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Tips for Female to Male Transsexuals

Acne

Oh dear. I hate acne. Well, let's see. I used to go to a dermatologist and was on two prescription creams (one in the morning, one before bed) - Triaz 10% gel, and Retin-A micro (coupled with Cetaphil, which is a moisturizer, cause Retin-A really dries out your skin), plus I took Tetracycline for a while, which is an oral antibiotic (pill) that I took twice a day. If you can't get prescription meds for your acne, feel free to try the various stuff they sell over the counter...I have no recommendations cause I've never used any of it. Just make sure that you get stuff that's labelled "for sensitive skin" if you're at all worried about it. I used to use a face wipe thing that make me feel like I was getting a face full of diluted ammonia...my eyes teared up, etc., etc.

In addition, if most of your acne is red (not whiteheads or blackheads), there's a handy-dandy little trick I picked up from some FTM or another. You know that stuff you can buy to make red eyes not be red? (Visene is one brand, but it's expensive...just get the generic stuff.) If you put it on your acne, it'll take the red out of that, too. No kidding. Just don't let the tip of the little dropper touch anything, or it'll contaminate it. What I do is I drip several drops into the palm of one hand, then dab a finger into that and apply it from my finger. (I guess that still counts as contaminated on some level but it works for me.) Give it a shot...it's pretty cool that it works. Contributed by Michael. (10/3/2004)

Bathrooms

If you pass well, you're going to have to use the men's room. This is less traumatic than you might think. Just go in, do your thing, and leave. You needn't run unless you're late for a meeting or something, but don't dawdle. (You're probably going to want to do this anyway because most men's rooms absolutely reek.) Don't make conversation with anyone unless you know them really well. Don't stare at the floor, but don't go out of your way to make eye contact with anyone. For men, the bathroom has one purpose only.

If you have a peeing device and are confident about using it, by all means use the urinal. Otherwise, use the stall and don't worry. There are plenty of stall men, and you don't know what's in any of their pants either.

If you use the urinal, always use the one that's farthest from everyone else at the urinals. Stare straight at the wall in front of you. Recite a poem or something in your head to entertain yourself. Don't look down at anybody or they'll look at you, and you don't want that if you're using a peeing device. If you recite a poem or a song, don't move your lips or say anything out loud, or the other guys will think you're wacky.

Don't touch anything you don't have to. This should probably go without saying for any and all public bathrooms, but you'll find that most men's rooms are far worse than most women's rooms, and the rule applies even more.

FLUSH! Some guys get so nervous that they forget to do the most obvious things.

And for God's sake, please do us all a favor and wash your hands. We all grew up thinking, "Boys like gross things," but men are just as grossed out as women when you don't wash your hands in the bathroom - particularly if you used the stall (figure it out). Don't dawdle at the sink, but be thorough and USE SOAP. Contributed by Michael. (10/3/2004)

Binding

The easiest, most accessible product for making your breasts less apparant is a really baggy shirt, which I got away with for years. A couple of years ago, I switched to a Futuro abdominal binder, which I loved, but got a Frog bra not too long ago, which I like much better. I'm very small and wore a Medium Futuro, and now a Small Frog. The Frog can be ordered through Title 9 Sports, either online or by phone. (You can mail them a check if you don't have access to a credit card. Call and ask.) It's about $32, I think, including shipping.

Futuros don't really work for bigger guys - if you're above a B-cup, you're probably going to want a different product. You can get the Futuro at any pharmacy for like $20. It's in a yellow box, in the aisle with the ACE bandages and the Ben-Gay and stuff. You need to wear an undershirt under it or it'll chafe. It's not hot and doesn't restrict breathing at all. It does slip a little, particularly if you exercise a lot, but it's easy to slip into the bathroom or behind a tree and hoist it back up.

If the Futuro doesn't work for you, you might order a binder such as the Underworks binder. Go to [contributor's] links page - a lot of the sites have info on the Morris binder and others.

