Friday, 4 May 2018

April 2018. I am 2…

Wow what a month. Usually when I write a post I have at least a rough plan of what it will look like but this month I thought I’d just shoot from the hip and ad-lib as I go through it. I like the format the posts have taken since January with the focus being on the previous month’s events but I can’t help feeling that I may be missing something although I don’t yet know what that is. The blog will definitely continue but there may be another evolution or two before it settles on a final theme.

Before I continue with the happenings of April 2018 I just want to thank my readers for their continued support and kind words of praise and encouragement. My friends, whether in the physical world or on social media and that includes you, the readers of this blog, I refer to as my tribe. You are the awesome people who make all this possible, make my transition less scary, less lonely and I am a better person because of you.

So let’s start this post with a big high 5!     














Road Trip
On Saturday 14th April a few of us girls from work (Kate, Lynne, Alison and me) decided to go to Stratford-upon-Avon for a road trip. I was the designated driver (does this make them brave or ill-informed?) Anyway we got there in one piece. The four of us had no specific agenda although we had planned to head to the butterfly farm in the town at some point. My friend Lynne and I had our sights set firmly on Hooray’s Gelato Kitchen which is in the upper part of the town very close to the main shops. Oh My God! The choice of ice cream was off the scale. There was bubblegum, cherry, Ferrero Rocher, Kinder Bueno, Mint choc, you name it they pretty much had it. So after stuffing our faces like Augustus Gloop in Charlie & The Chocolate Factory we headed off to the butterfly farm. Wow what a beautiful place and highly recommended by all of us. Entry is £7.50 but you can stay as long as you like (within reason) and take photos and so on. There are around 120 different species of butterfly and they also keep exotics like tarantulas and lizards. One thing I would point out though is that due to the nature of the species kept there the temperature is around 31 degrees in there and that can be a little overwhelming if you aren’t used to it or in my case if you are wearing a head ferret (wig).

Next it was lunch and we found a lovely little farmhouse kitchen next to the river where we had fresh carrot and coriander soup with freshly made bread which was heavenly. Feeling rather sluggish and a little over indulged we all headed up into town to do some foraging. I’m not talking about nettles and other diesel particulate covered wild fair from hedgerows, I’m talking charity shop rails. It’s always a lottery what you’ll find in those places but well worth a look. We ended up with a board game, some books and a couple of items of clothing between us so not a bad haul. The final call of the day before we headed off was round two at the gelato kitchen (had to be done). Having sampled three more flavours and waved Alison off to go and meet her husband who had planned a lovely evening for her in Birmingham, we headed for the car and home. I had a lovely day and I feel so lucky to have friends, female friends who treat me exactly as they would any other woman. They have no idea what that means to me (well they will when they read this.) 

Travis Alabanza 
It has definitely been a month of road trips and this time I headed to Brighton on Sunday April 29th to meet the amazing and insanely talented Travis Alabanza. Travis is a performance artist, theatre maker, poet and writer and although I am not by any means a poet by writing style I have for some time now been mesmerised by their work. This was an opportunity not only to meet Travis but to learn from them in a small setting with just a handful of people in a trans focussed creative writing workshop.  The workshop drew from Travis’ book ‘Before I step outside [you love me]’ and we worked our way through some really interesting exercises as the afternoon went on. I felt a deep sense of creative energy in that small space and although only myself and one other person wrote on a regular and semi-public basis, I was both moved and impressed by the work that we collectively and individually created. As the session drew to a close I bought a copy of Travis’ book and they signed it for me and gave me a huge hug (which was lovely as Travis is VERY cute.)

