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Thread by @expectproblems: "So I was thinking - for every like this post gets, I’ll do my best to post a bit of trivia about some aspect of my relationship with gender, […]"

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So I was thinking - for every like this post gets, I’ll do my best to post a bit of trivia about some aspect of my relationship with gender, transitioning, acceptance, etc.
A lot I’d imagine I’ll have to said before, but, y’know… it’s twitter- it’s rain vanishing down a window.
1) I didn’t have the language for it, but I first ‘knew’ I felt wrong ‘being a boy’ at around 5-6 years old.
2) In retrospect, however, I had social anxiety and, specifically, fears of gendered spaces such as the school toilets and sports - which I now realise were affecting me even before I knew why.

My first distinct memory of that fear impacting me was when I was 4.
3) I first attempted wearing feminine clothing around age 15. I tried it several times after that point, up to my late ‘20s or so. However, each time all it did was make me feel worse about my body in a very holistic sense. Every part of its shape, feel and even smell felt off.
4) I was attracted to girls from the moment I began to feel sexual attraction.

I felt it for boys sometimes too, but my disgust at my own body expanded into discomfort at the idea of being physically close to men.

In retrospect, I was quite bi.
5) My attraction to girls was often muddled by the usual Queer Dilemma. “Do I want to BE them, or be WITH them?”

In retrospect I was often drawn to women who I most wanted to be like.

But being I had no idea what trans WAS, I didn’t recognise that there was a difference.
6) My phobia of bathrooms and gendered spaces (and even mild discomfort being in a male-only group hanging out) was something I mis-interpreted as being a fear, on some level, of ‘looking too feminine’.

I grew a beard and performed a lot of machismo when I was uncomfortable.
7) The fear of bathrooms never went away until I transitioned. Every time I walked into one, I had this uncomfortable feeling when some guy looked up at me walking through the door that I would be ‘clocked’ as being in the wrong place. That every stare felt menacing.
8) I never cut my hair, beyond the odd trim, since I was 15. I kept long hair despite my fear of being seen as ‘too feminine’ - people just took me for a bearded stoner or metalhead.

I don’t like metal and have never tried pot.

I just liked how sensual long hair felt.
9) The most comfortable I ever felt was when I was alone with female friends who seemed to ignore that I was male.

I didn’t have many (maybe 4 at most, for years) - I felt like a weird outsider most of the time, and was painfully jealous of my female friends.
10) I remember, when I was quite young, being curious about - and even asking female friends - what having breasts felt like.

I was much more interested in that than what they felt like to touch (the clear fixation for my male friends).
11) I became fixated on things I perceived as ‘female’ experiences - pregnancy, motherhood, giving birth, etc.

The social pressure to conflate ‘womanhood’ with those things affected me hugely. I saw them as representative entirely of womanhood, and things I’d never experience.
12) I was particularly unpleasant and mocking of ‘feminine’ things when I was young, as a defence mechanism, and bits of that slid into my ‘20s and beyond… all the while I was playing ‘feminine’-coded games like The Sims and desperately wishing I had a doll house.
13) The internalised sexism being quick to dismiss things that (especially young) girls like is still something I slip into.

It’s a very easy thing to do and it’s garbage, given how much we venerate the same juvenile things aimed at boys.
14) I began transitioning on a very high dosage of oestrogen (not self-administered) and kept my transition secret for a few months.

I was sure I’d be able to keep it secret for longer, but I ‘won’ the HRT lottery and people consistently commented on my appearance.
15) When I began transitioning, I saw very traditional images of physical womanhood (curviness) as ideal and blindly assumed that’s what all trans women ‘wanted’.

I’m lucky in how HRT affected me meshing with what I wanted to look like, but many trans people aren’t so much.
16) Even though I identify as female in a very binary sense, the complexity of gender (as a construct, as a performance we’re encouraged to adhere to Or Else) is something I still find absolutely fascinating.

So much of ‘gendered’ behaviour is constructed from marketing & media.
17) Once I began HRT, the sudden shift in hormones all but killed my sex drive for a few months. At one point I literally could not fully process what it felt like to be sexually aroused by / attracted to someone. At all.