If you're short on money, you can always go to The Big Brothers Binder Program, which provides secondhand binders for free (well, $5.00 for shipping, but that's it) to those who can't afford to buy them retail.

NOTE: Do NOT use tape to bind! This may sound obvious but I've known people who used tape because they didn't think there was any alternative. It's all too easy to take off a layer of skin when you remove the tape, even if you're very careful. Tape over a shirt won't take your skin off, but it will restrict breathing and it won't give the way a cloth binder does, which makes them much more dangerous. Also, ACE bandages are a bad idea. They are inherently dangerous. The nature of an ace bandage is to get tighter whenever it's stretched; every time you inhale you're stretching it, and when you exhale it tightens around your ribcage. Do that all day and it's quite unsafe, even if you're not bound excrutiatingly tightly the way so many folks do. I've heard too many stories of people coughing up blood. They can also cut your skin. Just a bad idea all the way around. Contributed by Michael. (10/3/2004)

Clothing

You need to be wearing men's clothing ONLY. People can tell the difference, even if no one says anything to you. Boys' clothes are fine if you're having trouble finding men's stuff that fits. Unisex clothes are a no-no. They're more feminine than masculine and really don't help your chances.

If you're having trouble finding shoes that fit, go to Payless. I got a pair of men's sneakers, size 6 (US), at Payless for $20 and a pair of black men's dress shoes, size 6 (US), for $15. The boys' shoes with the loud yellow stitching work well, and you can get them with brown stitching instead. You needn't spend much on dress clothes in the beginning. Go to Ames or Wal-Mart (I go to Bradlees) and get a simple dress shirt, pair of slacks, black belt and brown belt (one each), necktie, and men's wallet. (Black belts are formal, brown belts are casual.)

You shouldn't spend more than $20 on the shirt and slacks, or more than $10-$15 on the other stuff. I got a really good, 100% silk necktie for $10 at Bradlees. Shop for bargains, you can find some good stuff if you try. If you wear an earring, just use a simple stud for now. Fancy stuff looks more feminine, even if you have only one, and won't help as much. Contributed by Michael. (10/3/2004) Dealing With Men

Be yourself. Be social, but be aware of the difference in tone. When men gossip (they don't call it gossip, though, it's "discussing"), there is often a sexual undertone and some raucous laughter. Feel free to join in, but beware of the intense one-upmanship that is often present in these situations. Be ready to take 'em all on. If you can win a one-upmanship match with all of the guys you're with, you'll probably be accepted into their circle immediately. Contributed by Michael. (10/3/2004) Dealing With Women

Be yourself, but be less social than you used to be. Women tend to gossip more than men, particularly when they're by themselves. Even if you're sitting there with them. Don't let yourself get sucked in. This may sound sexist, but it's easy to sort of feminize the way you talk when you're in that situation. Caveat emptor. Contributed by Michael. (10/3/2004)

Do I Pass?

Like I said, we're all our own worst critic. Ask some friends you trust to tell you honestly how it's going, and keep track of how strangers relate to you. Being called "sir" is always a good sign. Contributed by Michael. (10/3/2004)

Hair

A masculine haircut is a must. Since so many women wear their hair short these days, having a really short haircut is no longer enough. Go to a barber and ask for a "traditional men's cut" or, if you're younger, a "traditional boy's cut." I did this and was overjoyed with the results. If you're worried someone will stop you, go alone. If you're worried about reactions from your barber, go to a new barber. Bring plenty of cash - like $40. There's nothing worse than being $1.50 short and having to call someone for cash. If people ask you why you got it cut like that, don't blame the barber for screwing it up. They'll just keep bugging you to get it fixed. If you don't feel like outing yourself on the spot, just say you like it better this way.

