Hello there, my name is Cara (pronounced “Care uh”) and this is my blog. This blog’s purpose is to be a record of my own unique experiences and perspective on the world as seen through my eyes. I write it to simply be a means of preservation of who I am and what I stand for. I also write it in the hope that my words will help bring about understanding between people with different and often conflicting points of view. The tone of this blog will not be judgmental or harsh. Rather, it will be calm, rational, and compassionate. I will listen to any opinion no matter how ignorant or different it is from my own and I will do my best to not react in an irrational way.
If I were to choose words to categorize myself right now, as a person, I would choose: transgender, transhumanist, liberal, spiritual agnostic, humanist, environmentalist, equalist (which includes subcategories such as feminist, LGBTQA supporter, etc.), asexual, one having ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder), and gynephile. I know that last one might sound a bit disturbing if you don’t know the definition. All it means is a person who is attracted to or one who loves women. I will cover each of these categories in separate posts in much more detail.
What follows are a series of Frequently Asked Questions and reactions that a MtF (Male to Female) transgender person might be asked. These questions / reactions are ones I have either been asked, how I thought some people might react, or questions I thought others might ask me about at some point or may be curious about. Some of these questions might be a little too personal in nature. If you do not want to know the answer then skip over it. I encourage you all to read through them all to have maximum potential for understanding me and possibly other transgender people in general.
01) Q:What do you mean when you say you are transgender?
A: “Transgender” is an umbrella term, one that encompasses a variety of other terms, that deal with gender expression. I am transgender because I feel like I’m female even though my body is male. This is known as Gender Dysphoria. Gender and sex are not synonyms in the way that transgender people, and some other people too, use them. I am also going through a transition process from male to female to align my male body with my female mind by changing my masculine physiology to a feminine physiology.
02) Q: What is gender then? What is sex? What is gender dysphoria?
A: Gender refers to how a person sees themselves in their own mind. Gender is what’s between the ears (mind/spirit). Sex refers to the physiology of the body. Sex is what’s between the legs (body). Gender dysphoria is when a person’s mind/spirit doesn’t match their body. When this happens, a state of confusion and anxiety can arise causing a person great amounts of stress and depression.
03) Q: What does it feel like to have gender dysphoria?
A: This is going to be a bit of a longer answer, so my apologies. The best way I can think to describe it to someone who doesn’t experience it for themselves is to imagine playing a character. I feel as if I were assigned a role that doesn’t fit me against my own choosing. Everyone recognizes me only as this character. My costume is stuck on me, permanently. When I look in the mirror I see a stranger, a stranger that I realize everyone else knows me as, and I don’t like it. It makes me feel very uncomfortable, stressed, and occasionally depressed. I feel like anything that I accomplish in my life, the credit will go to this stranger. Sometimes I don’t feel like trying because of this. When I speak, the voice that always comes out of my mouth both surprises and horrifies me because it’s not how I hear my voice in my head. So, I tend to write more and speak less, at least until I develop my female voice more.
I’m an actress hidden in the body of a male character. I want to take off my mask and costume and show the world who I am so I can get credit for the experiences in my own life, not my character. However, some people don’t see it as that. They see it as the opposite. They think I’m hiding myself from the world and playing a character by changing, when in fact the reverse is true. I’m taking off a costume, not putting one on. This is why it can become incredibly frustrating for some transgender people to try to explain how they feel to others. Transgender people feel like they are being known as something that they are not.
For others, non transgender (cisgender) people, the opposite appears true. They know a person as something they are, to them, and then they start acting like something they’re not, to them. I don’t blame others for thinking or feeling that way, but my identity is something others will never fully understand as they haven’t lived my life and had my experiences. Just as I cannot ever fully understand another person’s perspective, they cannot understand mine. I do believe through listening and using language more precisely to the best of our ability that we can get a glimpse of what a person’s life is like for them. We can try on their shoes for a bit and expand our own perspective on the world by looking through another’s eyes. We can grow.
04) Q: Have you always felt this way?
A: Yes, I have always had this sort of feeling that I didn’t feel comfortable in my male body. I didn’t always know that I wanted to be female, but I have always felt different from others. Before puberty things weren’t so bad. During and after puberty however, I was a very angry person and I didn’t know why. In the spring of 2013, by random chance surfing the web, I learned what being transgender meant and had the realization that I was transgender and a desire to explore my gender identity.
05) Q: Are you sure this isn’t just a phase?
A: Yes, I tried various steps to figure out exactly how I felt. At first I thought that maybe if I just dressed in nicer clothes and was more clean cut then I would feel better. I tried to think of other ways to be happy as a male, but neither worked. They just made me feel more depressed and upset. I finally went to a therapist who specializes in gender identity and got another perspective in May 2014. I eventually realized that I’d never know for sure if I was transgender or not unless I tried to actually transition by starting with hormone replacement therapy (hrt). From the first day I took hormones, I knew that transition was right for me. I felt a sense of comfort in my own skin for the first time in my life and as I’ve gone further with hormones and other steps in transition I’ve only felt more comfortable with myself.
