Friday, July 25, 2008


So you wanna get rid of all that ugly facial hair huh? Permanently? Well there's only one way to go at the moment to do that and it's a procedure called electrolysis. What is electrolysis exactly?

Basically it involves sticking a very small (needle small) metal probe into each hair follicle and zapping it with a pulse of electricity so it won't grow back. This is something that works over time as clients to electrologists have to go through hours upon hours of treatment to yield a true result. There are several different kinds of electrolysis some more painful than the others but each have their own effectiveness.

Word to the wise, be prepared to experience uncomfortable to almost unbearable pain. I liken it to some of the tortures that the Spanish Inquisition used. The most sensitive areas are most definitely the lower and upper lip and the neck. Oh god the's really painful. Sometimes I dread going in fear of having a "trying" session. The important thing though is not to give up. Electrolysis is VERY worthwhile if you are serious about transistioning because eventually you'll never have to worry about shaving period as you won't have any facial hair to worry about.

I was asked by the person who treats me to request a special prescription cream to lessen the impact of the pain. My doctor started me off on 2.5% Lidocaine but I'm now using a 5% Lidocaine ointment. I usually rub it in as much as I can and cover it with saran wrap so it doesn't dry all up. The cream is useless when that happens. There are other creams you can use one of those being EMLA or a compounded cream mixture of Prilocaine and Lidocaine.

How Long Does it Take?

Electrolysis can take a LONG TIME, like years depending on your beard. Everyone is different. I just so happen to be one of the lucky ones, and should be done sooner than later in comparison to someone that's extremely hairy.

How much does it cost?

This is what I get asked the most. The too will also vary depending on who you go see. Right now I pay $104 weekly for one hour and a half session. I've seen cheaper (like $52 per hour) but remember as with anything you'll get what you pay for which is quality and the experience of the person giving you the treatment.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Hormones

So I thought I might do a little something on what meds I take as a transexual and what effects they have had on my body not only physically but mentally as well. It’s pretty insane at least in my opinion that the natural hormones that the human body produces can affect so much especially how we think and after being on Estrogen for over nine months now I can safely say that I can see a difference in both aspects. Before I go into what hormones can and cannot do I’d like to explain what I am taking just so people not familiar can get an idea what kind of medcines we’re getting into here.

I am currently taking two meds, the first being a testosterone inhibitor called Spironolactone. This medicine comes in a pill form in either 50mg or 100mg dose per pill. My doctor started me off taking 50mg/day and gradually moved me up to 300mg/day. In my opinion, this is the med that makes the biggest difference in the estrogen I am taking in effecting my body.

The other medicine I am taking is an Estrogen based cream called Estradiol. My doctor started me off at 1 gram per day and moved me up to 3 grams which is what I take now. I have them compounded out of state in a pharmacy called Murray Avenue Apothecary, which offers it at a very reasonable price for those even without insurance.

What do the meds do?

Well for starters, they aren’t magic. You won’t turn into a woman overnight nor do they have such a profound effect that they will really change the way you look. Only surgery is capable of doing that. I mean, you’ll change for sure, and will look slightly different but not to the point where you’ll be unrecognizable. The main things Estrogen does is the following:

-Helps with breast development
-They have a psychological effect, you’ll be more emotional
-Changes your skin in making it softer and thinner
-Reduction in body hair
-Changes the way you smell overall
-Can clear up some or all acne
-They cannot reduce facial hair
-They cannot change the tone of your voice

A note about the breast development. More than likely you’ll be smaller than your relatives, I’ve generally accepted the rule that as a Male-to-Female you’ll be one cup smaller than the size of your mother’s breasts, which is pretty accurate if I should say so myself!

Facial hair can only be removed by several treatment methods, which I’ll go over in a future post.

Hormones and the testosterone blockers are more or less affordable if you hold a steady job. I’d say I don’t pay more than about $80 USD a month to finance that part of my transition. When I first started taking hormones it took me at least five months before I could feel any major changes, but the good thing was that every change was a good one. Starting these was probably the best thing I’ve ever done for myself, emotionally I feel much less, well, depressed. I feel that it’s easier to fit into a female persona now than when I wasn’t on the hormones. Physically, my skin has cleared up quite a bit, which is something I’m happy about being a person with fair and sensitive skin as it was. I’ve noticed body hair reduction, heck, I hardly have to shave anymore which is a relief needless to say! My breasts leave something less than to be desired but I can live with it, nothing a little “magic” can fix up.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

So You Wanna Change Your Name?

This could apply for anyone really that wants to change their legal name, not just for transgendered individuals as there is no real difference for anyone wishing to change their name. Everyone has to go through (pretty much) the same process, I’m sure there are a few wacky places out there that requires you to do more or less but generally this is what you would have to go through.

Where I live there are several steps that must be taken in order to change your name.

