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ChampagneIn April 2014, Tranifesto celebrates five years as a blog. After a couple of shaky experimental posts, my first real blog post was Angie Zapata: A Historic Verdict, about the history-making verdict in the murder trial of Allen Andrade.

In the beginning, I posted almost every day – news items, opinion pieces, interviews, and whatever I thought was interesting or important. Pretty soon, the near-daily blogging became overwhelming, and I set up a twice-weekly schedule – Mondays and Thursdays.

And because I was getting so many questions privately, I decided to introduce the Ask Matt feature, so other people could benefit from the information and so that readers could give their input. That way, the questioner could get more than just my thoughts on the matter. While the feature started out slow, it became so popular that it’s pretty much what I’ve done on the blog for the past couple of years. I’ve loved it, and I think it’s been quite valuable. I hope that readers feel the same.

After a while, twice a week became a little difficult to keep up, and I changed my posting schedule to once a week, but with the amount of Ask Matt letters that came in, I usually ended up writing two posts anyway. I am now caught up on Ask Matt letters. If you wrote one to me and it didn’t get published, it’s because I didn’t get it. Sometimes things online can go astray. My intention was to answer every one.

So now I’m caught up, and I’m moving into the five-year mark. I spent some time thinking about what I wanted to do to celebrate five years of Tranifesto, and I finally decided – I want to take a break. At least I want to take a break from posting on a regular schedule. I doubt that I will ever take a break from writing, or from voicing my opinion on things, or from trying to help where I can. But for now, Tranifesto is staying up as a resource, and I will add new posts as the urge strikes me.

In order to make Tranifesto more user-friendly, I changed all my categories, and then I went back through every post that I have written over the last five years and re-categorized them all. I hope that this will allow people to more easily find the information they are looking for. For an explanation of the categories and links to all the posts under a specific category, go to my About Tranifesto page. Continue Reading »

Today we have two posts from young trans guys who are dealing with various issues surrounding gender expression and transition while still in high school and living with parents. One is concerned with where to live in order to medically transition, since Mom doesn’t approve and won’t allow it. The other deals with binding and peeing dilemmas.

Thanks in advance for your comments and suggestions for these readers. I think I’ve said this before, but I can never say it enough – thanks for reading and thanks for your support.

Question MarkA reader writes: “I’m 17, a junior in high school, and FTM. I live at home currently with my mother and sister. I came out about a year ago.

“My mum’s response had been ‘I saw this coming. I’ll love you for whoever you are.’ The next day she clarified that whoever I am isn’t a man. Biggest bubble burst of a lifetime. If she had said she wasn’t okay with it from the beginning, I would have felt better than I did about the whole thing in the long run. The kicker is that she saw it coming and still doesn’t believe it.

“According to her I was a feminine child. I was actually very androgynous, but she doesn’t want to remember the Legos and remote control cars. She has this picture of me in her head as a women, and when saying I was feminine isn’t enough, she claims I’m just on a quest for perfection and the media has corrupted my mind with male supremacy. I don’t even know where she gets half of the ideas she spews at me.

“After a lot of struggle I confided in my doctor that I was trans and needed help because my mum was refusing to find me a therapist or let me go to the one I had found. The doctor helped me to get a therapist and I’ve been going for a few months. Secretly I purchased a binder and packer. Many fights arose from that. Now I’m able to wear them and everything is kind of okay.

“My problem is that I want to start hormones. I’ve been ready for a long time for this. My mother has shown no interest in any if the materials provided and has banned me from physically altering transition-related things while living under her roof.

“I realise that I won’t be able to do anything until I’m 18, but I’ll still be in high school then and living with her, so I still wouldn’t be able to start T even then. My only option is to move out. I haven’t been able to find a job as of yet but I’m still looking, although any job I can get at 17 won’t be enough to support me to get a home and hormones.

“I do have one alternative. My father is okay with my transition and willing to take me in, but he’s mentally unstable and sometimes abusive. On the other hand, I have my grandparents. They are very religious and don’t understand trans people. My grandma at least seems to want to understand. She helped me get my binder. But I don’t feel I could ask to live with them, and I don’t know if I could physically transition under their roof. Continue Reading »

Question MarkA reader writes: “I’m in high school (Junior), but am very open about my gender identity (cross dress, bind, etc). At this point there isn’t a whole lot I can do about hormonal treatment or surgery. So instead I try to do what I can, at my age. I bind, as mentioned, and use a commercially available binder.

“It has been fine, but lately I’ve gotten a lot of pain, difficulty breathing, and nasty bruising on my rib-cage. I wear it too often as it is (about 12 to 14 hours a day, nearly every day), so I know the best thing to do would be to just stop wearing it so much.