I remembered the feeling, but it felt foreign.
18) As my oestrogen levels went from ‘safe for a cis woman’ to ‘first trimester of pregnancy’ levels my sex drive came back, and once I began progesterone it was entirely back. In a frustratingly intense way.
19) My sexuality feels very different now, most of the time. Before it felt almost animalistic and general - I wanted sex / to orgasm. That’s it.

Now I tend to want specific experiences, and actually getting off is less important than the experience with a partner.
20) Climaxing is quite different now, too. Before it was shorter, sharper and less variable.

Now it’s hard to achieve (and always involves an emotional aspect) and can vary from warm and nice but barely worth the name to legs-turn-to-jelly level of amazing.
21) In answer to 15-year-old me: breasts are heavy, often annoying, but kinda cool… at least, all 5 seconds of the day you notice them at all once you’re used to having them.

And running fucking sucks.
22) Relatedly, before I began HRT I asked my female friends, “if you were a guy for several weeks, what would you do?”

I made a bucket-list based on what they said.

It included “sit alone at a pub undisturbed”, “go in public topless” and “jog without needing a bra”.
23) I had transition “plans” (in terms of order of coming out, that I wouldn’t alter my life or even really my dress sense if I could get away with it).

None survived more than maybe 8 months. Life is just too different, between comfort with myself and being treated differently.
24) I nervously joked, early on that, I was losing 3/4 of a ‘royal flush of privilege’ (white, male, straight, cis). I saw privilege as pretty binary then.

I now think of it as more complex.

From money to passing privilege to support from friends, privilege comes in many forms.
25) Now I even consider identifying comfortably on a binary as a privilege I didn’t recognise before. I have so many enby friends who constantly deal with the stress of having to explain their identity and defend it - even more than binary trans folk often do.
26) One aspect of the sexism I had internalised was that I conflated personal style with interests (I figured I was a nerdy coder, so I should dress in a tomboyish way), and that girly things were ‘weak’; I refused to touch makeup or dresses for some time post-HRT.
27) I genuinely saw my gender dysphoria as being primarily physical in nature, as that’s what I could most easily quantify.

It wasn’t until I began to get being gendered correctly that I began to recognise how enormous the social and emotional impact had been.
28) My emotional responses have changed since HRT, but so many could be the repression and coping mechanisms slipping aside that it’s almost impossible to truly tell which are hormonal influences and which are social/psychological.
29) My comfort with sexual intimacy has gotten worse since HRT. Before I could kinda just accept my body as wrong but… still consistent.

Transphobic media has me fighting not just dysphoria but the strangeness of having a clearly female-looking body, with “wrong” sexual organs.
30) Despite my issues when it comes to (29) experience has shown me there’s huge variance between trans folk. Some love their genitals. Some do not. Some don’t much care either way.

My response seems to be a little extreme.
31) After I began wearing makeup (seriously, I was shocked at how difficult - and fun - its use is) I also began to realise that I was becoming more self-conscious going outside WITHOUT makeup on.

I’ve had to force myself to do it sometimes, to remind myself I don’t NEED it.
32) When it comes to feminising hormone therapy, most folk just think in terms of breasts, seemingly. But your whole body shifts in subtle ways.

That surprised me. My face changed so dramatically that within 3 months face detection algorithms often failed.
33) High oestrogen levels can mean your sense of smell seems more sensitive, and more attached to emotional responses.

I can smell men as distinct from women now, very clearly. I never could before.

(Also, I hate the smell, but many women I know love it.)
34) Related to (33) - I’ve found it fascinating to notice the distinctive musk slipping away as friends of mine go through feminising HRT.

Conversely, having a few close friends likely to begin masculinising HRT soon will be interesting too.
35) As a totally anecdotal observation - coming out to my cis female friends meant an almost instant change in how they treated me. I was treated a little more warmly almost right away.

Most of cis male friends only began to alter their behaviour when I began to ‘look female’.
(This, I’d imagine, says as much about my specific friends as anything else - though it does make me think that old anecdote that women become mothers when they feel they’re pregnant; men become fathers when they see their baby. Visual VS theoretical mentality shifts.)
36) I was genuinely shocked how much more frequently I got spoken over or had my assertions questioned after I began to ‘look’ female - by men and woman.

