Samantha's ramblings

I think Alyssa’s thread is very helpful for people who want to know more about trans issues, and have toyed with the idea of starting my own. I don’t want to hijack her thread with my ideas, but have also felt a second thread is somewhat redundant. What pushed me to finally start this is that I recently saw my parents for the first time since realizing that I am trans, and even though they have been supportive, there is a lot that they don’t understand yet. I’m partially looking for a space to process some of my thoughts and think about what I do and don’t feel a need to teach them.

I’ve written elsewhere about what it feels like to be trans, maybe I’ll track that down, clean it up, and add it as a later post here. For now, let me start with a little bit about who I am and where I am in my transition. I admitted to myself that I am trans this past fall, at a relatively late age (almost 50), and figuring that out has made tons of things throughout my life make more sense. I’m late-ish to the game because of how things were when I was younger – I grew up in the midwest, at a time when being a trans woman who is attracted to women was a concept that didn’t really exist in main stream thought. (In fact, the medical establishment back then considered only trans women who were attracted to men as “true” transsexuals, along with other weird gate keeping beliefs that caused many women to either self-medicate or lie to their doctors, but that is something for a separate rant.) Trans awareness is so much better now that I suspect I would have figured it out, or more specifically, accepted it, far sooner had I grown up today. A number of prominent trans women of my generation express the same thought. Unfortunately that greater awareness today comes with the flip side of transphobia being much more open, also perhaps a subject for a later post.

I am out to my family, my immediate work group, and a couple of friends. I’m not yet full time outside of the house, although hope to be over the next few months after some family issues are sorted out. My “boy mode” is rapidly becoming more androgynous / feminine. I don’t currently plan on coming out to clients, although work has said that they would support me doing so. Likewise, I’m using a new id here, even though the majority of posters I knew IRL didn’t make the migration over from the AO. I don’t really have a reason other than fear not to be more public, and I admire Alyssa for what she is doing.

I still don’t have a rational answer for why I want to transition, beyond the fact that I just know it is what I need. When I came out to them, I told my parents that I had decided to love and accept myself for who I am, and that’s still the best way I have found to put it into words. When I do something gender affirming, I can feel my blood pressure go down as if things are naturally falling into place. An analogy I saw recently is that we all accept that quitting a soul draining job is good for one’s mental health, and that’s just 40 hours a week. Trying to live as the wrong gender is draining 24/7. Perhaps that resonated with me because I remember the day I decided to quit my pre-actuarial career, sitting on the porch in the early morning sun, being calm and truly content for the first time in years. I knew then that giving up that career was the unambiguously right thing to do, much as I know now that accepting who I am is what I need. And perhaps have needed for almost my entire life.


Place holder in case I want it later for useful links or the such.

Thanks for sharing your story.
I have close friends with kids that are trans and doing my best to be supportive without burdening them with all my stupid questions. Reading about others experience helps immensely.

… i think knowing this is what you need IS a rational answer.


Thanks for starting this thread. I, also, have trans friends and don’t want to ask intrusive questions, and find it helpful to read about other’s experience.

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I’m glad other people are finding this helpful. Being early in my transition means that there is a lot that I am still trying to figure out and process so quasi-blogging about it helps me as well.

The first person I came out to (beyond a therapist) was my much older cousin. She also transitioned late in life (mid / late 60s) and quite honestly, her transition has made her so much happier and nicer that I wish she had been able to do it decades earlier. She told me that the most important rule about being trans is that you get to decide for yourself what the rules are. Or if you prefer, there is no right way to be trans. The variety of ways that people transition has been surprising to me, although totally makes sense in retrospect.

In many online trans spaces, people put a huge emphasis on `passing’ as cis both in terms of voice and appearance. I don’t think this is reflective of the broader population and think it is skewed by the fact that people who choose to post selfies / voice recordings tend to be people who either pass or are close to passing. I’ve seen people defend their focus on passing as being needed safety-wise in the conservative areas / countries that they live in, so it may vary based on location.

I am lucky in that I live in a relatively trans-friendly area, where the only transphobia I have personally encountered has been from my ex-wife. As such, there is less of a safety need to pass here, and most trans people that I have met here don’t prioritize passing. I certainly have met people who pass, but have also met gorgeous women who have done no voice work, women with full beards, people who are doing HRT, and people who are not.

But one common theme to everyone is that transitioning is hard, no matter where people fall in their transition goals. On one end, I know someone who completely passes yet is sometimes racked with dysphoria when she takes off her makeup. On the other end, I know someone who wonders whether or not her transition is valid because she doesn’t want to do HRT. Her fears only gets compounded when well meaning family and friends ask her when she plans on starting HRT, which is one of the reasons why that’s not a question one should ask. (Another is it’s just inappropriate – if a friend said that they were depressed, you would never respond by asking which SSRI they are planning on taking.)

