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.
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!
p.s. I really don’t get that many emails 😛
Welcome! God bless everyone!
And as she began typing that overdue post, she looked up and it was no ordinary post she was writing…. It was….
Can you tell I’ve been listening to and seeing musicals? I recently helped load in A Christmas Carol at the theater where I work and it really is a great show. The theater has been showing it every year in December since 1989 (the year I was born). It has the most set pieces, automation, theatrics, special effects, & Pyro than any other show each season. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Anyways, I have been spending most of my time working on myself and setting goals for the future. Since I am not taking classes I am going to start working and putting some money away to put towards surgeries. I am really not sure I can get insurance to cover anything, so I have decided to take things into my own hands. It won’t be too hard for me to save enough for a breast augmentation. That is one of the first things I am going to get.
My consultation with Dr. McGinn went well. I will just run through how the meeting went. We talked about FFS, GRS, and of course breast augmentation. Most of it was going over basics and expectations as well as the risks. I was impressed by how down to earth she was. I could easily see myself hanging out with her like any other person. She was impressed by how feminine I already look, which was pretty humbling. She also took photos of my various features as a reference for any surgeries I do get with her. The area her office is located in, New Hope, PA, is a beautiful quaint little town right on the border of PA and NJ, split by a river. I was really comfortable in the area and it reminded me of the area I live in New England.
As for my face the only things she would suggest is rhinoplasty, trachea shave, some brow bone contouring, and possible a lip lift with Juviderm injections. There really isn’t a whole lot I need, just a little bit here and there. The biggest thing I think will be my nose and brow. I already have a great natural hairline and she seemed to think it would be a mistake to mess with it. I already have a fair amount of tooth show already so a lip lift isn’t necessary, the Juviderm would give them more volume though. She does not do any jaw or chin surgery because it is a very risky area to be cutting into. Some surgeons will shave the angles down on your jaw/chin bones to lessen the sharp angles. I admit I do kind of want to have my chin rounded out a bit. I have a dimple in the middle and it is fairly wide; I am very self conscious about it. The main risks are A: damaging your jaw, and B: ending up with an uneven chin.
We talked about the different options for breast augmentation. Over the muscle or under the muscle, silicone vs. saline, incision location, size, etc. Dr McGinn suggested that I get high profile silicone implants places above the muscle via an incision in the crease beneath the breast. She said I would need about 600cc in my left breast and 550cc in my right to account for the difference in size and the be roughly a C cup. Having had a breast reduction when I was younger I do not have as much breast tissue in my left breast which will make it difficult to have a perfectly symmetrical result. Her reason for choosing above the muscle is that when you place it below the muscle they sometimes get pushed up to an unnatural position on your chest. If you have limited tissue surgeons tend to put them below the muscle to give a more natural look.
Once I got home from my trip I did a little experiment (for science!) by making mock implants using dry rice and two balloons. I filled one with 600ml of rice and the other with 550ml. One cc equates to the same as one ml. The size isn’t exact due to the air gaps between the rice while measuring, but for all intensive purposes it did the job. I then proceeded to put them in my bra and walk around with huge boobs. They seem pretty large, perhaps a little too large. I am undecided though since they will obviously fit & flow with the contours of my body with actual implants. I intend to consult with at least one other surgeon in MA for augmentation to get a second opinion and perhaps have the surgery up here. It doesn’t make much sense driving to PA to get a boob job when there are dozens of them in every major city. The important thing is finding one with experience in treating transgendered clientele. The frame of a biological male body IS different than that of a biological female body, and experience will lead to the best result.
Dr. McGinn charges $6,000 for the procedure + $1,400 for the implants bringing the total to $7,400 for breast augmentation. A good BA seems to be running between 5k and 8k so I believe it is a reasonable price.
Now, onto the pictures!
As you can see they are of moderate size and do look pretty good.
They look a little big in profile.
And finally the rice implants themselves (complete with nipples!)
I think the experiment was a success, it gave me right understanding of the potential size. Chances are I will end up somewhere between 450cc and 600cc.
Bottom Surgery (aka Vaginoplasty)
(Graphic surgical descriptions below)
This part of the consultation was the most in depth. We talked about the procedure itself as well as the risks, results, and preparation involved. It would be hard for me to describe it in my own words so I will transcribe the description she gave in the appointment summary the office gave me.
“We do a one stage inverted penile technique using the scrotum as a skin graft to make the back of the vagina. We reduce the glans penis to make a sensate clitoris. The nerves of the clitoris are in the Mons pubis. The labia are made from the penile foreskin. The urethra is shortened and wrapped around the clitoris to make a clitoral hood. The hood provides protection and lubrication to the clitoris. The areas that have the most sensation are the mins, clitoris, and the g-spot inside the vagina. The surgery takes about 3-4 hours.
Logistics: Vaginoplasties are generally done on Tuesdays. We operate out of Lower Bucks Hospital in Bristol, PA. We ask that you come into the area the day before surgery in order to complete informed consent and a bowel prep. You will be in the hospital from Tuesday through Friday. Please be prepared, you are on bed-rest for 48 hours. Friday you are discharged from the hospital to New Hope, PA. You will have a Foley catheter and vaginal packing in place. You will return to the office for two visits the following week prior to going home. You should plan on being in PA for 2 weeks total.