Internalised sexism again.

My words carry less weight.
37) I also began to realise I have slipped into speaking using less declarative phrasing, without meaning to - making a statement in the form of a question.

I did not intend to do this at all.
38) To my surprise, friends who’ve known me all through my years I think still expect me to be misgendered more than I actually do.

They still see, behind all the changes, the same person underneath.

Most strangers don’t misgender me and rarely clock me as trans.
39) Men often ask me to ‘verify’ things they’ve heard for years from their cis female friends, especially about sexism and social behaviour.

This bothers me, as it feels like they only really trust my word “because I used to be a guy”… and they can trust men more than women.
40) (take this one as a grain of salt due to my very small sample size, but…)

The difference between a partner seeing you as male VS female in a physical sense is huge.

There’s a degree of body worship/physical lust that I rarely experienced pre-transition.
(Though, of course, you have to consider that MY behaviour has shifted hugely too - I was all but incapable of seeing myself as sexually attractive pre-transition, so that’s likely at least partly because I wouldn’t have responded well to it.)
41) There’s a concept of “the sisterhood” - women supporting other women - which I’ve certainly experienced. But I’ve also found, talking to others, that it’s a hugely variable concept.

Your looks and behaviour enormously effect how quick other women are to help you like this.
(41 con’t) Talking to lots of my self-defined tomboy cis friends and the like, it’s pretty clear that if you don’t fit certain socially set ideas of femininity, well… that’s one of many reasons you may not get much support from this mythical ‘sisterhood’.
42) The cultural difference in etiquette and behaviour in gendered toilets are huge too.

There’s a low-key competitive and weird behaviour in men’s toilets.

It’s not uncommon to see women chatting and helping/supporting each other in toilets - especially if clearly distressed.
(42 cont’d) It’s not consistent by any means, but twice I’ve walked into a bathroom to find one or more women talking to a girl on a date-going-bad and helping her get out of it, clearly not having met each other before.
43) In terms of physical changes, there was an almost humorous top-to-bottom order for me.

The subcutaneous fat on my face shifted first, followed by body hair patterns and skin, followed by breast development, and finally my legs and arse feminising and getting heavier.
44) In terms of getting used to body changes, the most obvious and weird was getting used to not being flat-chested.

2 years in and I still sometimes misjudge and slam my bust into something (or someone) while moving sideways past things.
45) The most surprising was my centre of gravity shifting as my legs and arse got heavier and my upper body strength vanished.

For a good while it almost felt like I had to re-learn to walk, tripping and almost falling over if I stood up too fast.
(44 cont’d) This was likely the weirdest as it’s hard NOT to notice growing breasts.

You don’t tend to notice your arse or legs getting heavier as they aren’t obstructing your field of view.
(Erm, that should have 45, but, y’know…)
46) Another strange thing was that for various reasons my core body temperature dropped as my body changed.

Air con often feels slightly too cold now, and I usually find myself shivering and wearing another layer before my cis male friends feel anything.
(46 cont’d) The most annoying thing about that is that my tolerance for heat isn’t that much better. So now instead of having a high tolerance for cold and a low tolerance for hot, I have a fairly low tolerance for both.
47) An interesting effect of living 20+ years in fundamentally the same body before having it change incredibly fast is that it’s taken time for my mental self-image to update.

I still sometimes worry I look “too masculine”, and take a selfie to remind myself that’s not true.
48) It took an enormously short time to slip out of the honeymoon period of “HOLY SHIT MY BODY LOOKS AMAZING” to media making me incredibly self-conscious that I’m not attractive enough or feminine enough or A enough or B enough or I’m too heavy or… etc, etc.
49) My feet shrank during hormone therapy. I lost around a shoe size - when I first measured myself in women’s sizes I was about a 11.5-12.5 AU, and now I’m around 10.5-11.5 depending on the brand.

I believe this is largely cartilage and musculature shifting.
50) When I was first transitioning, I found looking at old pics of myself incredibly uncomfortable.

Now I stare at them and it’s extremely surreal but fine - I know that logically that person was me, but it’s so hard to reconcile myself with that body.
51) Getting used to using the right gender pronouns for myself was easier than I expected. Despite being a major shift, it felt more fundamentally natural so I very rarely seemed to misgender myself after the first few months.
52) In fact, my biggest issue is accidentally retroactively gendering myself in a way that feels odd.