“Unfortunately, this is a problem for me as my gender dysphoria has also gotten much more severe as of late (and includes thoughts of self-harm and things we don’t need to get into). It’s a difficult trade-off for me to consider – wear it less and hopefully not end up with a serious injury in the hospital and cause my dysphoria to be that much worse (which, when paired with my depression, anxiety, and raging teenage hormones can be a serious and kind of terrifying problem), or continue doing what I can to suppress (no pun intended) my dysphoria and likely end up in the hospital.

“My mother doesn’t take my depression or dysphoria seriously (it took her witnessing one of my most violent panic attacks to convince her to let me see the school therapist), so advice from her doesn’t help (especially when she doesn’t offer any).

“So that’s problem one. My other problem, which is much less serious, is standing to pee. I really would love to be able to stand to take a pee, but the price of commercially available STP devices that also function as packers is insane! Not to mention the harnesses! The cheapest set I found would still set me back by $50 that I do not have (a lot of money for a jobless teen who’s worried about affording college, a car, gas for that eventual car, animals, etc). Do you have any ideas in this regard?”

Last question first – have you tried a coffee can lid? I never got the hang of it, but a lot of guys use a plastic coffee can lid with the edge or lip part cut off so that it’s just a flat circle. Then they roll it into a kind of tube and pee through it. You can also buy a sheet of thin plastic at the hardware store and cut a coffee-lid-sized circle out of it. It’s explained here on TransGuys.com, along with other suggestions, tips, and links for the Stand to Pee situation. Continue Reading »

Question MarkI’m catching up, but still behind. Today we have two short letters that I have some thoughts about, but that I am unable to answer with much certainty, so I hope that readers can give these writers some additional information.

A reader writes: “I found your website while googling around on gender-neutral pronouns. My question, in brief, is this: Is it just me, or are gender-neutral pronouns mostly sought by people who were assumed to be cis women at birth?

“I love the idea of genderqueer and have happily appropriated the parts that work for me and read a fair amount of queer theory over the years. It occurred to me today that most of the third-way writing I have read is by people who no longer want to use girl-pronouns after being assigned she/her at birth, where as trans women tend to love getting access to (and perhaps ideally only using) the girl pronouns versus seeking some third way.

“I googled a bit hoping to find some evidence to the contrary, but didn’t find much. Perhaps I’m insufficiently thorough. Thanks in advance for your reply, and also for your patience with my question and any parts I may have phrased inelegantly or insensitively.”

I don’t know whether or not this is true, but it appears to me, as well, that the majority of people who prefer gender-neutral pronouns are those who were assumed to be female at birth. I do know some genderqueer-identified people who were designated male at birth who use “they,” and I know some who use “he” and “she” interchangeably. But again, the majority of people who I have found to use “they” or “ze” were designated female at birth.

I’m not aware of any statistics on this, or whether or not any surveys or studies have been done (if anyone knows, please fill us in), so my answer is coming from personal experience.

If my personal experience transfers to the larger culture (and I don’t know if it does or not), and I had to give my thoughts on why this might be, I would say that I think that the “gendered” life experience is different for those who are designated female at birth and those who are designated male at birth, and this causes potentially different responses to any feelings of gender incongruity. Continue Reading »

As I continue to work through my backlog, please bear with me. Today we have two posts, with two letters each. One deals with alternatives to testosterone for those who can’t, or don’t want to, take it (I really don’t know any alternatives, so I’m hoping that readers can help). The other deals with some emotional and legal matters with regard to hormones and transition.

As always, thank you for your patience as I work to get caught up. Thank you for your comments and suggestions for the writers. And thank you very much for reading!

Question MarkBelow we have two letters having to do with transition issues. The first is about the effects of hormones on mood, and the second deals with changing names and gender markers on transcripts. Here we go:

A reader writes: “I started ‘T’ (testosterone cypionate) one week ago at 100 mg. every two weeks, then will go up to 200 in three months. I started feeling a bit more agitated and quick to anger two days ago. I also feel sort of flat emotionally and a tad depressed.

“The first two days after injecting I felt calm, more peaceful, and good (probably because I was starting the process). I’m older at 53. Do these feelings settle down after a while? It’s becoming sort of a drag.”

They should settle down. Hormones can cause rapid mood changes and other feelings that you are not used to. Testosterone and estrogen can both affect mood, emotion, and feelings of general well-being. Your body is not used to this hormone. It has to adjust.

Testosterone can make some people feel agitated and angry. Strong agitation and anger is what body builders who are on steroids mean when they refer to “roid rage.” Not every trans guy experiences this, but it is not uncommon, and it should either lessen over time or you will adjust over time. It also should fluctuate as your body cycles through each dose (if you are injecting).

I personally think that testosterone suppresses some emotions, which could be why you feel emotionally flat. I am not able to cry as easily on T, and it’s not because I think that guys shouldn’t cry. I know a few guys who have gone off of T just to have a good cry once in a while. I also know a trans women who became very confused about why she was bursting into tears at the smallest provocation, because she had never done that before in her life. She had recently started estrogen. Aha! Continue Reading »

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