Thursday, June 22, 2017

7 years later: Cute and Confident with no makeup


Yesterday I threw on some eyeliner, mascara, blush, and lipstick and I curled my hair. I had a video interview in support of why I like working for my current employer so I dressed up a bit, wearing a polkadot dress and heels as well. I felt good about myself and how I looked yesterday.

Today is my ‘dress-down’ day where I put virtually no effort into my appearance. I’m straight up casual with a t-shirt and leggings, ballet flats, no makeup and I didn’t even brush my hair. You could call it that ‘straight out of bed’ look because well…it is. 

Taking a selfie today I’m surprised that I think I look cute. How is that even possible? 

I’m in the 7th year of my transition so it’s definitely been a long time coming but I don't think I was ever sure that I’d get to a place where I’d not only feel like I look female without all that effort…..but also still look cute. 

I think 2017 has set me on this path from the beginning. At the end of 2016, I finally had FFS and while that recovery has been difficult with some interesting unexpected results, it also set me on this path of needing less effort in my appearance. 

It began with eyelash extensions (which would later cause a lot of issues ironically) and then transitioned into micro bladed eyebrows as well. For the first few months of 2017 I was over-delighted to not wear any makeup and still have gorgeous eyelashes and filled in eyebrows. My girlfriends even admitted to being jealous and while that’s not what I’m going for, it’s always interesting when cis-girls are jealous of me; because it’s always been the opposite for most of my life. 

And then a horrible thing happened. My eyelashes got infected. It’s called “Blepharitis" or "any kind of inflammation of the eyelids/lash line". It can be caused by infections or allergy. I had been getting fills for the eyelash extensions for months so I’m still unsure about the actual cause but the effect ended up being 3-4 weeks of virtually no makeup or lashes or anything. I saw various doctors and finally after using steroid eyedrops, was able to contain the swelling and inflammation. The end result was not wearing makeup for a whole month. 

It’s only been a couple weeks since I recovered from that and I’ve experimented with eyeliner, eyeshadow, and even strip false lashes and have noticed my eyes are much more sensitive to just about anything now. It’s not unbearable but they definitely seem to get red and slightly inflamed sometimes. 

So despite throwing some eyeliner on once a week and maybe a full face of makeup for a photoshoot here and there, most days, I end up like today with virtually nothing on my face to enhance,  contour, or cover up.

And surprisingly I feel just as confident and cute.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Excerpt: "I wish I was a girl"


Note: This is an excerpt of an 'autobiography' I've started writing. I have no immediate plans to release it but it's been interesting to try writing about what I remember from my experiences growing up. 


When 4th grade came along, we changed schools again because a brand new elementary school opened up that was closer than the one I had attended for the last bit of 3rd grade. I don’t remember a whole lot about friend groups but they definitely changed. The one friend I do remember was my best friend Amie. We met in fourth grade and were close through 6th grade until we went to Middle School and she suddenly seemed to realize that our friendship was plagued by my secret crush on her.

But let’s back up to 5th grade. I didn’t spend a lot of time out at recess on the playgrounds instead helping in the library but once in a while I would go out. One such time, I was hanging out with Amie, not by the playgrounds but all the way across the school campus by the basketball courts. It was a windy, cloudy day; the kind you expect in Seattle. We must have been bouncing a ball against the wall or something and casually talking. She was wearing her iconic grey hoodie and her dirty blonde hair was cut in a boyish bob haircut. 

“You know what?” she asked without pausing, “I sometimes wish I was a boy.”

“Oh yeah?” I asked, surprised.

“Yeah, “ she answered, “I mean they get more chances to play sports and stuff, I guess.”

“Oh..gotcha.” I thought and then blurted out, “Well I wish I was a girl.”

There was probably more shock in myself than in Amie’s face. Why had I said that? It had been almost a foreign thought from completely left field, maybe straight from my subconscious. I don’t think I'd even really shared that thought with myself before, let alone anyone else. 

“Why is that?” she asked, curiously.

“Um, er — I….don’t know really.” I stammered, my face feeling hot with embarrassment, “I just do.”