After that I took the opportunity to head to The Nuffield hospital in Brighton which is where I will most likely be having my gender reassignment surgery at some point in the future. It’s in a beautiful location on top of the hills overlooking the sea just outside of town.  Sitting in that car park staring at the building which will someday change my world forever was a strange experience and I found myself crying. These were not tears of sadness; they were tears of self-acceptance and love. I have been to hell and back throughout my transition but now I seem to be finding an inner peace which had eluded me up until now. I headed down to the seafront for a bag of ritualistic chips and a look out to sea (too cold to get out of the car but lovely to see the ocean.) After an absolutely fabulous day in Brighton I headed home the 128 miles to Woburn Sands and my bed. A quick shout out and thank you to Fox Fisher for posting the link for the event on Facebook as I wouldn’t have known it was on otherwise because it was all part of the literary festival in Brighton and thus not publicised as an individual event as such. 

Gender Clinic 
D-Day - 1st May 2018. The day that will change the course of my life forever. As many of you will know I was refused my second referral in January due to my BMI being over 30. This meant that I had some weight to lose before being re-assessed and then getting the outcome that I needed. I went about this in the only way I know how, I formulated a plan, not just any plan, a plan that Hannibal Smith of the A-Team would have been proud of, a plan so cunning you could stick a tail on it and call it a weasel (Blackadder reference from the
90’s). 

Operation Fat Fighter commenced on January 10th 2018 with a start weight of 92.4 kg. I needed to weigh in at 86kg to achieve a BMI of 29.9 which would satisfy the criteria of the referral. Fast forward three months of eating dust and desiccated spiders legs and I achieved my target of exactly 86kg on the day of the appointment. I would love to say it was a massive struggle and it was so hard (sympathy request) but to be honest all I did was reduce my portion sizes a bit and cut out processed food and sugar such as cakes, crisps and sweets. I reduced my alcohol consumption to a minimum and that’s about it. I didn’t even up my exercise really due to a nagging knee injury (45 year old knackered knees and high heels don’t mix.)

So I sat in the waiting room, full of nerves and apprehension, knowing full well what was at stake. The doctor called me in and we chatted about the weather, his garden and other small talk which I can’t recall. He was happy with my weight and happy to give me my referral. All fine I thought, but no. It turns out that the person who I thought had given me my first referral last year wasn’t authorised to do so and that his letter was merely a recommendation for the other doctors to consider me ready for surgery. Devastated I sat there already working out that this meant another three to four months wait for an appointment to be seen again to get the required second referral. Cue super doctor! You honestly could not write this and clearly the stars were shining in my direction on this day. The doctor that refused my referral back in January just happened to knock on Dr Timmins door while we sat chatting and popped his head round. Dr Timmins jumped on him like a Lioness on a wounded Gazelle and asked if Dr Vaidya would mind giving me a second referral while I was here on this day. He happily agreed and smiled at me and off we went to his consulting room.

So having gone through the same questions and information as I saw last time and him confirming my awesome weight loss (personal achievement unlocked), he looked at me and said this, “I have one final question. Owing to the nature of this surgery and the fact that it is not reversible, do you feel that you may at any point regret it?” All I had to do was say no and smile. I got half way through no which let’s be honest is only one syllable, before my lip went wobbly and my eyes started leaking. Yes, I was crying uncontrollably in front of this poor defenceless doctor.  Eyeliner coloured tears streaked down my cheeks making them look like a sat nav route. He could see that I was losing my shit so he put me out of my misery and said the words I have been waiting so desperately to hear, “Miss Carter I am happy to refer you to the surgical team.” I can’t explain how I felt in that moment but if you’ve ever won the lottery or watched your child being born I guess you’re somewhere close.

For the rest of the day I visited my mum in Leicester and cried there too. Then I drove to my friend Kelly’s in Wolverhampton to share the moment with her, cried on the way. I called some close friends to share the news, cried then too. Basically by the end of the day I was emotionally exhausted and also somewhat dehydrated from the uncontrollable leakage from my eyes. All happy tears I might add, not the tears of sadness and despair that I have been so accustomed to over the last two years and particularly in the last six months. I wait with childlike excitement for the day that the letter drops through my letterbox inviting me to go to Brighton to meet the incredibly talented Mr Thomas who will perform my life affirming surgery. Patients of Mr Thomas are affectionately referred to as Thomas tarts, a title I am more than happy to have bestowed upon me. 