Something that goes a LONG way (believe it or not), if you're not quite willing to chop off all your hair, is to just cut your sideburns. Men have them shaved off, straight across, usually where their ear connects to their head. Women have them grown out, either cut into those little points or just grown as long as they'll go and tucked back behind the ear. If you shave the sideburns off, people are considerably more likely to read you as a guy. It's weird but true - one of those gender indicators that we really don't think about. Contributed by Michael. (10/3/2004)

Shaving

So, you want to shave but have no facial hair. Well, I've got some interesting news for you - you don't have to have any facial hair growth to shave. In fact, if you're 15 or older, it's a good idea to shave even if you're not on T (testosterone - male hormone that most FTM guys take in injection form) and have no real facial hair. The reason is simple: women and pre-pubescent (before puberty) children have peach fuzz, men don't. So shave it off.

So what should I use? I use a Gillette Mach 3, which is a triple blade, and Edge Pro Gel or Gillette Cool Wave Gel (both for sensitive skin, which has aloe). Gel is far better than cream or foam, and it's best to get something for sensitive skin to cut down on irritation. Twin blades are better than triple blades for the same reason. Gillette is your best bet - both Sensor and Atra are good. Mach 3 is used by some, but that can cause ingrown hairs if you're not on T. The gel costs a few dollars and will last you a good six months, since when you first shaving you should only be doing it about every four days. My razor came with two blades (for about six bucks) and you can buy replacement blades in packs of five, ten or fifteen. (The more razors in a pack, the cheaper it is - i.e., buying a pack of 15 is cheaper than buying three packs of 5.) You should replace your razor after it's been used about nine times, cause after that it'll be too dull. Even with just peach fuzz.

Okay, I've got this stuff - now how do I do it? I'm assuming here that you don't have your daddy or big brother or someone there to teach you. My online friend Vaughn taught me, talking me through it in an Instant Message, and I did very well my first time. I saved our dialogue and now I'm going to paraphrase it to help you.

First off, your face should be warm and wet. The easiest way to do this is to shave right after you shower, but if that's not convenient, put a hot washcloth on your face for about five minutes beforehand.

Anyone who remembers the old Cosby Show will remember when Theo, the family's only son, started shaving. His father told him to lather up and he'd talk him through it, and Theo came out of the bathroom with his face covered in gobs of shaving foam. He asked his father if he had used too much, and his father replied, "No, I use three, four cans a day, myself." All the fathers and sons in the audience got a good laugh out of that one.

You need very little gel. There should actually be instructions on the back of the can as to how to use it, but I'll tell you anyway. Leave your face wet, squirt a little glob of gel onto your fingertip, and rub it onto the skin. It should lather a little on its own when you rub it. Paint a beard on with the gel. It shouldn't cover your cheeks or go down to your collarbone. About one inch below the jawline should have gel, but no more.

Use DOWNWARD STROKES ONLY. This means you start up near your sideburns and drag the razor lightly over the skin towards your jaw. (Some bioguys use upward strokes, but if you're not growing in real facial hair, you're likely to get ingrown hairs if you do that.) When doing the mustache area, don't pull the razor over your lip. You should be using minimal pressure - more than that and you risk cutting yourself. (Cuts really aren't that bad, but they sting at first and are annoying to shave around while they scab over and heal.) Even on your throat, use downward strokes. Don't worry about slashing your throat open. It would take a lot of pressure to do that, and you should be using almost no pressure. It'll feel right if you're doing it correctly. (Plus, if you use too much pressure, odds are you'll end up with razor burn - your skin will turn pink and get sore, like when you have a sunburn.)

If you're on T and have actual facial hair growing in and are just starting to shave, a bioguy I know offers this advice: "Always shave down first...THEN lather up again and then shave UP. Much closer shave that way and no ingrown hairs (yes, even we bioguys get them). I learned this one when I saw the former Royal Barber of England interviewed on TV."

After you shave for the first time, your skin will feel really weird and almost rubbery. That's normal. As the months go by, that will go away.

As for aftershave...I use Aqua Velvet, after the same bioguy told me this: "I use Aqua Velva and I swear by it. Yes, it stings at first, but it basically sterilizes your face after you drag a blade across it (reducing infections/acne) and it makes your face hurt much less the rest of the day. Also, it cures razor burn almost instantly (well, within a few hours, anyways)."