When it comes down to it, how else do you explain something like that? I mean there are benefits and disadvantages to both sexes and Amie had expressed one of her own but I wasn’t expressing a desire as much as a feeling. Somewhere, deep in the very core of who I was I felt 'female’ despite being told for the first decade of my life that I was a boy. And unfortunately, I was stuck. That was the lot that life had given me, no matter how I felt inside.

Amie shrugged and we continued bouncing the ball off the wall. In that moment, there was no judgement between us, just a mutually satisfiying moment of silence as our adolescent brains absorbed this new information about each other and about the opposite sex in general. 

Later on, I would justify my statements to myself saying I had simply said such things to compliment her own sentiments as a part of my ‘crush’ on her. Yet shouldn’t I just have agreed with her about boys and been happy that I had the privilege she was hoping for? And I would then go further with it trying to convince myself that I didn’t want to be a girl because of things like pregnancy and periods…..I mean who would want any of that anyway? I would learn to take on the attitude that I was 'lucky to be a guy'. It’s amusing to me that I had to put so much effort and thought into it though. The lady doth protest too much.


Wednesday, May 3, 2017

FFS: 6 months Post-op Update

Wow it's been 6 months! It's hard to believe that just 6 months ago, I was struggling with recovery and couldn't wait to get the face mask/cast off. If you've followed my other posts on forums, you know that the recovery has not been easy. That being said, the first week or two was way easier than I thought it would be and way easier than a lot of surgeon's recoveries (from what I've seen). But I did experience a few unexpected issues. Anytime you touch something so complex as the face, there is a lot of potential for dissatisfaction and/or nit-pickiness. I mean we look at our faces in the mirror everyday.

What did I have done? Forehead reconstruction and rhinoplasty with Dr. Deschamps-Braly in San Francisco. I essentially only did upper face. It included a slight brow lift and not really a scalp advance as much as a 'keep the hairline in place' (which may as well have included some sort of scalp advance to make that happen). For the rhinoplasty itself, I asked for a 'cute' nose with a slight turn up at the tip.

I'll go through each category of concern I came across throughout recovery and tell you what the status is.

  • Tension Headaches
    • These are still happening when I get 8+ hours of sleep. I'll wake up with general tightness/swelling feeling in nose and forehead/front of face. It seems to go away within an hour or so of getting up.
  • Scar visibility
    • The scar is doing pretty well. I don't bother covering it with concealer anymore but I am still using the scar/sunscreen cream on it daily. I'm also seeing a massage therapist still for both scar tissue massage and lymphatic drainage. That being said, I do still notice it very much in selfies with certain lighting....esp (weirdly enough) car lighting. Also after a massage, it tends to be an angry red for about a week.
  • Swelling
    • I don't feel like there is much if any swelling at this point. The tip of the nose maybe? But it's hard to tell. The only feeling of swelling I get is the tension headaches in the morning. 
  • Jowels
    • After surgery, I noticed I had some handy skin at my jaw line (i.e.: "Jowels"). After a 3 month checkup and seeing those jowels indeed exist before the surgery, I assumed they had always been there. The doctor told me that since we only did upper face, lower face shouldn't have been affected. Maybe i'm getting used to them but the jowels are not as noticable or I don't care as much.....they definitely weren't as visible before the surgery but all I can think is that setting back features of upper face may just end up shedding more light on the lower face issues. I don't think I plan on messing with fillers or face lifts for another decade if I can help it. 
  • Wide Bridge of Nose / Nose bump
    • The bridge of the nose has come down a lot but it still is very much wider than it used to be and does still pull at the skin at the inner corner of my eyes creating a sort of 'webbing' of skin in the corners. It's a different look, maybe different ethnically too but it doesn't look weird or inhuman. I'm not sure it'll come down much more and the doctor admits it's what happens when taking out so much of the bone in the brow ridge/orbital rim; the skin has less of an incline to cling to for projection so the bridge of the nose ends up wider.
    • At my 3 month checkup, the doctor pointed out midway down the nose there might be a slight bump forming. I don't feel like it's currently all that noticeable and even though he has offered to fix it without charging any fees, I want to be careful about how 'perfect' I want to try to make my face. Every surgery has consequences (this one definitely did!) at some point I need to be satisfied with what I got and what did improve instead of worrying about perfection.
  • Eyes smaller, eyelids droopy
    • The eyes definitely seem smaller. The issue is really that my eyelids want to droop more than they used to. It's like maybe they didn't get pulled up enough to compensate for the loss of bone to wrap around maybe. I've been learning to open them slightly more when taking pictures. 
  • Scalp numbness
    • Surprisingly enough, feeling is starting to come back to the scalp! I can sort of feel pressure points in all areas of the scalp. 
  • Hair loss
    • Haven't had any more problems with hairloss and now I feel like enough has grown back in that I don't experience as much issues with hair thinning , esp when pulling my hair back. Also hair is growing in and around the scar itself too.

