My transition story: an offering for the Transgender Day of Remembrance

by Pace on November 20, 2007

Today is the Transgender Day of Remembrance, which is set aside to remember trans people who were killed because of transphobia or prejudice against transfolk.

It’s good to raise awareness of the fact that trans people are being killed simply for the crime of being who they are and expressing who they are. That’s simply horrible, and it’s good to show the world that horrible things are happening; we can’t solve a problem if we don’t even know the problem exists. It’s good to raise awareness of trans issues in general; the more familiar something becomes, the less likely others are to fear it. All this is good. But I want to provide a counterpoint to all that. Here is my offering for the DoR.

This is the story of my transition from male to female. This is a story of a transwoman who wasn’t murdered for being who she was, but is instead living a very happy and very fulfilling life. Let’s try to make the world a place where more stories can be like this one instead of like these.

In October 2002, when I was 26, I had my first inkling that I might not really be male on the inside. I started imagining what it would be like to be female, and it felt more right to me. It wasn’t that being male felt wrong, at least not yet; it’s just that being female felt like it might be more right. I had thought about transgenderism in the abstract before, but it wasn’t until I met and interacted with some other MtF transsexuals that it changed from a theoretical to an actual thing for me; it changed from something interesting to think about to something I could actually do.

So I thought about it a lot and decided to try an experiment. I decided to try taking estrogen for 3 months, then stop (at least for a while) and evaluate what hormonal balance was best for me. Also, I was experimenting with pronouns. I experimented with gender-neutral pronouns for a couple of months (super challenging) and then slid over to female. I found that I became happier and happier to be treated as female in social situations, and became unhappier and unhappier to be treated as male.

I started getting my face zapped with a laser in November 2002. (This was to remove my facial hair.) Even if I wasn’t going to transition, I still hated having facial hair, so it was a win/win situation… except of course for the extreme pain.

I started taking estrogen and spironolactone (an androgen blocker) in December 2002. I was impatient and didn’t want to cut through the Harry Benjamin red tape, so I found a doctor in San Antonio who respected my choice to do what I wished with my body; who would give me estrogen and make sure I was in good health. The estrogen changed my body in many ways, and it felt so good. I used to feel like I was my brain and I was in my body. But after a while on estrogen, I started feeling more connected with my body and it was wonderful.

I legally changed my name to Pace. It had been a nickname of mine since highschool, and it’s an androgynous-sounding name, so I went ahead and changed it. I told myself that I wasn’t committing to being female yet; the name Pace could go either way.

I started therapy because some of my trans friends suggested that it would be a good idea, and I agreed. The first therapist I went to was disrespectful and wanted to go by the book. She wanted me to stop taking estrogen, go through the proper red tape, and then start again. No way, I said (after a short cry in the parking lot), and found a better therapist, Katy Koonce, who totally rocked.

In January and February of 2003 I asked more and more of my friends to treat me as female and to use female pronouns to refer to me. My parents and most of my friends were supportive. They often botched my pronouns but they started getting better. After not too long, everybody knew except for my coworkers.

In March of 2003 I concluded the experiment. I had this wacky notion that estrogen would transform me from boy Pace into girl Pace, and that boy Pace needed to be consulted for the final decision. So I needed to transform back into boy Pace before making the final decision. This was just some paranoia based on my own issues and fears about personal identity; it turned out to be completely unfounded. Throughout the whole experiment, I was still me. Estrogen did change the way my brain worked, but it didn’t change my identity. I was still the same ship. When I stopped taking estrogen, I really flipped out. I started to smell like a boy again and wanted to crawl out of my skin. It was the first time through this whole experience that I felt like the stereotypical phrase of “a woman trapped in a man’s body”. So I got over my personal identity issues and started taking estrogen again as quickly as I could. My decision had been made. I was female on the inside, and I wanted to be female on the outside, both physically and socially.

