The dysphoria gremlin is staring at me…

I kinda wish it would just say something or leave, ya know?


So, been mulling over writing this on social media. Please, I’m not looking for support comments/replies. I’m okay. Truly. And it’s nothing dramatic, despite the length it’ll likely be. And I absolutely am NOT looking for pity or praise(like, please don’t, please, it’ll likely make me uncomfortable). It’s just venting ^^ Stream of consciousness working through my internalized issues kinda thing.

I just know that something that helped me out a lot was when I saw people go through stuff I did too and talk/vent about it. We all know social media can do a good job of making everyone’s life look better than yours, etc… which has been tied to depression in its own right. Fact is, we generally share our positive stuff on social media, for good reason, but it makes it look like we never have any negative stuff. Which is never true, is it?

The other part, I guess, that sometimes makes me hesitant to post these things is that whatever is bothering me, I know there’s someone out there that has it worse. And I feel ashamed sometimes that I’m writing about something that’s bothering me and someone else who’s struggling far more might read it and think it, rightfully even, silly. Or maybe they don’t write about it and here I am being dramatic with something they wish was all they had going on.

But I know it doesn’t really work that way. I should sometimes write what bothers me, in order for everyone else to see that things do. And maybe they will feel comfortable doing the same. Not in the typically angry troll kinda way, but just kinda cathartically vent the weights on their souls.

I suppose I should get to the point eh?

Content warning for the trans people who follow me, I will be addressing feelings of body image and dysphoria.

For anyone wondering how I’m doing re: transition, I’m doing great. Really. Much better than I ever imagined I would be. Most of my worst days in my new life I’ll still take over most of my best days of my previous life. I genuinely feel more alive. The changes I’ve undergone, emotionally as well as physically, fit and I still see it as damn near miraculous that they could be so dramatic.

I’m several months recovered from bottom surgery and while there’s still a few bugs to work out, so to speak, it’s mending well and it, again, genuinely fits me. As if this truly was meant to be. It feels right. And it’s one less thing that feels wrong.

These last couple weeks I’ve been experiencing what I’d call a ‘low key dysphoric episode’. Basically, a traditional one would floor me all day, and I’d possibly even go sobbing into a pillow. Frankly, the fact that those big ones have happened with faaaaaaaar less frequency in the past few months is a testament to transition in itself. But this ‘low key'(my words, not an official thing) basically means I’ve had a drag on my emotions.

A bit of latent back of the head depression and self loathing that I’ve mainly kept in check and managed to shake a few times when out with friends or family. It’s been hitting me a bit more the last few days though so I do wonder if I’m headed for one of those big episodes(possibly for the best if I do, I can cry it out and move on). The causes are all kinda body related(hence the ‘dysphoria’ bit, it’s the in-congruence between my internalized self and my body).

Part of it is it seems I plateau’d on my breast development again. It developed just enough to not qualify for health coverage but not enough to really be perceivable both by myself either via sensation or mirror, or by others if I don’t wear any clothing specifically made to either emphasize the hell out of it or intentionally faking how much of it is out there. And I know that isn’t a “trans only” problem, but it’s compounded with something else that can often bother me and literally can never be adjusted barring fancy sci-fi tech: my overall size. What development I’ve had would have shown up if I wasn’t a titan. My size also regularly affects what clothes I can find and where I can even buy it(hint: for most of it, I literally have no local options). And to say nothing of the affects it has to have to look at a downward angle to almost all the women in my life and how ‘othering’ that feels. But I am working through that. Really, again, I don’t really have a choice, I have to.

But that combined with my breast development hit me harder than I thought it would. But I’m working through that too, because, again, I kinda have to. My face takes priority. And therein lies the other thing that compounds on my overall dysphoria.

At some angles and in some lighting I can be surprised at how much my face has changed. Both from an emotional level and a hormonal one. But I need to wear my bangs a certain way to hide my brow bone. I wear glasses with a weak prescription even when I think I don’t really need them that day because they hide my eye sockets and my nose bridge, all impacted by my exposure to testosterone. My giant skull means I’m cautious how my hair is layered across it. Lest I see the ‘old me’ staring at me in the mirror again.

I need to take extra special care when I’m out so that I don’t get read as a “him” again because after so many years of it being done, being free from it for blissful periods of time means when it happens again it’s like reliving trauma.