I will start typing or saying “when I was a girl”, and while that’s semantically true, it still feels off.

I use gender-neutral pronouns for my pre-transition self.
53) A huge amount of the information I read on HRT before I began myself turned out to be wrong, or at least more subjective than it was presented.
54) I spent an awful lot of years forcing myself to try to empathise primarily with male characters in media.

It becomes harder and harder to do that as your experience slips further and further from that socially.

Now I tend to see myself more easily in female characters.
55) Once I began to realise the degree to which I was just accepting ‘straight, white cis male’ as ‘the default’ the harder it became to just blindly stomach a huge amount of popular media.

More and more it’s a challenge to find media whose characters I can relate to.
56) Despite lamenting the lack of trans representation in media, I think for me being ‘female’ and ‘queer’ equally large parts of my life. It may not be perfect, but for now it’s usually enough to just find media with queer women in it.
My goodness. Still more likes. Look, I’ll sort out my morning work and then maybe get back to posting trans stuff...
57) Before I accepted I was trans, I was fascinated by media that depicted or unpacked male relationships / psychology. War movies often did this, and even fluffy and kinda sexist crap like Entourage.

I often tried to emulate the less terrible things I saw in these things.
58) When I hung out with one or more male friends, and they discussed their relationships with women, I always got deeply uncomfortable. Even if I could empathise with their comments, it brought up (once again) that feeling that I was an imposter.
59) I was very lucky with the speed and effectiveness of HRT for me. I still to this day feel a slightly uncomfortable sense of guilt over it, knowing it’s pure luck.

I worry I take it for granted, or that I make some people jealous.
60) I still remember the first time I was gendered correctly by a stranger. It was at a bar, by the bartender.

When he gendered me right despite me not “presenting” very femme, I changed my order to sparkling wine and a tequila shot.

It’s still my chosen celebratory drink.
61) Generally, I am now quite a happy person. I smile a lot. But sometimes the bitterness that dominated so much of my earlier life seeps in.

I have to to fight it, even now, even if it’s much easier.

I always feel terrible when it leaks out, especially in good company.
62) I used to sometimes make sexist jokes when I was younger. Not in the way many of us make racist or sexist jokes just because we’ve absorbed it as “normal”, but actively.

My jealousy of my cis female friends was that bad.

I still feel terrible that I used to do that.
63) The shitty narrative about trans women having a “fetish” for the concept of “being female” affected me a lot. I was terrified that’s what it was - that I was a freak.

That gross narrative scared me for years.
64) Before I transitioned I used to read forced feminisation erotica, which fed into my fear that it was ‘just a kink’.

It has little interest to me now - it was, in retrospect, a way for me to imagine a different life without accepting that I had to do it myself.
65) I always find anti-trans folk talking about trans people “performing” or “acting like” their identified gender is rather twisted.

For me, I was always “acting” before. Now I just act in a way that comes naturally.
66) Due partly to my disgust at my own body pre-transition, body stuff in general - even body change - became a deep fear of mine.

This made starting HRT, even knowing it was what I wanted, easily the scariest thing I’ve ever done.

I spent a lot of the first few weeks crying.
(66 cont’d) Part of this fear came from HRT being such a crap-shoot. I knew what it’d LIKELY do, but when it came down it, I basically just had to take Magic Pills(tm) and just wait as it changed my body enormously.

It’s ceding control to an unknown.
67) When I first began to try wearing dresses, I stuck to Fit & Flare / A-Line / Skater dresses as they obfuscated my slim hips and worked well with my bust.

These days I just like the shape, although I still have a residual insecurity that I look too top heavy in pants.
68) I was quite lucky in that I managed to change my name and gender (on medicare, and with various companies) without incident. No transphobia or even confused looks.

For the reference, I was changing my name/gender with St George Bank and Telstra.
(68, cont’d) In fact, changing my name and gender at a Telstra store? The attendant, a 30-something man, was more interested in me being a game developer than me being trans, or a woman.
69) One of the biggest things I didn’t expect to be a problem before I transitioned was the complexity of being queer.

