The 4 in 1 post

Retirement: fifth anniversary

June 30 marks five years since I retired from being a parish pastor.

I’m still bummed out about it.

I still consider it to have been forced on me, having preferred to keep my gender dysphoria in check instead of leaving the ministry in order to address it.

I still wish I were a parish pastor.

I’ve accomplished a lot the past five years. I’m grateful about that. I have a lot more in mind to do. But I still wish it didn’t have to be this way.

Greg’s return: one year ago

July 9 marks one year since I made public that I had ceased experiencing any sense of being female, that I gradually got used to the idea that I would resume living as a guy, and that by late May I had been living full time as Greg.

I lived as a transgender woman for three years. I did everything a person can do to transition sexes.

It all feels like it was a dream.

If it were not for all of the evidence that I transitioned, I might not believe it had been real. When I ponder it, I find myself physically shaking my head in disbelief.

All my life, I wanted to feel like a guy. For the past nearly one-and-a-half years, I have. I wish I didn’t have to go through all that I did to achieve it, but I am thankful that I finally arrived at this wonderful wholeness.

Hormone update

I have passed the seven month mark since resuming hormone therapy. Each Sunday, I inject a low dose of estradiol (estrogen). The purpose is to protect my bones, muscles, and joints, and to stop the infernal hot flashes I had been having multiple times a day since May 2018.

When I started feeling like a guy at the outset of 2018, I stopped my hormone therapy with my endocrinologist’s permission to do so. I feared continuing to take estrogen would upset my sense of self.

In a few months, I started feeling sluggish. Then my muscles felt like mush. My knees protested when I got out of bed in the morning and when I walked stairs.

By autumn, I could hardly run. I returned to my endocrinologist. I had researched my condition and was quite sure what she would tell me. She immediately confirmed that my hormones were too low.

We debated whether I should take testosterone or estrogen. Long story short, we settled on estrogen. With either one, I feared upsetting what I believe to be a delicate balance with my gender identity. In November, I resumed weekly injections and held my breath.

Within two weeks the hot flashes had ceased and my muscles and joints were beginning to feel better. After a month or so, my body was back to normal. Best of all, I experienced no fluctuation in experiencing myself as a male, and I continue to feel great.

This spring, because I got my muscles healthy and worked at losing weight, I improved my running to where I was in late 2017, which was the best I had run since retiring. Last week, running six miles, I ran my fastest pace of the year.

The more weight I lose, the better I run. I love that, but . . .

Greight Loss on hold

I have put my Greight Loss on hold. I am grateful to have lost so much weight so quickly—twenty-eight pounds since my high of 260 in February—but the thing has occurred which I feared.

In my initial Greight Loss post, I explained that I intentionally put on weight last year so that my breasts might appear as man boobs. It worked.

Then it didn’t work. I hated carrying the extra weight.

Since I successfully adjusted to living as a guy with this busty chest, I hoped I could lose some weight and not be too self-conscious about my breasts. As I passed the twenty-pound mark in weight loss, my chest stood out so much more. It really bothered me.

Yet, I didn’t want to stop losing weight. I carried on.

Nearing the thirty-pound mark, I finally had enough. The rest of me shrinks, but my chest remains the same. When I go out in public, I have to select my shirts carefully, to disguise my chest. I have to wear a sports bra when I run, and that makes them even more prominent.

A few weeks ago, I began the process to see if our health insurance might cover the cost of my having a double mastectomy. I await word from them. I am not overly hopeful it will be covered. If not, I’m going to have to put up with these breasts for now.

I don’t know what I’ll do about losing more weight. I’d love to take off another thirty pounds.

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Hormones: one month update

Now, to inject some humor into the situation . . . 
It’s a good thing I can take a needling! 

One month ago, I resumed my once-a-week injections of estradiol, which is the proper name for what we commonly lump with estrogen. I had ceased injections in February. As a result, my estrogen and testosterone both were very low and, as it turned out, too low.

In May, I began to experience hot flashes, which grew to an every day occurrence, as often as half-a-dozen times a day and at predictable times. Then, by late summer my leg muscles were adversely affected, and they continually worsened.

I was tremendously concerned that resuming the taking of estradiol would upset the balance I had achieved, in which my gender dysphoria disappeared. But, while I could have put up with the hot flashes for however long they would have continued, I could not live with my leg muscles as they were. I struggled with my running, my muscles were so sore and my joints stiff. I could barely run five miles, and my pace slowed to what I used to be able to do when walking fast.  When I got up in the morning, I could barely move at first.

I resumed the estradiol a month ago, on November 10. As of this past Sunday, I’ve now injected five times. This month brought significant indications that my estrogen has increased.

After two weeks, I noticed the hot flashes to be almost completely gone. It was a huge surprise that this happened so quickly. I found myself saying, “Hey, you’ve not had a hot flash, today. And did you have any, yesterday? Woo hoo!” The few times I have felt one come on, it has been minor, perhaps ten percent of what they were. Whew!