Writing 
While this blog is doing really well achieving around 500 to 600 hits per post I am also working on another project in the background. This is a book based on the blog and my transition which I hope to have finished by next year. I can’t do it any sooner because the end of the book is also the end of my transition and I’m not there yet but if all goes to plan I should have it finished by around June of 2019. I’m not sure if it will ever be published as so many writers find it hard to find a publisher willing to take on unknown work but I will try and if all else fails I will publish it myself as a free read. I’m not doing it to make money although I do have some expensive facial surgeries planned later on, I’m doing it to clear out my emotional sinuses by cathartically dumping all of my emotional baggage into the pages of a book. The wish from a writer’s perspective is that the reader will experience a wide range of emotions from laughter to anger to empathy to joy. If I can achieve this then my work will be done. 

Writers will often say they have to be in a certain space in order to write, and I have found that my flat is not the place where I can be creative or at least not all the time. I have found pretty much by accident that when I park my car at the bottom of the A5 near Bow Brickhill, outside the McDonald’s and with a steaming Latte in hand, that I am at my most creative. So much so that I now regularly come here and sit with a notepad scribbling ideas or I’ll bring my laptop and write just as I am now while looking out of my window at some youths who have no concept of what the litter bin is for. Isn’t it strange how the creative mind works. I suspect that half of the book will be written in this very lay-by. 

Happy birthday to me…












You probably read the title of this post and assumed that I have finally acknowledged my mental age or perhaps my IQ. Well today my pedigree chums is my second birthday!!! My Trans birthday at least. May 4th 2016 was the day that I first presented to the world as Amy and I have lived full time as a woman ever since. Why did I choose May 4th? Well for those in the know it is Star Wars day, of which I am a huge fan. It also happens to be Audrey Hepburn’s birthday whom I absolutely adore. 

So much has happened in the last two years, I have changed so much physically, from wearing silicone breast forms to having puppies of my own. Splitting a pair of perfectly good jeans because my bum filled out and seeing subtle changes to my face and skin. Emotionally I have also changed a great deal. I have always felt that my thoughts and feelings were far more closely aligned with the female of the species and this has become so much more intense as HRT has shaped my internal processes, my thoughts, my feelings and my emotions. 

I have changed my outlook on life in the last two years, changed my job, where I live, made wonderful new friends, lost some friends, lost some family. Although this might make you feel sorry for me, please don’t. The people who are in my life are here because they love me for who I am not what they want me to be. Remember how I started this post, you are my tribe, my family, and I love you all. The people who I’ve lost were not prepared to make any sacrifice or to try and see things from my perspective. They chose to remove themselves from my life, not me. Of course this is sad but I have no regrets, no thoughts that I did the wrong thing or if I had behaved differently or did what they asked or even lived my life the way that made them feel safe and in control, that they would still love me. I have no regrets; I did what I had to do to survive. I could no longer stare into the mirror at a man I hated so much that I wanted to kill him. I truly hope that they too, have no regrets. My life is so much richer now, I am surrounded by wonderful friends, I have incredible experiences and meet inspirational people both trans and cis. I cannot imagine ever being that sad angry man who would tell jokes to be liked because he couldn’t like himself. How do you live with yourself for 43 years when you can’t even bare to see your reflection, hear your own voice or think your own thoughts. No, I have no regrets.

I will end this post now, crying as I write as so often I do when I put these posts together. This time I’m not crying in sadness, I’m not mourning the loss of loved ones, or friends or even my own dignity and self-respect. I am crying because I love my life, my friends and my Mum. I love who I am becoming and I am for once in my miserable 45 years on this god forsaken planet happy to look at my reflection in the mirror, happy to hear my voice as I sing Lady Gaga numbers into my shower gel bottle in the morning, and most importantly, I am at peace with who I am.


Thanks for reading.



Amy Kate xx.






                           

Monday, 2 April 2018

March 2018. Is that a light I see?


