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aka Amber Goth

It is now six months since I began living living full-time as a woman.

My transition to the female gender full-time came about in early July, following this year’s Sparkle Transgender Weekend in Manchester.  It came about as a direct result of attending a presentation given by Dr. Luis Capitan, one of the facial feminisation specialist surgeons from Facial Team, based in Marbella, Spain and Sao Paulo, Brazil.

I had a private consultation with Dr. Capitan (for which there was no charge, unlike some FFS specialists, who charge even for initial consultations).  Dr. Capitan was very kind and listened carefully to what I said.  I explained what I thought I needed to have done, and he did not try to sell me unnecessary procedures which I did not want, but understood that for me, the most important thing was facial feminisation itself.  It sounds obvious, but what I mean by this is that my wish was to look like a ‘normal’ woman for my age as far as possible (or maybe a bit younger!), but that I wasn’t aiming to look like a Holywood starlet or Barbie Doll.

Apparently this is what some trans women want. Whilst it may be possible if you are prepared to go to a lot of extra expense for facelifts, eyelid surgery, and God knows what else (in addition to facial feminisation surgery), I felt it was important to have realistic expectations and was delighted with my new brow and nose, as soon as I saw them!  I was actually just pleased to wake up after the surgery and not be in pain, thanks to the care I was given by Dr. Capitan, Dr. Simon and the other members of the surgical team.  And the two Patient Care Coordinators, Ana and Lilia, also looked after me very well.

As will be seen from the photos on my previous post, I had very little bruising or swelling and after only seven days I didn’t look too bad at all, and was able to go for walks along the sea front in Marbella.  In fact, the bars and restaurants on that part of the promenade, near the Princesa Playa Apartment Hotel, are used to seeing Facial Team patients swathed in bandages – so I did go out even while I still had a nose plaster and pressure bandage on!  But I have always been quite upfront and honest with folk, so when we got chatting in the nearby Italian restaurant with the proprietors, I just told them about myself and why I was in Marbella.  I went back to show them the results a few days after the surgery, and they were so lovely in saying I looked fantastic now, although I still had the stitches in my nose!

There were two other Facial Team patients at the same hotel, Paula from Holland and Josephine from France, who were very pleasant people, and we wondered about all going out together in our bandages and sitting outside one of the bars – but we thought it might be a bit unfair on the owners – as what a frightening sight we would have made for other promenaders on the front!  (So we never did it – but it was nice to have other girls who were going through the same thing to talk to.)

So, my decision to stay as Kate and not to go back to being ‘him’ last July, after Sparkle, happened because I decided definitely to go ahead with facial feminization surgery, and it seemed stupid having made that major decision not to go full-time as a woman.  I was surprised myself, and I still am a little in shock that I finally made the decision so easily, but I guess it had been coming on for years, as I had been Kate more and more, and had been taking female hormones for over five years.  I think it was something that I always knew, at some deep, sub-conscious level, was bound to happen eventually.

And it is also strange that perhaps I knew that I would have FFS at some point – see my very first post on this blog, back in 2008: https://ambergoth.wordpress.com/2008/08/15/facial-feminizing-surgery-%E2%80%93-my-first-blog-entry/

At that time I didn’t know I would be able to have FFS in Spain, and thought I would have to go to California.  I am so glad that I had it done is Spain with Facial Team, as it it was such an easy low-cost flight to Malaga airport with EasyJet, and everyone at Facial Team looked after me so well.  I did get a quote from the clinic in San Fransisco, and also from the Boston clinic, but the U.S. clinics quote ridiculous prices, and there are so many extras they charge for – and of course it is much further to go back there if anything goes wrong.  The Facial Team quote was reasonable and included free accommodation at the Princesa Playa Apartment Hotel, an offer which they do at certain times of the year.  They arranged everything for me, and took the worry out of it, as much as it is possible to do, bearing in mind it is major surgery and it is fairly natural to feel a bit afraid. But in the end, by the second week, I just felt I was on holiday, as did Rosie, my partner, who had a great time and did some good Christmas shopping in Marbella.

So – how do I feel two months after my FFS and six months after transitioning?  Well, pretty fantastic, actually.  No regrets at all, and I have found myself wondering why I thought it was such a big deal and was so worried about transitioning and having FFS.  If you are considering either, go for it girl – you won’t be sorry!   Finally becoming the woman I always knew I was inside – is great!