More than a few times I couldn’t figure out if a woman was just being nice to me, or was interested me.

And being wrong is awkward.
70) Conversely, I wasn’t prepared for just how easily men often take simple politeness as a come on.

I’ve had to learn to be much more cold toward men I don’t know, just in case.

Giving the wrong impression is at best awkward, and at worst dangerous/scary.
71) Something else I’ve learned transitioning is that fewer people than I’d expected don’t care much what set of genitals you have.

More people seem to not care or find it a turn-on than are unlikely to want to sleep with someone like me.
72) That said, wanting to sleep with non-op or pre-op trans femmes specifically as a fetish, combined with a dehumanisation of us, is a legit problem. I get maybe 4-5 unsolicited messages from ‘chasers’ every week on instagram.
73) I often take selfies - even if I don’t post them - to remind myself that my body is incredibly feminine now, and when my brain still, even two and a half years in, starts making me fear I look too masculine, it’s straight-up wrong.
74) I still feel a sense of shame that I wasn’t a more active ally for the women and queer people in my life before I transitioned.

I genuinely didn’t understand what it’d feel like, and on some level dismissed it a bit.
75) Probably the single most amazing feeling I had a ways into my transition was a young girl pointing at me in public in and saying, “Mummy! I want to be beautiful like that lady when I grow up.”

I nearly died of amazement.

Kids can be the best ever.
76) Before I transitioned I was much more competitive. I liked adversarial video games especially.

Now I despise them, and prefer single player or co-operative experiences.

I will never know precisely why that changed, I guess.
77) Not that I get them so much these days as I tend to drink a bit less, but hangovers somehow changed after HRT.

They used to mostly be headaches.

Now I rarely get headaches, and instead get nausea.
78) As my bust grew quite fast, I was at first extremely self-conscious about it.

After a while I began to realise that wearing low-cut tops meant I was misgendered less.

That’s past the point of being a problem, but I’m still in the habit of doing it.
79) Another weird side-effect of wearing low-cut tops is that I am constantly reminded that that my body is very different now - and it makes it harder for me to slip into moments of anxiety about ‘looking too masculine’ so easily.

It almost never happens these days.
80) For a while I played with adding/removing the fact of being trans from my online dating profiles, curious if it’d get me more or less hits.

There’s no difference that I can tell - I get the same kind of number of matches/likes/messages either way.
81) However, I do find that very few people on dating sites actually read bios, and so even when I do have “trans” on my bio, I ended up having to come out to matches anyway.

I’m getting very used to it now - I’ve ‘come out’ as trans maybe two dozen times on dating apps now.
82) The most terrifying side-effect of starting HRT was that for the first 48 hours I had heart palpitations near-constantly.

It was on the “normal side effects for a few days” list, but it was scary.

I couldn’t sleep for more than an hour at a time.
83) Relatedly, I spent the first week of HRT constantly checking and re-checking the list of “things that are okay” and “things that mean STOP RIGHT AWAY AND SEE YOUR DOCTOR”.

I had almost every “okay” side-effect.

It was a week of total hell. Hot flashes, crying, odd dreams…
84) Near as I can tell, I am one of those trans femmes who has a fairly noticeable hormonal cycle, around 4-5 weeks long. It’s very hard to track, but usually once a month I get some combo of soreness, grumpiness, libido, etc.
85) My brain seems to have self-corrected for the body it now anticipates I have.

Unfortunately it’s also quite the completionist.

I haven’t had a sexual dream where I didn’t have a vagina in over a year.

It’s actually quite a distressing and depressing thing to wake up from.
86) I’ve had several dreams in the last few years where I am a child again. In my dreams, I am quite clearly a cis girl, despite still being in my usual childhood neighbourhood and around the same friends.
87) Many of my nightmares used to be of being unable to escape some kind of horrible situation or terrible monster I could never see.

They now tend to involve people invading my personal space, or worse.
88) The strangest “growing out of old clothes” moment I had was realising my men’s leather jacket didn’t fit any more, as it wouldn’t do up over my hips/arse.

I suddenly understood why women’s leather jackets were either loose or didn’t go down as far.
89) The only “men’s clothes” I still buy is thick winter socks. They’re cheaper and better to buy if you just want basic black ones.
90) I have never accidentally walked into the men’s toilets since I transitioned.