It’s actually another reason I like the summer months. Whatever small tells I have that I’m not a guy vanish under heavy sweaters or jackets or clothing and the number of times I get read as a guy rockets straight up. It’s exhausting having to constantly wear a sign that says “I’m a woman” to minimize how often I get hurt.

But even with all that, not wanting to see the ‘old me’ staring at me in the mirror again is what I really hope for.

So I’ll be saving up for the next few years to effectively carve out mere millimeters from my skull in hopes of doing that. Which is where another source of this drag comes from.

It’s 100% my fault I need to save up that long. I was stupid with money for a long time. I’m paying for it now, and because of it, I need to undo that mistake to afford this, which is my fault. I keep lapsing on paying off the amount I want to each month(not the minimum payment or late payments or anything, just not the amount I want to cover additionally to lower my debt). My fault. If I hadn’t gotten a new car lease I could have used my current lease payments to get there so much sooner. Etc…

I’ve considered, given all this, going back to my therapist, but then my brain goes long game with “but that’d be another $120 not being put into that thing you know would help this”. Maybe I should just finally put my name in for public therapy? I mean, even if it takes 2+ years to get in, not like this is gonna change by then…

Yeah, capitalism and a generally accepted idea in current society that healthcare should cost this much if there’s even a chance a cisgender person might use it to look prettier on instagram makes for quite the stress modifier, doesn’t it?

Either way, there’s my vent. I’ll be fine. Like muggy weather, I suspect I just need to wait for the lightning(read: sobbing fit) to clear the air a bit until next time. But writing this out probably helped too. Hopefully for someone else ashamed or unsure about their ill feels, seeing that we’re all human and go through our own little internal battles helps too ^^;

New Ex-pee-riences (not sorry)

Stolen from //

I originally posted this on Twitter some time ago. Figured it would be a good idea to archive it here as well. Also makes it easier to read or refer to than a tweetstorm.

Effectively, I’ve been analyzing my new experiences post-GRS[note]Surgery that altered my genitalia, the surgeons constructed a vulva, clitoris and vagina using my penis[/note]. with both excitement and curiosity. On occasion, documenting it with some specificity.

One thing I’d always wondered about and at last got the opportunity to study was the changes in peeing. Effectively how it would feel as someone who’d possessed a penis all this time.

[Go on…..]

Trans in Dreamland

I’ve been meaning to write this for a while. I see very little about this anywhere and it quite possibly may just be a ‘me’ thing.

So for anyone new here I’ll describe myself briefly. I’m Rae [Hi!] and I’ve known I was trans since I was a little kid but waited until I was 34 before coming out. I’ve been living as a woman and medically transitioning for over a year now.

I’m also not much of a dreamer.  In that I don’t often recall dreaming most mornings. I’d say it happens once or twice a week lately, but I’ve gone months with no remembered trip to dreamland.

And besides that, me and dreamland have a…complicated relationship.

[Go on…..]

Happy New Year!

So here we are at last. 2018.  And 2017 was a heck of a year.

2017 was a genuine mess for many people and in many places on Earth. From the emboldening of white supremacists to pretty much everything Trump has done to even more Jordan Peterson (as Tabatha Southey put it, “the stupid man’s smart person“). For many people, 2017 was a hellish year, and my heart truly goes out to those impacted. I hope the more hopeful and happy tone of the rest of my writeup doesn’t come off as dismissive to those who truly did have a particularly nasty 365 days. May your 2018 be much better and more hopeful.

For myself personally, it was actually a pretty good year. Though it started rough….

[Go on…..]

Don’t Worry Bigots, C-16 Won’t Outlaw Your Shit Personalities

So a few weeks ago, the Canadian senate voted on a bill that then got royal assent the following Friday officially labelled C-16. More colloquially it was called the “Trans Rights Bill”.[note] I don’t envy much of the U.S. political or legal system these days, but they do kick our asses in naming their bills, don’t they?[/note]

The bill actually failed to pass a couple times prior. In both cases blocked by the senate due to the tireless efforts of a senator and full time old crank Don Plett. And boy did Plett try his darndest to once again enforce his biases upon this country because, dammit, he’s gonna be the arbiter of all that is “proper” if it’s the last thing he does(gods willing, it will be).

