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He Came To My House and Called Me Fat!

Fat Girl“Michelle, I just wanted to say that I have noticed that you have gotten fat since last time I saw you. Seriously, you should think about laying off on the hormone shots.” I’m not making this up. These were the exact words my father-in-law spoke to me first thing walking through my front door this past Saturday morning. I did not take it well. I tried with a glib little, “Thanks, just what every girl wants to hear”, but it didn’t stop him. I also advised I was under medical care, but he kept going on until I finally flat out told him we were not going to continue this conversation. Can you believe this? Oh, and this unkindness of words had rolled out of the gullet of a man who had lap band surgery 4 years ago but still looks exactly the same as the before shot. It’s not easy, but he really works at it.

One of the great Irish family mottos I concocted is, “Compliment my ways, and I just may continue. Criticize, and I’ll live by them.” My Irish up, we went to breakfast with everyone riding with me receiving the full effects of my hissy fit. Though I intended to have egg whites with tomato on the side to break my fast, I ordered the big feta and gyro meat omelet with home fries, toast, and ate half my son’s pancakes, glaring directly at the old man every time I took a bite. While I’m not usually of the mindset to cut off my nose to spite my face, he really pissed me off with this and as a result, I ate like a pig all weekend, even though I really truly do need to lose some weight before October. According to my spouse, none of what happened is exactly atypical of the female experience.

I’m pretty sure I’ve disclosed before that I went through a period of a few years where I was downright huge. It was during one of my hopeless periods where I could not get comfortable in my body and decided to screw it all, eat like a starving wildebeest and grow my beard in for good measure. Seriously, I got really big. The whole time I was really packing it on though, no one said a thing to me. Nothing. I was perceived as male and therefore it was perfectly acceptable as I approached middle age to suddenly adopt the appearance of Dom Deluise. Hell, who doesn’t like a jolly fat man? I’m pretty sure Santa’s been ranked in the top 10 of People’s Most Beautiful People of the Year for decades running now. I did take off all the weight 5 years ago to with some accolades, but no one was going to say I looked like shit back when standard size doorways presented a problem.

Now that more and more people have made the mental transition to me being female, it’s a whole different story. “Should you really be eating that?” Mind you, I never get this from women. Women in general don’t care what my body type is and really only notice my appearance when I make my frequent fashion faux pas. In the male world, however, my weight apparently matters. I have never really understood why, but I think it has something to do with sexual desirability, being good “breeding” material, or something to show off to other men. If this is the case, I’m pretty screwed in this area whether I’m fat of thin. My best efforts are never going to result in “sexy”, my breeding days are over and didn’t exactly fit the bill anyway, and it’s really unlikely than any man I dated (should I ever) would be proudly showing off pics of me in a bikini to his buddies. I’m reasonably sure most women, cis or trans, can probably relate to this. But still, apparently our weight is a thing.

In my more masculine days I really didn’t get the whole weight obsession that some women around me had. So what? I didn’t see why anyone cares. Yeah, I get it now. It’s ridiculous that I should care what anyone thinks, but I find myself caring anyway. I hate that I have succumbed to this, but my self esteem is at least a tiny bit tied to whether I shop in the Women’s section or the Misses. The real piss of it is that my hormone balance sent my metabolism into a nose dive, I no longer feel as invulnerable as I used to jogging in the wee morning hours (not a big fan of doing it in daylight with lookie-lous around), food tastes better, and every woman’s fitness mag has more articles on how to schmear my nails right than workout tips or healthy recipes.

It’s all OK though. I will adjust or learn not to care. I know that the male world calculates my worth as a woman based on my dress size above all else and actively judges me on it (not that they don’t have enough other areas to judge, of which they also actively partake in). I know one thing for sure though. Even if I manage to become a fitness machine (for myself and no one else), every time the old man comes around, I’m ordering desert and will eat it, bite by bite, staring directly into his eyes.

Autumn Nesting

That first little nip is in the air only a scant 3 months since the Halloween displays started popping up in the stores. Apparently there is a strong market for those who are looking for tombstone lawn displays for the Fourth or fancy attending the company picnic in a sweaty Spiderman costume. My metabolism has crept to a halt and my attention turned to thoughts of blankets, making apple pies, and sipping hot cider from steaming mugs. Clearly it’s time for a bullshit fluff piece.

I’ve completed my first year of hormones and it’s hard not to see some of the more subtle differences. In years past, my early fall focus has always been on uninstalling my front yard vegetable garden, hosing down and putting away the lawn furniture, coming up with yet another time consuming and frustrating leaf disposal scheme (I have a sizable backyard and no one wants to haul that shit to the front where the town may or may not get to sweeping it up), and other aggressive activities that require sweat and muscle. I used to love doing that stuff, but this year I find myself hardly caring. I’m no rocket scientist, but the answer is pretty obvious, especially since I already brought it up at the start of this paragraph.