As for myself, meeting such a wide range of people has helped me figure out my transition goals. Even though I just said you shouldn’t ask, I don’t mind sharing: I’m starting everything at an old enough age that I don’t expect to ever pass as cis, but I do want to reach a point where people who aren’t transphobic unambiguously see me as a woman. The distinction there is hard to explain but easier to see. I don’t plan on doing anything surgical, but do plan on HRT. I’ve started full body laser hair removal, which is so affirming – my chest and back hair was a huge source of dysphoria for me and I love seeing the improvement. Meeting other people made me realize that voice training is important to me, but a bit daunting. The part of Alyssa’s thread where she talks about the changes in her voice makes me cry with happiness for her, and I hope to be able to say the same thing someday.


I was starting to write a post with some suggestions about pronouns when I received an email that used those very same suggestions, and it felt so welcoming that I want share the idea.

Before I get to that, I want to talk a bit about why pronouns matter so much. I assume that anyone reading this understands that hurts when someone uses the wrong pronouns. Unfortunately, a lot of well-meaning cis people go to the opposite extreme of actively non-gendering people whose gender isn’t clear to them, presumably out of fear of making a mistake.

You shouldn’t do that either. For example, I know someone whose gender presentation is somewhat ambiguous. She has long hair, tends to wear skirts, but also has a receding hair line, no boobs, and a non-traditional fashion sense. It is not unreasonable for someone to be unsure of whether she is a trans woman, nonbinary, or a male cross dresser. As a result, her experience is that people go out of their way to avoid using pronouns with her, actively non-gendering her. This hurts her a lot, and it would make a big difference if people would instead use her pronouns.

I don’t think people are doing this with ill intent, but rather uncertainty of what pronouns to use for her. But if that’s the case, it would be better to find out what the right ones are and then use them. Directly asking someone for their pronouns isn’t the worst choice, but can convey the impression that you think they may be trans, which isn’t great. A more welcoming approach is to say “Hi, my name is X, and I use y/z pronouns.” That implicitly creates a space in which it is safe for the other person to answer freely.

And that’s exactly what the email I received did. I wasn’t initially sure if I wanted to respond with my legal name or Samantha. (This is a recurring theme in my life these days. Fortunately, most places that provide gender related health care know enough to ask for both legal name for insurance, as well as preferred name for them to actually use. Hopefully the rest of the world will catch up.) Digression aside, the person signed the email with both their name and pronouns, and then asked for my name and pronouns in a questionnaire. Because of the signature, I felt okay giving them a complete answer and not just my legal name, and that is going to be nice going forwards.


That is helpful to know because it’d have approached it that wrong way. I feel awkward announcing my pronouns tho.

I never thought about introducing my pronouns because I was talking to a trans person. I guess it also conveys that you think someone might be trans, but not as clearly? Anyway, thanks for the idea.

And yes. It’s been explained a lot, but it helps to be reminded. I used to have people constantly get my pronoun wrong, and it didn’t matter because I wasn’t into my gender. But I suppose if someone suffers from dysphoria, then their gender is important, so their pronoun is important.

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This is a great analogy. Though I can’t imagine having enough energy to start a new career.

I’m continuously shocked that people manage to have active lives past the age of 40.

I suspect that almost anyone over the age of 25 does. But that’s part of what makes it valuable. In our society, we continuously gender everyone, so people with an ambiguous gender presentation often end up having awkward encounters because of that. We can argue about what is fair, but in practice, those of us with ambiguous gender presentations shoulder the bulk of the responsibility of smoothing those interactions out. Whether or not that is fair, it can be exhausting at times and having someone else step in and take some of the burden is a big relief.

That’s why I appreciate you and Alyssa sharing your experiences. There are things I have no clue about but realize asking others to educate is a burden on top of an life of burdens, so I try to shut up and listen.

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One thing that had never crossed my mind before starting my transition is how slow the process is. I wish I could just flip a switch and BOOM have the changes I want, but that’s not how it works. I’m starting voice lessons this week (yay!) but voice training can take months, often over a year. HRT can have some visible effects after a month or two, but it takes about 3 years for breasts to fully develop.

I have my second laser hair removal appointment later this week. I am so excited for it – I’ve read tons of people’s experiences with LHR, and my hair / skin color contrast is big enough that it’s working unusually well on my body / leg hair. But even there you don’t get instant gratification: it takes 10-14 days for the dead hair follicles to start falling out. With several sessions, spaced 4-6 weeks apart, we are once again talking several months. LHR is less effective on the face, so many women get electrolysis after finishing LHR to get what the laser misses, and that takes another forever. And a very visible forever, as you can’t shave for a few days before hand (the hair has to be long enough to be grabbed by the machine). I really don’t want to do that, we’ll see how I feel about my face when the time comes.