Hormone Replacement Therapy


I’m not gonna lie the last few months have been hell. Christmas was really great, and things seemed to be going in the right direction before it all came crashing down around my ears in January. The biggest problem was with my HRT medication. Ironically, I had requested to switch from oral Estradiol to sub-dermal patches making it kinda my fault. My oh so clever theory was based on medical evidence that the oral medication is not safe for people over forty or those with heart or liver issues. Thankfully due to some pretty extensive testing by the wonderful Doctors and Nurses of the NHS it seems I have neither. What I do have though is an intolerance of the sub-dermal patch.  I read the possible side effects leaflet that came with the medication and ticked off over half the list of symptoms. The majority were minor issues like constipation and lack of sleep, but the real doozy was the horrible heart palpitations and panic attacks that I experienced. On top of this I would wake up in the morning feeling wired like my mind would not switch off. It was like my life was flashing before my eyes over and over and I couldn’t switch it off or rest my mind. 


So, after spending a night in casualty here in Milton Keynes where the NHS looked after me wonderfully, it became apparent that something needed to change. I had a panic attack and heart palpitations on a scale that I have never experienced before. I have had panic attacks my whole life and have learned to control them with breathing exercises and distractions such as television or reading but this was off the charts. I called 111 and answered their questions and was told to make my way to A&E immediately. I turned up, at 1am with my tracky bottoms on, pink trainers and a hoodie. No makeup, no hair. The nurses who looked after me were totally understanding and chatted with me on and off throughout the night as they performed blood tests, X-rays and ECG’s to determine what was going on. I honestly cannot thank them enough for looking after me so respectfully and thoroughly. The following morning I was released back into the wild with my heart beating a rhythm that Ringo Starr would be proud of.


So fast forward a couple of weeks. My GP did some more bloods which came back normal except for my Estradiol level. Not only had the patches caused horrible side effects but my serum Estradiol level was just 88pmol/L. For the uninitiated pmol/L is Picomoles per litre. This is how Estradiol is measured in the blood. Estradiol is essentially Oestrogen and the desired range should be 200 to 600 pmol/L. Before I switched medications I was getting 450 pmol/L on just 2mg of Estradiol valerate each day. The dose ranges from 2mg to 8mg depending on what the person requires to achieve the desired level.


At the lowest point over the last few weeks I really started to question my gender identity. I don’t mean I didn’t think I was trans or I felt like a man, I absolutely didn’t but I did start to wonder what would happen if I could no longer take HRT. If I couldn’t live with the medication I couldn’t have gender reassignment surgery, and this was a huge thing to take in. I had begun to feel very genderless, neither feminine nor masculine and although you’re probably thinking this would be horrible it actually made me feel quite calm. I had begun to accept the situation and had even started to plan how I could live if I couldn’t present as female for medical reasons. I was going to choose a gender-neutral name like Jude or Jordan, wear mostly male clothes but feminise my look as much as possible. I was prepared to live as a gender fluid person because that was the best compromise and there was no way I was going back to my old life and my old name. Those few weeks had a profound effect on me and gave me a totally new perspective on what my gender identity means to me and what others feel about their identity. I am extremely fortunate to know Fox and Owl, who identify as non-binary (meaning they do not identify with either gender). I have often wondered what it would feel like to be non-binary and now I feel like to some degree at least I have been able to experience it and gain a better understanding. 
 
So for all the horribleness of the last four weeks I’m able to look back at the positives and say that my heart, lungs liver and bloods are all fine and my medication is now back on track. This is by no means a long-term solution because I’m essentially right back where I started on oral Estradiol, and until May 1st when I see the endocrinologist at Daventry gender clinic I can’t do much about it. Despite this I learned a lot about myself in those low points and learned a lot about my gender identity. Medically, emotionally and physically I am on my way to being back on track.