Everyone knows about the softer skin, the lessening of body hair, the increased emotional responses, loss of strength, and of course the breast growth. Everyone always remembers the breast growth part. It seems there are some subtle little changes as well that I still manage to find. My discovery of this week is nesting. It makes sense that it’s hormone related, but mainly because guys don’t seem to have this, or a love of craft fairs, because the two are definitely linked. I haven’t figured out how, but trust me, they are. Some things are just inexplicable, like how I used to just dump the bread back in the box, but now feel compelled to re-install the twist tie. I’m not sure exactly when that started.

For those of you who are hopelessly male, nesting is the innate urge to create a pretty and inviting home, especially for the winter, which is comfy, cozy and full of yummy smells. I think the female brain is wired for this naturally, and that the hormones provide the juice to drive it forward. I think this is an evolutionary advantage because women have always had to ready the home for children, while at the same time survive being cooped up for the foul months with a large irritable bear just counting down the seconds until backyard grilling season begins again. Or it could be as simple as “who doesn’t like baking pies, hot cocoa, and countryish wooden signs with heartwarming sayings hung upon the wall?” Yeah, I didn’t, until now anyway.

I’ve always enjoyed cooking, but up until last year I had a simple three word phrase I lived by. I don’t bake. Yeah, I’m all done with that now. It’s in the Hefty bag next to my ties, dirty sneakers, and condoms. Just shit no one is going to want to take second hand and that I have no more use for. My urge to bake kicked in last winter, but I only went as far as loading up the old bread machine. As my hormone levels slowly crept up to a natural level, I stated making pretzel rolls, sandwich rolls, pies, and other fun little treats. The only drawback is that I’m torn by the knowledge that I’m going to want to eat all these goodies and not super anxious to replace my wardrobe with larger sizes.

I’m also psyched that the Country Christmas Craft Fair is coming around again to the fair grounds. In a more testosterony time, my only motivation for going was that I knew there would be food. Now I want to go in spite of that and look at, and perhaps even buy, some locally crafted décor and maybe something pretty to dress up my bed a bit. It’s getting harder and harder to remember what it must have felt like to not want to do that, because honestly, it’s just so awesome. If only we can find a sitter, because my 5 year old is a boy, and has zero interest in quilts with double batting or lamps fashioned to look like log cabins. It makes no sense, but I guess that’s just boys.

So, as the days grow shorter, I’m looking forward to stressing less about leaf disposal or how the deck furniture might winter if I neglect hauling it back into the garage. Just give me a clean and cozy warm house, my fuzzy robe, a cup of tea, and a stuffy chair to nest in.

Hormonapalooza Two-za

“Is it me, or is it hot in here? Oh, it is me… great.”  Back in a more masculine life I used to scoff at the fact that my spouse would wrap herself up in Russian sleigh ride style on a warm August evening, shivering and begging for hot chocolate. I would assist by turning the thermostat up two degrees, achieving the effect of giving her an immediate heat stroke. Yes, her comfortable temperature range is a one degree window, and rarely the same degree from day to day. Oh, how little I knew.

Although I have in the past purported medical knowledge on a ‘Trapper John, M.D.’ level, in reality it’s more like when George Costanza pretends to be an architect. Because of that I have no idea why taking a couple tiny, tiny blue pills every day has managed to send my internal thermostat into a catastrophic tailspin. I probably would have known this if I bothered to read the printed out info sheets my therapist gave me, but I’m more of a ‘fly by the seat of my pants’ kind of gal, and don’t remember which purse I left them in anyway. Yes, I’m also losing things much more frequently as well.

I’m not complaining mind you, just observing. I never understood the power of testosterone to create complete immunity to temperature variations. I live in Buffalo and prior to this winter I would routinely venture out without a jacket, or lounge around the house barefoot in shorts and a tee as frigid winds whip through my poorly insulated dwelling. This winter I schlumped around the house in an enormous bathrobe with the heat cranked up to 73. On several occasions I lost coloration and feeling in several fingers just driving home from work. Conversely, at any moment I know I may suddenly feel like a strong candidate for spontaneous human combustion.

I have to wonder if my metabolism morphing into a Katy Perry song is causing or coincidental with the fact that I sometimes get, well, a little cranky. I used to be an emotional vegetable, allowing insults, slights, and a sink full of dirty dishes roll off my back. I know I talked about this before, but only as a cyclical thing. Aside from having things get under my skin just a wee bit easier, they take a lot longer to work their way out as well. I should probably provide an example.

