Melanie's FFS Journal, Melanie's Transition Diary, Melanie's Home Page, Transgender Support Site


Go To: Before Pictures ~ At Cocoon House ~ Profiles at 13 Days ~ 3 Weeks
 5 Weeks ~ 37 Days ~ 40 Days ~ 6 Weeks ~ 2 Months ~ 3 Months ~ 4 Months
Thoughts at 4 1/2 Month ~ 5 Month Pictures ~ Pictures & Thoughts at 13 Months

Read Melanie's Complete FFS Diary

Above: Taken One Year Before Surgery & 13 Days After Surgery

This was absolutely the worst picture EVER taken of me in all my 53 years!!!
I thought it would make a good comparison with a picture just two weeks after FFS.

Below: About Six Weeks After Surgery

Click the following pix to enlarge...

Below: The Morning Before Surgery

Hair full of conditioner (as per their instructions) so the blood won't stick to it.
Taken at Cocoon House about 5:30 a.m., just before leaving for the hospital.

Below: Various Before Pictures from Earlier This Year

When I was researching FFS for myself, I noticed that most everybody shows
their worst "before" picture and their best "after" pictures.  But how can a person
who is contemplating FFS get any real information from that?

What is needed is a whole range of before and after pictures so one can compare
the worst before with the worst after, the best before with the best after, and the
average before with the average after.

So, here's a whole range of before pictures taken over the last year, some of which
look pretty good and some of which make it pretty darn clear why FFS
was a necessity, not an option!






Below: Facial pictures taken first day of recovery at Cocoon House
Two days after surgery



Below: Profiles

The following pictures were taken  thirteen days after surgery.

Compare them to the following pictures taken about a month before surgery.

Below: Three Weeks Post Surgery

As mentioned above, I've found most FFS sites not as useful as they could be
because they only compare the worst of the "before" pictures with the best
of the "after" pictures.  Understandable, as we all look toward the surgery
to transform us.  But, you don't live your days all dressed up in studio shots
or always being seen from your best angle in the best lighting.  What I
wanted to know was how good might I look AFTER surgery on my WORST day.

So, here is the first of a whole series of "after" pictures showing the good and
the bad, including the most uncomplimentary shots that Teresa takes of me.

In fact, I'm curious myself to see, once ALL the healing is over about a year
from now, how much my worst pictures have improved over the worst "before"
pictures.  You see, I know I looked really good on my good days before FFS
and I didn't have any trouble then.  But on my medium or bad days?  Well,
that's when I got weird looks and lost my confidence.  So the real proof of
the pudding for me is not in how pretty I can now be at my best, but how
normal I can look at my worst.

The following are casual un-staged photos taken three weeks post surgery.





Below: Crappy and Not Too Bad Pix from 35 Days

Again, here's the good, the bad, and the ugly, so you can get a true impression
of what things look like at five weeks.  Mostly, I'm pretty swollen still, and the
uneven unswelling makes me look pretty goofy from some angles.  Fortunately,
other angles don't look too bad, and that's encouraging.  Clearly, I don't yet look
nearly as good under natural light outdoors as I do with flash photography!

Having watched Teresa heal for a whole year, I have an advantage she didn't:
I know that no matter how rotten some of these pictures may look to me,
it WILL get a LOT better over the course of many months, and by the
third month mark, I should look pretty good from most angles most days.

One thing I have to keep remembering is that if I go back and look at the "before"
pictures at the top of the page, one thing becomes very clear.  No matter how good
a "before" picture looks, compared to the worst after picture I still looked like a guy.

I couldn't see it at the time, but now, having this new look for comparison, while
I currently may not look as pretty as I used to, I look absolutely female, even from
the ugliest of angles.  And, honestly, even if it never got any better than this,
it is so worth it!  I'll never be mistaken for the wrong gender again.  If on top of
this I get any prettiness back (as I expect I will judging by what happened with
Teresa) than its all gravy.  But would I do it again if it ended up like this permanently?
In a heartbeat!




Below: Somewhat Better Pix from 37 days

Teresa tried to take some more complimentary pictures of me tonight, but
was unable to get even one that looked that great.  So, I took these myself,
just pointing the camera at my face.  You can definitely see the swelling and
the uneven features, but these pix come much closer to how things look in
the mirror to me.

In fact, in the mirror I look gorgeous - SO much better than before.  Yet,
I take much worse pictures than I used to.  Teresa put it pretty well when
she said, "You used to look worse in 3D in person and better in a two
dimensional picture.  Now you look worse in the flat picture and a lot
better in real life.  I guess I'd prefer that arrangement!  Still, if Teresa's
healing is any indication, I'll look really good in both worlds by the
six month mark.

Until then, I can tell it's going to be pretty darned frustrating that all my best
expressions don't work anymore - at least not with healing at this stage.
In fact, the sexier I try to look the goofier I come across.  Geesh....

Below: Even Better Pix at 40 Days

Seems like every morning I look a little better than I did the day before.  Certainly a
nicer state of affairs that the opposite would be!  It's actually getting kind of fun now,
going to sleep and wondering how things will improve by the time I wake up.

In any event, here's a few pix from today to show how things are looking.  Note that
you can still see a lot of swelling, but the features that are settling in finally seem
to outweigh the funky ones that have a longer way to go.


Below: Liking the Look at Six Weeks

Well, today was the day.  Today I took a look in the mirror before going
out to run some errands and decided I had never looked this good in
my life, including all my best days prior to FFS.

Just six weeks and a day, and I'm so pleased that if it stopped right here,
I'd still be thrilled beyond my wildest dreams.  During errands, I was face
to face with women at the counters of several businesses, and they were
all so friendly, so inclusive, so matter-of-fact.  I'd never had that normal
an experience in all my seventeen years since transition.

Dr. O. saved my life, and brought me from the point of having to choose
between being a hermit for the rest of my life or ending it all to stop the
pain.  You start out young and pretty, but "pretty" is a quality of almost
everyone who is young.  If you are blessed with an androgynous face,
then being pretty can be played into looking female.  But you still don't
really have the bone structure for it.  So, you learn to hold your face in
certain expressions that look feminine by tensing certain muscles.  As
you age, those muscles just don't do the job, so your face "melts" from
feminine androgynous to masculine androgynous, and after all those
years you start to get read all over again. Rather than treating the symptom,
FFS treats the cause.  Once your facial skeletal structure is altered to
be completely female, you don't have to adopt expressions or fear
future additional aging or bad lighting or not having enough sleep.
From this point forward, you will, at worst, be clearly identifies as an
old, tired woman in bad lighting, but never misidentified as a man
ever again.


Additional Photos taken three days later (Day 45)


Below: At 8 Weeks ~ Home Sick with the Flu

I haven't been sick in years, but THIS year for the first time, both Teresa
and I have no angst, being both post FFS.  So, we decided to go out and
enjoy Christmas shopping, rather than hiding in the house and ordering
everything through Amazon.com!

Naturally, being around all those people, one of us was bound to pick up
a bug - and Teresa was the lucky one.  I got it from her about three days
later.  She's still trying to shake it, so I figure I have another half week
before I'll be rid of the thing.

Since today is my 8 week anniversary of FFS, it occurred to me that it
might be really useful to those considering the surgery to see what I look
like sick as a dog (runny nose, slight nausea, sore throat and sick-swollen)
without make-up, and still in my robe since this morning.  So, I snapped
these myself (which is why they're a bit blurry).

Point is though, that even at just 8 weeks into a year of ongoing healing
improvements, and totally sick, Dr. O's work is SOOOOO good that
all my fears regarding my appearance are groundless under any and all
conditions.

I know this because when I came down with it, I woke up in at three in the morning
with an awful sore throat.  It was so bad, I had to wake up Teresa to go with me
down the icy road to the 24-hour Safeway to pick up some pain killer.  Even
sick AND sleepy and un-made-up at that hour, I still got the normal post-FFS
reaction both from men and women in the store.  There wasn't even the slightest
indication of those nebulous feelings I used to get every time I went out (even
on my best days) when I came in close contact with people.  Problem solved,
permanently!