The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust


On Tuesday 13th March my friend Kelly and I went to fancy London town to attend a course on trans and non-binary youth at the Tavistock centre in Swiss Cottage. Kelly is the proprietor of Inspiring Healthy Choices, a community interest company (CIC) providing specialist training from sexual health to trans awareness (see links section). The Tavistock is the place where young trans people under the age of 18 are referred for assessment and treatment. The course was very interesting and as always provided Kelly and I with some networking opportunities. One of the stand out points for me though was the lack of knowledge from the audience who were made up mainly of social workers, school workers and general practitioners. One North London GP asked, “what class do these young trans people usually come from?” Is she for real? What class? These are the men and women who we entrust with our care and treatment plans. The medical profession has such little knowledge of trans matters and yet we as a society assume (wrongly) that they are the font of all knowledge in all medical matters. 


Trust me, if you are trans or non-binary, be prepared to do a lot of your own research to ensure that you get the best medical care. I don’t mean self-medicate, I will never endorse that. If you choose to do so, then you do so at your own risk. What I mean is that you become the liaison between the gender clinic and the GP practice. You interpret and explain things to the GP that they may well have never heard before. Be prepared to do this if you haven’t already experienced it.




Wolverhampton University Trans & Non-Binary Conference


On Wednesday 21st March Kelly and I attended a trans and non-binary conference at Wolverhampton University. It was hosted by Will Cooling and Dr Sarah Slater, a PhD in robotics and artificial intelligence at the University. Dr Slater opened the conference with a talk about her work in creating a robot which was entirely 3D printed from corn starch polymers making it completely bio-degradable. The focus of the conference was trans employability and although it clung to that in a loose way the speakers did a great job of bringing the wider issues that trans and non-binary people face to the fore.


The first speakers were my heroes Fox and Owl. They showcased some of their work with their CIC called My Genderation. You can see their work on YouTube or find My Genderation in the links section of this blog. I have been friends with Fox and Owl albeit in the online domain for some time now, so it was wonderful to walk into the room and even before I took my seat Fox and Owl both came over and gave me a big hug. They really are the most wonderful people and if it weren’t for the work they do we would not be where we are now as a community.


Next up it was the truly inspiring Caroline Paige. Caroline released her book True Colours last March which tells her story of being the first openly trans woman in the British Army. She faced immense challenges with bigotry and prejudice in the forces but overcame them to not only take her life forward but to pave a way for trans people who serve in the military today. Caroline is a contractor to the British Army now training European armed forces in combat situation training for pilots and crews of helicopter gunships, jet fighter aircraft and more. 


Our final speaker was Romario Wanliss. Romario is a trans guy from Jamaica who now lives in Birmingham. He is an entrepreneur and trans campaigner using poetry, music and storytelling to educate people on trans matters. You can see some of Romario’s work on YouTube by searching his channel, Mr Black Branson. You can also find him in the links section of the blog. I had never met Romario before that day but within five minutes of meeting him, he had made me laugh, smile and cry. Romario’s story is hard to hear, suffering, rejection, suicide all feature. To see where he is today and to think of him at his lowest point is truly awe inspiring and heart wrenching equally.
 
As the conference ended we decided to get some food at a little Indian street food café called Zuri which is just around the corner from the Uni. It was really cool to sit eating with my heroes and laughing and having fun with them. That day really made me feel empowered and proud to be not just trans, but more than trans. Trans is just a part of who I am and I’m proud of that part, that journey, but we often get seen as just trans people and nothing more. Look at Caroline Paige, Dr Slater, Romario, Fox and Owl, and you will see so much more than a trans person. Check out the hash tags below for more information.


#uowtransnonbinaryconference #transrightsarehumanrights #factsabouttrans #mythsabouttrans 


When you meet the people who inspire you the most it’s just plain rude not to do a selfie. From left to right, Owl, Fox Fisher, Kelly Walker-Reed, Amy Kate Carter, Romario Wanliss.









 Electrolysis


For some time now, my electrolysis and laser treatments have been on hold. I haven’t had any hair removal treatments since last summer so as you can imagine I’m very keen to get back on track with this. I still have a long way to go with my face and there are some areas of my body that HRT has not had much of an effect on regarding hair growth. Face and body hair has always been one of the major sources of my gender dysphoria so imagine how I feel every morning as a trans woman shaving her face just like a man does.


