Monday, May 16, 2011

The Timeline: Part 2

Mr. FW started on testosterone in October of 2009, just a few days shy of our 5-year dating anniversary. As is typical, his primary care physician required the letter from his psychologist in order to okay him for hormone treatment. I went with him to his appointment and a nurse trained me before I gave Mr. FW his first testosterone injection. So I (of the needle phobia variety) have actually given Mr. FW the majority of his injections for over a year. I'm pretty proud of myself for that, actually, and it serves as a concrete way that I can be a part of his transition process.

From my perspective, there are a few testosterone-induced changes that really stand out. Most obviously there's the stuff like voice deepening and a massive increase in body hair (and that adolescent acne phase, but we don't have to think about that any more - thank you benzoyl peroxide). Listening to Mr. FW on old videos is like listening to an entirely different person, and it's so weird to think he ever sounded like that. Another really significant change is that Mr. FW doesn't cry as much now - like hardly ever. I knew lots of other trans guys experienced this change as well, but I secretly hoped it wouldn't happen for us. Boo... Mr. FW says that anger comes more easily for him now and he'll have to "sit through that rush of energy" in order for other emotions to come, but I haven't really noticed him being angrier so he must be doing a good job managing it. Other than those things, the testosterone changes have been really subtle and I've never once felt like Mr. FW was fundamentally different from the person he was pre-testosterone.

{our before picture}
Remember in this post, where I hinted about my engagement gift to Mr. FW? I wanted to get him something as lasting and memorable (and financially substantial) as a diamond ring, and it turns out that there was something he really wanted to have as well: chest surgery (or top surgery). Very few insurance plans will cover top surgery, so it's definitely a financial hardship. And that's how Fr. FW ended up with engagement surgery, while I got an engagement ring.

I totally understood why he needed to have top surgery. He was binding (minimizing the appearance of his chest) on a regular basis, but people were still reading him as female. His physique without the binder was definitely female-appearing, and he wanted to have a physical body that was more in-line with his internal gender identity. He needed surgery. Maybe I did too, at least on some logical level. If I was going to have a male partner I supposed I preferred one with a male chest rather than a female chest. That's logical, understandable. But it didn't matter. For him I was so happy, but for me I was so very sad. All of the masculinizing changes that happen with testosterone happen gradually, so I had a lot of time to get used to them. (Sometimes too much time - like the fact that Mr. FW still has adolescently-patchy facial hair. Yikes.) But this change was immediate and final. Once he was out of surgery I could never have him back the way he was before. As Mr. FW pointed out to me, this same argument could be made for facial hair and a deeper voice, but top surgery felt totally different to me. Even though both of us could understand where the other was coming from, I don't think either of us could fully relate to the other about this issue. All I could do was be happy for him, but I couldn't really join him in that happiness. And likewise all he could do was to be sad for my sense of loss because he couldn't be sad himself.

His surgery was scheduled for February of 2010, but because I'd just started a new job I wasn't able to go with him. So before I left for work that morning I kissed him (and them) goodbye. I still get teary thinking about that moment when I quietly whispered to them, "I have loved you well."

Post-surgery we both had a lot of adjusting to do to his new physique. Not only did he look different, but when we were hugging or cuddling he felt different too. But adjust we did, and now after many months of healing, Mr. FW is noticeably more confident in his appearance than he ever was before. That has been so gratifying for me, and I can't think of a better engagement gift I could have given him than the freedom he gained from that surgery.

So if you're following along the timeline, you'll notice that we started talking concretely about wedding planning in January of 2009 and Mr. FW had surgery in February of 2010. One of the (many) reasons we decided to wait a while to have the wedding was to allow sufficient time for Mr. FW's body to masculinize. It was important to me that we could look back on our wedding pictures and see the man that he is and not the woman he was. And now we can certainly do that.

{at our wedding shower this past weekend - more on that later}

Okay, I didn't quite get to the legal process in this post so that's what I'll tackle next. For now, Hive, tell me how you've stood beside your partners through situations that the two of you didn't agree on, and how did that impact your relationship?

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