In the third week, two signs came which I expected. My breasts grew tender and my sex drive increased. I expected them because I’ve restarted hormone therapy so many times, and those two areas are always affected, yet they arrived surprisingly soon. It’s as if my body now expects this, so it reacts quickly, with a hearty here we go, again!

With the developments of the second and third weeks, I was hopeful that my doctor’s suggestion might prove on the mark, that I could see muscle improvement by the fourth week. Last Friday, we finally had blue skies, and the temperature rose above freezing. I went running for the first time in thirty-five days.

Having been off so long, I didn’t want to overdo it. I went 3.33 miles, of which I ran two. If I had not experienced the muscles troubles, I would have recognized nothing out of the ordinary. Every bit of out-of-shape feeling I had, and the soreness afterward, was typical and to be expected. Whew!

I ran again on Sunday. I felt great, so I increased it to 3.9 miles, of which I ran three. I felt good.  I’m writing this Monday morning.  I intend to run, this afternoon.

Now, to the biggest issue. How am I feeling about who I am, as in my gender identity? Has this increasing of my estrogen reintroduced feminine feelings?

I am elated to report that I continue to feel completely male. I have noted nothing, whatsoever, to warn me that gender dysphoria might be returning. Whew, whew, whew!

It’s early, and I have learned how turbulent this can be in me, so I am not pronouncing myself as being past any concern. Yet, I am pleased to report that soon after I restarted the injections I have possessed an insistence—almost a stubborn resolve—that gender dysphoria will not be returning, that it is a thing of the past for me.

I was hoping that this December would have me for the first time passing 1,000 miles of jogging and fast walking in one year. I had no surgeries on the schedule, as last year, and I just missed 1,000 miles in 2017. But, rats, the muscle thing rose up and bit me, and I will not make 1,000 this year.

I am using December to get myself back up to speed. I intend to hit the ground running in 2019.

Watch out, 1,000 miles. I will be gunning for you!

Yup, it’s hormones

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The human body was not designed to thrive with extremely low levels of hormones, including the sex hormones, testosterone and estrogen. I have been learning this the hard way.

Sitting across from my doctor for the first time in fifteen months, there would be no thoughts of any other situation as behind my troubles.  She confirmed all the suspicions of which I wrote in I am at another crossroads.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

On November 9, I saw my endocrinologist. I had previously emailed with her, so she knew that I had been off hormone therapy since last winter. I now filled her in on what I’ve been experiencing.

I began with the hot flashes, which began in May. She nodded, completely unsurprised. I said, “I put myself into menopause, didn’t I.” She agreed.

I continued, explaining the muscle soreness, stiff knees, burning sensation in my thighs when I stop running, and how hard it is for me to run anything more than a very slow pace. Again, she was not surprised. Again, she confirmed my thought that it was occurring because my estrogen and testosterone levels have dropped to very low.

Remembering how I always had my blood drawn after all of my previous appointments, I asked if that would be the case after this one. When she replied in the negative, I asked why. She said, “I know what your levels are.” She explained, saying that my estrogen and testosterone are obviously, tremendously low; so low, she finished up, that they might not even register on a blood test.

Oh, my.

And, regarding the future, the goal won’t be to know, in numbers, where my hormone levels are, because the goal now is for me to feel better, to feel right, not to reach X, number-wise. My situation now is entirely different than when I was on hormone therapy for the purpose of transitioning, when knowing my levels, and keeping them constant, was key.

I explained my concern, that disturbing my hormones might bring a return of my gender dysphoria. There is no way to know when that might occur, and what levels could possibly cause it, or whether it will or won’t ever return. I told her, more than once, that this not knowing concerned me a lot.

Being a male, we began talking about my taking testosterone (T). I had difficulty explaining why raising my T level was a concern for me. I attributed my concern to my entire life, how being a guy, with the competing feminine gender identity, made surging T very challenging to how I experienced myself. And, crazily, now that I finally experience myself as fully male, the thought of increasing my T still gives me pause.

I then spoke of how I was feeling last autumn, how my muscles performed so well that I was running the most miles of my life, and I was regularly knocking a few seconds off my per mile pace, and my T was really low because I was a half year post-op from sex reassignment surgery. Though, last fall, I wasn’t yet feeling like a guy, I had gone through the period of once again feeling like myself—and not a person who was a different being from Greg, which is what happened with me over the first years of my transition—thus, if I could find the sweet spot with my hormones, it seems to me that it would be with low T and slightly higher estrogen.

She heard me. She said this is all experimental, and then she reiterated what she had said earlier in the appointment, that mine is an exceptional case. She saw the tears well up in my eyes each time I told her that I couldn’t bear to experience gender dysphoria any more, how much I loved finally enjoying what I had been seeking all my adult life—to be a guy, with no gender issues—and that though I had succeeded at transitioning I had no interest in returning to it.