And finally, before I plop  in the pictures and close so I can crash in my easy
chair and try to recover, I want to tell you about a Christmas party I went to
last weekend.

Every year, an old friend invites me and Teresa to his annual Christmas Party
in Southern California.  I used to go every year, but haven't attended the last
six years, due having moved out of the area.  But this year, though we are now
in Northern California, we decided to drive down just for his party.

So, we got a nice room at the Sheraton and made the 8 hour trip on the
freeway.  The morning of the party, Teresa came down with the flu.  So,
I had to go alone while she was stuck in the hotel room, watching movies
and eating room service.  The whole trip down (and back the next day) with
her driving, and she couldn't even attend!

Well, anyway, at the party, the first friend I encountered didn't even recognize
me until about twenty seconds into my conversation with him.  And, just as
Teresa had reported about her FFS experiences, both male and female friends 
I hadn't seen insix years kept commenting, "You're looking really good!"

You see, I hadn't told any of them about the surgery, so they were stuck with 
this weird juxtaposition of the way they remembered me and the way I look now.
All they could figure was that I was looking particularly good.

I also met a number of new people, and found a whole new experience of being
on the other side of the fence from the men, and of being fully included by the
women.  I also discovered a lot of new kinds of eye contact with women, some
friendly, some sizing up the competition.  Probably because I was showing
a lot of cleavage that night.

In any event, I find myself changing in subtle ways I can only feel.  It is due to
the subtle changes in the way men and women treat me now.  Because
I look like I do, certain kinds of behavior are expected from a woman who
looks like me.  And if I drift outside the range of expected behavior, that is
when I get odd vibes.

It used to be that I couldn't fully express myself because those behaviorisms
fell outside the range of what was expected with my old face.  I felt confined
by those limits.  But now, it is all twisted round.  Not only do my natural
tendencies fall comfortably within the expected behavior zone, but I am
actually REQUIRED to act in certain expected ways simply because of the
way I look.

These new requirements are also quite comfortable to me, yet I realize I've
never acted in those manners before, so every time I do, I change in those
subtle ways, becoming a different kind of woman every day.

Oh, and one last thought.  FFS usually can't take a Neanderthal and make
it look like a sexy woman.  If you start out with an androgynous face, as I
did, you have a shot at appearing fully feminine and even pretty.  But if you
look like a lumberjack or a halfback, FFS might only be able to make you
androgynous, ending up where I started out.

I don't say this to put myself above anyone, but to encourage all who are
considering this course to be realistic in their expectations.  After FFS,
those who start with more masculine faces may still have to wear their
hair in certain ways, and be careful with make-up to avoid (or at least limit)
getting read.

FFS is a miracle, but even miracles have limits.  No matter where you start
the surgery will improve your life (if you are already living as a woman).  But
if you are getting FFS before going full-time, consider that if you have a
very male face, you may simply end up not passing as a woman, but being
able to pass as a transsexual, which you may not have even been able to
do before.

Below: A bunch of pix from three and a half months

Okay, it's been about a month and a half since I last posted any pix.
Honestly, it just hasn't been a priority.  It's been a hell of a ride -
a really good ride, but a truly amazing experience.

There is a shock value that keeps hitting you like electricity, sometimes
when you look in the mirror, sometimes just lying in bed at night.  I mean,
God, just consider the magnitude of this.

Up to this point, everything was kind of like dress-up by comparison.
The SRS, the boobs, the hormones: all of them were so reversible.
But THIS thing - the more the swelling goes down, the more it heals up
and settles in, the more you realize how fucking permanent it is now.

Over the last few weeks that permanence leads to all kinds of strange
feelings.  There's almost a recoil or a reluctance to accept the reality of
this change because it is just so impossible - such things can't happen.

No matter how much you fantasized at becoming female, you never
really believed it could actually happen.  I mean, you were born
a man, for Christ's sake!  You might believe your mind was female
or your brain was female, and you might believe you could feminize
by taking hormones, having a nose job, plucking your eyebrows
and letting yourself act as feminine as you feel inside.  But you
never really thought you could change anything about your physical
self that is so fundamental that you actually, really, feel as if you are
living in an honest to gosh female body.

Yeah, I know the chromosomes are probably the wrong gender,
but then again, when was the last time you or I saw a chromosome?
Fact is, when you change your face like this, every last thing you can
smell, touch, or feel from the inside is suddenly completely, fully,
and totally female beyond the limits of your perception.

Now this does strange things to your mind.  Quite honestly, it
seems so impossible that you just can't accept it.  And that,
my friends is a hell of an inner battle!

Ultimately, I came up with a mantra to get me through.  It goes,
"Accept it, embrace it, enjoy it."  What it means is, accept the
physical truth of it (your eyes aren't lying to you).  And if this really
is the truth, then fully embrace it emotionally - you no longer have
to be afraid, you no longer have to hedge your bets.  And if
you embrace it, then you might as well enjoy it - live the life,
let it go, and have one hell of a good time.


Yeah, life is different now - a lot different!

Below: Pictures from 4 Months Post FFS

Below are a few sets of pictures of me right out of bed in my robe 
- no make up, hair un-brushed, still groggy from sleep. I figured this
would give a good idea of what life is really like at 4 months.

