This Blog is for YOU...

If you are/were Gender Dysphoric - so as to know some from me and share some with me, and reaffirm that none of us is alone... To acknowledge that we have a treasure of insurmountable Courage, Strength and Hope in us. I have a feeling that we were given slightly higher quantities of those special gifts :-) [If you have a question to ask me, you could write it as a Comment to one of the posts, and either I would reply to it as a Comment itself, or probably, respond in one of the future posts on this blog]

If you have never been Gender Dysphoric - so as to understand what it means to have a Gender Identity Disorder. Of course, it primarily depends on whether you want to or not. If you don't, please do make a quiet exit and try not to be a nuisance.

If you're confused - so as to realize that everybody goes through a stage of confusion - the period could be short, or sometimes, very long. What is important is to acknowledge that being unsure until you're sure is as normal and as alright as night before day.


If you're a human being - so as to find out for yourself whether you want to try to make the world a better place to live in, for every fellow human being, irrespective of their health, wealth, colour, race, gender, religion and any and every other line of division you can think of.


And finally, this blog is for ME - so as to be able to make some difference somewhere by sharing my experiences, and along the way, slowly grow out of those anxieties and insecurities that have inhabited my life for over 2 decades. It is time to escort them to the door now!

Come, Join me on this journey!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

My Transition Train!

It is almost surreal when one fine day, you sit and write out the details of how you went about what once seemed like a mammoth excruciating never-ending task – Transition. It is also soothing when you look back and you realize that it has been three years worth of learning, three years worth of experiences, three years worth of knowing yourself and loving yourself, and three years worth of life…

So Anonymous, I owe you one… because until you popped the question about my transition timetable, I wouldn’t have thought of putting it out on my own. But now that you have made me stop and think, I have realized that it is high time I told myself that I’m done with the transition. Yes, the truth is that all this while, I had been thinking that I’m still transitioning.

But today is a new day. I have turned a new leaf. Today, I choose to acknowledge that I am on the other bank of the river called transition. Yes, my body and I will still keep changing in many beautiful ways but so does the body of everyone in the world. I may still need a few laser sessions but so do millions of women – genetic or trans – across the world. I may still need my hormone pills for many more beautiful changes, but what the hell? I will always need them. If they were to be a criterion for me to believe that I had finished the MTF transition, then I’d never finish it anyway :-).

So yes, people! I have finished Transition from one end of the gender spectrum to the other! It’s been a fascinating journey in more ways than one. In fact, this journey has taken me through an entire spectrum of emotions, letting me experience the clouds as well as the deep waters, and helping me to turn out to be a much fuller person than I ever was. And I don’t seem to have done too bad, eh? ;-)

Below, I give a map of how my physical journey went. Please note that this map, in no way, implies that what I did was the ideal way to do those things. Different people take different routes because what suits them and their circumstances is different, and that’s totally fair. So, don’t treat these details as a benchmark in any way. I made mistakes during my transition too, so just take a look at how mine went, but do devise your own timetable (or your own natural flow) as per your convenience, circumstances and of course, the professionals’ (doctors etc) advice.

My Transition Roadmap

May-June 2006

I underwent psychiatric evaluation.
I went to two different psychiatrists in Mumbai, and with both of them, it took me about 3 sittings (over a period of about a month) before they gave me a certificate of Gender Dysphoria and a recommendation of Sex Reassignment. It may not always be over in 3 sittings and just a month. For some people, the process is longer.

June 2006 – Jan 2007

I spent this time researching about other transpeople and about the various procedures and professionals whom I should consider. I also tried one laser session but the guy happened to be a quack (BEWARE of them when it comes to lasers!) who left me with severe burnt marks, and I decided to steer clear of lasers. But otherwise, this was a very important phase since the research helped me meet a lot of people who gave me substantial hope and courage needed to take the plunge. Even if you don’t spend half a year researching, do make sure that you have some kind of a sensible plan in your head when you take the first step into physical transition.