So, she agreed with my idea, that I go on a low dose of estrogen. After pondering how much I should take, she suggested I begin at twenty-five percent of what had previously been a full dose. She said that even that small of an amount might help my muscles and bones, and that it might stop the hot flashes, but not to be surprised if they do not cease entirely.

I told her what Julie had said to me, that I go into this with the idea that I will go back on estrogen, that it will provide the relief I am seeking, and that the dysphoria will not return. At the time Julie had said that, I had little confidence in it. But, in the days leading up to the appointment, as I pondered it, I grew in my belief of it. Thus, when I left the doctor’s office, as I departed the building, as I drove home, and as I anticipated the return of once-a-week injecting myself, I was okay with it.

Even hopeful.

I am at another crossroads

Of all the things I wanted never to do again, I am facing the possibility of going back on hormone therapy. I write about that in the second portion of this post.

1. “Hi, I’m Greg, again!”

Today, I go to the dentist for my twice-yearly cleaning. I will be going as Greg. I will be going as Greg for the first time since April of 2015.

On Friday, I see my endocrinologist. I will be going as Greg. I will be going as Greg for the first time since my first visit to this doctor in June of 2015.

When, after I began my transition in the summer of 2015, I was in the spot of going places where they knew me as Greg, I found that I needed to give them a heads up that I would be coming in as Gina. Indeed, I asked if this would be okay, if they were fine with trans patients. At each place, they appreciated my calling, they were on board with me, and they usually told me that they had trans patients.

Returning as Greg, I do not see the need to inform anyone. Indeed, going to places as Greg, where I had gone as Gina—I’m thinking of grocery stores, restaurants, and the like—I have no hesitation. However, going to the same restaurants and stores as Gina, where they had met or seen me as Greg, I stayed away from those.

Today, when I enter the dentist’s office, I suspect the receptionist will immediately recognize me. The question is, how quickly will she recognize that my hair is short and that I’m wearing guy’s clothes?

Because I love chatting with folks, over the four years I’ve gone to this dentist I’ve gotten to know that woman, and others who float in and out of the office, whom I always see when I arrive for my appointment. She is friendly and has treated me wonderfully, so I want to do things right by her.

I suspect that as soon as she sees me approaching her window, I will smile wide. If her window is open, or when she opens it, I think I will say, “Hi, there! You were expecting Gina. Well, do I have something to tell you!”

I’ll have to do the same thing with the dental hygienist, and then with the dentist. I am so hoping I see one dentist (of three possible) in particular. We’ve chatted a lot over the years. He’s been dandy with me. And we joke around a lot.

When I see my endocrinologist, I won’t be breaking my news to her. I’ve emailed with her. But, the receptionists don’t know. As with at the dentist, I’ve seen these women many times, and have had lots of friendly chatter with them, so if my approach at the dentist works okay that’s how I’ll do it with them.

2. “Doc, my muscles are killing me.”

No one warned me I might be experiencing this. My legs feel that since last winter I have aged twenty-five years.

When I went off hormone replacement therapy (HRT), the only concern which was expressed was for the sake of my bones. Osteoporosis is common in older folks for a variety of reasons, one of which is low levels of testosterone or/and estrogen. Having had sex reassignment/gender affirming surgery, I now produce very little testosterone. Because I am a genetic male, I produce very little estrogen.

Weakened bones is not yet a concern for me (that I know of). Several other things have happened and, if my research on them has proven correct, they are connected to my low hormone levels.

I have been having hot flashes since May.

It took me a couple of weeks to figure out that these episodes were hot flashes. The weather grew hot here in Indianapolis in May. I thought that, when I would do a chore and I grew too hot so quickly, it was because of the outdoor heat, even though we keep our house air conditioned at seventy-four degrees.

And then I noticed I was having these overheated experiences when sitting still.

And then I got online to research it.

And as I sorted through all of the possibilities, there was only one which matched up with me. I had low estrogen.

I was experiencing menopause.

The confounding, uncomfortable, toss-the-blanket-off-me-when-it-hits-in-bed hot flashes have continued. As spring moved into summer, again I initially attributed to the heat and humidity why I was struggling with jogging and speed-walking. Indeed, I found myself speed-walking more often than running, because my body simply couldn’t do a lot of running in the oppressive weather.

Since I had the same problem the previous summer, I attributed it to my having grown older. But, now, I noticed that my walking pace was slower than last year, and it kept getting worse, and the weather didn’t have to be as hot for it to be too hot for me to run.

I looked forward to the cooler weather, which finally landed here in early October. Thankfully, as I had hoped, I was able to run. Within a week, I was running five miles non-stop.

