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Posts Tagged ‘transition

She strode confidently to the front of the room and set her traveler’s mug of coffee and a chestnut satchel on the table by the lectern; exactly like a person who hadn’t mysteriously disappeared without a word months ago.  She drew a fat notebook from the briefcase and placed it on the lectern, then flipped it open to today’s lecture.

“Okay, let’s get started, everyone.” Finding her place, noting the surprised murmurs, afraid to look up at the class to see who had stayed.

She looked up.  Most had.  Good.


See that thing up there?  That purple date?  That’s when I’m scheduled to have Gender Reassignment Surgery (GRS*) with Dr. Pierre Brassard and Dr. Maud Bélanger in Montreal…that’s in Canadia, you guys, our frozen, but warm-hearted neighbor to the north!  I just made the appointment a few days ago after weeks and weeks of scurrying around like a secretive, paperwork-collecting little mouse.

I started scurrying in mid-April after discovering that I could borrow most of the money from my retirement account.  The place I work has a program where you can loan yourself the money and then pay yourself back over time at a low interest rate (it’s just over 2.5% right now).  When I started looking into it, I saw that I could take out a loan for around $15,000, which is most of the cost of surgery these days.

Finding out I could get the money was major big thing.  Like, I had always planned on having surgery at some point in the murky, distant future, but the cost made it seem like it was effectively out of reach, especially while I’m still in graduate school and paying off a car loan.  Which was unfortunate because after one boyfriend, I decided I’d had quite enough of pre-op intimacy, thank-you very much.  And I love intimacy!  I had resigned myself to an unhappy/bitchy chastity, so, believe me when I say I was really excited about the money thing.

I emailed the two most well-known surgeons in North America (Dr. Marci Bowers and Dr. Pierre Brassard) and asked about their fees and wahtnot.  Dr. Bowers’ rate is $22,500 and Dr. Brassard charges $18,040 (Canadian).  Honestly, I chose Dr. Brassard for his lower price, but he has an excellent reputation as a caring and experienced surgeon.  There are more affordable options in Thailand and in the United States, but the choice, for me, was always (and only) between those two.

Along with the price quote, Dr. Brassard’s office sent a welcome packet which contained his list of requirements for scheduling a surgery date.  Basically, I had to submit a letter of recommendation from two different therapists and one from my endocrinologist (who’s also my GP and primary care physician) and a health history questionnaire.  I already had one therapist and we had discussed her crafting a surgery letter for me from the start of our sessions together.  While she worked on my letter, she referred me to another therapist for the second letter.

Seeing the second therapist sucked.  A lot.  It had been a long time since I’d discussed anything major with my primary therapist (and I rarely see her), but I had to resurrect everything for the new therapist over one, 90-minute session.  I’m generally happy with where I’m at in my life right now, but that session made it seem like things were mucho shitty-o up until a few years ago.  And they were!  But I guess my powers of repression and survivor’s optimism are terrible and mighty; it’s always been easier for me to look forward.  I wasn’t raped or molested or raised in an oppressive religious environment, but I’ve had very little real stability in my life (combined with some epically bad parenting) and it’s always been easier for me to burn bridges and reinvent myself…for lots of reasons.

With that ordeal out of the way, I collected my GP’s letter and emailed the whole shebang up to faraway Montreal on June 30th.  And then I waited. Ugh. I fucking hate waiting, you guys!  I mean, I guess most people do, but I’m pretty sure I hate it the most…or I’m at least in the top ten.  Probably.

Moving on…I received my first date offer two weeks later.  November 20th, 2011.  Holy crap, I thought, that’s in 4 months!  (I was expecting something in the next 12-18 months). And then I thought some more.  That’s in the middle of Thanksgiving week, about three weeks away from the end of my school semester and two months away from the end of  this year-long major work leadership thing I’ve been on (oh yeah, I guess we haven’t talked about that). I’ll need to take about six weeks off of work, and twelve of those days will be spent in Montreal.  I rejected that date the next day; there wasn’t any way to make it fit.  Also, my sister said she wanted to be there with me (aww!), so I tried to think of a date that worked for both of us.  As it turns out, her school has the weirdest schedule, and there was literally only one acceptable week between now and December 2012, and they’re “on standby” that week, whatever that means.  So I picked the next best week: May 9th, 2012.

I think it’s a good date.  I’ll be out of school for the summer and I should be able to work from home for the last of the six weeks (give or take) I plan on taking off.  My sister won’t be there with me the entire time, but that’s ok; I’m hoping my mother will be there for the rest.