So there was no more reason to wait except for fear. I screwed my courage to the sticking-point and came out at work. I talked to my closest coworkers, talked to the HR Boss and the Big Boss, then sent an email out to the whole company telling them that I was a male-to-female transsexual, that I’d be presenting as female as of today, that I’d be using the ladies’ restroom, and to please use female pronouns for me from now on. I made a coming out page that gave more information for those who were interested. The response was overwhelmingly awesome and supportive. My coworkers started correcting each other when they would mess up on pronouns and soon they were doing decently well. It still hurt my feelings a lot when they would mess up, though.

The next few months, the spring and summer of 2003, were my girly-girl phase. I had something to prove, and I was super paranoid about being pronouned “he” and being perceived as male, so I wore lipstick, dresses, stockings, sometimes eye shadow, sometimes fingernail polish, and lots of pink. I had a very girly chip on my shoulder, and by damn, I was going to prove that I could pull it off.

Meh. It was fine, it just wasn’t really me. I didn’t go through the hell of transition just to trade one set of sucky gender stereotypes for another set of sucky gender stereotypes. I transitioned so that I could be more me. So I gave up the girly-girl mode and went to lazy femme. I let my voice drop down a little, back to a more comfortable pitch. I didn’t have anything to prove any more; having a deep voice doesn’t mean I’m not a woman, it just means that I’m a woman with a deep voice. By this time, the estrogen and lasers had worked enough of their magic that I didn’t have to worry as much about being pronouned or treated as male. I’m very lucky to have such good genes.

I said “the hell of transition”. Yeah. Transition was really rough. I didn’t go into all the gory details, but there was a huge amount of emotional pain and turmoil, quite a bit of physical pain, and a ridiculous amount of social fear and awkwardness. And of all the trans people I’ve talked to, of all the trans people I’ve heard about, my transition was the easiest. So there’s some perspective for you.

I had dealt with a lot of my issues around transition, but I still had some shame about my body not matching up with my gender identity. The estrogen had taken care of most of these issues by reshaping my body, but I still had male genitalia and I had some shame around that. In October 2002 I went to Tejas witchcamp, and in a magickal healing circle I let go of my shame. I danced naked around the fire, being fully accepted as a woman by my fellow witches. In a way (a very big way!) my transition was complete. Stereotypically, people focus on surgery as what it means to transition from one gender to another. But really, what’s between my legs doesn’t really impact my life (or your interactions with me) in any way unless we’re dating. Taking estrogen and changing my social gender role to female were the main part of what transition was about for me.

I thought about it a lot and decided to have SRS (Sex Reassignment Surgery). I’m glad that I made this decision after witchcamp because I felt sure that I was doing it for the right reasons. I had the surgery in March of 2004, in Scottsdale, AZ with Toby Meltzer. Three people very close to me flew in and helped take care of me while I was recovering in the hospital. It cost about $17,000. Adding up all the costs of transition, including hormones, therapy, laser hair removal, and surgery, it came out to over $30,000. I was very lucky to have had a nest egg saved up from work. I was very lucky to have parents who would loan me a bit of money when I needed it. I was very lucky to have not had a clue about being trans until I was 26 and had the means to do something about it. And after I obtained that clue, I practically set a trans speed record! If I had known earlier but not been able to do anything about it, I would have suffered with gender dysphoria for years. I feel deeply for those who had to go through that.

After that, there was some post-surgery maintenance and there was a lot of getting used to the changes in my body, but my story becomes mostly just “my story” rather than “my transition story”. My story becomes more about relationships, and life, and new projects, like The Usual Error and Cloud Nine Staffing. For the most part, I’m just a woman, and I live my life to the fullest. It’s amazing! I used to be male, and now I’m female! Just walking along like everything’s peachy, sometimes even taking it for granted. I’m very thankful that I was able to rediscover myself, and reshape myself into a physical and social shape that is right for me. I’m happy that the world has been kind enough to me to make this possible, and I’m hopeful that we can make the world a kinder place for others.

Have a blessed Transgender Day of Remembrance, all.