But, wow, was my pace slow. After I had one good run, I fell apart. Last Friday, I had the slowest five mile run of my life. My pace has grown so slow, I won’t even tell you want it is, except to say that it’s way worse than ten minutes per mile.  At this time last autumn, I was jogging six and seven miles per day, and getting close to ten minutes per mile.

Even more, my muscles are constantly sore. Whenever I get up from bed or having sat for awhile, I hurt the way I envisioned I would be when I get into my eighties, not at age sixty-one.

So, as with the hot flashes, I got online and looked into it. Of all the things it could be, one stood out as likely for me. You guessed it: low hormone levels.

Human beings are not meant to work well without a proper amount of estrogen and testosterone.

I was hoping to stave off osteoporosis by continuing to be a distance runner. Running builds bone. I was determined never to return to HRT for fear that it would unbalance my hormones and cause me to once again experience gender dysphoria. I am all but convinced that my gender dysphoria went away because my hormones finally stabilized at levels which work for my endocrine system, as I wrote in The return to Greg—the cause.

I cannot afford to again experience gender dysphoria.  I have been worn out by it.  The thought of it drives me to despair.

I have felt so good this year, experiencing myself as a male, completely as a male, with no female tugging back and forth. This is the way I’ve always wanted to be. I don’t want to lose it.

I was bound and determined not to return to my endocrinologist. I was bound and determined never to go back on hormone therapy. I was bound and determined to be forever done with gender dysphoria.

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I still have a supply of estradiol and syringes. I’ll let you know whether or not I’ll be getting them out of storage. Or, might my doctor prescribe testosterone? I wonder.

Or, maybe, neither. Maybe, I’m wrong about all of this. I don’t think I am; all of my symptoms line up perfectly with low hormones. But, my doctor is the professional. I have my notes typed up, so that I forget to tell her nothing, that she might make a proper diagnosis.

Julie—ever the wise one—said to me on Monday, “Go into this thinking that you will resume HRT, that it will provide the help you need with the hot flashes and your muscles, and that it won’t cause your gender dysphoria to return.” I continue to reflect on this, picturing her sitting across from me, calming me as she has so many times.

Regardless of my wonderful wife’s advice, I easily admit:

I am scared.

Update on Robert

Lots of folks, who experience gender dysphoria, do not want to be transgender.  Many hurt so badly that they attempt to kill themselves, to the tune of two out of every five.  Too many succeed.

To date, there has been no therapy, no medicine, no surgery to ease the mental and emotional anguish caused by gender dysphoria, so that a person might be able to abide in his or her birth sex.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

One year ago, I told you about Robert, a man who went on the same hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which gender dysphoric males use for transitioning to transgender women. Robert’s purpose, however, was not to transition, but to help him to remain living as a male. Here is that post:

https://eilerspizza.wordpress.com/2017/06/14/using-hrt-to-remain-male/

Robert now has been on HRT for nearly two years. He recently checked in with me. Every handful of months, he texts an update. His texts have the same theme. Thankfully, the HRT continues to do for him what he wanted, to ease his gender dysphoria that he might succeed at living as a male, a man who is a husband and father, and a Christian of a traditional faith.

No, it’s not been a perfectly smooth ride. His doctor has had to adjust his dosages—a bit more or less estrogen, a bit more or less blocking of testosterone. His experience reminds me of a person suffering from depression, and how treating it is a constant adjusting of the medication.

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This is my stuff.  Note that this is called “estradiol,” but in usual conversation we call it “estrogen.”

I assume that the adjustments are based on two things, what Robert reports regarding how he feels and what a blood test show his estrogen and testosterone levels are. Both aspects—not to forget Robert’s attitude, that he is determined not to transition—have, for two years, allowed him to achieve what he sought.

Two years of reversing his hormones has also done the rest of what Robert knew it would do. His body has feminized. Most aspects of feminization do not have a great impact. One’s skin feels softer. Body hair becomes more sparse (though facial hair growth is left unaffected). Some fat gets redeposited. None of these is dramatic, so it is unlikely that anyone would be the wiser regarding them. I can’t imagine that anyone has commented to Robert, “What’s going on? Your arm hair doesn’t look as thick as it used to.”

The other aspect of body feminizing has had the impact, indeed the negative effect, which Robert knew would come, and it has. He has experienced significant breast growth.

In Robert’s most recent text, he said that he now has trouble presenting as a male and wearing a t-shirt. He binds his chest—do an internet search for “chest binder”—but this is far from a solution. Besides being obvious under light clothing, the worst aspect for Robert is that he experiences shortness of breath.

Trans men—genetic females transitioning to male—report that binders are just plain uncomfortable, even painful. When I have heard trans men tell that they have had top surgery—a double mastectomy—they always report this with joy. The positive aspect, of course, is to get their body toward a shape which fits their masculine gender. The other facet is to be rid of the nasty binding.