All-in-all, I look back on pictures 6+ months ago (before the surgery) and I'm often amazed and surprised to see how much my brow ridge and nose stuck out. I guess I've already become accustomed to my new face and I definitely feel like FFS helped to feminize and soften things and I've been much more confident without it. Add lash extensions and microblading and I now wear little to no makeup on an everyday basis.

What's next? Well 6 more months and I'll be 1 year post-op. I am hoping that the nose continues to come down and that the bump doesn't get worse. I'm also still kinda hoping the bridge wideness and eyelid drooping effect will go down more too and that the tension headaches will start to fade. I guess we'll see. ;) I'm leaving it up to "Future Debra" to decide whether I'll want a nose revision but right now I feel pretty good.

Friday, April 28, 2017

A Note about my Past


A year ago today, I was so fed up with the bathroom bill stuff in my state that I decided to speak up about it on my facebook, outing myself. I don't usually speak in ultimatums but I was serious about unsupportive people unfriending me.

I did only surface this to friends (not acquaintances) and then eventually made it private again so only I can now see it. I figured I could share it with all of you.

A Note about my Past


I don’t usually like getting political or into activism but I have to admit that all the ‘bathroom bill’ talk has gotten me a bit worked up. Such that I feel I need to air something I haven’t brought up in a long time and frankly, don’t like to talk about anymore. But here it goes: 

  I have a transsexual/transgender/‘trans’ past. (however you want to word it) 

 For those of you that suspected but never said a word or asked a single question, I thank you. That’s how I’d prefer it…even now that you know, I’d prefer it stay that way. Those of you that really had no clue. I’m glad. I’d rather that be the case anyway.

The rest of you have been with me for at least some of it. The truth is, I don’t want to be known or loved because of something so basic: simply being who I am. I’d rather be loved or praised for things that I do, such as making costumes or writing apps or being friendly and loving…..not the fact that I was born with incorrectly matched parts. I don’t consider it a secret to hide…..but merely a piece of my medical past that’s nobody else’s business. I moved on from it years ago. That being said, people always have questions so here’s some quick answers: 