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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Crys November 21, 2008 at 1:18 pm

I stumbled upon your story whilst doing my own research, i am 27 and find myself in the same position you found yourself at in 02, only problem is i am not as lucky as you were to have the finacial means or support which is making this harder.

However your story has given me hope and reasurance that i am not alone with my thoughts, whatever path i manage to take id like you to know that your story, along with others i have read, helped me to come to terms with myself and give me hope for the future.

Thank you xx

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Pace November 21, 2008 at 1:24 pm

Crys,

Thanks for letting me know. I’m happy to hear that my story helped give you hope. And I hope the best for you on your path, too.

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Random girl November 21, 2008 at 3:35 pm

Hey!

I just randomly clicked on your site having noticed you commenting on Motivate Thyself.

I liked reading your story – I clicked on your “being a girl” blog post, expecting something totally different (having no idea about your backgroun and thinking it would be a standard – “girls rule” kind of thing LOL)

I have to say, I would have no idea you used to be a male from looking at your pic, I was quite surprised!

Good luck with the blogging & continuing to be a cool girl!!

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Carlos November 25, 2008 at 8:15 am

Hi,

I have a brother who has gone through many breakdowns in life, has had many psychotic events thinking he has imaginary diseases which all came out negative in tests but continued to believe in them contrary to all proof and taking dangerous and extreme treatment for them…. Now he came out of the closet and says he is and has always been a woman…. I lived with him, being my bro and all for my whole youth and he never displayed any tendencies towards being female…. A few months ago he was buying a male watch and never was interested in girlie things…. My parents are pawns in his hand, with the whole mother loving a child unconditionally…. He has not mentioned his historic past to the therapist and all he has gone through already…. He already has the surgery scheduled…. Well I am denying and thinking its just another psychotic break but my parents have accepted this repeatedly as with previous imaginary diseases…. Any insight into this ?? If you have sometime, I would appreciate…..

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Pace November 25, 2008 at 11:07 am

Carlos,

As for me, I lived happily as male until I was 26 years old, and then suddenly I realized I was female and it hit me like a ton of bricks. I went to an all-boys event just a month before I transitioned to female. So, I know that it’s possible to be living as male one minute and then BOOM! suddenly have one’s gender identity shift out from under you.

But that’s just me. I’m not a psychologist, and I don’t know your brother (or sister?). It sounds like it would be a good idea for you to meet with the therapist as well. Not knowing any more about the situation, that’s the best advice I can give you. You need to talk this out with someone qualified and impartial who can figure out what’s going on, not some random trans chick on the internet. (:

Hope this helps. My best wishes to you and your family.

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el loco March 18, 2009 at 7:47 pm

hi there happy to read ur story good 4 u to live happy as a woman i have some question 4 u if i may well my situation is kind of crayz i feel like a woman on the inside and wish i have a female body the thing is im married an have kids my wife does know about this she’s kind of ok i started to drink soy just to have a little of change body wise but dont know if this would happen so the question is how much estrogen i need to see a change and if you think soy alone would help im else use mexican yum for progesterone u think this will help? any advise ok i’ll keep in touch to know more ok bye 4 now

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Pace March 18, 2009 at 9:37 pm

@el loco: My advice to you is 1) honest communication with yourself and with your wife, and 2) learn more about transsexuality, estrogen, and all that sort of stuff. http://www.tsroadmap.com is a good place to start. Hope this helps, and my best wishes to you.

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Dr. Elaine April 4, 2009 at 11:14 am

I am not at all satisfied with the really poor results that most MTF girls get with SRS. The surgical techniques currently used are one step away from common butchery and leave most patients with permanent numbness and secondary infections. many have died, years after surgery, from sepsis that started at the surgical site.

I don’t see anyone with a satisfactory procedure that delivers consistently good results. It seems, based on the results that they advertise, that these “surgeons” who cater to (or prey on) the TG community, have never actually see a real vagina,

There is nothing wrong with remaining transitioned without the genital surgery. I firmly believe that a genetic based solution shall be available in the next few years, where the body will be induced to develop its own female organs through the use of stem cells coupled with gene splicing.