I have, however, accidentally walked into the women’s toilets before I transitioned. Several times I just walked on autopilot and through the door that clearly said “women”.
91) My skin is so much more sensitive since since hormone therapy that sometimes all I want is just to be touched by a partner, to the exclusion of anything else. That’ enough.
92) Due to my skin being so much softer, I can see veins on my face more clearly now than I ever could before. It’s a little surreal.
93) I didn’t used to be a particularly big person for personal planning. I never kept a calendar.

Hormone therapy meant taking pills every 8 hours to begin with, so I began to order my life to an absurd degree.

That’s remained true even though I don’t need to any more.
94) I realise that although it doesn’t feel like it much to me, my personality and behaviour has changed so much I sometimes wonder what people I knew years ago and fell out of contact with would think of me now.

Would they get along with me? Would I get along with them?
95) My body has a knack for retaining oestrogen extremely well. Even 9 months after my last oestrogen implant, my levels still read at nearly 1450pg/mL.

That’d be somewhere around the 1st or 2nd trimester for a pregnant cis woman.

I cry a lot.
96) For some reason my emotional reactions (anger, muted responses to sadness) always made me feel uncomfortable before I transitioned.

Crying now just feels cathartic. I don’t mind at all.

I spoke to a few trans masc friends who said the precise reverse.
97) During the initial tests before I began HRT, my GP found that I have haemachromatosis. A common genetic condition which means my body doesn’t get rid of iron.

It was caught before it damaged my organs.

Transitioning may well have saved my life in more ways than one.
98) I hadn’t been to a GP in about 10 years before I went to talk to one about hormone therapy.

Now for various reasons I see one - and numerous specialists - several times a year.

I suspect there’s a much higher chance various medical problems will be caught early now.
99) Part of the reason I dyed my hair was that I had become quite used to my old hair, as it’d been long for ages, and so some part of me still felt it was an uncomfortable holdover I needed to change.

Glad I did - I can’t imagine not having scarlet hair now.
100) Painting my nails was the first ‘feminine’ affectation I tried playing with. Beyond style, I’ve mostly kept it up because it’s incredibly fun - and came naturally to me as I spend a lot of time painting models.
(100 cont’d) This meant that for about 3-4 months I mostly looked and was gendered as male while still sporting painted nails of various colours.

I got no snarky responses from anyone I ran into it, despite having a beard for some of that time.
101) Able to look back more objectively on what I used to look like, I no longer hate how I looked.

In fact I kinda wish I’d been able to see it then, and spent more time playing with different styles.

I wasn’t a bad-looking guy. Dysphoria just made that impossible to see.
102) I sometimes refer to myself in the past-tense as “having been a guy”, despite it semantically not really being true.

I do it only for myself, and because I find it’s a nice easy delineation - I often essentially think of myself as having regenerated, Gallifrey-style.
(Note: I’ve still got more likes on that original tweet. I’ll keep going as long as I can, or until I catch up to the number of likes.)
103) I have an increasing number of trans masc friends, and I have to admit hearing their perspective on the social aspects of all-male groups is pretty eye-opening.

Things I missed because I was so uncomfortable at the time.
104) An enormous factor in when I choose to socialise and where I go now is based on if I have to brave public transport on Friday or Saturday nights.

I always took that for granted before; I was left alone all but once when seen as male.
105) I am constantly struck by how diminutive many terms of address for women are.

“Darl”, “Love”, “Girls”. Even the rare “Ma’am” has the subtext of being “not sexually available”.

Compare to “Man”, “Dude”, “Mate” or “Sir” - all imply equal social standing or deference.
106) I am still deeply uncomfortable with people (usually men) using “dude” or “man” as “gender-neutral”. I rarely complain, but I kinda want to just slip in calling them “dudette” or “lady”, adding, “well then these should be gender-neutral too, yeah?” to make a point.
107) For some time I felt uncomfortable with the concept of using things like padded bras, shapewear, etc, to alter how I looked.

Then I realised I’m already using hormones and maybe one day surgery to this, so it’s a bit weird to be precious.

My body is a sculpture now.
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