After a chat with some trans friends I learned that the NHS protocol for funding trans facial hair had recently changed. It seems now that twice as much funding is available compared to when I started my transition and it is measured differently now. It is important to note here that not all NHS hubs have the same protocols so if you are unsure contact your clinic for advice. I contacted the gender clinic and they put me in touch with the NHS hub who confirmed that I was eligible for more funding as I’d only used half of what I am entitled to. I have since booked 18 hours of electrolysis (2 hour sessions x 9) with the wonderful and highly recommended June Howard who works out of Peterborough. June is BIAE (British Institute & Association of Electrolysis) approved and has years of experience. I am also saving for laser treatments to sort my body hair issues. I recommend looking at Groupon for this or Sk:n clinic (www.sknclinics.co.uk) as they regularly offer large discounts on laser hair removal packages.


The next steps for me once hair removal is underway are to look into getting my tattoos covered up. This means getting a professional artist to create new designs which completely cover the old masculine tattoos. Once these steps are complete I know I will feel a whole lot better about myself and I will have a sense of progression toward the end of my transition. I am also going to look into the cost of having my leg sleeves removed. I stupidly asked an old friend who is a tattooist to completely cover my legs up to just above the knees with a sort of Polynesian style tribal pattern. It is all black or shaded grey so I’m hoping that it can be removed although this will cost thousands and take years to do. It is the reason I never wear skirts or at least never without thick opaque tights or leggings underneath. 




A Fantastic Woman


On Monday 26th March I was invited along with my friend Laura to go to a screening of the wonderful Oscar winning film, A fantastic woman. My dear friend Vicki and her wonderful partner Jeff had arranged it all and off we went to the Rex in Berkhamsted. The Rex is a wonderful art deco cinema which has been lovingly restored, showing a mixture of art house treasures and Hollywood blockbusters. We sat at our table enjoying a drink as the film began. It was a magical evening in beautiful surroundings with great people. I strongly urge you to watch this film whether trans or not, it is an incredible piece of filmography and very worthy of the Oscar (best foreign language film 2018). Before I tell you a little about the film and how it made me feel I’d like to congratulate Vicki and Jeff on their recent engagement. Please feel free to drop them a comment wishing them well on my Facebook feed where I will tag Vicki. 


Directed by Sebastián Lelio, the film is set in Chili and based on the story of a trans woman (played by trans actress Daniela Vega), who falls in love with an older cisgender man (played by Francisco Reyes). For those who don’t know what cisgender means it’s just the opposite of transgender. If you are comfortable in your birth assigned gender, then you are cisgender. The man dies (no spoilers this is all in the trailer) leaving her alone and under the spotlight of his family and the authorities. The film depicts the real treatment of trans people in this type of situation and shows how few rights we have and what prejudice, bigotry and even violence can come from such a volatile situation. I cried through most of the film, not just in sadness but at the marvel of this piece of art that I had the great fortune to witness in such a beautiful venue. I have pre-ordered my copy on DVD from Amazon which is due out in May. Despite the film being subtitled (the dialogue is Chilean) which is not for everyone’s tastes, I really cannot recommend this film enough. 




Operation Fat-Fighter


Ah the elephant in the room, my ongoing battle to beat the NHS BMI chart. As you will know from last month’s blog I was refused referral for gender reassignment surgery due to my weight. My BMI (body mass index) is 30.4 and needs to be below 30. This means losing around 7kg or just over a stone in old money. This has been a real challenge as I wasn’t allowed to exercise until recently due to issues with HRT and my heart. I’m dieting like a crazy woman and walking further than Forest Gump so if I don’t lose the weight now I’m going to be very disappointed. I have until May 1st to lose the weight and so far I’ve lost 4kg which I’m really happy with so fingers crossed if I can keep up this pace then I’m well on track to getting my referral on May 1st


