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Greetings and salutations my fine denizens.

I’ve been AWOL for a literally 5 days short of a year. Honestly things have been up and down pretty frequently but I am in a pretty positive state right now. Aside from work and the occasional social engagement I have been spending much of my time playing video games. There really isn’t time for much more when you work in theater. The good news is I am making several dollars more than I was last year and that means a lot when the owner is kind of a scrooge.

But I digress, I just wanted to let y’all know that I am still alive and kicking, I hate to make empty promises but I am going to try try TRY my hardest! *fingers crossed* To make more frequent blog posts. I think it will help get the thoughts out of my head and relieve some of my stress.

In conclusion here is the most recent Ask Abbey question I received, I think it addresses some legitimate concerns many of us face/have faced at some point in transition.

Ciao!


Q:  So as we all know you get constant messages, I just wanted to ask a couple questions which I feel no TRANS chat site have answered or anything, I am currently going through electrolysis on my face, I’m about 20 hours in, I too am a red head so laser didn’t work and I wasted 10 months doing it to have little effect and it has put me at a broken point as now I am doing electrolysis 3 – 4 hours a week. I don’t have the confidence to present fully female like I used to due to my facial hair having to grow for treatment.

I have been on HRT for 7 months now so in my mind I feel I’m falling behind and it will affect my chances of SRS on my one year mark of HRT incase the Doctor feels I am talking steps backwards due to dressing in less feminine cloths for electrolysis but still present as SHE and BROOKE etc, if that makes sense.

I feel I’m in a bad state of mind. Will the hair go away? Will I be hair free? Am I going to be able to go back to presenting full time as myself?

A: Hello Brooke,
Those are all understandable concerns in your current position. First off since you are on HRT and actively going through your transition, there is no falling behind, When I was doing electrolysis I was only doing 1 hour per week. it is okay if things don’t go as fast as you expected them to.

When I started HRT I was gung ho to get on a full dose. As you may or may not know I had a set back and had to go off estrogen for a number of months and it felt like an eternity; but I got through it and looking back it really didn’t make that big of a difference. I also wanted to have had breast surgery, an orchiectomy, changed my SS, and change my passport by now but I still haven’t done those things. I get really upset about it and beat myself up for not motivating myself to get these things done but it is scary to make those unknown steps. It really is. Lately I have been trying to push myself and move forward with my goals, one step at a time.

Fact of the matter is I think having SRS after only one year of being on HRT is a bit soon, especially with all the changes you are going through. Waiting a little longer is not going to hurt your quality of results. But regardless of time frame you will absolutely be able to present and be yourself. Nothing can stop you.

Honestly it took me a long time before I was confident enough to present as female when I was alone in public. Hell, I still get nervous going into public restrooms and it’s been over 5 years. I don’t think you need to worry about falling behind.

I hope this gives you some peace of mind!

Abbey

p.s. I really don’t get that many emails 😛

AA: HRT Advice

Here is a recent Ask Abbey question that I got, my hope is to give a broad understanding of the process and hopefully get others on the right track.

Q: Hiya abbey.

I wont take up to much of your time. I just want to ask  you, my doctor started me on 2mg of esteofem daily but wont give me anything else because they really don’t know what I have to take. She told me to ask around hence why I am here. The esteofem has yielded good results so far(boobs are growing fast and my waist is getting curvy) but want to be taking the right things. I have done some research and apparently I should also be on “spiro.”

Can you advise me on what else I should be taking so i can inform my doctor.

Ashley
X

A: Hi Ashley,

The estrofem is a good start, after being on it for a while you may raise that dose a little. The average estrogen dose can be anywhere from 2mg to 8mg per day.

You are correct about Spiro, it is an antiandrogen called Spironolactone (Aldactone): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spironolactone

What it does is block the effects of testosterone on your body and effectively lowers your blood testosterone levels. Estrogen has some antiandrogenic properties alone but it is far more effective to pair it with Spironolactone. My advice for your doctor would be to start you on 50 or 100mg/day of spironolactone for a few weeks to make sure you have no adverse reactions, then increase your dose until your testosterone is sufficiently suppressed. The average dose is around 200mg but some people take up to 300 or 400mg per day. There are some other antiandrogens out there, but Spironolactone is by far the most commonly used and tested and has the fewest side effects.

