Last month, the fifth anniversary of my testosterone start date passed unceremoniously, practically unnoticed. I don't think of transition in terms of numbers of months or years anymore. I am settled into life as a man, and I have been for quite some time now. There is not much to report on that hasn't already been said, but I will mention just a few things.
This past summer I worked my first completely "stealth" job. By that I mean that no one I worked with, including my boss, knew of my female history. I was working an outdoor job which involved a lot of manual labor, and it felt good to be able to keep up with and even outperform many of the guys I worked with. I also developed friendly relationships with some of my coworkers, and learned a lot about the ways guys relate to one another. Overall I was comfortable and glad to present myself as a man without a further "trans" explanation, but there were instances when I felt limited in what parts of myself I was able to share. I wrote some more about that experience here.
I finally took some steps to get my gender markers changed on official documents this year, as well. I have had my gender changed on my license for many years, but I never changed anything else. After having to deal with a "No Match Letter" from the Social Security Administration again this year, I decided it was time to finally get that changed. A no match letter is sometimes received by an employer when the information they submit about you for tax purposes does not match the information the SSA has on file. In my case, my gender was still listed as female with Social Security, but as male with my employer. I was contacted by the payroll department at my job, and I had to explain to them that I was actually born female and that the Social Security listing was technically correct. This is the second year in a row that I've had to do that, and since I am moving and changing jobs this spring, I wanted to not have to worry about doing that again at a new job.
The process of changing my gender marker was relatively simple. First I contacted my chest surgeon's office and asked the receptionist if he would be willing to write a letter stating that he had performed gender reassignment surgery on me. I requested that he not specify the exact type of surgery performed, thereby making the letter more versatile. It took about two weeks to receive that letter by mail. Following the procedure I'd researched online, I brought that letter to my local Social Security office and filled out an Application for Social Security Card, even though there is no space to mark for a change of gender on the form. When my number was called, I presented the clerk with the letter and the application and told her I wanted to have my gender marker changed to male. She asked me if I'd had my birth certificate changed, and I said that I hadn't but that I was under the understanding that I did not need to have that done in order to make the change. It was clear that she was unsure of the official policy, so I stood my ground. After being unable to find a copy of the official policy, she asked her supervisor, who confirmed that all I needed was the surgeon's letter. She performed the change, and in a few weeks I received a new Social Security card in the mail. That was kind of unnecessary since your gender is not listed on the card itself, but whatever. There was no fee to process this change. I have still not yet changed my name or gender on my birth certificate, but with a state ID (license) and my Social Security card changed, I should be able to get new jobs without having to disclose if I don't want to.
One of the biggest things coming up for me in this year is the hysterectomy/oophorectomy I am having in a month. I made the decision to have a hysto now mainly because the timing seemed convenient and because I am able to have the surgery covered by my current health insurance, under which I am listed as female. As I said earlier, I am moving and changing jobs soon, and I'd like to be able to enroll in my new insurance plan as male. After this surgery I won't have to have regular gynecological checkups anymore, and in order to have those covered by my insurance I would have to be listed as female. I am also looking forward to potential further masculinization post-hysto. Anecdotally I have heard that many guys have seen significant changes after their surgeries. Fortunately, I don't have any pressing medical need for this surgery. As a result, I had somewhat mixed feelings about going for a surgery I didn't technically "need," and one that effectively takes away any possibility of me having children that are biologically connected to me. It was not a decision I took lightly. You can read more about that in a journal entry I posted here.
My relationship with my family has steadily improved over the past few years. We have a very comfortable relationship now. I think a lot of that has to do with us seeing each other as adults now in addition to having a parent/child relationship. In terms of gender, they continue to become more comfortable with my changes, and slip up on names and pronouns much less often. My mother, father and sister introduce me to new people by my male name, and refer to me as their son or brother when talking to people outside the family. The rest of the time they still call me by my initials and for the most part they still avoid pronouns all together whenever possible. My parents gave me my first "To Our Son" card for my birthday this past November. I am thankful and lucky to have a supportive family. Recently, my father told my mother that he wished I'd been "born a boy" because he thought I would have been happier. That is something I remember him telling me once when I was a kid. It's an interesting sentiment, and I know it comes from a place of love, not judgment.
In my personal life, things have changed drastically over the past year. I have re-established a relationship with a past partner, the same one I was with when I first came out as trans seven years or eight ago. We are settling down together in a place of our own, and this marks a big transition for me. I am glad to be moving ahead to this new stage of our lives, and I'm thinking a lot about saving money for a house and children of our own. I have a lot of fears about how we'll be able to add to our family, as my partner is unable to carry children. I am sure this is something I'll focus more on in future updates.
Sorry, no photos this time. My camera's busted.
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