What follows are some of the thoughts I've been having of late
as I am perpetually confronted with the reality of how I now look.

~~~~~~~~~~

 

This is going to sound strange, but I always wanted to be a man.

Most of my life, it never occurred to me that I actually might be
a woman in mind and spirit.  Rather, I thought I was just a guy
with an auto-erotic fantasy of being female.

When I was in elementary school, from the very first day of
kindergarten, I knew I didn't think like the other boys.  I didn't
have their drive, their roughness, even their cruelty.

But, it never occurred to me I might be a girl.  I thought I was just
a defective boy.  So, I learned to do what the other boys did, but
it was all by rote - not from the heart like it was with them.

One reason I never thought I might be a girl inside was that I
was rejected by both boys AND girls - they all thought I was
strange - something odd about me.  No wonder!  I looked like
a boy but gave off girl vibes.  Made everyone uncomfortable.
So, I just concluded I was a flawed boy.

But, I have this drive, this will power, that in spite of my gentle
nature, I tackle problems head on and I've never, ever given up
before the problem was solved or it became moot.

So I determined to be just as good at being a boy as they were.
And that course led me to become a husband, father, youth leader,
film director, business owner, and so on.  I was set against the world
to be a good parent and provider and a good man, dammit.

And you know, I envied their power, the strength of their resolve,
and their ability to think logically, be decisive, and make the
world their own.

Well, when you take this course you get used to male privilege.
You come to expect respect, power, authority and to be in charge.
Women have to fight for those things, but as a man, you take them
for granted.  It is your birthright, your sense of entitlement.

It is a subconscious thing that you never really thing about.  Sure,
during transition (almost 20 years ago) you consider the notion
of the "second class citizen" and experience being talked over
by men.  But if you have any kind of backbone, you get some
grit and compensate by being more forceful.  And it works!
You are respected again - and listened to!

But you never realize that you never gave up your sense of
entitlement.  You just had to fight for what you considered your
birthright.  And you won!  But did you ever stop to wonder why
you won?  Of course not.  Stupid question, only it isn't.

You won because, though you had many female characteristics
since birth, you still had enough male characteristics in your face
that you triggered the genetic memories of everyone you met
in a way that made them subliminally treat you with the same
respect they automatically give to males.

You see, we all tune into to a built-in sense of which facial
features are male and which are female so we can quickly
recognize who's approaching.  It's just a good survival trait.

Some women have "stronger" features and some men have
"weaker" features.  As Teresa has noted, villains in movies
always have pronounced brow ridges and heroes have less
obvious brow ridges.  Similarly, women with a more square jaw,
deep set eyes, or a bit of a brow ridge are chosen to portray
matriarchs, warriors, and powerful political figures, while
those with smooth foreheads, gently tapered jaws and eyes up
front, can't even easily get elected in real life - all due to our
age-old system of identifying the threat level of who is approaching.

Well, I've always had features which (while gentle for a man) are
strong for a woman.  Meaning I could transition easily, but I 
automatically brought that authority factor with me.  I went from
being a less powerful looking man to being a very powerful,
in charge, and competent women (at a subliminal level).

But that has never been my nature.  I've always been thrust
into all kinds of responsible positions, due to my looks.  First
because I looked like a gentle and trustworthy man, and then
even more so because I looked like a really strong, competent
woman.  But it isn't me!  It never was!  I HATE being in positions
of authority.  I am NOT a leader by nature, just by virtue of the
situations others put me into because of my looks.

So, when I consulted with Dr. O. before my FFS, I literally begged
him to, if at all possible, remove or alter any features that are
associated with competency and leadership.  And he did!
As I continue to heal, that air of authority I have carried all my
life is finally gone.  An attribute I had always taken for granted
has been taken from me, almost as if you lost a talent you used
to have, or always used to be charismatic and suddenly, for the
first time, you aren't and never will be again.  Weird, huh?

Well, here's where it gets REALLY odd....

I had come to understand that I just don't have those qualities
of nature that most men and stronger willed women possess.
I'm too gentle, too sensitive, too empathetic.  I can fake being
more "in charge" but inside, I have always been afraid of it,
uncomfortable with it, unable to be happy trying to be that way.

But my sub-conscious had other ideas.  It grew up feeling that
sense of male entitlement - a divine right to being in charge.  And
suddenly as I began to heal from FFS, it found itself no longer
getting that built-in respect as I started venturing out in public
with my new look.

Waiters give the wine list to Teresa now.  Even if I am going to
pay for a meal, they put the bill in front of her.  Something about
computers comes up in conversation with a male clerk in the
supermarket and he asks me if I know what RAM memory is.
Previously he would have assumed I knew.

Everything is different.  Although I am a bit scared of all this
since it is completely unknown territory, and because I always
used that built-in authority as a means of protecting myself in
life, in contrast, my sub-conscious is absolutely terrified!  It doesn't
understand what has happened.  It just knows that it's God-given
authority and stature is gone!  Suddenly, there is no wall to
protect it from aggressiveness and the harshness of life.

So I'm torn.  On the one hand, what a wonderful relief to finally
be freed from the expectations of being a leader and authority
figure.  But on the other hand, something inside me is quivering
in terror!  And what makes it all the weirder, every day the swelling
goes down a little more, my features soften up a bit more, and I
become even more of a "fluff" by look that an Amazon.
I may
|not have wanted to be a leader, but I NEVER wanted to
be a fluff!

After all, I've always envied the strength of men,
so to discover that as my looks soften, my character
shifts ever more to the ultra-fem is really disturbing.
I feel useless, like one of those women I've always detested
who spends so much time on her make-up and hair, shops
constantly for new clothes and jewelry, and reads fashion
magazines.  But that's just what I'm turning into, goddammit!

Now recently, Teresa (who had FFS about 16 months ago)
had to come to terms with the opposite.  She always WANTED to
be a fluff, but after having FFS and trying out that lifestyle, had to
admit to herself that while she could pull if off by looks now, in
her heart, she really is a tomboy, and like power tools, and running
the snow blower in the middle of a blizzard.  (Fortunately, because
she hadn't specified any character aspect of her looks to Dr. O. in
advance, he kept her features authoritative because he sensed it
matched her character, which it turns out is correct.)

So, she, like me, had to come to terms with the fact that
no matter how much you may want to be something, it may
turn out that it just isn't you.  And in fact, you may not really
want some things, you may just WANT to want them.

To move on with life, you simply have to acknowledge who you
really are and get on with it.  Though your actual nature may be
a disappointment to you, you will never find happiness as long
as you fail to embrace it.

Now my sub-conscious (which is totally pissed at my new condition)
has fought back the only way it can.  It has been giving me cravings
for all kinds of fatty and sugary foods so that I've put on ten pounds
in the last few weeks.  Why?  Because good ol' subconscious knows
that fat women look less femmy and more formidable than thin ones,
slinging around all that bulk and all.

And what pisses it off even more (and very nearly frightens me to
death) is that Teresa is almost exactly one year farther along
in healing than I am, and even now she is still getting even more
feminine looking.  Why does that frighten me?  Because by her
own admission, at four months post, I ALREADY am as fem
looking as she is, so by the time I get another year past it,
the level of fem I'm likely to look like is enough to make you shiver!

Yet you can't be what you aren't or not be what you are.
And so, in accepting the reality of our true natures, Teresa 
has become the leader of our relationship.  In a role reversal,
 I've abdicated that position which I've held forever.  And, I've inherited
the femmy wardrobe she purchased after FFS, including the
silky robe and nightgown I'm wearing in these pictures.

Look at these pictures!

I feel like such a God Damn FLUFF!

P.S. (A few days later)

Writing for me is almost always a way to get something out of my head
so I can move on.  It might be a poem or a song I need to write to let
go of (or get past) and emotion.  Or, it could be an informational article
in my professional field, or an essay about some issue, public or private.

It's kind of like I explore a topic, concept, or experience and then double
back to go over it all again, finding new details and nuances until I reach
a point where I'm learning nothing new.  At that juncture, I've effectively
created a pearl of wisdom around the original grain of sand that got into
my bonnet to begin with.  Expressing it artistically casts it out, leaving me
free to accept a new grain of sand for the next go-round.

So, when I penned the words above (about turning into a Fluff) I was
dealing with being frightened with how vulnerable I was  becoming and
fearful of how silly I might appear if I was wrong about how feminine my
new look really was.  By writing it all down here, I cleared my mind.  And,
as is always the case when I do that, I had no idea what was coming next.

As it turned out, the next experience wasn't an irritating mental or emotional
grain of sand at all.  It was a completely new entity - a sense of total integration
of mind and body.  I found myself truly believing that I finally really, actually