Hair removal: We recommend a full clearing for 5-6 months of genital electrolysis or laser hair removal. it is not required, but highly recommended.”
Dr. McGinn covered much more than just what is here, but the rest is more specific to the patient. You are required to stop taking estrogen/progesterone 2 weeks before surgery and remain off it for several days. I think that genital electrolysis will be a must for me because I am very particular. Having any sort of hair INSIDE would both annoy me and skeeve me out.
The cost of Vaginoplasty is $19,500 and covers all hospital fees, your hospital stay, surgery costs, anesthesiologist fee, as well as your new dilators! That is another thing, dilating. Dr. McGinn has her patients dilate more often than other doctors because it is crucial if you want to maximize your depth. Her average depth is around 5″-6″.
For most procedures they require a $2,500 deposit when you schedule a date.
It is quite a lot to take in isn’t it? I am pretty confident that Dr. McGinn would be a great surgeon for bottom surgery and at the moment she is at the top of my list. One of the most important things I feel next to skill is the level of comfort you have with your surgeon. That way you will be more comfortable asking questions and expressing concern. I tend to be more comfortable around women (it seems many transwomen are), and there happens to only be a handful of female GRS surgeons including Marci Bowers and Christine McGinn. There may be several others I haven’t hear about, but those are the two big names.
I have started rambling and I am running out of things to say, so this seems to be a good place to stop. I have pictures to update my breast timeline that I keep forgetting about, I promise to get to it soon. I also let my facial hair grow for a week to get an updated reference for electrolysis effect. I will be updating that soon as well.
In case I don’t post before the holiday,
I hope everyone has a wonderful wintersday and new years! 🙂
The time I’ve spent popping estrogen pills.
That’s right, this is my 3 year anniversary since starting hormones, and now I have rent stuck in my head.
Quite a bit has changed in the past 3 years and I am genuinely glad that I made the decision to transition so long ago, even if I thought I was too old. Trust me, 21 is not too old. It is a daunting step, but absolutely worth it. I have had my fair share of ups and downs, which is partially what I am going to talk about today, but in the end I am still happy with the choices I’ve made.
The last time I gave a substantial update was around the beginning of the year. My girlfriend and I are still together, we are pretty madly in love, which creates it’s own set of problems. More on that later. Over the summer I did some more over-hire work at the music theater, mostly welding. I got to design an awesome set of handles for the gate into Oz (Thats right, we did the wizard of Oz). After that they did Cats, which I only helped on load in for. I was pretty off the wall about it because I am a cat myself. I was freaking out running around the super-sized set pieces and climbing up the steel cat perches suspended above the stage. On opening night I even had a confrontation with one of the cats in the aisle. I meowed at him and he froze, looking at me. I meowed again and as he slowly backed away I hissed. I am mildly insane.
Speaking of insane, I am re-evaluating my mental health. My girlfriend recently went into the hospital and is now in Florida trying to get her life back together. Since we are so in love, being apart is wreaking havoc on my emotional well-being (especially with our particular relationship). While she was in the hospital here I had a few mental breakdowns because it was particularly triggering for me. I took a medical leave of absence to get myself figured out this semester. At one point I stopped caring and took a bunch of pills, including 40mg of Ambien. I woke up the next day with my mom sleeping next to me, wondering what the hell happened. Honestly, she probably should have taken me to the hospital.
This whole ordeal has been quite trying on my state of mental health. I am questioning whether the Zoloft and Wellbutrin I am on are doing anything at all. I need to be re-evaluated to determine what my problems actually are. I feel like my anxiety and panic attacks are the root of many of my problems. I’ve had an increasing number of panic attacks recently. I have had some incidents of self harm as well.
I need to be in some sort of program, and yesterday I was evaluated and referred to a partial hospitalization program, where you are at the hospital from 9am-3pm doing group and individual therapy. I think it will help me, but I am not sure if I actually need inpatient. Last night I had a particularly bad panic attack because I was thinking about all the people I would have to be around in the program. I eventually started scratching myself but had enough willpower to stop myself before any significant damage was done. It scared me a lot. Hopefully I end up where I need to be.
On a more positive note, I have been trying to take this time off from class to do things I’ve always wanted to do. I am trying to expand my Etsy store and this past friday I took a blacksmithing workshop and had a blast making this forged “S” hook and pointer.
On an even brighter note, I have a consultation on the 19th of November with Christine McGinn in Pennsylvania. I am going to be talking to her about FFS, breast augmentation, as well as GRS. I am making a strong effort to get the procedures covered under insurance. Chances are I will focus on the FFS and breast augmentation first because they will have a greater effect on my self confidence.
Anyways I will try to get some answers up to the Ask Abbey questions that have been piling up in my inbox, sorry to those who haven’t had their questions answered! I am also going to update my face and breast development timelines soon.
Until next time,