have completed the transition. It was completed as soon as I had the op. However, I still want to have several surgeries. Realistically, I think I will largely stop with what I have. I’m currently paying a hefty sum every month to pay back the fee for the operation and, assuming nothing happens between now and then, that won’t be paid off until mid-2023, by which point I’ll be just shy of my 39th birthday. Other than two months in 2017, by the time it is all paid off I will have been paying off loans for ten years (I seriously finished one and went straight into another) and it has stopped me being able to save.
If I did eventually go for surgeries, I’d love to get facial feminisation surgery at some point, simply so that I can pass more easily and actually feel less self-conscious about my looks all of the time. I’ve known a few other transwomen that had had the op, including my friend Miriam, and they look so different from how they did initially, in a good way. I’d love to actually look like a girl, but the issue comes with that in 2012 I had a consultation with a company in Marbella, for which they do a photoshop representation of what you’d look like afterwards, and for me, it didn’t really seem to make that much difference. Maybe after the loan, I’ll do the same again and see if it is worth it now that my face has changed due to hormone.
There is also an operation that aims to make your voice more feminine, and I had a referral for that four or five years ago and I’d love to be able to make phone calls to people I don’t know, such as when applying for jobs, and not having a confused sounding voice on the other end, or having to explain that I am transgender. However, despite the positive outcomes, there is a risk that you will do permanent damage to your vocal cords and you’ll never be able to talk relatively normally again. It’s a big risk and not one that I am not necessarily willing to take.
What was the best and worst part of the transition? (from Ben on Facebook)
There were many highlights of the entire transition. Obviously being able to start in the first place was a big thing, then there was the day I got hormones, the moment running down the stairs felt my chest bouncing for the first time and ran to the nearest mirror to look, but the obvious best has to be the moment where I saw that everything had been completed for the first time.
I remember the nurse taking off the bandages and (exceptionally sticky) tape and then wandering off, but at that point I could see the top of what new vagina and it was a flood of emotions that were then made even more overpowering as she came back with a mirror, allowing me to see everything for the first time. It is impossible to put into words. A flood of emotions overcomes you, with the majority of them being happy. I stared at it with fascination, and even now, a year later, it still doesn’t feel real.
I’m going to divide this into two parts, the medical and non-medical side of things.
Let’s start with the non-medical and that is that I always felt like I was on my guard whilst transition, and somewhat to this day. By that, I mean that despite a lot of the social progress in that time and the majority of people being generally very accepting, there are still some people out there who will realise that you are transgender and make negative comments about it. I don’t pass at all, still looking male, even though I am now not, but on the positive side, I no longer have the shadow of facial hair to worry about, which is something that I definitely did early on.
In terms of the medical side of things, during the transition, I was very prone to strong headaches. I record a VLOG entry a day or two after starting on hormones and I am complaining about having what I think was the worst headache I had ever had, it was horrible. Whilst this was comfortably the worst I had during my six years, I also became far more prone to throwing up. I was sick more times in those six years than I was during the entirety of the rest of my life put together.
Infact, here is the blog from that night. Whenever I feel like my voice hasn’t changed, I’m simply going to watch this because this makes me realise that it has.
Since becoming female, are you attracted to men, women, or both? (from Sam L)
I’ve never been attracted to men, so I suppose now that I have completed my transition it makes me a lesbian.
Not necessarily a response to this question, but it does annoy me somewhat when people just assuming that because I have become female, I’d automatically be attracted to men. Gender and sexuality are two entirely different things. Just because I am now female, it doesn’t change that I still like girls.
How did you feel about going into the ladies toilets whilst transitioning? (from Sally S)
Honestly, I have tried to avoid going to toilet in public areas as much as possible, only doing it when absolutely necessary. There was always the nervousness of potentially getting the “why are you in here” lecture from someone, but was relatively fortunate.
There is a story relating to this. Back in the very early days of my transition, infact before I had even seen Dr Curtis (Gender Specialist) for the first time, I was in the train station at Newcastle having watched Lincoln away at Gateshead and I sat reading Rob Bradley’s book about Keith Alexander. I needed the toilet and didn’t really think anything of it, going into the females, but then I heard other women come in and I froze. I sat in that cubicle for nearly an hour, fearing what would happen if I emerged. In the hour there was virtually never a time where at least one other person wasn’t in the room, and I was scared to come out.
Eventually, I did, mainly because my train was due to depart in five minutes and it was the last one back to Lincoln. I come out and a group of girls, maybe late teens are there, fortunately, none of them said anything, but yeah, that hour was terrifying.
So that’s it. That’s my blog covering a year of being female.
Until next time,