  1. Setting up the Appointment. You have to first realize that all name changes are considered business for the probate court so you need to find out where the probate court is in your area and apply for a name change with the secretary or whoever handles name changes there. Name changes are not a free service, you will have some fee that will cost anywhere between $100-130 dollars just to get an appointment scheduled. Your scheduled date is usually made two months from the day you file.
  2. Letting the World Know. This is a pretty common requirement for name changes which requires you to give a copy of your receipt from the court stating you had filed for a name change to have it published in a local newspaper or legal journal for thirty (30) days. Newspapers usually have a service where they will forward a copy of the ad to the Court of which you’ll need on the day of your name change. I HIGHLY recommend that if you are trying to be covert about changing your name that you find a reputable legal journal and have it published there. Not many regular people are going to have a subscription to a legal journal for obvious reasons.
  3. Day of the Name Change. On the day of your name change you need to bring several things with you. Transgendered individuals should have either a signed letter from your therapist and/or medical doctor stating as to why you are seeking a legal name change which should include your date of birth and social security number especially. This is REALLY important I cannot express this enough! If you are acting on your own behalf without the aid of a lawyer this may be your only chance on convincing the magistrate or judge that what you want is perfectly sane. I had a really old, really conservative magistrate take on my case and the first thing he told me straight out was “we can’t allow this.” He had made up his decision beforehand, before meeting me despite the fact I had fulfilled and jumped through every legal hoop I needed to in order to get this done. I flipped the switch in a moment by giving him a letter from my therapist, and he instantly knew I wasn’t some random, crazy person off of the streets wanting to change my name to something that didn’t fit my birth gender. The second thing I needed, which isn’t the case in a few areas, is that I was required to bring a character witness to attest that I was who I was and all that jazz. If you are required to do this it is probably best if you yourself are under thirty years old to bring someone a little older than yourself. I imagine it had helped that my friend seemed to be of working age devoid of all the immaturities brought on by youth. At this point, if you have brought those two things they pretty much can’t deny your name change. Just remember to PLAY THEIR GAME BY THEIR RULES and you will succeed in doing this.
  4. Changing Your Name on your Bank Accounts, IDs, and SS Card. Essentially after you receive documentation from the court detailing your name change that will be all you need to change everything else over. I had zero problems getting my driver’s license, my bank card, my social security card, and bank accounts changed. Every place has different stipulations as to what they need proving your new identity. I would recommend getting your driver’s license changed first. It will help immensely in changing everything else.

I guess that’s all I really have to say about name changes. It’s not hard just time consuming and frankly can be a little scary to go through. Oh yeah…a word to the wise…don’t try to use those legal websites where you have to pay for the forms to change your name. It’s a waste of time and money believe me, and more often than not the forms on those websites are by no means identical to the actual ones the clerk will be filling out in court.

Friday, June 27, 2008

My First Visit, and What Came After

The first time I stepped into Persad Center I felt a little uncomfortable but not overly so. The office I went to was in a very questionable area of town (in Pittsburgh) but the inside didn't reflect that at all. The first thing they had asked me to do was what they called an "intake." I had to pay a one time fee of like $134 dollars to get evaluated and assigned to a therapist. They had me fill out a bunch of forms asking me all kinds of questions including both personal, medical, and questions about my family. After filling out the intake forms I was taken upstairs by an assistant to my therapist to be and she went over my intake forms with me in order to make sure everything I put on there was correct. She also filled out another form herself asking me questions as to why I was here and what I wanted to accomplish through therapy. Needless to say, I received a call after a couple days saying that I was accepted into the Transgendered Clinic there at Persad. I was also given the okay to schedule an appointment with my new therapist Judith Diperna.

It was well over a month's wait before I could get an appointment but it was well worth my "wasted time" in order to get into Judith's office. What can I say really...she was very kind to me from the start and we both clicked almost immediately. I remember my first appointment with her felt so short. It was ninety minutes long but it only seemed like ten minutes. My first visit with her lay down the frame work for every visit that I would have with her to follow which basically entailed me talking about myself and her nodding and occasionally asking me a few questions. I had to fulfill certain requirements to be diagnosed as a transexual and she made that well known to me from the get-go.

I drove every week to see Judith who's office was over an hour and a half away from where I lived. I remember having to pay two tolls, cross a state line, and drive through downtown Pittsburgh just to get there. It got tiring, believe me. And at one point I drove down on Tuesday nights for a group therapy session with other transexuals. At the time I did not like that at all, I was so scared to be in front of people for whatever reason.

After about two months of therapy I stopped going in September of '05 because I got involved with a guy that said I was fine the way I was and that it was perfectly okay for a man to be feminine. We had a short relationship needless to say and because I had stopped therapy I felt both betrayed and stupid for listening to him. Yeah, I'll agree that it it acceptable for men to act/be feminine, but the simple fact of the matter was I wasn't a feminine guy, I was a female and there was nothing nobody could tell me to think otherwise. I didn't recover from this until over a year and a half later in March of '07 when I finally decided to put my foot down and finish my therapy with Judith so I could become the beautiful person I knew I was.

