Saturday, 13 August 2005

A Very Personal Note

A Brain Link, this one. In more ways than one.

To the best of my knowledge and belief, this is what has been happening to me in the last 3 months. Please bear in mind that I can't possibly be objective here, being "in the middle of it" as it were, and later data may change the picture. But I'm fairly confident of the basic situation now, enough to blog it, even though some of the details may turn out to be partly incorrect.

On May 4th, I suffered what is known as a GD Crisis.
At some point, the defense mechanisms and barriers that let the Transsexual function break down and it is impossible for the person to reestablish the shell that they have projected to others. This usually happens about ages 30 to 45.
(OK, I'm a late starter) At about the same time, my endocrine system went a little haywire. Whether there is a causal connection isn't known, neither is it known which caused which. My bet's on the endocrine system being causal, but there's no evidence either way.

What this meant psychologically was that feelings I'd had for a long time, but which hadn't ever caused me any particular misery or anguish, suddenly intensified to the point that I was dysfunctional.
The discrepancy between what their mind and soul is and what they see in the mirror produces the Dysphoria. The symptoms are
physical pain, agitation, and debilitating depression. Things that used to be meaningful diminish to extinction. The pain is like what is felt when a loved one dies. Eventually, the individual has to address the problem or become nonfunctional. Twenty percent attempt suicide. It is clearly not a choice one makes or wants.
Could I have gotten over it, or at least lived with it? The scientific evidence of others' experiences says not, at least, not in the long term, but I'm not so sure. The physical changes weren't as great as I'd thought, quite, and anyway plenty of Female-to-Male Transsexuals manage quite adequately with worse. Physically, I could have done it, as long as the feminisation didn't continue. Mentally... I don't know.
There is no cure, therapy, or medication to cure the Dysphoria once it breaks into the open. Treatment is directed towards options. The brain cannot be changed so the body image has to be altered. Some live part time in the gender of their mind and that may be sufficient. For most, about 99%, treatment is directed towards changing the body to match the mind. This involves hormonal therapy to match the brain, psychotherapy to deal with the stresses of transitioning from one gender to another, and eventually sex reassignment surgery. The Harry S. Benjamin Institute determines the standards and protocols for treatment. It is a worldwide illness.
Anyway, when it happened, I thought "Time to see a Doctor", to either get some biological treatment, or psychiatric therapy to "cure" my intense discomfort. Rationally, the latter would have been preferred, I had a wife, a son, a career, a place in society, all of which would be at grave risk should I make any change. But I just couldn't see not changing as an alternative, though I was looking to see if it might be possible. Mixed hope (for security and a return to safety) and fear (that my impossible dreams would be shattered). It was also my duty to see what alternatives there were, there were people other than myslf to consider, in particular, a 4 year old boy.

It's important to realise that unlike most sufferers of GD (Gender Dysphoria), I hadn't lived an unrelenting life of misery and discomfort just because the body was wrong. I'd been, if not exactly ecstatic, at least content with my lot. Who wouldn't be, with such an interesting life so far, and with such a wonderful family?

I dodn't blog about this, for obvious reasons.

No-one was more surprised than I when the blood test results and somatic (body) changes which preceeded me getting those results showed that my body was already changing to some degree. I got the changes well before I'd researched what Hormone Therapy could do to a male body, but it all matched up. For example, the changes to skin texture and sensitivity, the oil content of the scalp, changes to perception, all of which I blogged about at the time. What didn't, and still doesn't, make any sense is the rapidity of the changes, far too fast to be within the possibilities of normal short-term hormonal imbalance. They weren't as extensive as I thought at the time (and body self-image is notoriously subjective), but objective witnesses were there to reassure me that they were there, nonetheless.

This stuff I could blog about, a bit of a detective puzzle, trying to find out exactly what the heck was going on. I mentioned in passing that this was no great tragedy for me, as indeed it wasn't, but that was all.

As time went by, the mystery deepened. Hypotheses and theories were formulated and discarded as the results of each new test came in. The results of the latest blood test series can be summarised as follows (and bear in mind I'm emphatically not an endocrinologist):

Oestrodiol level 195 - but levels of up to 250 have been recorded in "normal" males, so although it's high, on it's own it's no great drama. As part of a pattern dating back several months, perhaps of concern, but not overly so. As long as SHBG was low or normal, and Testosterone high, there wouldn't be many effects.

Tetosterone level borderline abnormal. Very low indeed, 19 out of 20 males of all ages have more. More appropriate for 97 than 47, but still, on its own, no big deal. In conjunction with a high oestrodiol level, well, as long as SHBG was relatively low, still no great problem.

SHBG - Definitely abnormally high. Not grossly so, 20% over maximum normal, maybe double or triple the average. This meant that my FAI - Free Androgen Index - a measure of how much "effective" testosterone I had - was grossly abnormally low, and the high oestrodiol level was uninhibited.

Other indicators of adrenal and pituitary activity showed low figures for my age. These levels would be elevated (or at best, normal) if there was any neoplasm (tumour) causing the hormonal weirdness. I'm no endocrinologist, but I think it's possible that the body's normal feedback mechanisms were trying to stem the hormonal tide by cutting down glandular activity. Anyway, if so, it wasn't working.

I don't know what convinced probably the leading endocrinologist in the country to immediately prescribe a course of Hormone Replacement Therapy. Perhaps it was the 1-hour interview he had with my partner, where she confirmed both the somatic changes, and my longing to correct Nature's mistake now I had a chance. Perhaps it was the photos I brought, illustrating the change, because somatically I was still within "male norms", just. 30% of men eventually get some form of gynacamastea for example. Perhaps it was me having adopted a permanent female presentation the previous week, when someone comes in wearing a skirt, blouse, high heeled boots and looks reasonably natural in them, a diagnosis of GD is not unlikely. Or perhaps it was the blood chemical indicators that (if I've read them rightly - I'm no endocrinologist) showed my system was in serious trouble.

The point is, I'm now on feminising HRT, and have been since the 5th. I changed my name officially to Zoe Ellen Brain (from Alan Edwin Brain) last week, today I just got my new drivers license (with a very flattering photo) and car registration details were updated, my new medicare card will be sent to me soon, and now all I've got to do is change the name on the title deeds to the properties we own, bank accounts, credit card accounts, electoral roll, tax file, electricity/sewerage/water accounts, ISP account, Broadband/Phone/Cable TV account, oh yes, and a "change of circumstances" security form.

I've still yet to get a bra that fits. And I've found zero correlation between the size marked on women's clothes, and how big they actually are.

As the young lady at the motor registry said when I put in the change-of-name details, "You look really great! Welcome to Womanhood!"

1 comment:

Rhonda said...

You are SO special, sis.

I love you.