WARNING ABOUT SPIRONOLACTONE
I don’t take Spironolactone any more – I had a severe allergic reaction to it earlier this week. I had only taken 25 mg of Spironolactone the night before, then another 25 mg the following morning, and I found I got a really bad rash, that looked like hives, all over my legs and back. I also got a headache, felt giddy and queasy. I felt so bad that I phoned the emergency G.P., who told me to come down immediately. He confirmed I had a severe allergic reaction to Spironolactone, and said I needed a blood test as soon as possible.

My wife took me straight to A & E at our local hospital, where I had a blood test. The results were that my potassium levels were low, but I wasn’t about to drop dead, fortunately! I was advised to have another blood/liver test in the next few days.

Is very worrying to think that the Trangender Care website (http://www.transgendercare.com/medical/resources/tmf_program/tmf_program_regimens.asp) says you can take up to 200 mg of it per day!

In the past I was what is sometimes called ‘an occasional TV’. I have gone for months and even years without cross-dressing, but lately I have got back into it again in a fairly frequent (and joyful!) way. I have been taking female hormones for about 8 months, and am starting to grow fairly obvious boobs. 

This is the second time I have taken female hormones; I took them for about six months a couple of years ago, then stopped, which I regretted.

This time I am carrying on with the hormones indefinitely. I don’t know where it’s going to lead or how far I’m going along the transgender path…we shall see. My partner (my wife of 31 years, Rosie) is enjoying the fact that I now have boobs, but also prefers to make love to someone with the requisite male parts below. Her ideal sex partner is perhaps a she-male, which is pretty much what I am becoming. How did this come about?

My attitudes to gender, feminine clothing, cross-dressing, sexual orientation, and to terms like ‘transvestite’, transsexual’, transgendered’, ‘she-male’, ‘drag queen’, etc. have changed and evolved over the years. I’ll get to that presently, because delineating the evolution of my own understanding of these subjects is partly tied up with the development, over the last 40 years or so, of social, psychological and genetic theories and explanations of transgenderism, ‘gender dysphoria’, or whatever you want to call it. 

According to developmental child psychologists, gender identity is established sometime between the ages of 1-2; at 18 months, most babies already have a notion of it, and where they fit in. The prevailing orthodoxy used to be to emphasize the importance of nurture over nature in gender identity development – the idea that one is mainly conditioned into one’s gender (pink for girls, blue for boys, etc.) I could quote the relevant academic references for this, but you’ll have to take my word for it, as this is a blog, not an academic treatise.

In the late 1980’s I did a dissertation for my Masters degree on the development of gender identity. There is still a copy of it in the University of Nottingham library, under my male name – and if you are interested in reading it, you’ll have to contact me through my FFG website (http://www.tgfiction.co.uk/ or YouTube channel (http://uk.youtube.com/user/ambergoth), so I could quote chapter and verse if I wanted to.

But suffice to say that social conditioning was considered to be crucial in developing a sense of gender, conditioning by parents and the wider society from birth onwards, being dressed as a girl or as a boy, and trained in the corresponding gender role, etc. This was very much in line with feminist thinking of the 60’s and 70’s. Girls and boys were conditioned into the acceptable norms of ‘feminine’ and ‘masculine’ social gender roles. Women are ‘made’, not born.

More recent theories on the development of gender identity and sexual orientation have tended by contrast to emphasize the importance of ‘nature’ over ‘nurture’ – it is suggested that much in the way of social bahaviour and psychological traits is genetically predetermined. There have been attempts to identify genetic factors leading to differences in brain chemistry and brain anatomy to explain transsexualism – is the brain of the male to female transsexual more like tha the brain of a woman? Likewise, can a ‘gay gene’ be identified which ‘explains’ homosexuality? Again, I could quote the recent research on one side or on the other – it’s out there if you want to find it – but it’s not within the scope of what I am trying to do now. 

I will just note in passing that I am firmly of the opinion that transgenderism and homosexuality are not just ‘life-style choices’ or ‘sicknesses’ that can be ‘cured’ or overcome with will power or the power of prayer. 

Fundamentalists of any of the three great monotheistic faiths who think otherwise are as bonkers as their religions. Yeah, that’s where I’m coming from, I’m an agnostic (sometimes verging on atheistic) secular liberal humanist and I have little time for god-botherers or creationists, the people of ‘faith’ who try to force their bigoted and intolerant views on the rest of us.

For me then, how did it all start? When did I first have feelings of wanting to be a girl and/or wear female clothing? 

Well. I’ll tell you that next time…