Feb 2007 onwards

I have been on hormones. Like someone else I know says, hormones are not magic pills. Don’t expect them to show you miracles. But they’re more like your mother’s care. They do beautiful things to you slowly, without you even noticing or acknowledging. They take their own sweet time but they know their job well. [Talking in terms of MTF transition] It starts with thinning and slowing of body hair growth, followed by your skin becoming suppler, the body developing the feminine curves (very slowly sometimes) and even your facial features becoming softer. I was surprised recently when someone who used to know me earlier saw me and said that the shape of my nose had changed. It has become sleek and beautiful, they said. I would have never imagined that the shape of my nose could change, but lo and behold! It has! :-)

July 2007 – Apr 2008

This is when I underwent electrolysis for facial hair removal – about 10 sessions and 120 hours of it. Now, the thing with electrolysis is that it is a very painful and painstakingly long procedure, but according to experts, it is the only permanent hair REMOVAL method as against laser which is a permanent hair REDUCTION method. So believing that, I went for electrolysis. But the complication that happened with me was that I realized a little later that electrolysis was leaving some marks on my skin, which were not fading away. When I consulted my dermatologist, she told me that my skin was of a hypersensitive variety and it was not taking to electrolysis well [Now, this is not the case usually with most people, just to let you know, lest you should panic]. And so, she suggested that I move to laser, which I did eventually, and that was a wise decision. [My advice on what one should ideally do, follows a little later]

Oct 19, 2007

I underwent the Sex Reassignment Surgery at Bangkok.
I actually went for it quite soon in my transition. I could have waited for another year, brought my facial hair to a more manageable level and then gone for it, which is what I would advise you to do. Do NOT rush into the surgery. I did not look passable when I went for the surgery, and it was in a way, a mistake, although it worked for me on some other personal levels, so I do not regret it. But the ideal scenario would be to go for surgery after about 1.5-2 years on hormones and when your facial hair is not much of a trouble anymore.

May 2008 onwards

I have been undergoing laser sessions for my face, and it has worked quite well.
The trick with laser is to find the right people to do it for you (which is with almost any service in the world, actually, but this is critical since it is your face). I have had 9 laser sessions and my estimate is about 2-3 more to reach a stage where I would start needing only one laser session every 6 months or a year or so. And I am ready to settle with that need. But if you are someone who would rather choose to never undergo anything else for your face, then, I would advise you to start the facial hair removal with laser and bring it to a point where the hair is very thin. Thereafter, shift to electrolysis and get them totally out of the way!


Talking of when I started to look passable, well, the thing is that even when I was traveling for surgery, I was believed to be a girl at the airports etc, so for a lot of people, I was passable in about 9-10 months of having started my hormones. But we, being who we are, always tend to be over-critical of ourselves. So in my own opinion, the absolute absence of strange stares from people started happening around July-August 2008 [about 1.5 years since I started the hormones] and absence of strange stares from myself in the mirror started happening sometime around Feb-Mar 2009 [about 2 years since I started the hormones]. So there! :-)

My hair

I had started growing my hair ever since 2005 itself, but I was never made to feel uncomfortable because of that, since I was in a place like Bombay and I was studying and working in the media. Simply put, the hair was the least of my issues except for that it was falling a lot at one point in time, which the hormones helped me a lot with.

That, according to me, should address all the areas, as far as I can think right now. If, however, there are more questions in your mind, then they are, as always, welcome! :-)

Try to think of transition as an opportunity to bring a beautiful change in yourself, and hence, in the world around you. You’re blessed to be able to have this opportunity. It may be very hard, very many times, but trust me, at the end of it all, it’s all going to be more than worth it!

Happy Transitioning! Live it up! :-)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

"So Long, Love!"

We live to love and we love to live. It’s impossible to imagine life without the exhilaration, the joy, the pain, the excitement, the complete spectrum of emotions that love takes us through. We all ache for it and we all wait for it, especially so, if we’ve spent a large part of our lives believing that we can’t find love, because we do not ‘fit in’ with the rest of the world, if somewhere, we’ve made ourselves believe that we’re not worthy of being loved. [I don’t speak for everybody here, but I do for many]

So, when the slightest of indications points out towards the possibility of love somewhere, we make a run for it, instantly believing that this is what we were always looking for. And who knows? It just might be. But who knows? It might not be.