looked totally like a woman.

Now, I'm not going into the old routine that is something of a TG community
mantra: "I finally felt like a real woman."  No, we all have to go through that
cliché experience several times before we reach Nirvana, believing each
time that it is the last, the final, the penultimate sense of validation.

No, I'm simply saying that every time I made love previously (with Teresa
or any of my earlier lovers), no matter how good I thought I looked, I could
still see my earlier self in my face, just feminized.  And even when my body
from the neck down looked completely female to me, my face ( no matter
how pretty it was at that moment) always seemed to me like the head
of a beautiful transsexual on the body of a real woman.

That's as close to feeling whole and complete as I could get.  And that
fucked up state lasted all the way up through the entry I wrote above.
I had come to believe that was as far as I would ever be able to get in
this life, and had pretty much resolved myself to it.

But then - after I got all of that out of my head by writing it down -I felt
different in some nebulous way I couldn't quite define.  I spent a couple
of days trying to pin it down (like I do with mental grains of sand, only
this time it wasn't an irritant but a pleasure, a sense of peace I couldn't
quite get a handle on).

Finally, I realized was it was I was experiencing - an integration of my
entire physical self.  I no longer felt like a TS head on a GG body.  Rather,
my body felt consistent from the to of my head to my toes - one gender
only, physically - seamless and complete.

And then, even more startlingly, I found that my Fluffy mind was quite at
home in this physical container.  And, in fact, mind and body seemed
to simultaneously define each other.

My pussy no longer felt like a surgical creation but a normal, genetic,
part of myself.  You know, in the fifteen years since reassignment surgery,
I've never had that feeling before.  At best I felt that it looked identical to
other women, but I could never shake the emotional context that reminded
me how I had gotten that physical attribute.  Others might have seen
it and felt about it as they would about any other nude woman, but I could
never share that feeling about myself.

Some time ago (before FFS) I tried to combat that sense of not being
the genuine article by posting a number of nude pictures of myself on
my web pages.  Teresa took a couple hundred of me at my request, and
I put a handful of my favorites out for everyone to see.

I was thinking that if I knew (intellectually) that enough people were seeing
me as being totally and completely a woman, I would feel more like a
natural one myself.

And, you know, it actually worked (for a while).  I always fantasized of
being a centerfold model, and this was pretty close to that experience.
But, it was like taking a drug.  After a while, I got used to that high and
needed another even stronger fix to get the same rush.

So, Teresa (again at my almost pleading request) took several more
sessions of photos of me, ever more raw and revealing, until I had
done just about all I could without violating pornography laws.

These racy, raunchy pictures I posted in a private album for which
I charged $9.95 for access (making me feel even more like an
internet sex symbol).

Again, it worked fine - for a while.  But then the feeling faded again,
I could no longer force myself to feel really female of body, and there
was nowhere else to go with it.  So, I fell into a deep depression (which
was a large part of the reason I could finally consider FFS for myself).

So, when I wrote the above entry the other day, I was amazed to find
that in its aftermath I had somehow achieved that sense of reality I
had so craved and had used my nude photo sessions to fake.

Okay, I thought, then let me see if this feeling is bullet proof so I can
rely on it emotionally, or is it just another passing pleasure soon to fade?

So, I went on the internet and downloaded a bunch of porn - pictures and
videos of busty girls (like myself) - no hardcore, just the girl alone in a
sensual pose, showing off her big tits (as I had done in my earlier pictures).

First feeling that I had was that I felt just like them - like they seemed to me. 
I felt real, and natural, and sexy, and female, and entitled, and attractive,
and home-grown.

Next, I decided to sneak off (while Teresa was out blowing snow off our
driveway) and take a few pictures with my digital camera timer, and
compare them to those nude models to see if the feeling held, or if
I would find myself lacking.

What I discovered was that when I looked at my pics and then at those
of these beautiful young creatures, I absolutely felt I was definitely one
of them - not some different kind of thing, and though I am 54, I held up
remarkably well (though I clearly looked older than them, I looked more like
in my thirties and my fifties - not too bad!)

Then it struck me that I had never done a direct comparison of my previous
pre-FFS nude pictures with actual models from the internet.  I guess
I was fearful in my heart at the time that I would see a difference between
me and them, and it would shatter my illusion of being genuine.

You see, as long as I compared my nude pictures only to my previous
look from earlier pictures, or to other transsexuals, then I was clearly
female by contrast, and could live in my fantasy world.  But to judge my
pre-FFS look against real genetic nude models?  I was so (appropriately
as it turned out) insecure about the fragility of my self-image that it simply
never occurred to me to put my nude pictures side by side with real models.

So, last night, feeling confident due to the recent pictures I just took, I snuck
off to my studio while Teresa was on the internet and watching TV (since I'm
embarrassed to be working with all the nude photos) and selected my very
favorite nude shots - the best of the best from pre-FFS.

Even before I compared them, in the light of the pictures I just took, I saw
the older pictures with a different eye, and it was unnerving even before
the acid test.

But, I went ahead, opened the folder in which I stored the nude models,
and then positioned my favorite pre-FFS nude pictures in between various
professional shots so that I could open my photo viewer and scroll through
them all, with mine folded in as if they were just part of the overall collection.

Then, it was the moment of truth.  I opened the first picture full screen, and
moved through them in order, coming to my pictures occasionally in the series.
Here's all these gorgeous babes, then here's me - and it was like hitting a brick
wall!  What a contrast!  It was like babe, babe, babe, transsexual, babe,
transsexual babe....  Every time I came to a picture of mine, the TS stuck out
like a puckered nip.

Instead of being just another pin-up as I had thought when I originally took the
pictures, it was more of a game of "Find the Tranny" and it wasn't a very
hard game to wind at all.  Man, I'm glad I never thought of doing that
comparison before FFS!

Okay, my mood dropped last night like a double "D" unsheathed.  I was
so bummed!  All these pin-up pictures I had on my web site were really
just pathetic photos of a naked transsexual.  I felt (briefly) like I had
before FFS - when I was still faking it and lying to myself.

I almost opened up the site and took them all down.  But, as I have
recently locked that site and started a whole new one (melaniepart2.com)
to reflect who I am today, including only those things that are still
meaningful to me plus anything new I come up with, I figured the
photo spread was just another snapshot of where I was at that time
and for that reason, ought to stay.

But - if those old pix looked so bad when integrated into pictures of real
genetic models, did I dare compare the new pic I just took to the
genuine article?  What if they also were easily readable?  Where
would I be then, being post-FFS and all?

Still, I couldn't remain in that awful mood, so this morning I fired up the
computer, pulled out all the old photos from the midst of the photos
of other models I had downloaded, and then stuck one of the new
pictures in there in the same way.  (Sure, it wasn't a particularly
sensual pose - just a snapshot really, taken with a flash, while
I flash my boobs by lifting up my sweater and bra - but the face
- would it make a difference in how I "played" in front of the camera
(and by extension, in the real world)?

Holding my breath, I scrolled through the slide show.  This time my
pictures flowed by without a blip - just another one of the beautiful
girls in the pictures.  Each time I came to the new picture, it fit
right in.  In fact, though I was older than any of the other models,
I was prettier than about half of them, and even including age as
a factor, more pleasing to look at than that busty but less pretty
fifty percent.

How cool is that!  My positive mood of the last few days after
writing the closure entry on the fear of becoming a Fluff came back
in full force.  And this time, I knew it wasn't based on self-deception
and wishful thinking: it was based on truth and actuality.

Sure, the new picture isn't really posed, and it is just one shot,
but it is real.  And (inspired as I now am) I look forward to taking
a whole series of new pictures (as soon as I lose about twenty
pounds) and enjoying making a record of that feeling before
I simply get too damn old.

But even if I never get around to that, I find myself apparently
locked into to a new and comfortably sense of self.  An identity
that requires no deception or illusion.

As Teresa and I have often discussed, there is no way to
convey what being post-FFS feels like to someone who hasn't
had it.  They will think they understand what you mean.  They
will believe they feel the same way even without that surgery.
Many will feel they don't even need it anyway.  But they do.
Everyone needs it.  Without it, you will never experience this.

Though it is expensive, it is not out of reach.  If it becomes your
single-focus goal, if you save your money and make sacrifices
anyone will eventually be able to afford it.  And if you do, you
too will finally understand what it means to be done, what it
means to be genuine, what it means to truly, honestly, and fully
feel that you were born this way, with no apology, no exclusions,
no compromise, and absolutely unshakable integration of mind,
body, spirit, and gender.

Oh - and for the curious, here's that recent picture that passed the test:

And just for fun, these too (that have nothing to do with anything except I just took them...