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Pace April 4, 2009 at 11:45 am

@Dr. Elaine: Leave MOST patients with permanent numbness and secondary infections? I’m boggled at that; can you please cite a source? Personally, I’m quite happy with Dr. Meltzer’s work, and several of my friends have said the same. I’ve also heard good things about Dr. Bowers. For MTF women who aren’t happy with their genitals and don’t want to wait for a genetic solution, it’s often worth the risk of an imperfect surgery. Some of us feel caught between a rock and a hard place, so to speak.

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Erica April 12, 2009 at 9:54 pm

Dr. Elaine,

“The surgical techniques currently used are one step away from common butchery and leave most patients with permanent numbness and secondary infections.”

What a ridiculous, ignorant statement. Just how many post-op transsexuals have you seen? I seriously doubt you are even a real doctor, and if you are, I’m certain you aren’t an SRS surgeon. There are numerous websites with photos* of MTF genitalia after SRS, and for the most part they are indistinguishable from cisgendered females. In fact, many MTF people have reported that even their gynecologists were unable to tell.

“There is nothing wrong with remaining transitioned without the genital surgery. I firmly believe that a genetic based solution shall be available in the next few years, where the body will be induced to develop its own female organs through the use of stem cells coupled with gene splicing.”

Nothing wrong huh? And just how would you know this? Are you transsexual? Try there is NOTHING WORSE. A MTF transsexual IS a woman with a birth condition. Women do not have penises. It’s bad enough to have a penis before transition, but afterward, it can be maddening, particularly when a man is attracted to you as a female, and you are unable to form a relationship for obvious reasons. Your “genetic solution” is pure speculation. There are thousands of things that stem cell research *might* cure. Seeing as how 99% of insurance companies don’t pay for SRS, just what research lab is going invest years and millions of dollars into creating this process? And how, exactly, do you propose they test it on humans? They haven’t even been able to do human trials with the baldness cure that scientists discovered, and they KNOW that it works. If and when they can do trials, the actual procedure will still be 2-3 years away, and nobody knows how much it will cost. And suppose we get another president like Bush in office, who puts the brakes on stem-cell research. Just how long would you like the trans community to wait for your miracle cure? There are tens of thousands of transsexuals in America who’ve had SRS surgery, are fully sensate, and wholeheartedly pleased with the appearance and function of their new vagina – even if it is not a true female organ.

It is people like you, spreading rumors, nonsense and outright lies, that make it so hard for trans people to be accepted by the medical community as individuals with a treatable birth condition. Until this happens, we will be marginalized, ridiculed, harassed, discriminated against, and ignored by the insurance industry. The vast majority of post-op transsexuals are happier and more well-adjusted after their surgery. The suicide rate amongst pre-op/non-op transsexuals is much higher than that of post-op’s, so there goes your Hippocratic oath.

(*I will not post the links out of respect for decorum, but I’m sure you know how to used Google.)

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Farah May 27, 2009 at 4:44 pm

In response to Dr. (?) Elaine’s post,

I am a MTF post-op patient of Dr. Kamol Pansritrum, Bangkok. After my first visit to a female MD who gave me a pelvic exam, she said that she would have been unable to tell I was TG, if I had not told her. She stated I clearly fell within the normal ranges of individual differences of female genitalia. I am completely self-lubricating, have both clitoral and vaginal orgasms, and had a wonderful post-op care experience from Dr. Kamol’s staff. In addition, I have had sexual relations with a couple different boyfriends in the last year. Neither were able to tell the difference. I enjoy a healthy sex life.

Your lack of stated credentials, location of practice, and sources undermine your credibility.

To Pace,

I have recently started my third book and would like to include your story. The title is: The Inner Gender Compass: An Intimate Perspective” and will include twelve trangender individuals’ “stories”. If you’re interested, let me know and I’ll share more info.