It passed this time in a faith-in-humanity-restoring  67-11 with only three people abstaining. And lo did the bigots cry foul. People from the Ezra Levant camp of How-Can-People-be-This-Cartoonishly-Vile-and-Stupid to American Republicans and Trumpsters poking their noses in thinking we’re one of their states and decrying “This ain’t constitutional!” (you could tell when they’re American or just wanna-be Americans when they start calling the Charter ‘The Constitution’ or refer to its definitions or laws within under American amendment names).

[Go on…..]

Almost a Year In

I’m sitting here on a bench in Point Pleasant Park a few weeks away from the date I decided to stop hiding from my family. Sitting on a bench, in a dress and sun blocking hat to avoid sun burning my to-be-lasered-again face, sporting a choker with a rainbow tinted glass leaf gifted to me by my mom. It’s 26C with a nice breeze. I still have lots on my mind, but I have big thing less.

Selfie of myself in the park
Summer At Last

At this point last year I was also taking pictures and walking around, but in cargo shorts, likely a XXL t-shirt kept dark lest the pit stains get to it, thinking moments like these where I could forget myself was as good as it was gonna get. Wandering alone, between social gatherings, and completely oblivious to the turbulent month that was going to follow.

It was about one month later I would surrender and bring down the walls I had built to “protect” myself from…well…myself.

Twitter confession where I mention I've slept for the first time in days.
This tweet was made the day after I came out to a friend for the 1st time.

On this date last year I had no idea what I’d turn into. I assumed I was static. Teetering always on the brink of something or other. But assuming I had reached “peak Réal”, which, in a sense, I did. There was nowhere else to go but further down. My life was scripted, syndicated and running reruns. Already I was wearing out, like someone who can really only watch that same episodes of M*A*S*H so many times before grimacing at any Allan Alda vodka pun.

So where are things now?  What’s the status report? The briefing so to speak.

I still have lots on my mind. Obviously. I sometimes even pine for the simplicity of my less complicated before-life. But for the first time something new is on TV. It’s like one of those serial dramas, where I can’t look away. I’d binge watch if I could, even.

I’ve learnt so many new things about myself and about life experience in general. I can even take selfies and not cringe at the picture staring back!

Not everything’s moving as fast as I’d like. But it’s moving, goddammit. For the first time in ages, I feel life moving forward, not back. Even as the Western world polarises, even as the economy plays games, boomers attack the young, Nazis are thinking they’re “hip” and fetishizing frogs for some reason, I still can finally look at this world, this life, and experience it.

As myself. For myself. I’m sitting on this bench, in a park, in a dress, alive.

Why I Selfie So Much

Or How I Learned To Love The Front Camera


Anyone who’s been following me on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram will notice I’ve gone a little selfie heavy lately. This is behaviour I only started noticing myself fairly recently on reflection and pre-transition, was just not a thing I did….ever. Like, seriously, my Facebook profile pic was Charles Beams for years, broken only by cartoon renditions of myself which typically looked nothing like myself. Really, I had to go back basically when I first joined Facebook over a decade ago to see an actual real life picture of my face. So what gives?

No I haven’t become some vain diva insisting you all look at my mug. Honest.

The reality is really a combination of factors but they boil down to this: Progress tracking and disbelief.

Understand that up until about half a year ago, seeing my visage in photographs viscerally grossed me out. I hated seeing that guy on the picture and having to come to terms with the fact that that vaguely George Strombo meets Shrek looking mofo was me. Any picture I was in I’d toss a wry smile and what wrestling fans will call the people’s eyebrow in order to kinda distract from my visage[note] seriously, find one picture of me closeted where I’m not doing some variation of that unless it’s like a professional photo or wedding or something, I dare you [/note]. To make me look less awkward, I suppose.

But yeah, I’d avoid the camera when I could, so even finding picture of closeted me is sparse unless they were taken before I noticed.

So really, lots of my selfies arise from a position of disbelief. I can look at myself and think, yeah, it needs work, but this is me! I’m so gobsmacked to have a reflection, photographic or otherwise, I’m not ashamed of I gotta take the pic and go “Holy shit, guys, look at this!”

The other reason is a bit more measured and technical.  Transition is slow, and progress is extremely gradual. It’s easy to think nothing is happening. So tracking metrics like measurements, photos, etc… are valuable. Case in point, I was certain my arms were the exact same shape and size as last summer until I looked at a tracking sheet I made in a spreadsheet and saw a change of 1-2 inches in diameter on the forearm and upper arms respectively. But over the course of many months. So none of this registers.