 1. Yes I was born with male ‘parts’ and now have female ‘parts’. As far as the law is concerned nowadays, I was born female. (yes, that includes my birth certificate and all legal documents) 
2. No I cannot bear children, just like countless other women with fertility issues. 
3. No I will not tell you my old/dead name and it’s rude and hurtful to ask about it or intentionally call me by it. (even in past tense) 
4. No I do not want to talk about any of this so please don’t bring it up in conversation. It’s not unlike bringing up a birthmark that someone has on their face; they know it’s there so unless they bring it up, leave it alone. 
5. No I am not ‘the best of both worlds’. I am and always have been a woman. It’s just that for the first part of my life, I spent it trying to be something I was not: a man. 
 6. Yes my husband knows and has always known and doesn’t care. He’s attracted to women and loves me. It’s a non-issue….and it should be such for everybody IMHO. 
7. No I am not ‘brave’ or ‘courageous’. This wasn’t a brave thing for me to do. It was a thing I HAD to do to survive. To live. To go on. To be who I am, authentically. 
 8. Yes my parents disowned me when I transitioned and even after many years, they continue to ignore who I am and hope for the old ‘pretend me’ to come back to them; this, all based on religious counsel they’ve received. 
 9. Yes I choose to try to live a ‘normal’ life instead of being ‘out and proud trans’ because society DOES treat you differently……and I don’t want to be treated differently……good or bad, I want to be treated for what I do and how I treat others….not because I managed to work through an issue I was born with. I don’t want special treatment. Don’t treat me any different than any other woman. 
10. Yes I support the trans and LGBT movements. Equality for all. No person should have to be treated like a second-class citizen (or worse) because of who they are or who they love. It’s no different than race or sex or anything else. We’re all humans. I don’t care what your religion says, the greatest of all teachings is love for all people. Period. So all of that being said:
  • If after knowing this information, you consider me to be ‘a man’, unfriend me right now.
  • If you’re a woman who feels like with this knowledge you cannot share a bathroom or locker room with me, unfriend me right now.
  • If you’re a father or mother and feel like trans women (including myself) shouldn’t share the same bathroom as your daughter, unfriend me right now.
  • If you feel that transgender people are merely sexual predators, unfriend me right now.
  • If you support bills like i-1515 which seek to bar transgender individuals from using the correct restroom in WA state (something that’s been in effect for years), unfriend me right now. 
 Trans people die every year due to suicide and murder because of simply not being allowed or afforded the privilege to be who they really are…..something anyone born in the right body takes for granted everyday. This includes being fired for being trans, bullied for being trans, becoming homeless for being trans, and yes, using the bathroom that matches their gender identity. 

 Now that we’ve been through that, let me ask you something from the bottom of my heart: 
  Please just let it go….and know that there are many of us among the population that just want to live our lives normally. None of us are out to harm anyone; criminals will do that. If you have sincere questions and want to read more on it, this page has a LOT of resources: http://www.tsroadmap.com/family/index.html . Please don’t bombard me with questions. Thank you.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

My voice, then and now

Some of you remember that for the first 6 months of my transition, I went through voice / speech pathology / therapy with Sandy Hirsch. It was one of the best things I could ever have done for myself when it comes to 'passing' or just being able to live my life without being questioned about my past or treated differently because of it (for better or for worse).

In fact, it was because of my voice changing accidentally at work that I finally transitioned at work and started living full time as a woman.

I wanted to share my old voice (2010) vs my new voice (2016) to show what the possibilities are.

So where am I at nowadays?

Over the years, I've noticed my voice tends to drop when I:

  • get upset
  • talk about technical things
  • get haughty / arrogant
  • after a few drinks of alcohol
  • feeling safe/casual with girlfriends


Last year, I had a couple quick appointments with my voice therapist to talk about and adjust things. Her conclusion was that she had taught me everything she can teach me and the reality is....when I'm paying attention and aware, my voice sounds great! It's just in the cases listed above, I often lose awareness of it and let it drift. It never gets to male levels again but it does drift into androgynous zones.

I also recently started seeing a therapist again and he happens to also be a hypnotherapist. After beginning to try some mindfulness to be better aware of my emotions and voice in the moment, he and I have been working through some actual hypnotherapy sessions that are meant to reinforce my voice and awareness of my voice within my subconscious mind. It's pretty interesting and I do think it's helping.

So that's where I'm at. Voice therapy is really awesome and helps a lot for MTF transition but even with that, nothing's perfect and there's still a lot of other work involved.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Why I stopped talking about being trans

Today I heard about the survivor contestant who was outed on TV about being transgender. He apparently did an interview about it to give his own perspective and I was taken aback at how much I was able to relate to his point of view.

When I first transitioned, many of you might remember that I blogged and video logged with my face and legal name. I spent that first year up through vaginoplasty surgery living and breathing transition. Being public and very much 'out and proud' about it really helped me channel that energy. I feel like it's pretty common for trans individuals when we come out. We're telling those who know us that this is who we are and we are very much learning how to be that person, often after many years of trying to be something completely different.