06) Q: Have you ever contemplated suicide?
A: Yes, I have certainly thought about it several times. I have even thought about how. When I feel like not trying, I get into a depressed state where I feel incredibly lonely and worthless. In this state I can be very mean to myself. That’s when I think about it. However, I would never act on any of those thoughts because I think suicide is a waste of a life and very selfish. When one commits suicide not only is one knowingly causing others pain and stopping all of their negative experiences, one is stopping all experiences, even the positive ones. Any potential good that could come from one’s life is extinguished. Any benefit to humanity, gone.
07) Q: Why are you choosing to be this way? Why do you feel this way?
A: The only choice I’m making is to transition. I didn’t choose to feel gender dysphoria and feel awkward my whole life. I’m choosing to do something about this default feeling I was given. I can’t just wish it away. As for why, there is the possibility that being transgender has something to do with an error in my development during my mother’s pregnancy. I haven’t read much of the research on this answer as to why, because I do not feel the need to know why. All I needed to know was what to do about it.
08) Q: Why are you outing yourself? Are you trying to get attention?
A: I am outing myself because I’m tired of hiding who I am. I want to feel genuine and real. By not acknowledging this part of me, I feel fake. I am not trying to get attention and am not acting out. I merely want to bring attention to the issues and perspectives associated with being transgender and provide a calm, compassionate voice of reason for others to listen to.
09) Q: Since you feel like a woman, does that mean that you’re attracted to men?
A: This is a very common misconception. People tend to mix up sexual orientation with gender and sex. It is not a part of gender or sex. It is in its own category. All three are separate categories. Think of it as: sex is what’s between the legs; gender is what’s between the ears; sexual orientation is what happens between the sheets. I plan on going into more detail in a future blog post on how I view sexual orientation, as a gynephile. With my transition under way, that technically makes me a homosexual, since I identify as female, even though I was considered heterosexual before I started my transition. That’s where the confusion starts and why I prefer the term gynephile.
10) Q: Does cross dressing turn you on?
A: No, it does not. For some people who cross dress it can be a sexual fetish. It is not for me. When I wear women’s clothing I feel a sense of comfort and relief. An interesting question to think about might be: have I been cross dressing most of my life by wearing male clothing, since I identify as female?
11) Q: What restroom do you use?
A: I try to use Family restrooms where available, but still use the Men’s restroom for now. If Family restrooms were more available, I would use them every time until I had sex reassignment surgery. I would then switch to the Women’s restroom or continue to use the Family restroom. The restroom question is a big area of conflict in which I understand both sides very well and hope for a compromise.
12) Q: Is your family supportive? Is your partner staying with you? Can you still have children?
A: My family doesn’t understand it, but they are as supportive as they can be. Yes, my partner is staying with me. Sometimes a relationship is more than just what body parts one has, but it also helps that she is bisexual. I will not be able to have children and I thought about that before undergoing hormone replacement therapy and decided that if I ever want children then I will adopt.
13) Q: What do I call you? How did you pick your new name?
A: Call me Cara and please use female pronouns from here on out. I had thought about several names and tried out Samantha for awhile but it didn’t feel quite right. I was determined to figure out my name so I sat down and started looking through baby names on the computer. I couldn’t decide on a letter but eventually got to C and saw the name Cara on there. It was sort of like the wand choosing the wizard/witch, for you Harry Potter fans. The name felt like it leaped out and chose me. As soon as I found it I realized why I liked it so much. One of my biggest supporters’ first name is Carrie. So, that gave me the pronunciation of “Care uh” rather than “Car uh”. I liked that it was similar and I could sort of honor her and her friendship in my name without stealing her name fully.
There is also an animation that I love to watch. The link is here if anyone is interested. In that animation the main character’s name is Kara (pronounced “car uh”). I sort of felt like Kara because she’s being assembled and experiences life for the first time in adult form. This is similar to how I feel as I’m transitioning. When she says “My name is Kara,” that’s the same reaction I had as soon as I discovered my name. Another fun thing I realized about the name Cara is its sound is half of the word “character.” This applies to me because not only do I love to create characters but I also think character is the only thing a person should be judged for. Also, Cara means “beloved, and friend” and I love that meaning and strive to be those things.
14) Q: Referring to you with a different name and female pronouns makes me uncomfortable; why should I do what you ask?
A: I know that using a different name and different pronouns is a lot to take in and get used to. I will be very patient and gently correct you as you make the transition from saying “Scott” to saying “Cara” and from saying “he” to saying “she.” I understand that it can make you feel uncomfortable and I’m sorry for being the cause for that. I never want to make others uncomfortable even though I know that I will inevitably do that unintentionally; simply because every one of my actions will have consequences, and one of these possible consequences is to make people uncomfortable.
However, that is not my intention. My intention is to finally be me and to feel as if I’m living my life genuinely. I am aware that it is selfish of me to change myself like this. However, it is also selfish of you to not honor my wishes and expect me to live in pain for the rest of my life. From both of our perspectives we are right. The biggest difference in our perspectives is that my perspective is one of growth (I want to be me) whereas yours is one of preservation (I want you to stay the same). If our roles were reversed, I’d respect your wishes and address you by whatever you wanted to be called. I also believe that someone’s gender identity is for him/her to choose for himself/herself, not something that others choose for him/her.
