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My Journey to Womanhood                                               Thursday, March 01, 2012
It started when I was about eight.  The actual beginning of my transition was much, much later – when American Society had a little relaxing of discrimination, bigotry, and hatred.  I was in adamant denial.  My mom (at age 92) and I had a conversation about her knowing about me even before I was born, but terrified of the hate and violence that would be launched against me and the rest of the family.  But now (at that time) it was time I faced my true inside self.  I started transitioning in 2000 and started medical treatment in 2004.  It took all of about 4 days for me to change from the world of a male to the world of a female.
I started with going to some adult novelty stores where I found a reference to “Only For You” – a gay boutique on Maroa off Shields in Fresno, California.  There I met and eventually befriended one of the owners, Shannon Smith.  I found the local gay newspaper, “The News Link”.  I noticed the ads for some of the bars and tried out the “Red Lantern”.  There I met a person that introduced herself as Karina Lujan.  I eventually took her up on her suggestion to car pool with her and her friend to visit with Dr. John O’Day (an endocrinologist) of L. A.


First Medical Doctor:  He is a specialist, not a general practitioner.  He took us in as patients.  I was impressed by his initial interview/overview appointment.  He specializes in using pellets that are implanted (in one’s rear).  They deliver more of the hormones, more efficiently, directly, and completely to the body’s cells.  After he was finished explaining about starting out, comprehending the Harry Benjamin rules, and what could be accomplished, I jumped at the chance to “try it out”.  I started with 6 pellets (to see how my body responded).  Each pellet was $60.00.  They are supplemented with a booster shot every other week.  The next appointment comes after 4 months.  A cocktail of hormones is given at that appointment (Depo-Provera).  I was hooked.  I went to 12 pellets every 4 months.  There are several pellet sizes and provide different time releases.  I also opted for double booster shots every 2 weeks.  The doctor’s office supplies an envelope with the shots pre-packed.  I was doing this therapy for about 2 and ½ years.  Each appointment cost me $1,425.00.  I decided this was what I was supposed to be doing.  All the appointments were met at the right times and I actually had the cash for each appointment.

Second Medical Doctor:  In January of 2007, Dr. Jennifer A. Burnett, M. D. arrived in the Fresno area from Portland, Oregon.  A former protégé of Sara Becker, Dr. Jen is an assistant clinical professor at the University of California, San Francisco, Fresno campus.  Dr. Jen is working at the Adventist Health Selma Family Clinic.  You start at the Tuesday special clinic for intake.  It takes 20 minutes at 60 miles per hour to commute to Selma from Fresno.  Dr. Jen is a general family practitioner and is my own personal physician.  Dr. Jen specialized in the skin during schooling.  You will find out that she is one of us - eight year post-op.

Prescription:  The Estradiol Valerate hormone is obtained with a prescription from Dr. Jen.  The prescription is for 40 MG/ML in mineral oil.  It comes in a 10ML vial for injection in the rear end.  Alternate cheeks, every other week.  The cost is $29.00 plus $8.00 shipping.  $37.00 total.  The prescription comes from AnazaoHealth, Corp., 6630 W. Arby Ave., Ste. 102, Las Vegas, NV 89118-4663.  Phone (702) 873-8455.  More than one individual prescription can be shipped to the same address in the same box.  About 12 to 14 vials can fit in the box.  AnazaoHealth will accept the single payment of the $8.00 shipping charge and a combined payment for the prescriptions as long as there is a note designating what prescriptions go in the same addressed box.

Mothers Milk Tea:  For encouraging breast health.  I buy a discounted case of “Mother’s Milk” herbal tea (by Traditional Medicinals) from Tower Health (listed on the services/referrals page of this web site.)  I usually buy 12 boxes of 16 tea bags each (192 total tea bags = about .30 cents each) at a time.  $57.43.  You can get a deal at the Traditional Medicinals website, but not as local or as good a deal.  Sometimes shipping is free.  Please consider sticking with Tower Health.
I brew the tea as recommended.  I also boil filtered water in a stainless steel sauce pan with 6 tea bags, let steep 15 minutes (with a glass lid), put about 20 or so ice cubes in, and pour into a glass pitcher for iced tea I keep in the refrigerator.  I fill up the pitcher with the filtered water first, up to almost the top.  I consider the vaporizing of some of the water after a roiling boil and then the additional water put in by the ice cubes.  The ice cubes cool the tea enough to put into the glass pitcher (so it doesn’t break) and then into the refrigerator.  I love the taste of the licorice flavor of the anise.  There is no caffeine and no tannic acid so I can drink a lot and frequently – about 4 or 5 liquid cups a day.  I use a 2 liquid cup mug with a big handle (for my big fingers).