I got ‘defriended’ on Facebook by someone for, as far as I can tell, absolutely no discernable reason. Second time by the way. Now, when I was maintaining my male account, chances are I was defriended dozens of times and never noticed, even when I checked the thing three times a day. This time I noticed immediately. “Hey, where the hell did ‘so-an-so’s’ newsfeed go? What, we are no longer friends? WTF?”  Now the old me would have either not noticed, or if so, not cared or found it mildly amusing and immediately forgotten about it. Now I find myself obsessing over something that is relatively meaningless. I mean, it’s Facebook, one of the most irrelevant of interactions I have with people. I only ever see this person about once every two months and spend about ten minutes each time conversing with them. Why do I care?

Honestly, I don’t know and it baffles me. I have definitely become more social (not a big leap – I was a reclusive introvert to begin with), and more socially aware. Human interaction and relationships have gone from “not at all important” to “well, a lot more important”. My theory is that this mental circuitry was always there, but just not getting the right juice to run. Now that I am chemically balanced, my present but disconnected capacities have suddenly become enabled. It’s surprising, yes, but also pretty darn cool, even if it does mean getting occasionally pissy about things I would have once found irrelevant. Starting to feel myself finally is also giving me a huge boost of confidence. I like this!

Hormonapalooza (Part I)

I began hormone replacement about twenty or so weeks ago, and I have to say, there are a few things no one really warns you about. Yes, yes, I heard all the cautionary tales up front from my peers and therapist about all the gloomy catastrophic consequences and such. That I’m not seeing so much. If people at work notice I’m filling out my sweater a little more, no one is saying anything. In ‘Under the Radar’ I talked about a former co-worker who was sporting some generous B’s under their shirt and very long hair and no one thought much of it, and if they do, so what? What I’m talking about is a dark new relationship with food and my body that goes virtually ignored in guy world.

I was talking with my friend Dave on the phone and began complaining about my weight. You might not know it to look at me, but a few years back I was rocking the scales on a Homer Simpson level. I developed my own weight loss program and dropped nearly 90 lbs in a little less than a year. A somewhat modest diet and a little weekly exercise and the fat melted off my like Frosty in a boxcar. Here I am on a few months of hormones, and winter is back baby, and apparently just a little pissed. All I need do is draw breath in the same building as a 5 Guys burger and I’ve gained four pounds. Because I haven’t been on the hormones for quite long enough, it still doesn’t go to my hips and ass where it belongs, but the old gut. Nice and effective for achieving that ‘man in a dress’ image we all try so hard to strive for.

When Dave said, “ah don’t worry, you’ll take it off in no time”, I went a little hissy on him. OK, maybe not just a little bit, but he had no idea. “Look buddy, you have no idea what you are talking about OK? My whole life I’ve heard men bitching about women and their obsession with weight. Do you have any freaking idea how hard it is? Things that used to just taste pretty good are now incredibly delicious. I can be in the worst mood ever and a pint of ice cream or a few pieces of chocolate ever and I turn into little Mary Sunshine. What do you know? To you it’s just ice cream, but to me all of a sudden it’s like filled with uppers. Of course all I have to do is breath near it and I gain a hundred pounds. I used follow my plan and lost 5 pounds ever two weeks and now I’m lucky if I drop half of one eating the exact same thing. Plus I’m in a horrible shit mood the entire time! Do you have any idea what it’s like eating raw green peppers all week and losing nothing for it? Sure, you joke about women but you have no fucking idea how much work goes into it. Ass clown!”

For the record I think he was just trying to be supportive, but his male view foolishness was pushing my buttons. Men. Men with their svelte muscle building testosterone and ability to eat cheese fries all week without being consigned to some fat boy store. I will admit that used to be me before the hormone changes that ensured a small fries at McDonald’s meant a trip back to Lane Bryant for pants that could be closed. Anyway, I let it go. He’s a guy and didn’t know.

Since we are on the subject, my whole hissy fit to begin with is sooo uncharacteristic. It seems I stumbled on another effect I was not at all expecting. Suddenly it seems that during certain times the tiniest little things drive me bonkers and I just want to tell everyone off. WTF? How can I have PMS? I can’t ovulate and I can’t get a period, both mainly because I lack ovaries and a uterus that sheds it’s lining on a monthly basis (more on my feelings about this in another post). It doesn’t seem at all right that I should be getting PMS, but yet here it is happening. One would think it came with the correct internal plumbing, but apparently all it needs is the juice to drive it.

The real message here is that there many more effects of hormones than you often read about. For the record I’m OK with this. Surprising yes, but it doesn’t feel at all wrong either. It’s as if there were dry stream beds running through my brain that I understood where there on a very esoteric level, but now that they are filled and flowing, things seem much more right than they used to be. Sure, there turned out to be a lot of life under the rocks I was unaware of, but even though it surprises me, I know it is supposed to be there and always was. I have no doubt further changes are coming and I welcome them. It’s not easy going through puberty again, but I also wouldn’t trade it for anything. Far better now than never.

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