Now when seeing an endocrinologist They will usually run blood tests before adjusting your medications to determine if you need to increase your dosage or not.

The tests my doctor runs are:

Estradiol, Ultra Sensitive, LC/MS/MS
Testosterone
Prolactin
Potassium
Lipid Panel
TSH
Vitamin D, 25-Hydroxy

The first 4 are the most important, the lipid panel, TSH, and Vitamin D are more for general health. The prolactin level is important to watch at first because HRT can increase those levels, especially in someone who already has elevated levels. If you have high prolactin levels before hormones it could be explained by a Prolactinoma, which is a benign tumor on the pituitary gland. They can be treated with medication or surgery but are not an immediate cause for alarm. Spiro is a Potassium-sparing diuretic so it can cause elevated potassium levels in your blood. It is important to monitor your levels for the first year or so to watch out for Hyplerkalemia but

as long as you are not eating a bushel of bananas every day you probably won’t have any issues. I can still eat bananas and be fine.

Now for the your testosterone and estradiol levels.

For a MtF person on HRT the target blood Estradiol level is in the range of 50-150 pg/mL. The ideal testosterone level would be below 100 ng/dL.
Before starting hormones my Testosterone level was 184 ng/dL and my estradiol was 24.02 pg/mL
After starting hormones my Testosterone levels are 27 ng/dL and my estradiol is 68 pg/mL
As you can see, my numbers are quite different now.

That pretty much covers the basics, some people also take progesterone, but the results are very controversial as to whether they do anything or not. They are usually claimed to help in breast development and increase sex drive, as well as make you more moody. Not surprising because it is the hormone that spikes during a females menstrual cycle during and after ovulation. My doctor does not prescribe it so I do not know as much about it, but if you do decide to research it and try it, do so after you have your estrogen and testosterone levels where you want them.

Abbey

Day 863 – Just Another Day

Q: Been a while since you posted anything. How are you doing?
Sierra

A: I have been doing alright, thank you. Now that you mention it, it has been quite a while since I posted anything, 212 days to be exact.

Today’s soundtrack provided by Oingo Boingo.

The last time I posted anything was right around the time I was working at the music theater. I stopped doing work there when the fall semester started, but I learned quite a bit about metalwork and carpentry while I was there. It was definitely a positive experience. Now onto the present.

To be completely honest, the past four months have been hell. I will give you the incredibly abridged version as you probably don’t want to hear all the details. I started out doing okay in the semester but things quickly went downhill. I was having a hard time focusing on my work and slowly stopped going to classes, one-by-one. Throughout this my girlfriend and I were growing further and further apart. Something was missing and we were not meeting each other’s needs. We tried some different things but it wasn’t working.

I ended up failing all of my classes and things eventually culminated in our separation. It is still painful for me to think about it, and I loved her very much, but I have no choice but to move on. The future holds better things and I already see a light in the black.

Since the break up, I’ve been able to explore another side of myself in alternative lifestyle. It’s something that I’ve been interested in for a long time and I am glad to be able to now. For the record I am being responsible in my explorations and I would appreciate it if any family who read this keep to themselves or contact me privately.

Now, do you remember that light in the dark I was talking about? Well I’ve met someone wonderful who I’ve been seeing for the past month. We get along quite well and we just naturally meld. I will post a picture of us from new years.

Transition-wise there isn’t a whole lot to say. I’ve been living life as myself for over two years now and though there has been some rough water I am genuinely glad I transitioned. At the moment I am switching my anti-depressant to Zoloft in the hopes that it will help more than the Effexor and lower my anxiety levels. I am slowly realizing that my social anxiety is the root of a lot of inner turmoil. It will be at least a couple weeks until I know if that does anything for me.

That just about sums it up, I am taking two classes this semester, trying to keep my course load light. I want to try to get back into some creative hobbies such as music or chainmail as an outlet. Lets let this year be better than the last!

Abbey

(My girlfriend and I)
Image

AA: Poles

Hello!

I just arrived in New Hampshire with my parents and girlfriend. We are staying in a condo for the weekend. I am going to try to make a post or two talking about the next couple of days. In the mean time here is a quick ask Abbey question I got today.

Abbey


Q: Hi
You’re amazing in your transformation
I wanted to ask about your age when you started hormone therapy
Greetings from Poland
-Gina

A: Hi Gina, thank you for your compliments. To answer your question, I started taking hormones 4 months after my 21st birthday. It was definitely a good time to start. I am also part Polish!