Flat 2 Fem:  Lucille Sorella’s herbal treatment program is a good supplement to/for transitioning.  I have been on the breast cream routine for about 6 to 8 months (part of the routine is to stop for a few weeks) and I have gained a cup and a half in my breast size.  Before I started, I had stalled in the breast growth area.  I buy the herbal blend extract from grrenbush.net.  Be sure and sign up for her free e-zine.  They are pages from her Flat2Fem program (last I saw was $77.00).

Breast Cream:  For the breast cream, I use it in the morning after washing (or shower).  I do all this in the apartment’s main bathroom.  I take about an hour.  I use a cut glass pudding cup (good for ice cream, too), and a ½ teaspoon measure (25ml).  FILL up the ½ teaspoon measure with your favorite body lotion – use a thick cream.  I like to use Avena palm.  It has NO alcohol!  Put the cream in the cup.  Fill the ½ teaspoon to about ¾ full of the blend extract.  I have used a bottle of each of the 3 separate extracts.  Mix all very well with the measure.  Use your finger(s) to clean the measure and to apply the cream to each of the breasts.  This cream is to be absorbed through skin.  It works better than taking internally.  Rub the cream in for 360 revolutions of massage.  The right side clockwise, the left side counter-clockwise.  Reverse.  Change hands (cross arms).  I count 1 to 100, 3 times, then to 60.  This way I am not so liable to lose count (although it matters not) and my arms don’t get too tired.  Then, I wipe my hands on my bare behind and legs.  I don’t like wasting the cream.  Clean the measure and the cup (rinse) under hot running water for next time.
Place a piece of cloth or plastic over the breasts (I use a plastic grocery bag).  Place a set to high, preheated heating pad (I bought one at Walmart), on top of the cloth or plastic protector.  I use an old elastic 3” wide belt to hold the pad against my chest.  Turn the pad down to medium and set a timer for 20 minutes.  I set my timer (a cheapie from Walmart) to 21 or 22 minutes.  You can use the wait time to do your hair, makeup, jewelry, ect., that is why I use an elastic belt to hold the pad in place.
When the timer goes off, I pull the pad plug from the wall, take off the elastic belt (hold the pad with an arm), then place my heating pad and elastic belt in a canvass beach bag for storage.  I have the bag hanging by a strap from one end of my towel rack.
Take the protector off and discard.  I fold inward the plastic and trash it.  I then use a washcloth I started with.  It is still wet and now chilled.  Wipe the excess off your breasts.  I like the way the plastic protector keeps the cream in and heats the skin for good absorption.  The coolness of the wash cloth closes the pores.  You will notice a pancake syrup like smell.  I find it stimulating for before breakfast mealtime.  I have had no real notice of any strong smell.  Lucille Sorella recommends using the cream both morning and night.  I have just been using the cream in the morning.

Vitamins:  I like to take a vitamin.  I am presently taking Hair, Skin & Nails by One Source.  Any brand will do.  My hair and nails do seem to benefit.  One capsule in the morning and one capsule in the evening.  I buy them at “The Grocery Outlet” in Fresno, CA, U.S.A.  I also take a gel capsule of Maximum Strength D3 (5,000 IU) supplement by Rexall Naturalist (also from The Grocery Outlet) as well as a capsule of Triveratrol Plus Dietary Supplement by Julian Whitaker, M. D. (through mail order).  I now have to take a soft gel of Ocuvite by Bausch and Lomb from Walmart for my aging eyes.  It is supposed to discourage macular degeneration.

Herbs:  For Women’s herbal health enhancement, GreenBush Co. has some selected fresh, dried, and extract herbs.  Go to the magazine page and check to see if there is free shipping available.  www.greenbush.net
Another web site to check out is Real Age.  It is a dietary reference site for foods benefitting a healthy Male and Female of all ages.  www.realage.com

Hair:  For my hair, I have been using Baume Hair Shampoo by Verseo and the Baume Hair Conditioner by Verseo.  I buy them together through the Verseo web site.
Sun Screen:  I also use NO AD Sport 50 sun screen/blocker.  It has NO ALCOHOL!
Dental:  I use the Crest Pro-Health toothpaste.
Soy Protein:  The human breast cells need building material.  I am not full of very much fat.  I make up a drink of Soy Protein 95 Muscle builder.  The soy I get at the bulk foods area of Winco Foods grocery store.  1/3rd cup of soy in a glass that holds at least 8 oz.  The recommended mix is 6 oz. of liquid.  I pour in some Cranberry juice cocktail, some homestyle orange juice, and about 3 or 4 tablespoons of Shasta brand ZAZZ (grapefruit soda) with a large ice cube.  Mix well.  By the way, I store all of the ingredients in the refrigerator.