Concluding Thoughts at 4 1/2 Months

It's 5:30 in the morning and I've got something squirrelly going around in my heart that
feels an awful like things coming to a head.  So, as is my custom or curse, I know from
past experience that I won't be able to sleep until I get it jotted down to clear my mind.

 What I wrote above, about comparing my pre-FFS nude pix with those of other women
and about seeing how much better my new face faired against the same lot - well, after
that I got ambitious.  I got this quirky notion that it might be fun to post the very
best of my pre-FFS pictures on one of those amateur
"upload your nude pictures and get rated" web sites.

So I did:

First thing that happened was I got a whole volley of private messages extolling
my virtues (or rather, those of my various part).  I chose not to respond to any of
these, but after four days, there were almost one hundred of them.

But the real purpose of this was to gather data: how would these pictures in which
I saw myself as completely readable (compared to my post-FFS look) do against
thousands of other women in a ratings contest?

The answer was shocking - within minutes I was at the top of the charts.  Out of a 
possible ten, my pics came in at as high as 9.43!  And all of them came in at 9.0
or better!  So, was I being to hard on my pre-FFS self, or is the new post-FFS me
even better than that?  How could it be?  The highest scored pics of all time on this
site were only rated 9.55.

What's more, I checked how I fell in category in which I posted ("tits, large").  Out of
25,768 pictures in that category, two of my pictures came in at #2 and #5!  What the
fuck?  So I looked at the messages and not one person read the old me as anything
other than one hot mamma.

Now, naturally, this is not what I had expected.  And quite as naturally, it sets your mind
to "tilt".  You start thinking things like, "did I even need to do the FFS thing?" and
"How can I look so bad to me compared to my new look and look so good to others?"
and, "What the fuck?"

But then I realized I had chosen to put up the best of the best of my pre-FFS pictures.
And also, Teresa is one hell of a photographer.  So, under those conditions, yeah,
I guess my pre-FFS pics could do well.  But THAT well?  What the fuck???

Okay, so I decided to go all in, and I went to the "Top 1000" list of the very highest
rated pictures out of the 1,237,069 photos that had been uploaded to that site.
And my two best pictures came in at 105 and 109.

Shit.

Me confused.

Me almost fall into depression over this
except me don't get depressed no more
(since FFS)

Shifting gears - as mentioned above, of late, Teresa and I have felt the need to clean
house, both literally and figuratively.  When we moved up here to Northern California
after we sold our house in the South to pay for her FFS, we figured it would be a good
secluded place for her to recover, out of sight of the world until she was presentable.

Turned our that after her surgery, I started changing my insides around, finding the
courage to start expressing my natural femininity.  But the more I did it, the more it
got me read, because (as I had aged) I lost my youthful beauty and began to look
pretty awful on most days.  And, it just got worse when I started to act all femmy
since it didn't "play" at all coming from the looks of me.

So, I ended up doing the FFS thing.  And the "Transition House" as we had
named it, turned out to be far more of that than we had ever imagined.

We kept hoping (with each new insight) that the process was finally over
so we could get on with life.  Alas, no sooner had we resolved some
huge mental or emotional bugaboo but another, hitherto unknown
one would crop up to take it's place!

And, gall durn it, the process still isn't over.

Nonetheless, Teresa and I have had this overwhelming desire to
get rid of anything tangible or intangible that is no longer pertinent
to our lives, hoping to hasten the process of being done.

We've hauled up boxes from downstairs, sorted, thrown stuff out,
and listed other stuff on eBay.  We've talked about moving or buying
some land (as if we could now afford it, after all the FFS we bought).

We've spoken endlessly at all hours of the day and night about internal
house cleaning, dumping old ways of behavior, old ideas, old thought
patterns, old dreams.

The only catch is, to know what to get rid of you have to be able to tell
which things are and which things are no longer meaningful to you.
Quite simply, I haven't got a clue.

That's why all the data gathering and experimentation.  I need new
information, new perspectives to try and get a grip on just what's
happened to me, what's changed, what hasn't, how I see the world 
now, how I see myself.

That last one is a bugger.

As I've said before (or maybe not) from my earliest memories I lived
behind a mask.  I actually physically felt as if my face wasn't a part of me
and that the actual "me" was hiding behind it, looking out on the world.

You know that sense of "you" - that feeling that you exist somewhere in
your body.  I don't think I've ever asked anyone or even heard anyone
describe where they feel they exist in their own bodies.

I wonder, do others feel as if their whole bodies are them?  Or do they
sense themselves as centered in their hearts or as living in their heads?

Me, I feel as if I'm just behind my eyes - as if the whole body thing is
just this mechanism I control to move around in the tangible plane
but I'm just this defined area of self-awareness just behind my eyes
looking out on it all.  All the rest is NOT me, just the body machine.

At least, that's how I used to feel.

It started when I first realized in kindergarten that I was different than
the other kids and began to create a role for myself, rather than just
being.  That role became my mask behind which I could hide my
feelings of inadequacy, all the way through school, career, marriage,
children, and right up to transition.

And then it got worse!

I started wearing the Melanie Mask instead of the Dave Mask and
hiding behind that physical manifestation, always peering out from
behind my eyes, wishing I could interface directly with the real world
somehow, like others seemed to do.

But then, I got interested in psychology and came to realize that most
everyone  has a mask.  How many time when I grew up did I hear the
women folk in my family say "I feel naked if I go out without my make-up"?

Here's the problem.  Sometime in the last few days the mask went away.

I don't know if it is because I've healed enough that I am losing my fear
of being "read", bolstered by the new and wonderful ways that women
are including me, giving me a sense of peerage for the very first time in
my life.

I don't know if it is because of people's reactions to those nude pictures
I posted, knowing that post-FFS on my worst day I look better than I
did on my best pre-FFS day.

I don't know if it is the way I can just let loose and be myself now, whether
that is fem on one day, butch on another, or whatever - who am I to judge:
can't see myself as others do, after all.

Maybe it is just getting used to a role I don't have to play anymore,
just like John Wayne always played himself, he seldom ever acted.

I can tell you when I first discovered it.  It was in bed in the middle of the night,
lying awake after coming out of a sleep, and just letting my mind wander
while Teresa dreamed away next to me.

I was laying on my back, and I ran my hands over my forehead (as everyone
incessantly does post-FFS to feel the smooth curve of a female brow).
And when I took my hands away, it suddenly struck me that I felt like
my sense of self, my "essence" was just in front of my eyes instead
of just behind them.  I felt like my face was part of me, not just a façade,
and that for the very first time, I was actually touching the world, directly
with great reality and a strong sense of immediacy

God, what a feeling.  It was like having lived in a rubber suit, and then
ripping it off and feeling the chill in the air and the breeze through your hair.

I lay there for countless minutes, soaking in that sense of connection to the
tangible world, repeating the experience of feeling my face with my hands
and then letting that sense of actually being this body
(rather than just inhabiting it)
run through me.

I said nothing of this to Teresa (strange, as how we share everything).
But I somehow felt that there was more to understand, more to experience,
and that if I spoke of this now, the pathway toward further enlightenment
and self-knowledge would evaporate like smoke before me.

That was yesterday morning.

As the day progressed, I got into this really funky mood (those squirrelly feelings
I mentioned at the beginning of this section).  There was this overwhelming
pressure of an emotion I'd never ever felt before, so it had no frame of reference.

I struggled under its oppressive shroud all day with no handle, no purchase
upon which I could get a grip.  Like trying to grab air.

I went to bed in that same peculiar mood after having spent the better
part of a late evening noodling with a new video game Teresa had
given me for my birthday.  Just something to distract myself and kill
time while, hopefully, things would sort themselves out.

Round about the wee dark hours, I again awoke and did the forehead
thing with my hands.  And the sense of being this body, not just being
in the body, was even stronger than before.

As I lowered my hands, my inner arms rubbed against my breasts.
Oddly, almost to the point of being startling, they felt more like me
than they ever had before.  In fact, though I never realized it,
they had never really felt like me at all.
Rather, they had felt (at best) as  part of me.

What's the difference?

Just as with my face, I now felt the breasts were part of my sense of
self, not just part of the body in which my sense of self resided.
As clearly as I can put it, they had integrated into my soul
so that one might expect they would rise up to heaven
when I die as inseparable elements of my very being.

And following, I became aware that my whole body
had followed suit.  These were my hands, my hips
my legs, my (rather enlarged of late) tush.

Interesting dilemma:

If you had asked me two days ago if I felt integrated with
my body, if you had asked me to read what I just wrote and
to comment, I would have said, "that's how I already feel."

But I didn't feel that way, yet I couldn't have known it until I actually
experienced this new way of feeling.  It is, for me at least, almost
like developing another sense like sight or taste of which I had previously