I really thought the dieting would be tougher but all I’ve really done is reduce my portion sizes and work on a rough 1600 to 2000 calorie a day intake. I drink very little alcohol and eat no chocolate, sweets, cakes, fizzy drinks or takeaways. I treat myself to fish and chips occasionally as this is the healthiest of the takeaway options believe it or not. Power walking is featuring heavily in my routine and I’m slowly getting back into Yoga. Now the weather and daylight are returning I aim to be out on my bike a lot more too. I have set myself a clear goal for May 1st, and there is no way I’m going to fail. Those that know me well will know what a determined and stubborn bitch I can be.




Summary


As you can see it has been quite a month. I’ve been very busy with trans related events and getting my health and transition back on track. I’m very happy to be moving forward again and for this I have to once again give a massive thanks to my wonderful friends for all their support and love. I really and truly could not have got this far without you and I promise I will not let you down as I move into the next stages of transition.





 Coming up
 
April looks to be equally as busy as March was. On the 14th a few of the girls from my work are going on a road trip to Stratford upon Avon. I’m really looking forward to having a good rummage through the shops, possibly a cheeky half in the pub and a trip to the butterfly farm too. I must confess however that at least two of the girls going have an ulterior motive (I’m one of them). In the heart of Stratford there is a lovely little Gelato shop called Hooray’s British Gelato kitchen. I know I’m on a super strict diet but trust me for one day and one day only, I intend to go in hard. I’m talking three scoops here. Ferrero Rocher, Cookies and cream, Cherry, oh yeah that’s gonna happen.


On April 17th I will be having my bloods done again in readiness for my clinic appointment on May 1st. I’m hoping that my Estradiol levels are back in the normal range and that my weight is in the target area for a successful referral for surgery. Later in the month I start my electrolysis with June so I’ll be commenting on how that went next time. 



New feature


Something I’ve been thinking about to take the blog to the next stage is to do an interactive spot. I’m thinking of calling it ‘Ask Amy’ and it will be driven by requests from followers of the blog either directly or through my facebook (search Amy Kate Carter), Twitter (search @Amy_Kate_23) or Instagram (search amykatecarter) feed. I will do a post on a requested topic probably mid-month so it is equally spaced from the month end reviews I’m currently doing. Let me know if you think this is a good idea and if so let’s get some ideas in for the first instalment. If this takes off the blog may be integrated into a website which I’m also looking into offering advice and links for trans people and also information and education for anyone who wants to learn more about trans matters.


Love to you all, thanks for reading.


Amy Kate xx.


Monday, 5 March 2018

February 2018. Uncertain future…..


Here we are at the beginning of March already. Looking back on February I wish I could offer you a more positive outlook but sadly, I can’t. The year started with promise and hope and has gone downhill ever since. In January I was refused surgical referral due to my weight which is to some degree at least a side effect of HRT. I have switched from oral oestrogen to patches now but instead of feeling better (the patches are reported to be much safer for people of my age), I have had several health issues which up until now remain unresolved.


Surgery
I have been reflecting a great deal lately about where I am in my transition and where I am going. I’m approaching two years in and although I had very grounded hopes for where I’d be around now, I could not have been more wrong. I have been having serious doubts over whether I want to put my body through gender reassignment surgery at the age of 45. Do I need it or do I just want it? This is a difficult subject to write about but I think that there will be people who will read this and relate to it so strap yourselves in, this may sting a bit. 

The source of my gender dysphoria is not with my penis, don’t get me wrong I’d rather have been born with a vagina but the penis is really just a thing I pee out of and not much more. The real source of my hatred is aimed squarely at my nuts. Yeah I hate the word testicles so I’m going to use nuts. These I detest with a passion, not only because of their physical shape and the fact that when I wear women’s underwear they protrude either side of the gusset like saddle bags on Clint Eastwood’s horse but because of what they have done to me. They are responsible for the release of testosterone in my body, my male puberty, my voice breaking into one which I now am embarrassed to use. They created my body hair, my wide shoulders and neck, my Adam’s apple and so on. For me this is the burning issue which I have to deal with. 