This is where Robert is. He says that if he is going to be able to continue as he is, he needs to have top surgery, a double mastectomy. He wrote, “I don’t want this surgery, but if I want to continue to walk the path I have set, I have to have it.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

That HRT has provided Robert with what he sought, to have his gender dysphoria eased, that he might be able to abide with living as a male.  His initial success, and knowing that he sought this because he had heard of another man doing it, should cause us to ask at least two questions:

  • Is gender dysphoria a hormonal condition?
  • Might hormone therapy (HRT) be a viable treatment for those who do not want to transition?

Since I learned about endocrine disruption, and became nearly convinced that my gender dysphoria was the result of my hormone system having been messed up when I was forming in my mother’s womb, I have also become nearly convinced that most gender dysphoria might fall into the category of a disorder of the endocrine system, as are well-known thyroid disorders and diabetes. If a male experiences relief from gender dysphoria with HRT—if, by having his testosterone lowered, and his estrogen raised, takes away, or at least significantly reduces, his sense of being female—does it inform us as to gender dysphoria’s being a hormonal condition?

Even more, despite the side effects of increased estrogen in males (since I have no knowledge of genetic females using hormone therapy to remain female, I am right now only referring to males), might HRT be, if not a cure, a useful therapy for keeping in check gender dysphoria?

For Robert, it’s so far, so good.

Using HRT to remain male

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Not yet forty, he’s still a fairly young guy. Married, with two young children, and a member of a congregation in the church body where I was a minister, he longs to be a man, a husband and father, and everything else he has built over his lifetime.

He does not want to transition. No, wait. That is not nearly strong enough. He has told me there simply is no way he can let this happen. He needs to resist what he says is “the alluring call of femininity.”

This man, whom I will call Robert, contacted me last year, another in a growing list of folks who found my blog and reached out to me. He identified with me in many ways, except that he had resolved not to transition. He then told me the craziest thing. He was about to go on hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in order to help him remain male.

Yes, he was going to use HRT as medicine—the HRT that trans women use in order to be female—as the prescription for calming the call to femininity. He was about to do that for which I had longed, but could locate no doctor who found it a possible remedy, and no information on the internet to show that anyone had done it.

Robert told me that he knew a man who was doing it, who had gone on HRT and was having success with it in his effort to remain male. Robert found a doctor who agreed to prescribe HRT for him and, in June of last year, he began taking estradiol to increase his estrogen and spironolactone to block his testosterone.

In other words, Robert set out to reverse his sex hormones, so that his higher estrogen and lower testosterone would reflect that of a genetic female, so that he might continue to live as a male.

I have chatted twice with Robert this year. He reports the good that is happening in him, along with the undesired side-effect. The good? HRT has, indeed, calmed the call of femininity. He is feeling strong, finding himself more capable of being a male. The side-effect? He’s growing breasts.

Since no male desires a flabby chest, especially one in which his breasts are obvious and might invite questions or suspicion, Robert has found himself needing to resort to flattening them. He opts for one of two options, depending on the type of shirt he is wearing. If he can get away with it, a sport bra does the job. When he needs to smooth out his chest the most possible, he binds his breasts, which is the same procedure for genetic females who transition to male.

The goal for many genetic females who transition is to have top surgery, that is, to have their breasts surgically removed. If HRT proves to work for Robert over the long term, he could find himself opting for top surgery.

This begs the question. Will HRT provide the type of relief for Robert, over the long term? Even more, can HRT do this? Does it have this ability?

How much of Robert’s situation is hormonal/physical, and how much is emotional/mental? Is sheer determination on his part a factor—perhaps even the ultimate factor—in his succeeding?

Besides the desire to physical transition from male to female, one of the hopes for taking HRT is that it will calm one’s brain. The person with gender dysphoria experiences fierce mental fighting—I always say that my brain was on fire—and if one does much reading, one learns that trans women report that HRT calmed their dysphoria, causing them to (finally) feel right about themselves.

I reached this point, but before I settled into it I experienced a calm so great that I had no interest in being a female. For the first time in my life, all feminine desire was gone.

My doctor told me to give it eight weeks before I began to feel the effects of HRT. At seven weeks, I did, with the first sign of tender breasts. At eight weeks, the calm arrived. By the third day of it, I wondered what was going on.

I found myself with no interest in being a female. I was dumbfounded. It was so extraordinary, I waited another day to tell Julie what had been happening that week.

Telling her the next day, we both wondered if HRT had gotten my sex hormones to levels which were in proper balance for my endocrine system. It really made sense to us. It’s essentially what Robert set out to do, and he even reported to me, the last time we chatted, that he found that to have his testosterone too low—where a female’s would be—did not feel good for him, so he eased back on the blocking medication, allowing his testosterone to rise but still be significantly under what it had been before he began HRT.