Day 320 – Vinegar Hair

My girlfriend and I have been busy doing some major cooking lately. On Thursday we cooked for 4 hours and made 2 lasagnas and some italian bread. For the second lasagna we used gluten-free noodles because my brother has celiacs disease, meaning his body has an intolerance to wheat gluten. It was extremely delicious and totally worth it. Each lasagna had a whopping 4000 calories and there are still leftovers! The recipe we used came from allrecipes.com, this website has a ton of great recipes if you want to try something new! Just last week we made a filling beef stew.

I’ve also started washing my hair with baking soda and vinegar. Why you ask? Because the shampoo we use is full of chemicals that strip all of the oils out of our hair and cause the scalp to produce even more oils to compensate for the loss. So the more often you shampoo, the more often you will have to!

Shampoo is basically detergent, and a strong one at that. Baking soda is a much milder Alkaline that will still clean the dirt and grime from your hair. Baking soda is a common ingredient in toothpastes for this reason.

Because vinegar is an acid, it will neutralize the baking soda. (An acid canceling out a base, brings you back to high school chemistry doesn’t it?) This acts much like a conditioner would.

Some of the obvious benefits of not using shampoo is that your head will produce less oil and will be needed to be cleaned less often. No more over-dried frizzy hair! You will also save a lot of money on hair care products, I have become addicted to shampoo that costs $13 a bottle and I will save hundreds of dollars if I no longer need it.

How do I wash my hair with baking soda and vinegar?

It is very simple, first you need to make a solution of 1 tablespoon baking soda, to 1 cup of water. I put mine in a sports water bottle that fit about 3 cups so that I could easily squirt it over my hair. Next, do the same thing in another bottle with the vinegar, 1tbsp/cup of water. Apple cider vinegar is suggested but I only had white vinegar on hand, both will work just fine.

In the shower, squirt the baking soda solution over your hair and massage in for a few minutes, then rinse thoroughly. Then, spray the vinegar solution over your hair and do the same, you may need more or less depending on your hair type. I always comb it through when I take a shower to get out all the tangles.

After a good rinse you are done! It has been nearly a week since I used shampoo and I used this combination for the first time last night and my hair came out surprisingly clean. There is a transitional period where your body gets used to the lack of shampoo, oil production should decrease once it realizes it does not need to overcompensate for the oils the shampoo removed. This can take a few weeks to a few months, it all depends on your hair type.

There is no reason not to try it out for a few months to see if it works for you, and if it doesn’t, you can simply go back to your shampooing ways. Here is a blog that goes a lot more in-depth into the process. http://simplemom.net/how-to-clean-your-hair-without-shampoo/

I’m going to finish things off with a recent AA question, I will get another post up in a few days after my next electrolysis appointment.

Until next time,

Abbey


Q: I was wondering how easy it is to start hormone therapy in Mass? I’m around the same area you are, and I want to start hormones a.s.a.p. I might be able to start them in like October, but they told me I have to get all these tests done first, which I hope to do in a few weeks. And I was wondering if there were any  trans stores around eastern Mass, I know nobody in real life who shares these feelings.
-Ashley

A: Hi Ashley,

It can depend a lot on who you are going to see in order to get your hormones. For me it took about 4-5 months from the time I started therapy until the time I took my first hormone pills. The general rule of thumb is 3 months of therapy before they will give you a letter for hormones, but some will do it only after a few visits. I got my letter at around the 3-4 month mark but it took a while longer due to the time between my lab work appointment and my follow up. (This is  heavily dependent on how busy your doctor is) The actual test itself is pretty basic blood work, it should take no more than a week or two to get the results back. From what I have heard clinics tend to prescribe HrT faster than a private therapist would but it is important to make sure they are professional.

There is one trans-friendly shop that I know of in Wakefield, MA. It is called Florence’s Fashions and is a small boutique store that has a variety of women’s clothing, wigs, and breast forms. The owner is heavily involved in the trans community and is happy to give you advice help with your outfits. Shopping at a big department store can be extremely intimidating for the first time, Florence’s provides a safe place to start learning what to look for when shopping for women’s clothing. They do not have much casual wear like T-shirts and shorts but they have a decent selection of dressier clothes. Here is a link for more information about Florence’s Fashions.

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