I have a couple of surgical options available to me via the NHS. I can have full vaginoplasty, which essentially means a fully functional vagina, or I can have a bilateral orchidectomy which is surgical castration. Vaginoplasty is a very complex major surgical procedure which requires at least 3 to 6 months for recovery and also requires regular dilation to ensure that it does not lose its depth and girth. This is because it is made from penile skin which has been inverted to form a tube (I did warn you to strap in). Of course the older a person gets the more risks a surgery of this type can carry. A bilateral orchidectomy on the other hand is done under local anaesthetic and recover time is around 2 to 3 weeks. It is not much more complex than a vasectomy in real terms. So if surgery is what I decide on then these are my options.

Detransition
You’re probably thinking “what do you mean if surgery is what you decide on”. With all the issues I’ve been facing lately and the mid-transition confusion over what direction I’m going in I’ve become very lost. I no longer seem to have sight of what I set out to achieve 2 years ago. I had so much energy back then. I was going to take the world on and no-one was going to stop me. That energy is gone, I’m so tired and so broken that I have been seriously considering detransition. If you don’t know what that means it basically means reversing the process of transition and returning back to living in your birth assigned gender. The thought of this makes me cringe but at the same time it would mean I don’t have to take hormones for the rest of my life. There would also be an outside chance that my daughter would want to see me again if I was presenting as male. I could walk into a shop or a bar and not worry that I was about to be misgendered. I could use my male voice on the phone with confidence and not sheer embarrassment. It has a lot going for it right? Well yes on paper it does and that’s why I am seriously considering it as a long term option. I have listened to the advice and wisdom of other trans people and they have assured me that if I make this choice I will regret it for the rest of my days and there may be no going back from it as the gender clinic would essentially wash their hands of me. On top of that the wonderful network of friends I have built up since beginning transition would potentially decrease as they may be uncomfortable around me or just not get why I did it. I would probably have to move away, change jobs and start again somewhere new, somewhere where nobody knows me or my past. This would also mean the end of this blog, my work as a trustee for Q Alliance and I could hardly deliver trans awareness training when I couldn’t even deal with my own transition. 

Summary
So as you can see I have a lot to think about and big decisions to make. February has been a fairly quiet month other than the issues I’ve already discussed. The RC helicopter did not go as well as hoped so it went back to the shop to be swapped for an RC monster truck. This is a good distraction for me right now and is helping me to escape from my inner conflict. I have stopped work on my book for the time being too. I hadn’t made much progress but I felt that it was futile to write at the moment when it may come to nothing in the end. 

Coming up…
I hope that March will bring some answers for me and that I will be able to report on much happier things next time. I have some CPD events coming up this month around Non-binary trans issues which is an area I’m interested in learning more about. The trans awareness training I wrote for Volkswagen Group should go ahead next month so I’m excited to see the fruits of my labour come to life. I also have some appointments with my GP to discuss the health issues I’m currently having so maybe there will be happier news to report there too.

For those who follow my journey to inspire their own, I am sorry I have to write this post. I am sorry because I would hate to think that my life choices would stop someone from beginning their own journey of transition. To those people I say this, transition is a personal thing. Yes there are many markers and points along the way that we all go through but how we deal with those points is what makes us unique. Do not be put off or discouraged by what I am currently going through. I chose my path and I live by my choices and take full responsibility for them. 

For those who read my blog just out of interest or because it makes them smile or laugh I apologise to you too. This is not my usual style of writing and as such you can probably understand the gravity of my situation.  I love to talk about serious topics with a humorous twist and I hope to get back to that but for now I ask you to forgive me and understand that this is a part of my journey that I must go through. We all have demons and these are mine. Until next time, love to you all… 


Thanks for reading.
Amy Kate xx.

April 2018. I am 2…

Wow what a month. Usually when I write a post I have at least a rough plan of what it will look like but this month I thought I’d just shoot...