been completely unaware.

Is this an experience others have had, of which  I always just assumed that 
what they were describing was the same as the pale pretender to that emotion
that was the best I could muster, having no yard stick for comparison?

And what of you, my reader?  How do you feel?  If you think you already feel
the same without having had FFS, do you really?  How can you tell?

No.  There is no way I can know if others have this feeling all their lives
but it has only just come to me, or if it is a feeling one can only achieve
by going through a rite of passage that involves altering and re-accepting
one's new self.

Which leads to the final thought in this lengthy stream of consciousness:

Self-Acceptance.

When I awoke in the dark at 5:00 a.m., the clouds began to clear,
and I got my first glimpse of why I have been in this indefinable mood.

In a sentence:

I have finally come to acknowledge my nature
but I have not yet accepted my nature.

For some, like Teresa, they grow up knowing they are female inside,
desperately hoping for a way to make the outside match, but
always knowing who and what they are.  Perhaps that is a
a characteristic of extroverts?

But for others, like me, they grow up believing they are the
sex they appear to be, but are just defective in some way
with this embarrassing fetish of wanting to be a woman.
Perhaps a trait of introverts?

So, though we all are women on the inside,
how we feel about that,
and therefore what we hope for ourselves
is quite different.

For me, I wanted to please those I loved - those who loved me.
So I wanted more than anything to be a good boy, then a good
man, and eventually a good husband and father.

And I did my best to be all those things un until I could no longer
deny the truth of that I really was.  And so, transition began.

But I never wanted this life, and for sure (though it felt so right
and was, in fact) I never wanted this body, this role, or this gender.

Up to this point, I could lose myself in the process of transition.
As long as the process continued, I would not have to address the results.

Sure, I was miserable all the time, living a role a didn't want because
it was being true to a self I wished I wasn't.

But that (in my mind) was far preferable than having to actually
face a reality of having become physically as much of a woman
as anyone can with today's science.

If that day ever came, I'd have no constant effort to be female to
occupy my thoughts.  And I would have no refuge but to
stare myself in the face and acknowledge that I was,
in truth, female of spirit, or mind, or brain, or body
(for all practical purposes), however I chose
to define it.

Problem is - that day has come.

FFS was the very last thing I could do to fashion my body
into the form of a woman as completely as possible.

My voice is perfect and unconsciously so,
my manner is the same.

There is no single area in which I believe I could do any more.

I'm done as done can be.

And so, I have no choice but to acknowledge my womanhood.

But that doesn't mean I have to accept it.

Intellectually, I am left with no alternative but to admit that if
there really are people who are born man on the outside but
woman on the inside, then I must be one of them.

I must acknowledge that.

Now sure its possible that this is all just some self-deception
and that there are no such things as intersexed people who
think as one sex but have enough physical characteristics of
the other sex that they are assigned to and raised in that role
without question.

But where does that get me?

If that is the case, then I've really fucked things up, haven't I?

If that is the case, I've simply been mentally ill,
and have spent all this time and money,
suffered all this pain (internal and external)
hurt so many of those around me
and risked even my very life
to try and become something I can't
because I believed I was something
that didn't exist.

Screw that shit!

If I started buying into that, true or not,
then the jig is up, isn't it!  Life has been ruined
and you may as well cash in the chips.

No, at this point there's no advantage to be gained
by nit-picking whether or not my kind really exists or
is just fooling itself.

So what's the alternative?

I'm finally forced to acknowledge I'm a woman,
because there's nothing left I can do
to extend the process of trying to become one.

No, if I truly have to acknowledge this then the
only logical conclusion one can argue from that given
is that I was born a woman of mind (for whatever reason)
had a number of physical characteristics of both sexes,
appeared to the casual observer to be a normal male physically,
felt there was something wrong with me, determined I could fix it by
transitioning, and then spent twenty years of my life accomplishing that
task with as much success as is humanly possible.

But what now?  Just acknowledging it doesn't mean I have to accept it.

Surely there must be some way out?

There's gotta be a dodge, or some other all-consuming activity
(other than transition) with which I can occupy the rest of my life
so I never have to cave in and actually admit to myself that
(goddammit) "I am woman!"

But there isn't.

There's no where to hide.

Not any more.

That's what this whole integration thing is all about.

That's what feeling like I'm in front of my eyes is all about.

That's what feeling that my body is me is all about.

No matter whether I, you, or anyone else believes
that transsexualism (obscure intersexism) exists...

Here we are.

From a purely psychological standpoint,
if you see a woman's face in the mirror every day,
and if ever thing you can sense about you body
identifies it as female,
and if everyone treats you as a woman,
and if you search your heart and find nothing
save those qualities you identify as female in others,
then how the fuck long can you hold out not accepting it
before your resolve is eroded from behind
and you are forced to embrace that
which you spent your whole life
trying to deny.

God, it sounds more like what I wrote when I was first starting transition
so many years ago.  So, perhaps it really isn't "Here we are."

Perhaps it is better stated,

"Here we are again."

Being that as it may, I find that my mind is making my decisions for me
behind my back, and dissolving my resolve to hold out against acceptance.

My body feels like me, and yet it is a woman's body (as far as I can see)
But when I move, when the silky nightgown Teresa gave me rustles against
my breasts or between my legs - when I sit curled up in a chair with my
thighs against each other - when I walk - with every movement I am
reminded that there is nothing my senses can detect about my own
body that is not as female as any other woman I've encountered.

There is no way to stand against that constant sensory onslaught.
I have no choice but to admit that which to everyone must be so obvious.

Yet the magnitude of it staggers me.

The reversal of the meaning of "Us" and "Them".

Who is the alien here?  Who is like me?

I feel my womanhood now, not in an intellectual , academic understanding
but in a constant physical experience through every waking moment.

I no longer deny what is constantly, as it were, in my face.

I just had to sit down and write this morning, before it all went away.

It is now nearly eight-thirty.  I've been at this for almost three hours.

Yet in that time, what have I really said?

Nothing, I suppose, other than

*

I guess this really is me.

*

Still, it's nice to have

the 2nd best tits

on the internet

Addendum to Above

Back at 5:30 in the morning, Teresa got up briefly with me and asked
if I wanted to talk about what I was going to write.  I declined since I didn't
want my Muse to get lost in the clutter of a conversation.

But after I finished the above, she was just waking up and asked if we
might discuss the issues at that time.  Which was fine.  So we did.

Out of this came a few clarifications that may be of use to some.

First, it is not really that I wanted to be a man.  It is that I wanted to be normal.
And the only way I could see to do that would have been to keep all those
thoughts of being female in my head, never doing anything physically
to try and realize those "fantasies."

I felt that everyone has erotic fantasies, and something (or many things) that
go on in their heads that they never want any other human being to know.
So, just fantasizing of being female allowed me to still feel normal,
or at least normal enough to believe there was a reasonable chance
that some day I might cure myself of this obsession and learn to
enjoy a normal male life - to feel confident and adequate about my
male body, and the get the same kinds of pleasures other men
got from the usual manly kinds of endeavors.

But most important, since I was never able to think like other men did,
perhaps if I held out long enough, I could learn to do so.  Perhaps, if I
was broken, I could find a way to fix myself.

And this is why I didn't transition until age 38.

Now Teresa came to a whole different set of conclusions and took
a whole different path.  She always felt she was a girl inside, but
felt abnormal until she discovered (in her early teens) that
there were others like her.  From that point forward, she felt
like she had a birth defect and wanted to correct
it as soon as possible.

She never desired to be able to think like the "other" men,
because she never though of herself as one, broken or otherwise.

That's why she transitioned at age 19.

So, you see how our lives took different paths, and how there
are likely lots of others out there feeling more like her
 or more like me.

The issue then, for me, was as long as I never actually accepted
my womanhood, fully and totally in my heart, I could hold out
hope that someday I might fix what was wrong inside my head
and go on to be a "normal" male.

Sure, I would have to undo some surgeries and such, and sure
there would be most who would never accept me as normal.
But if I ever did give up that hope, even from the back of my
mind, I would have to live a female life where I FOR SURE
was not like other women because of the physical journey
I took to get there.  I would KNOW I wasn't a "normal" female
because I was born with a dick, for heaven's sake!

Whereas, if I could, somehow, get rid of my female fantasy
and find the mental switch that would make me think like
other guys, I could be normal (to my own mind) having simply
been misguided and making poor choices by having surgery.

It wasn't important to me if others saw me as normal.
It was only important that I saw me as normal.