15) Q: You said you were transitioning from male to female; what are the stages of transitioning?
A: The stages are different from person to person. I will list my future plans and stages so far. They are: realization, therapy, hormone replacement therapy, voice lessons, electrolysis, name change, surgery, sex marker on ID change. Thus far I have only completed the stages up to voice lessons, but hope to be starting electrolysis to remove my facial hair soon.
16) Q: How does hormone replacement therapy work? How have you changed since being on hormones? Are there any risks?
A: I am taking medications, by mouth, to reduce my testosterone levels and raise my estrogen levels. Testosterone is a very strong hormone so I have to take a testosterone blocker, called Spironolactone, to weaken it so that estrogen replacement will work. The estrogen I take is called Estradiol. I also take Medroxyprogesterone which is progesterone and will help with breast development.
I now have softer and smoother skin, body hair loss, total loss of sex drive (thank goodness!), slight fat redistribution, breast growth, more food cravings / being hungrier, have to use the restroom more frequently, and a feeling of calmness.
There are risks. Since I’m taking sort of large doses of these medications it’s working my liver quite a bit more than it’s used to handling. There is also an increased risk of blood clots. I go to the doctor who prescribed my hormones, my endocrinologist, to get my levels checked and test to make sure my body is handling the medications well. So far there haven’t been any dangerous effects. The only thing that’s happened is my testosterone levels shot up and my estrogen levels were low so he raised the dosage on my estrogen some. That was quite a scare and disappointment.
??) S: You are a sinner. You are going to Hell. You are Satan’s handiwork. I’m keeping you away from my children because I don’t want you to make them gay and transgender. I hate you and want everyone to know your secret. This is wrong.
R: This is not a question or even a series of questions. These are statements. By using statements, rather than asking me questions, people saying these things are basically telling me that they do not want to really have a conversation. Their statements are saying they do not care about my point of view. They indicate that they want to push their own agenda. Knowing this, I will respond to these statements with a series of questions mixed with a few of my own opinions thus giving these people the courtesy of possibly having a conversation so that I may learn something new and continue growing as a person.
If I’m Satan’s handiwork and apparently such a threat, then why did God allow Satan to create me or tempt in the first place? If God knows all and is all powerful then he knew that allowing me to be created he was not only condemning me to Hell but also knew what effects my life would have before I was born on the world he created. He had the power to stop it if he chose to. So, why did he let me live and give me a chance? Perhaps I was sent here to help open people’s hearts to differences and help them learn how to accept other people. Perhaps I was sent here as a lesson for these people to learn to stop judging others, since that’s not their job anyway, and to wish everyone the best and want to see their happiness grow and dreams achieved.
Simply being around me will not change their children into something they’re not. I’m not going to try to convince them that being transgender or gay is awesome, but I might convince them that being themselves is awesome. If their children are gay or transgender then I feel that they have a right to know. If the their parents keep them in the dark about what being gay and or transgender actually is then if the children are transgender or gay they will feel isolated, scared, possibly suicidal, and definitely angry. By not exposing children to as many new and different experiences as they can be given and limiting their world view, they are being condemned to not understanding things that are happening to them and could very well be subjected to prolonged mental pain as a result. Why would anyone want to make their children feel like that?
It’s no secret. I’m out now and open to any criticism and questions people have for me. I do worry about people who spend all their energy hating someone though. It does us no favors. Hate makes people feel stressed and will probably spill over into other areas of our lives. If one does not want to try to understand what I’m going through and has such a different outlook on life than I do then perhaps it’s best to just agree to disagree and leave one another alone.
If they wish to do this then there are no hard feelings between us and I will gladly give them the space they need. Even if it is indefinitely. Whether they are friend or family doesn’t make a difference; if their values are so different that I cannot be accepted as the person I am inside and trying to be outside then quite frankly I do not need them in my life. I have other people who love and accept me for who I am, so why would I try to fix a relationship that will never work out when I can instead invest that energy into a relationship that will grow? Why would they?
As for what I am doing being right or wrong, that is subjective. Right and wrong can change from whichever perspective you take. Think of war. No one wants to be seen as the wrong side. No one side is “right” and the other side “wrong.” Those words were created and used to give more value to one side rather than the other side. That way people would stick with someone else’s plan. Right and wrong are meant to divide people. What I’m doing probably isn’t right for some people. These people are probably feeling in tune with their bodies and minds. However, it is right for me. I want to be in tune with my body and mind, same as everyone else, by changing my body to match my mind. We don’t have to be enemies, we can be friends. If we can’t be friends then we can learn to appreciate each other’s differences and to respect each other’s values no matter how different they are from our own.
Well that’s it for my first post. I hope you enjoyed it and I hope you learned something. If you have any other questions about transition or want to know more about me please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you like this FAQ format then perhaps I will do another post with this format on another topic. Thank you for reading.