It seems like a long way off, but it’s not even a year and I think it will go by fast.  There’s still a lot to do, but I think I’ll have time to get my passport, lose weight/exercise more, and finish all the 1,001 other things I have to do without feeling harried.

Now that that’s all done, I’m feeling all of the feelings, you guys.  Like,  I’m happy that I can close out that last part of transition, but I’m also worried about almost everything.  Surgery is dangerous and it may not “fix” anything.  Recovery will take a long time and there’s still so much left to do.  Oh, and let’s not forget about the money!  THE MONEY!  I’m guessing those are the reasons that I’m feeling like there’s a green cloud of creeping dread that’s slowly choking the life out of me right now.  I’m sure it will pass, but so far, not cool, brain.  Do you think all that’s a good enough reason to get a Valium prescription until then?  How awesome would that be?  THE ANSWER IS SO AWESOME!

Anyway, consider yourself updated, old blog.  I’ll post more here or on tumblr when something else exciting happens.  Until then, please distract me or buy me some ice cream or something, ok?


*a.k.a. Genital Reconstruction Surgery, Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS), gender confirmation surgery, sex change, vaginoplasty, etc.

Mood: Wubba wubba Wednesday
Music: Current 93-Red Hawthorne Tree

Sort a way

Holy cats, you guys!  I’m actually writing a Blog, Sweet Blog post for its own sake and not just reposting mah tumblrs.  Don’t get me wrong, tumblr is my new spiritual home and the place I spend most of my time, but we’ve been through a lot, this blog and I, and I can’t stop loving it just because its not tumblr. Besides, this post is relevant to Blog, Sweet Blog‘s interests, which is why I’m posting it here first.

It’s my anniversaries!

I started this blog (well, posted first anyway) on April 23, 2008, or  2.0767 years ago, give or take. I can’t begin to tell you how important this blog has been to me.  It wasn’t ever about attracting readers or experimenting with practical narcissism (those came later).  I’ve always considered this blog to be a safe place for dumping the crazy, discussing whatever, and letting the air out of my head.  I’ll be getting to this in a minute, but it’s easy for me to forget how turbulent the first six months of HRT were for me.   I had just ended a three year long relationship with, until that point, the person I loved most in the world and I was in the middle of chemically altering my body and mind.  I felt unhinged most of the time and happysadangryhyperdepressedenergeticlazy the rest — but not in a bad way, if that makes sense; it felt right and weird.  Anyway, I don’t think I would have done as well if I hadn’t blogged and exercised.

My little blog, bless her, has changed with me.  I’ve struggled with moving from more of a personal/transition journal to an everything blog featuring my thoughts and creative work.  I’m still not sure of where I want to take it, but I  kind of like that it’s all over the place.

I started HRT on June 6th, 2008.  I had started some other transition processes before then (started seeing a therapist, my doctor), but I think it’s fair to call that date the start of my transition.  So, let’s see, that makes me 1.097 years old, in a way.  I won’t ever be celebrating my “new birthday” (the old one is just fine) but I do keep the date on my calendar.  Like I said above, a lot has happened since then (here are the big ones).  I think the process of transition is never ending, but I feel much closer to the end almost two years later.  There are still more physical changes to endure (bottom surgery, the neverfuckingending weekly electrolysis), but I feel like I might have finally graduated to late puberty, at least emotionally.

The last anniversary occurred 1.0548 years ago when I changed my name and started back to work as the real me, the girl named Anna.  Life has gotten kind of weird since then, but work has always felt like a safe place.  I’ve had better and worse days, but no one has ever made me feel uncomfortable or anything but loved and valued.  I know that my experience, sadly, is not the norm and I can’t fairly attribute the ease of my work transition to any more than luck…ok, maybe a little bit of preparation and moxy helped :-).

Still, I’ve struggled with my career choice.  I really don’t think I would have become an engineer if I would have transitioned earlier.  I’m not 100% sure I’ll stay an engineer until retirement, but I feel a lot better about it than I did a couple of months ago.  If I won the lottery or totally stopped caring about my current life, I’d move to New York or Paris and trade engineering to become a professional artist/bon vivant/salonnière/cultural maven/woman-about-town.  There aren’t any plans to move in the near future, but I’m working on my writing and art in the meantime, just in case.

So that’s it, you guys, happy anniversary/birthday to me and Blog, Sweet Blog!!!  I hope the following years are way easier/better than the last two.