Thanks!
Farah

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Laura August 15, 2009 at 12:51 am

I am in my seventh month of transition, MTF, living as a woman. I knew this from a young age, I am fifty one yers old now. I am bald, so I wear wigs, The only thing that bugs me about wigs, is that is difficult to swim, which I love doing. With a wig. It is not good for them and it is easy for them to come off. It is also an expensive deal to get a masectomy swim suit, and breasts that are safe in water. Around $500.00. I also still love women as sexual partners, I have arrousing times with men as sex partners, but only have orgasms with women. So I am worried about finding a loving woman partner, who will stand by me, even if I proceed with SRS. I love living as a woman. Employment and relationships, paying for hair removal, considering SRS and paying for it, considering hormones, and paying for it. I have known from the age of six, I think it is about time to make the moves, and living as a woman is wonderful but challenging. I would like to be in your book Farah. I really need to write my own as well, To open up to the world, and to possibly use proceeds for SRS.

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Pace August 15, 2009 at 1:03 pm

@Laura: I don’t know if Farah is subscribed to comments; if you email me your contact info, I’ll be happy to pass it along to her.

I wish all happiness to you in your continuing journey. Best of luck!

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rikki October 18, 2010 at 7:14 am

Dear Pace I truly injoyed reading your story. i like that you called it your story instead of your transsition. I am 50 now and have knowen all my life that i was born in the wrong body. I played
like a girl dressed like one my mom and i just called it dreessup, did the nails and hair untill i was 6. When my Father relized this was not a phase. He started his campain to man me up. he alowed and incoraged a kind of compition where i had to rasel my two brothers i was the oldist but the smallest of the bunch, this stoped whene my mom found out. After that learnd to hide to make him happy, at 12 got caught by frend of family playing dressup 2 years of shame bad stuff. now after Ex Military going for a happy ending the love of my life knows all and all her famliy dress fulltime except at work starting to reach out so i thought id tell you as you would some fairy talls come true. rikki

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rikki October 18, 2010 at 4:28 pm

if you wish to include any of my story feel free to email me and we can talk. yours rikki

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Luke January 3, 2011 at 7:02 am

Dear pace,

I really truly loved your story.
It has inspired me so much.
I have always dressed in womens
Clothing for as long as i remember.
And have been thinking of transition
For years. I have finally told my parents
And they are rather happy for me.
I am off to the docs next week to start
My trandition. I really cant wait to be finally
Female. :)

Luke

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Tailesin333 July 26, 2011 at 12:17 am

Pace,

May the Goddess bless you as you travel her path. Your story is inspiring and encouraging to those going through a hard time – especially in becoming outwardly in the flesh the person you always were on the inside.

I have a friend that wishes to transition (her words) who is in her late 50′s. She, too was born with the wrong body parts. In your view, is it too late for her to transition and become the woman she was always meant to be? Somehow a pesky XY sperm interfered and produced the mismatch. :)

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Pace July 26, 2011 at 8:09 am

It’s never too late to be yourself, no matter where that path leads you.

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adam July 26, 2011 at 5:07 pm

HELLO ALL I AM A NEW TRANS I WANNA KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT TRANSITION PROCEDURES.THANK YOU

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Pace July 26, 2011 at 6:51 pm

I don’t really know much, Adam, sorry… maybe try http://www.tsroadmap.com ?

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karthiyayani October 11, 2011 at 5:03 pm

what is the name and the address of the doctor you met in san antonio

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Pace October 11, 2011 at 5:11 pm

His name was Dr. Chase, and I don’t have his address anymore, sorry. I googled him and came up with this, though:

Connor Chase, MD
3859 E Southcross Blvd Ste C
San Antonio, TX
78222
Phone: (210) 359-9009

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Noëlle November 5, 2011 at 2:09 pm

Thank you for this, Pace.

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Pace November 14, 2011 at 2:51 pm

You’re welcome, Noëlle.

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