When I experienced the profound calm, I began researching it online. Sadly, I could find no reports of a man’s using HRT to produce the effect where he felt right as a male. Next, I reported it to my therapist. He’d never heard of it. He checked with other therapists, who work with trans folks. None of them had heard of it. Finally, I asked my doctor. He had never heard of it. He did, however, say that if I liked how I felt we could work to keep my dosage where I would feel good.

That sounded great to me.

That didn’t work.

After six weeks, I crashed. Adjusting my meds made no difference.

I went through the experience two more times. I quit HRT, not wanting the physical effects of it and determined not to transition. After several weeks, when my hormones reverted to pre-HRT levels, my brain once again caught fire. I restarted HRT and, in about a month, I experienced the same calm which had me feeling like a guy, with no desire to be a female.

Each time, I didn’t want to stay on HRT, so I quit taking it. Each time, after awhile I crashed.

Retiring from the ministry and moving to Indianapolis, I found an endocrinologist. I explained to my new doctor my history with HRT. As with the others, she had never heard such a story, and she has had loads of trans patients. I asked whether she thought HRT could be used to keep a guy feeling like a male. She was veritably blunt in her reply. “No,” she said without hesitation. “I don’t.”

Still, I restarted HRT and hoped for the calm. Sure enough, it arrived . . . and remained for exactly one day. From there, for weeks, I was in and out, until I finally settled into feeling female and, in the summer of 2015, undertaking living full time as a woman.

My Indianapolis therapist thought that my determination to remain male had worked with the HRT to provide those periods of calm, of feeling good as a male.  Determination, however, was not enough to uphold me. It would be like telling a person with cancer to convince himself that his tumor no longer growing and cause it to cease.

I hope Robert continues to have success. I hope others hear of him and decide to undergo HRT for the purpose of remaining in their birth sex, if that is what they want and find that they need.  I hope doctors would do more research into this, that it might be an effective therapy for all with gender dysphoria who prefer not to transition.

As Robert keeps me updated, I will report on his progress. Later this month, he passes the one year mark of being on HRT. So far, he’s doing well. Indeed, he is doing better than I thought he would be able to do.  Maybe, just maybe, he’s onto something good.

G to G transitioning diary

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Key dates and events in my roller coaster years of going from Greg to Gina. From guy to gal. From G to G.

Pre 2013

Living as a female will never happen. My lifetime chant has been, “All I want in life is to be a woman.” It is an impossibility. I need to stop desiring this. I need to repent, pray more, try harder, be the husband and father and minister that I am.

2013

January: What is happening to me? I knew, over the past couple of years, that my gender identity problem had actually turned into this thing I never knew about before—gender dysphoria. I just plain hate myself. I can now look back over the years since I turned fifty and see how this has grown worse. I haven’t been able to look at myself in a mirror for, wow, how long? For years. I hate the man who looks back at me.

February: When I have a free evening, I need to be dressed as a female. I have never in my life had a need for this as deeply as I do now. I just chose the name, Gina, finally feeling like I have found a female name that fits me after a lifetime of trying. When I have to remove my female things, I break down, crying miserably and begging myself to let her remain.

March: Every dressing session ends with me bawling, lying on my bed and praying out loud, begging the Lord to help me. I can’t see a way out. For the first time in my life, I understand why people commit suicide. I am constantly saying, “You hate being a man. You can’t be a woman. Just kill yourself.”

March 8: I did not want to trouble Julie during income tax season because she works awfully long hours, but I finally have to come clean with how distressed I am. Her response to my finally admitting that I am desperate: “If you need to transition, we will figure it out.” Might I actually get to be a woman? I take turns being giddy and doubtful.

March 21: My first therapist appointment, a two hour drive both ways. I tell her that I need her to figure out whether I am transgender or just a crazy crossdresser. I schedule another appointment for a week from now. I will soon cancel it and never go back.

Mid April: I am a complete and utter emotional wreck. My life is constantly under stress. I cry all of the time, only gathering myself for work. Julie undertakes the finding of a therapist who might be up to snuff for what I need.

A week later: Julie found one. My first appointment proves that this therapist knows his stuff and is going to be a good fit. I tell him what I told the first therapist. Julie attends the session with me. She will attend as many sessions with me as possible, until tax season returns. The therapist is ninety miles away. We have lots of quiet time to talk.

Early June: In only my fourth session, I tell my therapist that I need to transition.

A few days later: I change my mind.

The next week: I change my mind.

The next week: I change my mind. I will live on this swivel for months.

Early June: Julie describes my life as riding a roller coaster through a hurricane.

June 24: I need to see if I can do this. I attend my therapist session as Gina. I feel comfortable going to and from the office dressed as a female.

June 30: Returning from my son’s out-of-state wedding, I tell Julie there is no way on earth I will ever be able to be around my family as a female. I am NOT transitioning. We flesh out new ideas about what I will do in retirement, which I just decided is what I’m going to have to do—I need to get out of the ministry so I can address my situation.