Mood: I have the dread
Music: WBLS’s In Control from 7.14.89 feat. Ultramagnetic MCs and 3rd Bass

Margaret demonstrates the low point in Victorian-era Women's athletics, the wildly unpopular, Single-handed Trunk Drag.

I was watching Bram Stoker’s Dracula when I started writing this the other day and I realized, the first five minutes of  that movie are totally metal.

So Happy New Year, y’all.  I realize it’s a little late to do resolutions and wrap-ups (or so says John), but I wasn’t aware of any rules or time limits banning the writing of New Year’s resolutions after January 1st.  I figure, as long as I get something out by the end of January, we’re good.

First, let’s recap the major events of 2009…

-continued basking in the crappy, coming-out aftermath with my parents.

-CAME OUT AT WORK!!!  Seriously, in retrospect, this almost seems like a non-event, but, let me assure you, it was definitely an event.  I don’t think I’ll ever forget the megaWatts of energy expended in sweating worry, HR meetings, legal wrasslin’, and amazing letter writing before the big day, but it was all totally worth it.  It’s hard to believe I’ve been full time for 8 months now.

drove out see my father in Iowa for July 4th weekend, had a great time.  Also saw the mighty Sunn O)) in the mighty Big O.

-finally realized my cat might be trying to kill me.

-spoke at work conferences in both Washington D.C. and Mobile, AL…I should prolly tell those stories at some point.

-renewed my nuptial vows with my first love, Cheese.

-read some books.

went back to graduate school, got an A.

-battled King Ghidorah with Godzilla on Japan’s mysterious Monster Island.

tried internet dating and won.

-made up with my mother and she and my aunt came out to visit.

-had an unplanned gall bladder-ectomy.

-crowned Queen of Donkey Kong.

-won a caption writing contest and got my first professional writing rejection.

Holy wow, that was quite a year, hunh?!  I’ve read how some other bloggers didn’t particularly care for our old friend, 2009, but I thought it was pretty great.  I think my choice to (and following through with) transition helped a lot and waking up from the eight-year long nightmare of the Bush/Cheney regime seemed to lighten up the place considerably.

This is getting long, so let’s take a cheese break and meet back at the next, thrilling New Year’s installment, Viva la Resolutions!

Mood: Mostly bad
Music: sHeavy-Spy vs. Spy

The following is the third and final installment of my “award-winning”, road trip-alogue:  Anna of Green Cornfields; or How I Wrote ‘Summa Vaca ’09: Burn Midwest Burn!’ The previous installments can be found here and here and here (jk).

So, there I was, frantically fleeing Iowa towards a date with Omaha destiny.  As I mentioned before, I actually like Omaha.  I lived there for four years during high school and junior high and it somehow managed to charm its way into my blackened little heart.  There’s a lot to dislike about Omaha and Nebraska (Nebraska Cornhusker football, beef eaters, corn, that f&@*ing speeding ticket, etc.) but there’s also lots to love (Nebraska Cornhusker football, The Old Market, Nebraska beef, Saddle Creek records/Conor Oberst, Cellophane Ceiling, Elliot Smith, Homer’s, The Ranch Bowl, Drastic Plastic, Matthew Sweet, Sokol Hall, etc.) .

Since Omaha and I are old friends, I wanted to, you know, drive around, see the sights, scratch the lottery tickets, smell the smells.   Well, the show started at 8 and I didn’t get to town until like 5:30.  I had the problems leaving Des Moines (what is it about me, packing, and leaving on time?) and I felt like a nap before the show.  I could have done a little sight seeing before leaving town next morning, but apparently I felt more like drinking a lot the night before and waking up late the next day.  C’est la vie.

I checked into the hotel, The Magnolia…

web front

…and had one of the nice young fellas park my car and take my bags to my room.  I was funny on that trip.  I’m usually a frugal sort of gal, but I didn’t feel like having to deal with bags or parking at all the whole time I was there.  Even though it’s a nicer hotel, it doesn’t seem like they were accustomed to that…like I got a “Ohhh, kay” when I called the front desk asking to have my car brought around and bags brought down.  That, and the fact that they charged me $12 for overnight parking, made me think a little less of the place.  The people were nice though.

After a short nap, I got dressed and did my makeup.  This was my first, post-transition concert and I was having the kittens about what to wear.  In the bad, old days, I would have worn some cargo shorts and a band t-shirt.  After a lot of fashion show, I decided on a heavier eye makep, pair of nicer jeans, a Melvins t-shirt (represent!), and my black Chucks.  So, it wasn’t a radical departure, but I felt like I looked ok.  After pysching myself up for a few minutes, I left my room and drove a few miles to Sokol Underground, et voila!