Monday, June 23, 2008

My Very First Steps

If I remember correctly I was nineteen years old when I finally decided to let my family know what was going on in my head since I was a child. I was struggling with this for YEARS, and extremely fearful of the possible consequences of the wrong people finding out that I was a transexual. I can remember going over in my head time and time again the exact steps I needed to take in order to get my dream of becoming a woman a reality. I always thought for the longest time that my only chance to do this was to move away from my family and start my new identity away from home. I'm going to say in retrospect, that this would've only complicated my situation and quite possibly made it practically impossible to get where I am today. Especially in respects to money.

I had no choice but to tell my family if I wanted any chance to make my dream a reality. I had no where else to go and no where I could safely transistion in good time. So after psyching myself totally out and going over what I was going to tell them in the mirror about sixty bazillion times I walked into the living room and sat down for a heart to heart with both my brother and mom. I guess they took it okay, they didn't seemed to bothered by it at the time, and I had told the to "Expect the worst."

Over the course of the next few months I had begun to explore myself openly like I never did previously. I really had no shame and I laugh about that now, nothing quite like walking into Sears in a short short skirt and a strapless corset. I'd never do that now but I guess it was something I needed to get out of my system, and afterall I was only nineteen or twenty at the time so my view of what it meant to be a woman was very unrealistic.

After telling my family, I had realized that I needed to find some sort of professional help to point me into the right direction of people that could change me physically. I had no clue as to where I should look. From what I read I needed to find a therapist/counselor to evaulate me based upon the Harry Benjamin Standards of Care. My mom had suggested to me to speak with a guy at my work place who was gay and find out if he knew of any groups I could get involved with. Once again after psyching myself out I approached him outside and told him about my situation. He had advised me to seek out a group that frequently gathered at a local bar a little ways from where I lived.

Consequently, I had made a contact at this point with the "Lady-President" of the organization and we began to meet up at the group's gatherings. It was here where I met most of the transvestites I've ever known, but few were true blue transexuals. Luckily for me the the Lady President was, and she had pointed me in the direction of a place she had went called Persad Center in Pittsburgh. She even drove me down to Pittsburgh to make sure I could safely get there in one piece.

It was here where my first real serious steps towards becoming a woman would begin, but also the beginning of quite possibly the darkest period of my life. This mainly had to do with a struggle to keep myself from destroying myself and the people that were supposed to love me no matter what. It was here where I learned to not care about what others thought and to do what was right for me instead of what was right for others.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

A Little Bit About Me

My name is Ava Langdon, and when I was a little girl, I wasn’t. In fact, when I was a little girl, I was a little boy, if that makes any sense. Which it should, if you have ever heard the term transgendered or transexual. But in case you haven’t, or you are totally clueless as to what I am talking about I will gladly give you the text book definition of what it means to be a transexual taken right from our trusty friends at

Transsexualism is a condition in which a person identifies with a physical sex different from the one that they were born with[…]”

What does this mean exactly? It means I was born into this world physically a male. Though that does not mean I accepted or lived with the fact that I was and am now to some extent physically, well, a male. I’ve always, for as long as I can remember, identified emotionally as a female.

It wasn't until I was actually around five years old that I realized I was different from other girls. That is, I had extra equipment that they didn't have and was encouraged to behave differently from them. I was supposed to like Tonka trucks, and getting dirty though I always found myself wanting to make-believe and play with dolls over going outside to play with the boys.

Laugh as you may but this is who I wanted to be when I grew up at four years old...

I mean, seriously. Think about this. What normal boy would want to be Jessica Rabbit? None that I know, so I was either extremely crazy or I really, truly, honestly identified myself with this kind of thing. To me, there was just something extremely alluring to being as pretty as she was. Not to mention the fact that I for whatever reason related to the way she carried herself in"Who Framed Roger Rabbit"

I was born in Okinawa into a very humble home. My mom and dad had me when they were barely eighteen, and barely married. I was born into a military family and my dad was very hard on both my brother and I. We were both expected to behave and act like men by doing what we were told and to like it. So needless to say I never spoke to my family ever about how I felt about myself on the inside in fear of having my transexualaity “beat” out of me.

I had a somewhat normal childhood despite all of this and even though it was difficult through my entire adolescence trying to conceal my true feelings from my family and the people around me. I managed to find ways to express myself over the years with art. I used to draw a lot, I still have folders of my old drawings, all of which were mainly women. I grew to love Japanese Shojo, think Sailor Moon, around that time of my life as I could relate to some of the same things the characters in those shows would be going through. Towards my mid to late teens I also developed an immense love for Gothic music and metal to the point where I actually formed a somewhat successful band with my brother which lasted a little under five years time.

As with most people in my generation, that is, those born in between 1983-89 video games have also played a big role in my life. We’re the generation that had stopped playing outside. Instead of digging holes in the yard, or climbing trees, or playing with dolls, we had a controller in our hands playing in a new sandbox generations before us couldn’t possibly conceive when they themselves were children.

Between the anime, the Gothic music, and video games I had plenty of outlets to express my feminine side without having to show it to my family, or at least be so blatantly open about it.