August 6: I inform the pastor who acts as circuit counselor for the churches in our area of my intention to retire in 2014. I do not tell him the full reason.

August 13: Wracked with guilt over withholding the entire story, I tell the pastor of my gender dysphoria and that I might need to transition. He has no knowledge of these matters but is very gracious. Over the next several months, I will tell many pastors, church leaders, my children, and some friends of my gender dysphoria and that I might be transitioning. Out of the dozens of people I will tell, precisely one will have any knowledge of these things.

September 1: I inform my congregation that I will be retiring in 2014, giving the cover story, which is true enough, that I need freedom from the grind of the ministry, especially because my kids all live so far away. The congregation is shocked and saddened. I’m sad, too. I don’t want to leave. I can’t figure out how I can stay.

September 19: I wish I would have kept track of the number of times I have changed my mind. One day, I am transitioning. A few days later, I am not. Round and round we go. I continue to have crushing meltdowns, about two a week. I need to do something concrete to try to get off this very-unmerry-go-round. I call one of the recommended doctors to get myself started on hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Perhaps, HRT will help me.

September 26: Everything is so far away. Julie and I see the doctor in metro Detroit. I pass the physical. I am given two prescriptions for HRT, one to lessen my testosterone and one to boost my estrogen.

September 27: I take HRT pills for the first time. I am very happy.

Early November: Julie and I go on the road, to tell each of the kids, in person, about my situation. No parent should ever have to tell their kids this lousy news. No children should ever have to hear this from their parent. The next two years are going to be very rough for all of us.

Late November: HRT often has a calming effect. At the eight week mark, I am so calm that I feel fine as a guy. Sadly, neither my therapist nor my doctor has ever heard of this. I can find nothing on the Internet to tell me why I no longer need to be a woman. I love the feeling, but I am totally confounded.

New Year’s Eve: I have felt wonderful for six weeks, happy to be a male for the first time in my life. I wonder if the HRT has balanced my hormones so that I finally feel right about myself, but I can find nothing to support this idea. Julie and I speak of my not retiring. We will give it another month before saying anything.

2014

New Year’s Day: Yes, it is the very next day after Julie and I have the happy discussion that maybe we won’t have to leave Port Hope. But, the moment I wake up, I know my peace is gone. I am in terrible distress. I am completely confused about everything. I fear becoming suicidal again. I will soon fear that I will literally go insane. Happy New Year . . . not.

Late January: If I don’t shape up, I am going to be shipped out of the ministry. I had to promise church officials that I will stop taking HRT and keep my mouth shut about my gender dysphoria—I long to tell my congregation what is going on with their pastor—so that I don’t create a storm. If I behave, I will be allowed to retire without trouble.

The next day: I have been so completely out of sorts, the worst ever, and getting worse since New Year’s Day, and yesterday pushed me to the brink. I am in such dire straits that I fear the day when I simply will refuse to leave my bed. I hate everything. I have no idea what I am going to do with myself.

The next day: I ask for and receive a month’s sick leave. I need to get a hold of myself.

Early March: I return to work. I announce that I am going to try everything I can so that I don’t have to retire, that I will give them the final word within a month.

End of March: I was a fool to think I could gather myself. I inform the congregation that I will have to retire. June 30 will be the day. Feeling they deserve to know more, especially after my taking a month off, I go so far as to tell them I suffer from dysphoria, which means I am completely out of sorts in my mind, my body, and my life. No one will guess that I am actually talking about gender dysphoria.

May 1: I can’t live with myself. I have HRT pills on hand. Despite my promise, I restart taking them. I fill all of my refills, just in case.

Four weeks later: I confuse my pending retirement with being on HRT for my feeling good about myself. I stop taking HRT.

June 29: My final Sunday. The congregation throws me the most wonderful retirement party. Julie gives the loveliest speech, getting a standing ovation.

July 3: We move to Indianapolis.

July 6: I crash.

Early August: I hate everything. I hate me. I hate living in Indy. I hate being retired. I miss Port Hope. I restart HRT.

Four weeks later: Same thing as in May, I should know that it is the HRT that has me feeling good but, dumb me, I use the good feeling to decide that I need to cease all thoughts of ever transitioning. I stop taking HRT.

Early September: I had already scheduled a first appointment with an electrologist, needed for having my facial hair permanently removed. I keep it, and the next week’s, then stop doing this for the next four months as I try to be a male.

October 6: Here we go again. After a nice stretch of peace, I crash.

Early November: After a month of fighting myself, I pull my female clothes out of their tubs in the basement. I feel like I’m going to fall to the floor in a puddle of nerves if I don’t put on some women’s things.

Mid-November: I go to our family deer camp back home in West Michigan. I spend a lot of time by myself in the trailer, crying.

Mid December: I start with a therapist in Indy.