Surgeon:  I have spent more than four (4) years researching a good surgeon for my Gender Reassignment Surgery.  The best in the world, as of this article (August 01, 2009) is Dr. Suporn Watanyusakul, M. D. of Chonburi, Thailand.
Unfortunately, Dr. Suporn will not take patients older that sixty four (64).  So I have had my corrective surgery with Dr. Sherman Leis, M. D. of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  www.thetransgendercenter.com.  My friend, Lon, drove Sherry Donegan (my “second”) and I to John Wayne Airport in Santa Anna.  The gas to the airport for two round trips was about $80.00 and the round trip flight for one adult and one senior was $708.00.  My daughter was supposed to go with me but found out that she was too far along in her pregnancy and got her permission canceled.  The flight was very cramped – both ways.  I changed planes in Atlanta and arrived on May the 15th, 2011.  The taxi ripped me off for twice what the fare should have been.  It was a very nice neighborhood the clinic was in.  Sherry got a paid-for flight from LAX and arrived in a pre-paid taxi a few hours after I arrived.  The clinic is a three floor ‘barn’ type architecture home.  Little one bedroom apartments upstairs.  They are $50.00 per night no matter how many are staying.  A trans was there taking care of the housekeeping.  Early the next morning (about 6:00 a.m.) Dr. Leis drove us out to Lower Bucks County Hospital.  They had a little confusion as I had pre-paid in cash (not a usual occurance).  $3,000.00 for the three nights and $300.00 for the operating room.  About 7:00 a.m. I was wheeled into surgery.  Dr. Leis fee is $12,000.00 and the anesthetist was $1,850.00.  I had my re-birthday on May the 17th, my natal birthday, awakening at about 1:30 p.m.  I spent the next twelve (12) days at the recovery apartments above Dr. Leis office.  Dr. Leis son (an EMT by trade) drove me back to the clinic in his Cadillac commenting that I now had an ‘inny’ instead of an ‘outty’.  He kept me in a good mood on the ride back.  I had no real pain at all.  I was a bit uncomfortable.  I was numb and swollen.  Some feeling returned as the swelling went down.  I had a tube in me to dispose of the urine.  I personally had no nausea.  The tube came out at the clinic a few days later – that hurt.  There was some very severe sharp pain, though.  I was on a liquid diet for the surgical procedure and when I came off of the liquid diet I got some gas bubbles – incredible pain for a few moments.  It happened about three times.  Sherry was wonderful taking care of me at the recovery apartment.  On the second to the last day we walked down to a local sandwich shop for a celebration lunch.  I took my time there and back, stopping frequently to just sit.  My friend, Lon, had given me $500.00 for expense and pocket money.  We kind of went through it all.  I had to purchase some items that were not allowed on the flight.  We returned home on May the 30th.  I had to sit ‘side saddle’ for the duration, first on one hip, then the other.  The Philadelphia TSA agent was a female and took care.  I am doing great and am most pleased with the results, although I am a little impatient with having to dilate and try to stretch the 4” depth I came home with.  I still need to recover some more as of this writing.  There is a very great need to remember to bring one of those round air "donuts" to sit on after the surgery.  It was the first thing I bought at the Walmart - $6.00.

I am meeting Dr. Leis for my post surgery check up at the Gold Rush Transgender Convention on March 22nd to March 25th, 2012 in Denver, Colorado.  He said he would meet me ‘half way’.  This time I am taking the Amtrak from Fresno to Richmond where I can get the BART to SFO.  There I take a Frontier flight to Denver and land at 9:41 a.m. mountain time.  Amtrak is $24.65, BART $9.25, Frontier $100.80 (cheapest of all other airports!).  I leave Fresno at 5:45 p.m. on Wednesday, March the 21st, 2012.  I will make do at SFO waiting for my 6:10 a.m. flight.  This will get me to the registration at a good time and save me a $109.00 nights stay.  The Renaissance Denver Hotel will run $375.56 for the three nights and the convention ticket is a step down to $270.00.  My train trip back will run a little less than $178.00 after the senior discount.  The trip is listed at 36 hours back to Fresno.  The Zephyr goes to Sacramento where I transfer to the San Joaquin.

I am ecstatic and it feels really great to finally feel, think, dress, and be a full female at last!  No more hiding, no more pretending, and no more conforming!


The author of this article can be reached at: 
rachel@rachelbowman.com.