I know I sound vague. I do, to myself too. Being somebody who has always had a clear perspective on what is right and what is not, for once, I have lost that perspective. And I am choosing to accept it here, because I think all of you out there, who seek to know something from this blog, must also know this part of me, since I believe that if you have really got something to learn from this space, you must get this another really important lesson from me too, even if it is at the cost of my privacy.

The wrong-est time to fall in love and to start a relationship is… when you are in the pits. When the sun has turned its back on you, when the doors have shut without a window being open anywhere, when there is no light at the end of the tunnel, that is not even close to being an ideal time to hold another’s hand. That, in fact, is the time to hold your own hand, face your demons on your own, find your courage, and emerge from the darkness alone.

Friendship, even companionship could be alright. But committing to a relationship may not be the best of ideas, because what you’re really seeking in that relationship is a balm for your current pain, not the love of your life. The love of your life might just come out of it, yes, but on the other hand, it may not, and you may realize it too late in the day that it was a mistake, and that would be not only unfair to you, but much more so to the other person, in case they’re too deeply involved as well.

A rough sea is an opportunity for us to learn to swim on our own. If we try to get on to a boat, it might be temporary relief, but what if the tide topples the boat and you’re left to fend for yourself again? Or what if you realize that this boat is not strong enough to beat the tide itself?

Only when you love Yourself in totality can you truly be in a position to give and receive true eternal love. And loving yourself in totality doesn’t mean loving your hair, your skin, your hands, your feet. It means accepting yourself for who you are within, to not be harsh on yourself for the mistakes you might have made or even those that others might have made, to be able to say to yourself that you’re a wonderful person and you love yourself. You will obviously have to make changes in yourself to be able to say that to yourself. Make those changes, keep trying, you might fall into the old patterns of depression and self-loathing sometimes, but keep trying, stay at it, and do it on your own. Don’t look for life-guards because they can’t guard you for life. Sooner or later, time will again bring you to a spot where you’ll have to face your demons all over again. So, face them now, and learn to love yourself… NOW!

Only a whole person, a person happy from within can find another whole happy person, because what we see and get in the universe is merely a reflection of our own selves.

Talking specifically in terms of transpeople, my advice would be to try and not venture into love and relationship during the transition period. I had read this somewhere myself, before my transition, but I forgot, and I have never cursed myself more for forgetting something.

Transition is a period of extreme emotional upheaval and most of the times, we can really not trust our own emotions (in terms of love), because let’s face it; the hormones introduce us to emotions that we have never known before. We’re going through them for the first time ever. We have no experience of them and we’re mentally and emotionally not strong enough and not prepared enough to check ourselves on the basis of logic. Transition is a highly emotionally charged phase of one’s life. Any spark of inclination or interest shown towards us, and our battered self-esteems rush to grab it without stopping to think of the consequences in the future. We tend to jump on to this one opportunity thinking that this is perfect without even giving it time to prove itself to be perfect. And a graver mistake in starting a relationship cannot be made, because with time, as you grow, if you realize that it wasn’t perfect, you’re down in the pits again – pits of guilt, helplessness, frustration, self-hatred and loneliness, all over again.

Yes, I know that it is easy to warn, but very difficult to follow this, but I would urge you to take my advice, because I have made every mistake that I ask you to beware of, and thanks to my mistakes, I’m still far from being the whole person that I had set out to be, besides being the cause of pain to another person who was caught unawares. So, friendship is a great idea, but don’t rush into anything more intense until you’re more stable emotionally...

Transition is an amazing opportunity for you to know yourself, to nourish yourself, to love yourself. Don’t wait or look for someone else to do it for you. Do it for your own self. Come out radiant and ready for the world, because once you know how to be your own lover, you won’t look for love because you NEED it. You’ll find love because it’ll BELONG to you.