So yeah, the second reason I take lots of photos of myself is sometimes just to remind me that shit is happening. Even when it feels like it isn’t.

In the back of my mind I wonder if I’m annoying anyone by doing this so much. But likely won’t stop, sorry 😉


Two Fun Identity Moments Today

Today I had two fun identity related moments. Little reminders that despite how recently, relatively speaking [note] it still feels like muuuuch longer [/note] my transformation started in earnest. Both were relatively affirming.

For the first anecdote, a little background: For the previous 3-4 years I would bike or, more recently, drive [note] I now use my bike mainly on a nearby nature trail which is far less stressful than Halifax roads [/note] to the farmer’s market on the Halifax waterfront on Saturdays. I usually use the time to fetch fresh cat grass for the cat, some produce, maybe some protein, and have some local eats at the local vendors, finished off by a damn good latté upstairs.

I also would typically get my eats at a little prepared food vendor called Stella’s Antiguan Cuisine,  that had some delicious jerk chicken. It was a stable and warm meal, which was especially important during the time I’d bike there. Stella herself is almost a stereotype. A kind and warm Caribbean woman, age unknown but north of 40, who looks like someone who’s invited many a guest into her kitchen for some delicious chemistry. And, most relevant to this anecdote, the type of person who’d recognize a repeat customer.

Due to dieting [note] initially to fend off diabetes, later as part of my transition [/note] I started avoiding the Stella booth, but always glancing over at it.

Today, I gave in and ordered me some jerk chicken. Stella was eyeing me, narrowing her eyelids, seemingly trying to figure something out. I had a pretty good idea why. I broke the ice.

“I used to come here every Saturday, I’ve been craving this for months.”

“Oh?” [still squinting]

“Yeah! Would bike in. Would usually order the jerk chicken and veg. This stuff would really hit the spot.”

“It usually does!” [slight chuckle, squinting intensifies]

“Of course I looked a little different last year.”

At this point I could tell she was really struggling with something. [note] I want to state here that there was no lineup at the moment, I wouldn’t be occupying her time if there was. I’m not a jerk…all the time anyways. [/note] So I proceed to give her my driver’s license, which as of this writing is still an old photo of me, about 100lbs heavier and very male looking. I could see the recognition on her face immediately.

“Now that makes sense!! Ha! I thought you were his sister or something, but couldn’t remember such a person ever coming in!”

We joked a bit, she said I was looking good, that I looked happier. Did some of the traditional small talk and walked away, delicious jerk chicken in hand.

I thought you were his sister or something!

The second moment was at the local pharmacy. Me and a friend were doing what’s basically become a traditional Saturday early evening cosmetics run in the cheap makeup aisle prior to fetching some Mediterranean food at the resto next door. When we’d done our scouting, picked up a few wares and glanced at the impossibly expensive stuff longingly(or suspiciously), we went to the cosmetics counter to pay. And I immediately recognized one of the two ladies who were behind it.

She was the one working when I first went in, last fall, right before closing, looking like a dude but muttering meekly “I…I’m looking for some makeup….but not dude makeup….I’m not sure how to even say this….I’m transitioning, I guess? I’m…I need to feminize my face if that makes any sense.” Thinking back, I acutely remember how terrified I was on my first makeup run. And this woman was the person who would deal with this clueless, anxious 6’2″ guy walking into the makeup section and asking to be made pretty. She handled it like a champ and, while I probably wouldn’t have picked as much expensive stuff as she threw into my starter kit, of sorts, she did get me started. And did her dang best to put me at ease. [note] despite the sticker shock [/note]

So here was this young woman who’d help start it all, whom I surprisingly hadn’t run into since, despite being at that pharmacy often.

I decide, “What the heck? It was fun with Stella.” So I breech the subject again and said

“I think you were the one here the first time I ever came in here to buy makeup.”

She didn’t need my ID to know who I was after I brought that up. Though I showed it to her coworker for context (who gasped). Apparently my impact on her was pretty big as well, as she’d remembered that day herself. It’s not every day someone walks into your makeup shop in literal desperation and looking like a deer in headlights, I suppose. And she recalled both how anxious I was, as well as how relieved I was by the end (sticker shock notwithstanding).

Either way, two fun little moments as I say goodbye to Réal on my way to becoming Rae. Thought I’d share, and finally make a post on this blog.