So if I could make myself think like a man
I'd see my insides as normal
regardless of the outside.

But if I ever came to accept I was actually female inside
then I could never be normal because, in my own mind
that would mean I had been born a freak.

Scenario 1: Normal but misguided

Scenario 2: Freak

And so I held out hope yet ended up having to
acknowledge that I am a freak

by virtue of

having been born in a male(ish) body
with a female mind.

Strange, though.  That feeling wasn't as bad as I had always feared.

Turns out that once you admit you are a freak, you can put it behind you.

You can say, "Not my fault, man!" and kick it right out of your emotions.

By acknowledging it, you actually rob it of its power, just like anyone
born with a birth defect or debilitated or disfigured due to accident.

It's when you try to pretend you aren't a freak that you get all screwed up.

But the story doesn't end there.

Once you admit that you are a freak, you simply don't feel like a freak anymore.
Rather, you feel like a person.  You sense your humanity, not your debility.
You find that your mind is freed by that admission, and immediately shift gears,
defining you to yourself by your heart and soul,
not by the circumstances of your birth.

What's left when you give up the hope of someday being normal
is a sense of always having been normal.

I won't even try to explain that one, but it's true.

Oh, maybe I will try....

I guess it is because you take the physical part of it out of the equation
which leaves you with the mental/emotional part, and (for folks like me)
that inner part (by itself and unencumbered) feels completely female.

So, having made that leap, there is that sense of integration of mind
and body.  While I know I was born male(ish) and probably have XY
chromosomes, I can't see, touch, feel, taste or smell anything about
my physical self that give any indication of that birth.

By separating my intellectual appraisal of myself (freak)
from my emotional appraisal of myself (woman)
the logic (having arrived at its conclusion)
stops being involved, and the feelings
(being continuously rejuvenated
through the living of life)
become the exclusive
evaluators for my
sense of self
and I am
freak
no
m
o
r
e
!

In Short:

Only by admitting you are a freak
can you every stop feeling like one.

Psychological Hypothesis:

Though it seems at first blush
that admitting such a thing
would be detrimental,
it actually has the
opposite effect.

Much like lancing a boil
(injuring yourself)
actually cures you.

Okay....

So where does this leave me?

Well, its where I leave you.

Can't say I'll never be back, but at the moment
I can't think of another thing I'd like to say. 

'Cept this:

Inside I feel completely a woman
Outside I feel completely female

Aside from the circumstances of my birth
and the experiences I've had
I feel completely normal.

As for the body of birth,
we all change, grow, and morph
until the day we die.

Some of us have "cosmetic" or
functional surgeries to enhance
our looks or our abilities.

Some of us have accidents or
diseases that hobble
or disfigure us.

The only legitimate estimation of
a person's physical stature
is its nature as it is
not as it was.

As for the experiences of life,
it is not what they make of you,
but what you make of them,
that determines your identity.

Some of us take classes or
engage in activities to enhance
our knowledge or attributes.

Some of us are bent or
broken by trials and tribulations.

The only legitimate estimation of
a person's quality of character
is how he or she turned out,
not how he or she became that way.

People are born into bodies
that range from fully male to fully female
with a spectrum of intersexed state in the middle.

People are born with minds
that range from fully male to fully female
with a spectrum of outlooks in the middle.

And in between it all stand all individuals,
struggling to become who they want to be,
striving to be accepted for who they are.

For some of us,
the task has been given
to share our journeys
so that others can
find their way.

But when that journey is over
the sharing is at an end.

Time to go away and get on with life

now that I finally have one.

Fare Well

and

(finally)

Just you know...

After all was said and done,

The destination was

worth the journey,

I hurt no more,

and I am

really

truly

h
a
p
p
y

-30-

Five Month Pictures

 

Update: Additional Pictures & Thoughts at 13 Months

Just an update for anyone who is considering FFS and would like to know what things look like a year after surgery (both externally and internally).

I'll get to my experiences in a moment, but first of all, having watched Teresa heal, I can tell you that major physical changes happen all the way up to the 2 year mark.  Once you hit that point, everything is pretty much done.  On the other hand, from my own experience I believe that the internal changes never stop.

By now (from reading the above journal) you probably know the following:

Male and female skulls are different in very definable ways.

When we encounter a stranger, our primitive brain areas use those differences to help us intuitively determine how much of a threat they are.

If you transition and don't have facial surgery, though you might be young and pretty, you'll still have male skull structure.  That will make you seem odd to others, and though they may be your friends, even people who don't suspect your past, almost all of them will keep more emotional distance from you than if you have the proper female bone structure.

Before facial surgery you might think you are passing and living the life just fine, and that you fit right in, but in reality, you are only passing at the conscious level, not at the subconscious level of the primal brain.  And even if you fit in, there is a veil between you and other women that you can't see.   You can't see it because in your earlier life as a male, you weren't allowed past - no men are - and before facial surgery, you still aren't (at that subconscious level).

You can deny it all you like, but it is only after healing from facial surgery that it seems as if women just open up to you, as if you are all old friends.  Its like all of a sudden you know the secret handshake.

Everyone knows how skull shape affects the way we see people.  Look at actors cast as henchmen or thugs - they have that heavy brow.  The term "squinty little eyes" comes to mind.  But mastermind villains and vampires are cast with actors who have more female skull features, like a small brow ridge, gently curved forehead and open eyes.  The rest of their features are male making them seem like they are hiding some secret knowledge.

Though jaw angle, jaw flare, chin shape and length, nose, cheekbones and such are all contributing factors in identifying as male or female to the subconscious mind, it is the forehead and eyes that carry most of the weight.  This is because the eyes convey our intent.  So, eye area bone structure differences between male and female are most important.

Dr. O uses a technique to remove a portion of your forehead above the sinuses and then move it back to where a female forehead extends.  He buffs down all the angles to make the whole forehead smoothly curved.  And then he buffs down the orbitals of the eyes to open the whole eye area.

At 12 months, this area was still swollen on Teresa, and on me as well.  Though her forehead extension was back at the female position, the raised area of the brow ridge above her eyes was still distended, giving her not as female a structure as she had hoped.

Suddenly one day at her 15 month mark, I happened to catch her in profile, and that final brow "bossing" was gone - her forehead was completely smooth and gently curved!

I had worried about this on myself for months.  At 12 months, I still had a lot of bossing (really not bone, just swollen tissue and muscle that hadn't yet adjusted).  Whenever I got tense, I'd tense those muscles and it would get even worse.  I was very worried that I would never get rid of it.  But, low and behold, by the 13th month it has started to diminish noticablely, even if I am tense, and I'm not confident that by 15 months, it will be as perfect as Teresa's.

In short - don't think you are finished healing until the two year mark.  Don't get discouraged - it takes time for bone swelling to go down, tissue to realign, muscles to adjust, and the way you move your face to change.

I haven't yet had a face lift, though I am just a few months away from my 55th birthday in the pictures just taken (above).  Younger skin is stretchier and older skin keeps a sag.  But, my dad's skin looks tight at 81, so I think I'll wait until at least the two year mark when all the healing and changes are finally over (and try to lose 20 pounds by then) before I determine if I need that facelift enough to justify the additional expense and risk of yet another surgery.

I can tell you that I am so accepted now by every woman I meet that they start conversations in check out lines at the market, and by the time I've paid, I know about their kids, their husbands, their biggest personal problem of the moment, what they do for a living and so on - all with no proaction on my part, simply because I'm now, finally, "in the club."

Shifting to the internal landscape, there has been so much change and growth since facial surgery I almost don't know where to begin.

I've come to believe that the mental effects of feminizing facial surgery depend upon two factors;  One, at what age you transitioned, and two, whether you had facial surgery as a first step of transition or waited until years later when the beauty of youth has begun to fade.

Before FFS, I always felt like a faker, a pretender to the throne, as if I were playing a role.  Now, I feel just as female as anyone else.  SRS didn't do that (though I thought it did at the time).  Nope, I had to wait 15 years after SRS and finally get FFS before I felt like I was born this way, not just made this way.

And with that feeling of being the genuine article, coupled with the way I am now treated in public, I finally have a sense of entitlement to things female - a sense I didn't even know I didn't have before.

I feel entitled to everything any other woman is entitled to in this world.  Why?  Gosh, I guess its from all kinds of things.  Part of it is having had SRS, but by itself that didn't give me that feeling.  Part of it is that now, when I look in the mirror, my primal brain doesn't see "male markers" in my skull but only female ones.  Part of it is that, having healed form facial surgery, there isn't any part of my body I can look at or touch that isn't fully female as far as I can see.\