Christmas Day: This going back and forth cannot continue. I decide that, on January 1, I need to try the Real Life Test, living full time as a female, to see if I can do it, to determine if it is the thing that works for me. Julie agrees: It’s time. I inform my kids and some other folks who have been in the know. No one is happy about it. I get it.

2015

January 2: As Gina, I go to Kroger all by myself, a first. Somehow, all goes well.

Mid-January: I have a bit of HRT pills left. I restart them in anticipation of my therapist soon giving me a doctor’s letter to restart officially.

Early February: Here we go again. Feeling good, I am fighting myself. I begin a period of going back and forth, Gina to Greg to Gina, sometimes flipping in the same day. My therapist says something about my struggles which finally sounds like it makes sense. Where the standard reaction of a transitioning person on HRT is, “Thank goodness I am transitioning,” when my hormones have enough HRT to be changed, the calm it brings actually gives me the power to fight harder to remain male. Earnest self-examination leads to me agree with this, that my intense desire to remain male is behind all of this, and I will see it in myself several more times over the next year.

Mid February: I have a consultation with a plastic surgeon for facial feminization surgery. Seeing the computer imaging of what I can look like pleases me very much.

Early March: I see a doctor to get new HRT prescriptions.

April 23: Returning from my therapist, I realize I’ve now been in therapy for two years and feel I’ve gotten nowhere. I just spent the hour in angry tears. I write about it and post it on Facebook.

April 29: I always knew that if I transitioned, I would not do so privately. I wanted no one to think I ran away to hide, that I was ashamed. Knowing how many people misunderstand transgender people, how many have prejudice against us, how many simply know nothing, I would make it my task to educate. I prayed for months about this and, last week, things came together to tell me it was time to go public. Today, I announce on the Internet that I suffer from gender dysphoria. I will post self-written essays, several days a week, to both my blog and Facebook.

May: We buy a house. I dub it Merrymoss, after Mary Moss who last lived in it.

June 3: We move in. I do all of the packing and loading and unloading in guy mode. Being in guy mode always makes me want to try harder to be a male. It never lasts more than several hours.

July 2: No more going back and forth. I am living as Gina 100% of the time, for good.

Mid July: I visit my son and his wife. This sets the table for his siblings. When I ask him how it is that we are having the same conversation as we’ve always had, with me dressed as a woman, he says, “You’re still the same. You are talking and acting and being your usual self. I don’t see that stuff. I see you, my dad.” Over the next months, all of my children will be able to accept my transitioning. Our relationships will be healed. I will never be any happier about anything else in my entire life.

August 19: After admitting online that I had been living full time as Gina for awhile, I change my profile from Greg to Gina, and post a female picture for the first time. The world didn’t come to an end.

Late October through early November: I print the forms for having my name changed. Family deer camp is coming up and I am no longer welcome at it. I talk with one of my brothers, who takes over a big function of mine at camp. The pressure of changing my name and the loss of the family vacation cause me to have a terrible breakdown that lasts for three days, a new record.

Mid December: The November breakdown has had me in a funk and finally I am coming out of it. I have a new resolve that I have to transition, that trying to stop, trying to go back to living as a male, is not going to happen. I will have losses, as with deer camp. I’ve had lots of losses in my life, just as everyone does. I will survive these losses.

2016

Late February: I apply for a legal name change. I have an article printed in Indianapolis Monthly magazine: “The Real Me. What it is like to be transgender.” It is well-received.

Early March: I get my therapist’s letter, endorsing me for sex reassignment surgery.

Mid March: Thirteen months after my first visit, I return to the plastic surgeon. I am now ready to apply for health insurance to cover my facial surgery.

March 25: I see a doctor for my first consultation for sex reassignment surgery. I hope to have the surgery before the end of 2016.

Mid April. To have the sex reassignment, a second therapist’s endorsement is required. I begin therapy with a new therapist. I will only need two sessions for him to confirm my first therapist’s endorsement.

May 2: After being happy to apply for my name change, I have been struggling the past two weeks.  I feel like Greg deserves better than this.  But, serious reflection tells me that every time I try to stop transitioning, I crash, and then I always return to it.  In circuit court, my name is legally changed to Gina Joy Eilers.  I am relieved to have it done, but do not experience happiness.

May 5: I get a new drivers license. Besides my new name and photo, it reads: “Sex: F.”  Now, I feel happy.  This was a bigger hurdle for me than going to court.  I leave the BMV feeling lighter than air.  I get into my car, cry, “Woo hoo!” and thrust my arms into the air.  Whew!

May 6: I receive insurance approval for my facial surgery.

May 11: I schedule my first facial surgery for June 22. I will have a second surgery later in the summer.

After I have SRS in the autumn, I will have completely transitioned.

I will be as female as I can possibly be in this life. I have no doubts about all of this. I struggle to remember what gender dysphoria was like. I feel like I’ve always been a female.