The changes from day to day can be so small that it is hard to see the progress. I’ve taken to trying to zoom out and appreciate what has changed from month to month instead. Over the past 3 months, my makeup skills have gotten a lot better, I’m way less hairy, and I have both gotten much cuter clothes and made progress in figuring out what I like in clothes. I just got new, feminine glasses that I love. But the best part is that I’ve reached total certainty that this is what I need. At least once a day I find myself pausing and thinking about how glad I am that I have admitted to myself that I am a woman.


It does sound super exciting.

Shit, just dyeing my hair is exciting.

I’ve been slowly working my way through Whipping Girl by Julia Serano. It’s a classic book (2007-ish) that is credited with popularizing the adjective cis (b/c she got tired of writing non-trans everywhere) as well as the phrase misgendering. It’s most often described as a transfeminist manifesto, and has made various top 100 lists of books about feminism in general. But even though it is written by a trans woman, and aimed at trans women, enough of it is about issues that all trans people face that I think it is worth reading by a general trans audience.

I bring that up not just to plug the book, but because I occasionally find small throw away remarks of hers to be really quite interesting. One such small observation is that much of what is written about people who are trans focuses on the relatively short part of their lives in which they physically transition, partly because that’s something that most people don’t experience and thus interesting to others, and partly because most of the life of someone who is trans is really quite mundane.

Almost every day, I pause at some point to reflect on how glad I am to have realized that I am a woman, yet if an outside observer were to watch my life, my gender would seem to be largely irrelevant. I attend online meetings and futz with spreadsheets (or, if having an interesting work day, R). I go for runs and walks, do errands, etc. Other than the clothes that I am wearing, none of that depends on my gender. There are some transition specific things that I do, such as my voice exercises, but much of what has changed is my internal narrative and how I think of myself. And it seems to me that that is the way it should be. I am transitioning to be true to myself, not for what society thinks, so it makes sense that the biggest changes are in my own perspective.


I got my estrogen prescription this week! It comes in a pink box, which somehow feels both fun and condescending at the same time.

It’s crazy to think about everything that has happened since I admitted to myself that I am trans 5 months ago. If you had told me a year ago that I was trans I would have been briefly surprised, but then would have said that it totally makes sense. But there are also things that I’ve done that I would not have believed, like shaving my butt so that I can get laser hair removal on it.

Some of the changes feel so natural that I forget what is was like before them. I can’t imagine today what it is like to have a hairy chest and back, and yet not only did I have those, but they were also a major source of dysphoria for me.

I am very fortunate to live in one of the most trans friendly areas of the country. I’ve seen lots of people, mostly in less accepting areas, talk about staying completely closeted out of fear for a long period of time. And while I certainly understand that, I am glad that I have gotten over many of my initial fears. The first time that I went shopping for a skirt, I was too stressed out to have fun. But now it is enjoyable, which shopping for male clothes never was. The closer I am to the way I want to look, the more rewarding it becomes to do the irritating things (e.g., a skin care regimen) that I had never done before.

One of the most helpful things I have around here is a regular trans support group. The first time I went out dressed as myself was to that group, and I felt so out of place and uncomfortable on the way there. But having had a safe place for that helped, and now it feels natural – other than going to the gym, can’t think of the last time I wore male clothing. Having gotten more comfortable shopping and owning better clothes helps that a lot. At first, I did a lot of shopping at thrift stores to figure out sizes and styles. This resulted in a bunch of outfits that I ultimately disliked, and was pretty aggressive about redonating things once I realized I would never actually wear them. I think I don’t even own that first top I wore out and about. Buying half a dozen outfits at a thrift store and then giving them away again is cheaper than a therapy session, and perhaps more useful, so I don’t view any of that as being wasted money.


Huh. I take estrogen for menopause-related symptoms. I’ve had a few different brands/formulations. None seemed especially pink. Maybe they were, and i didn’t notice?

That’s not a trans thing. Nobody likes shopping for men’s clothing.

For some reason this struck me as funny and pleasing. It’s great to see that you’re able to go through this with a positive eye to the future.

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Actually, I met a lesbian earlier this year who I swear went clothes shopping in my closet. We were twins, right down to the shoes. I dunno, maybe she likes shopping for mens clothes. I didn’t ask. Probably not, her sense of fashion was pretty lacking.

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Also, sorry to keep posting in your thread, but I (and others) thought this was pretty cool:

Random thought that amuses me: spironolactone, which is one of the most common anti-androgen medication given to trans women, is also a diuretic so makes you pee constantly. This gives somewhat added importance to the bathroom issue

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