After that first year, I kind of moved on. I wanted to do something more with my life and not be defined by the label : "transgender". You'd be surprised at the backlash that can come with that however. Many people will tell you you're just trading one closet for another or they get upset that you're not 'out and proud' and fighting the good fight with them. Well there are other ways to 'fight' for rights such as donating money to organizations that do so and spreading knowledge around like I try to do here on my blog.  And while I have kind of treated my 'trans past' like a secret therefore making it seem like 'just another closet' to come out of again (or hide in forever), I'm getting to a point where it's less about hiding and more about brushing past it.

"So if it's not a secret then why not talk about it?" you might ask. Well as Zeke states in his article:

Many gay people consider coming out a moment of liberation, because sharing their sexual orientation with the world causes them to be seen more authentically.
Often, the opposite is true for trans people. When we share our gender history, many see us less authentically — doubting, probing or denying our identities.

The reality is I have a lot of privilege with both where I live and how I look. I'm able to navigate through my everyday life without people asking or bothering me about being trans anymore. And it's great. It's allowed me to move on and concentrate on other things. I transformed myself and I'm glad I did but now I'm doing other things with my life and it's amazing!

And now that I'm doing those things in my career and free time, I'd rather be known for those things rather than being 'that trans girl'. Not only do I not want others putting me down for being trans or mis-identifying me on purpose but I also don't want to be defined by it at all. I know that most of the people I surround myself with would be very supportive if I was 'out' about it but that's not completely why I don't talk about it.

Interestingly enough, when you stop talking about being trans in your everyday circles, when relevant issues arise, you kind of don't have anywhere to talk about them anymore. I've found some solace online, in therapy, and with some very close and trustworthy friends for such occasions.

Outside of that, I aim to live a 'normal' life as a woman and want to be appreciated for the skills and accomplishments and personality that I have without having to add the word 'trans' to everything.....or to even have that outshine things.

Yes I am a trans woman but I am more than that. Until being trans isn't such a fantastical thing, it will always outshine who I am when it's mentioned alongside those other things.

Just one woman's point of view. This is not meant to be the viewpoint of anyone other than my own.

Someday I could very well be outed in a major way. I'd like to say I'm somewhat prepared for that with posts like this explaining my mindset.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Transgender Day of Visibility

Today is Transgender Day of Visibility. Different from Transgender Day of Remembrance which honors the dead transgender individuals each year, it's a day to both celebrate those of us who are still alive, shedding light on the lives we lead as well as bring to light the issues we face.

The population of transgender people has nearly doubled in the last decade and yet I actually assume it's less about the fact that we are becoming more numerous and more that we are becoming more brave; able to stand up and say "Yes, I am transgender." or "No, I can no longer live a lie."

With that in mind, I wanted to speak a the cisgender audience. I want you to imagine yourself in your everyday lives, going about your own business. You probably encounter some of us without ever knowing it. So I wrote this poem.


 Everyday Visibility


You pass him as you walk down the street
in line to get coffee, she orders a mocha breve.
They hold the hand railing in front of you on the subway
she sits near the front of the bus next to a stranger.
He's leading that meeting you had at work
she's in the stall next to you in the ladies' room.

You may not see us but we are there
and we kind of always have been
whether we're 'out and proud'
or blending in after years of changes
or even trying to live with 
the unborn secret in our hearts.

She honks her horn in the traffic jam
In the movie theater, they're sitting 3 rows behind you
She's having lunch in the same restaurant as you
You leave and he wipes down your table.

He's your cousin's husband
or your best friend's brother
She's your coworker's wife
or your everyday barista.

We are all over the map both figuratively and literally
no two of us are alike in beliefs or personality
you can box us up in a package called 'transgender'
and try to make it sound scary or weird
but the reality is we are just people like you
leading everyday lives.

We're not asking for much, just unalienable Rights
like everyone else, we want to live free
if you give us a chance, put yourselves in our shoes
we are really not all that different from you
so maybe reach out and try to understand
chances are, you already know one of us.


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