Gymnastics after every rock concert!

Somehow, I managed to be late and miss most of Eagle Twin.  They were loud and heavy and not unlike Sunn O)) (even more like Khanate), but I was a bit disappointed.  Sunn O)) takes care of the heavy and loud so well that it would have been nice to have some counterpoint to all that heaviosity.  Here’s some video…

Ok, I know the sound quality isn’t great, but that’s kind of what they sounded like…slow, droning, sludge.  When I was filming the first part, I was standing right next to an 8′ tall PA/FOH speaker stack and the sound coming out of it was scary loud.  I’ve been to a lot of concerts and have stood right next to a lot of FOH speakers and that was the first time I’ve ever feared for my safety.

Sunn O)) was up next…

Ok, you watched the video the video and I watched them do it live, but I’m still at a loss for how to describe the experience.  Here’s some illustration…

-they kept the three smoke machines on the entire time

-the sound from the amplifiers was louder than Eagle Twin, but more clean

-they only played one song for…I don’t even know how long.  It felt like at least 90 minutes, but it could have been two hours

-unless it was one of the quieter, creepy as fuck passages,  you couldn’t hear the vocalist at all., but he barely stopped singing

-I’m pretty sure I entered a trance at one point

-it felt like my ears were stuffed with cotton for hours after the show

-we never saw any of the performer’s faces until after the show

-there was no encore…at the end, we all kind of stood around, clapping occasionally.  They weren’t coming back, but it’s like we were trauma victims in shock and needed to be told where to go

This is going to sound hokey and weird, but we communed with each other in a way that was far more profound than the usual transformative, live-music experience.  We bathed in unhealthy doses of perfect, pure sound and journeyed to distant planes and the edges of every map.  It was prayer and meditation cloaked in the guise of avant-garde, doom metal.  So, um, yeah…I liked it a lot and I’ll definitely see them when they come to Denver.

Still though, the live show experience might be passing me by.  I was prolly the oldest person there by five years and the oldest woman by ten.  I went alone and left alone.  A lot of Jagermeister and Pabst Blue Ribbon (turns out, I’m a hipster after all!) helped me feel better about being there, but it’s not as fun as it used to be.  Maybe it would be more fun if I had someone to go with, but since most of my friends are married/shacked-up/lame/fucking jerks/have horrible taste in music/imaginary, I doubt this will change any time soon.  Maybe I should just move to Chicago, Becca?  We’ll see…

That’s about it (ja, I know, 10,000 words later).  I drove back the next day without incident…had a Runza.  I was kind of worried about mah kitteh since I’d left her alone for five days, but she somehow managed to survive and greeted me warmly upon my return.  I went to bed about an hour after arriving home and dreamed of you, gentle reader.

I am so sick of writing.  Goodnight!

Mood: So good
Music: Pink Essence TV-Live with Chloe

I don’t usually do this, but Chloe seems like a good egg, so…

If you hadn’t already heard, there’s a show on ABC tonight (check your local listings) about a transsexual woman called, “Family Secrets: ABC Primetime – The Chloe Prince Story.”

She's the one on the left.

If you have any questions about trans stuff, you should prolly watch it.  She seems to be a sane and well-spoken example of a trans-woman who’s making it work.  There’s more about the show on her blog.

In other news, I have my first, post-transition dental appointment today and I’m a little bit nervous.  I had a bad dream about the appointment, but I’m sure it will be fine.  I swear, one day I’ll be done with all of these uncomfortable first-time experiences.

an introduction

Hi, I'm Anna and I love cheese!

This blog is a chronicle of my life and a catalog of happy ephemera. The About page has a little bit more information, but, remember, none of this is really's just a supplement, a thumbnail sketch, a mostly anonymous Intarwebs placeholder. I'm way better/less wordy in person. :-)

Oh, and if I wrote something about you and you thought it was mean or hurtful, I'm sorry. It's how I felt at the time, but probably isn't how I feel now. Chances are, I love you and I think you're awesome.


All content on Blog, Sweet Blog is copyrighted by me, Anna Hell. Unless otherwise noted, all photos, words, and content on this site are mine, created by me, and should not be used without my permission (or at least attributed and linked back). I try to embed links or quote original source material if I use another person's work.

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January 2022