Once again, from the same friendly bioguy: "One more thing. Styptic pencils. You can get them at the drug store. They make a shaving cut stop bleeding instantly. Beware, however, that you have never felt such intense pain before in your life. Goes away in 30 seconds, though. Never share them with anyone else since it's touched your blood."

Will shaving really make my facial hair grow in thicker, darker, etc? In a word, no. It will make the hair that's already on your face (peach fuzz) grow in faster, and the hair will seem slightly thicker at first, but you're not getting a beard or even convincing stubble out of it. The reason is this: When hair sits on you for a long time, it wears down and becomes softer. But when you shave it off and it grows back in, it's just a blunt end, and will seem a little prickly. If you shave once and let it grow back in and that's it, it'll seem a little prickly at first but will wear down and just feel like peach fuzz again. And it will start growing in faster, though not right away. When I started shaving (August 1999), I shaved once every four days in order to avoid razor burn. After a few months (I forget how long exactly), I started shaving every two days and had no trouble. About a year (maybe a little less, I forget) after I started shaving, I started doing it every day, which I still do now. And I don't get razor burn. Thus, the hair is growing back faster and I'm still shaving hair each day, not just irritating the bare skin.

What's razor burn? If you have razor burn, you'll know. It's not just a pink tinge in your cheeks. It hurts. It feels basically like a bad sunburn. If you get it, put aloe or something on it and (duh) don't shave until it goes away. Razor burn typically comes from applying too much pressure or from shaving when there's no hair there (or if you're a lazy bastard like me, attempting to shave without using any gel), and thus (either way) irritating the skin with a blade. But if you're careful, there's no reason for you to get it. Don't worry about it. Contributed by Michael. (10/3/2004)

What effect does Testorone have?

My goodness, what a loaded question. Well, the negative stuff I've noticed has been increased sweating and acne. The rest of it has been good, at least from my point of view - I've gained a little weight (increased appetite), hair has increased and darkened on my arms and legs, increased sex drive and phallic (clitoris) size, jaw's becoming more defined (which is making my face look squarer), voice has deepened (some Adam's apple growth, since they're related), shoulders are a bit broader...I think that's it so far. (It's been about six months as I write this.) Oh yeah, and menstruation stopped about two months after I started T. (YES!!!) And I think I'm a bit moodier, but I'm a moody person anyway, so I can't be sure.

Everyone's pace is different. Don't get the idea that if you go on the patch, half of standard dose (which is what I'm on), that at three weeks this will happen, and at two months that will happen, and so forth...everyone goes through puberty (cause that's really all it is) at their own rate. It depends on your dose, the method you use (injections, patches or gel), and - above all - your genetic predispositions. Contributed by Michael. (10/3/2004)

Voice

Deepening your voice on the phone is fine and may be a good idea if you're on the high side, but don't try to deepen it when having a conversation in person. You can see it in a person's face when they're trying to change their voice.

An interesting factoid: If you drink milk before going to bed, you'll wake up with a really good "morning voice" the next day. That should last you for a chunk of the morning, so make all your phone calls (and record your outgoing message on your answering machine) then. Contributed by Michael. (10/3/2004)

Walking & Mannerisms

Observe, observe, observe. Go to the mall or a park, sit on a bench, and watch the male world go by. Take notes. Later at home, practice in front of a mirror. Try not to be too exaggerated in your movements. Don't use a camera or camcorder, although it will be tempting cause videos are much easier than notes. People will think you're wacky and may call security or the police if you're taping them. Once you're comfortable with your movements, go out in public and try them. They should become second nature after a while.

Be sure, when observing, to observe a wide range of guys, of all races, shapes and sizes. If you're tall and thin, feel free to pay closer attention to tall thin guys, but watch everyone. Otherwise, you'll just be doing an impression of the one or two tall thin guys you saw. Get an average and go with that. Contributed by Michael. (10/3/2004)

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