Can I see my chromosomes?  No.  Can I see my DNA?  No.  To the limits of everything my senses can tell me about myself, I can perceive no difference between myself and any other woman, but can note plenty of differences between my physical state and that of any man.

Even more internally than that, I know I think differently.  I can tell my soul hasn't changed.  At first I thought it had - like a soul transplant.  But now I know that the core of what makes me me - the ethical urges that drive me - are just as they always were, and are identical to that of most other women.  A female soul.  What is the soul?  Its what you have left when you strip away both body and personality.

I never knew the difference between personality and soul.  Didn't even know there was one.  But through this process, I've come to sense that my soul is where I'm coming from, and my personality is how I get there.

Where I'm coming from has never changed, but everything about my personality has.  To others, I am not at all the same person.  Before FFS, even years after SRS, people said I hadn't really changed as a person.  Now, everyone says I have, and I can feel it myself, right in the heart of me.

Perhaps the oddest sensation is the startling, jolting, shocking feeling I get when I look in the mirror and consider both how I used to look (who I used to be) when I was a husband and father with a mustache and a bravado and how I am now, soft, feminine, with a gentle demeanor and a completely female form.

Which brings me back to how the entire post-FFS experience is different depending on the age at which you transition and whether FFS was a first step of transition or years later as a last.

I personally know a few women who used FFS as a first step in transition, in fact, having FFS before they even ever ventured out into public as a woman at all.  According to them, facial surgery had very little effect on their minds, emotions, or self-images.

I've come to think that if you have FFS and then transition, you look enough like a woman that you aren't required by circumstance to work as hard on voice, mannerisms and internal frame of mind.  In short, because you get by okay on the outside due to the surgery, you don't really transition on the inside much at all.

In such cases, I think FFS is actually counter-productive.  I believe you need first to establish a female personality with female mannerisms and to hone your attributes before having FFS.

Now whether that takes a couple of years or nearly twenty (as in my case) all depends on how much time you really need to shed every last vestige of the old, learned behavior and to allow your inner self to mature.

Most of us lock our true female soul in a box at a very young age to protect it.  It never begins to mature until we start transition.  In the meantime, we keep laying on year after year of learned behavior to get by in a male role.  So, if we transition young, it takes less time to shed the old mental skin and be ready for the full value of FFS than if we transition at a later age and have many more onion layers to strip away.

Teresa, who transitioned at 19 and is now 50 says FFS doesn't affect her mind the same way it does me (or at least not at the same intensity).  She has life experience as a boy, but never as an adult male in the world.  She never was married or had kids, never graduated to male entitlement as a man.  For her, the post FFS shift has been intense, but ultimately easy to assimilate.

Though I recall her standing in front of the mirror when she was thirteen months healed as I am now (she had her surgery almost exactly a year before me), and as she stood there saying, "I have a girl's face - How did I get a girl's face?" - she moved past that point in a few months since the differential in her life experience was not as great as mine.

I didn't transition until I was 38 and had SRS at 39.  I know what it is to be "an adult male role model" in a youth group.  I know what it is to be a successful businessman, to have a career as a man, and to have a wife and children.  I learned the entitlement men have.

I never saw it for what it was before transition.  And after transition, I held onto it for all those intervening years until FFS.  I kept that sense of "control" and the need to "be in charge," just as many women do who choose to be career women.  But that was not my soul - just my affectation and experience.  So after FFS, when I see myself in a way that much more accurately reflects my soul and when others now treat me consistently with nature, I finally had to let go of the male entitlement.  And in so doing, I now have a sense of female entitlement I've never enjoyed before.

Oh, sure, I've toyed with the concept for year, but though I thought I understood it, I was just figuring I "bought" entitlement by virtue of how much I suffered, struggled, and paid to get here.  That isn't really entitlement.  It is like buying a peerage in Europe and then calling yourself royalty.  Technically do they have to treat you like a blue blood, but it is all superficial.  Everyone knows your lineage doesn't entitle you to that kind of deference, only you pocket book provided it to you.

Similarly, I demanded entitlement before by virtue of the dues I paid.  Now I expect it by virtue of who I am.

So it seems that FFS has its most positive effects if you wait and have it as the last step in transition.  And how long to wait depends on how many previous years of male experience you have to undo.

In terms of my own experiences with FFS, overall it has been wonderful.  It has tipped me over the edge into an existence the is more true to myself than I ever imagined was possible.

As far back as I can remember I felt uncomfortable in the role I played in life, even as a small child.  People expect you to behave in harmony with how you appear physically.  The soul is immutable.  And so personality is formed as compromise between the essence of your true self and the expectations of others.

If you have gender dysphoria, the gap between your true self and your expected self is huge and gaping.  When you go into transition, the personality you developed as a bridge across that gap has to be reconstructed, piece at a time.  Still, because of the primal brain response to your face, the expectations upon you based on your physical self have not changed as much as you would have thought.

But when you have FFS, the gap between how you look and how you feel vanishes, and the bridge of your revised personality bridge crumples as healing brings your inner and outer self together.

The debris of that former person isn't gone though, it merely lays like so much junk on the bottom of your mind, constantly reminding you of the self that was and juxtaposing its image over the self that is.

Since I transitioned late, the differential with my past is extremely jolting, and I don't know if I'll ever get over it.  When I think of my past in a normal manner as anyone would, I run into that massive discrepancy between the me that was and the me that is.

That makes FFS (to me) more like a brain transplant into a female body.  Since my soul is the same, it is as if I now inhabit a female form, and though my affectations and personality have changed, the essence of myself has not.  And so, though most of the time I am fully integrated into this new life as much as if I had been born to it, from time to time I get a flash from the past that just doesn't fit up against the present.  The image of the old self looms like a specter, overlayed upon the new.

I've left the remnants of my former personality bridge where they fell, so should my looks ever degrade again (as when I lost the blush of youth) I could rebuild a new bridge from the wreck of the old.  That has been my insurance policy.

But truly, could I ever re-transition to become identifiable as male again if I had to, due to circumstance?  Logistically yes.  I could have bone putty surgically sculpted to my face to restore its masculine structure.  I could stop estrogen and take testosterone.  I could have a mastectomy and re-learn how to speak "male."

Is there a way to rid exorcise that person so that I can finally stop haunting myself?  Perhaps.  As I've felt more confident in my new countenance, I find that I have swept aside that personality debris..  As I've become comfortable that nothing about me is inconsistent with my self-image, I've put away my fallback positions for a rainy day, no longer feeling I need to have them handy at all times. 

I believe that eventually, my innermost heart will come to feel that this new life really is permanent.  And when it does, I will finally be enabled to not just lock them away, not just throw away the key. but to throw open the doors to let them run away so that I can never call them back again.

But how can I come to ever feel this life is  permanent, when I thought so before, only to have it taken away by age?  Because the one thing I can never do again is reestablish within myself the motivation to change sex.  I had that drive once.  It lasted all my life until I acted upon it.  Having completed that journey and attained my goal, the motivation was assuaged, satisfied, and therefore vanished.

It requires angst to want to change one's sex.  In a practical sense, any one who is alive today could change sex - the technology is there.  But most people would recoil from that idea.  They are unable to change sex simply because the notion is repugnant to them, as it now is to me.

So, as if I had been born this way without gender dysphoria, I am now equally repelled from the concept of changing my sex.  All of which means that I can never go back, and that is why I let go of the last of my mental processes that would assist me should I ever want to take that return trip.

The longer I have no more of the problems I had with my face before surgery, the more my grasp on the past will weaken, until one day, it slips away completely and I have nothing but my true self living inside my head.

But for now,  the shock of comparing the old me to the new me remains.  Still, I have taken my life in new directions that embrace my present self and do not invoke the former.

In time, I expect that will soften the significance of those echoes from the past until they no longer slap me across the face, but merely caress me like the gentlest of breezes that is here and gone.

Melanie's FFS Journal, Melanie's Transition Diary, Melanie's Home Page, Transgender Support Site

Copyright 2006-2007 Melanie Anne