typographic tattoos

(TOO) FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

list of questions I cover in this post:

GENERAL AND OTHER

  1. age/weight/height? + did your height change on T?
  2. are you attracted to women or men? has your sexual attraction changed during your transition?
  3. why would one transition from “female to male”, if he’s into other men?
  4. what was your name before transition?
  5. how did you choose your new name?
  6. what dose/type of testosterone are you on?
  7. what do your tattoos say and represent?

WORKING OUT

  1. what’s your workout routine/diet like?
  2. tips on losing weight/belly fat/hips/chest/getting a six pack etc.?
  3. beginner suggestions?
  4. did you work out before starting T?
  5. how to stay motivated?

SURGERIES

  1. have you had/do you plan on getting phalloplasty/genital surgery?
  2. who was your top surgeon?
  3. why didn’t you get peri/keyhole? what size was your chest prior to top surgery?
  4. how long after top surgery did you get back to working out again?
  5. how long did you use taping/any scar treatment for?

GENDER IDENTITY AND COMING OUT

  1. when did you realise you were trans?
  2. how did you come out to you parents/how did they react?
  3. how are trans* people generally viewed in Poland?




GENERAL AND OTHER

1. age/weight/height?

21y.o./56kg/165cm(5’4”). I grew a little while on T, maybe 5cm.

2. are you attracted to women or men? has your sexual attraction changed during your transition?

before starting to transition I was only attracted to girls and didn’t even want to think about the possibility of being with another man. as I started taking hormones and begun feeling more and comfortable in my body. social situations included, I suddenly found myself interested in other men- at first it was purely physical, but I’m now open to being with either a woman or another man. I think starting to finally feel right in my own skin and being accepted as male by other men has let me feel okay with the idea, whereas before I’d feel extremely uncomfortable with the concept of me+another guy because I wasn’t perceived as a man by other dudes and that didn’t feel right at all.

as far as sexual orientation goes, queer probably feels the most accurate, but if I’m talking to someone who doesn’t know the term, I’ll probably say I don’t think gender should matter and that I can be into both men and women.  

3. why would one transition from female to male, if he likes men? 

sexual orientation and gender identity are two separate things. just like cis people, trans* people can be attracted to any gender. asking ‘why transition, if you like people of your own gender’ is absurd, transition is not a tool for those who want to turn straight.

if the background of this question is conviction that “straight people have it easier, so why make things harder for yourself? stay as the gender you were assigned at birth as”, then I have to assure you that living as gender you don’t identify with, never makes anything easier for anyone. this is one of the most common and problematic questions trans* non-heterosexual people receive- I see it as problematic because it makes zero sense to me and I’m not sure where the confusion comes from.

4. what was your name before transition?

I don’t feel like anyone here needs to know my birth name. I wouldn’t also advise asking other trans* people this question as they might feel offended by it.

5. how did you choose your new name?

originally, I really wanted my mum to choose a new name for me so she could feel a part of the process, but my parents weren’t ready for it at the time and other people kept on asking what my preferred name was. the main factor in choosing my new name was for it to be similar in different countries(mostly English- speaking countries and Poland) in order to avoid confusion so I wouldn’t have to spell it  and have it mispronounced all the time. I also like simple and rather short names, so I made a list, I remember some of the names I wrote down were Borys(Boris), Oskar(Oscar), Marcel and some Jewish names, but a few friends and I decided Oliver suit me best out of them all. It then, turned out that I can only change my name to ‘Oliwer’ which is a Polish spelling of the name, but it didn’t make much of a difference to me. People actually often do have problems with the correct pronunciation and in Poland I get constantly called ‘Olivier’(French version). when I speak English, I always use the English spelling and pronunciation.

6. what dose/type of testosterone are you on?

I take 1ml of Omnadren 250(mg) every two weeks. my dose hasn’t changed since having had hysterectomy(15.11.2013) yet. when I first started taking T, my dose was 1ml per 10 days.

7. what do your tattoos say and represent?

my oldest tattoo says 'less is more’. there are a couple of meanings behind the quote. the most, I think, obvious one is related to minimalism in art, design, literature and so on. but to me less is more in a different sense as well, I try to live my life as a minimalist as in always appreciate the little things, not expect much, focus on the most important etc. etc. I strongly believe that not having much in the literal sense, but being happy with yourself and doing what you love is more. I could go on and on about this.

the tattoo on my wrist says “ayurnamat” which, in short, means there’s no point in worrying about what cannot be changed. it’s a philosophy I strongly agree with, but sometimes find difficult living by. the word itself doesn’t matter, I randomly found the term while going through Grandiloquent Dictionary and I decided to get it tattooed as a symbolic reminder to go through life focusing on the present and future instead of looking back and sawing sawdust.

the geometric piece on the outside of my forearm is a drawing based on Donald Judd’s sketches of stacks, Judd was one of the pioneers in minimalist art.

my lower arm tattoo is a drawing of the back of my sister’s head. I wanted a tattoo that would represent her without it being a standard portrait and I always joke about her messy hair.

the small typographic tattoo on my chest says 'appreciate’. no comment required, I guess.

WORKING OUT

1. what’s your workout routine/diet like?

I don’t have one. even when I wasn’t limited by a very tight university schedule, I never liked sticking to the same training for too long because I would always get bored with it and find new cool exercises to try out. when I work out, I do it mostly for fun and health. I don’t go to gym and I don’t do weights because they bore me, the stuff I’m hyped on is street training, free-running and bodyweight stuff in general. the only equipment I have are a pull-up bar, TRX suspension trainers and push-up bars.

I don’t eat: meat, fish, seafood, gelatine etc.

I rarely eat: fried stuff, junk food, soy products, eggs, white bread

I try to eat: high in fibre, full grain, raw, non-processed foods, nuts, lots of fruits and vegetables

2. tips on losing weight/belly fat/hips/chest/getting a six pack etc.?

I don’t usually like giving advise on working out and more so on losing weight because I’m no expert and don’t feel entitled to tell people what to do, but I can share the basic stuff I know people often don’t realise and I’d strongly advise to do more research on your own.

as far as losing body fat goes, the number one golden rule is you cannot lose fat selectively(for instance you won’t lose love handles or your butt without losing fat overall). same goes for people who are generally thin, but have wider hips or a beer belly. another thing people tend not to realise is you won’t see your abdominal muscles(or any other muscle group, but it’s the most common problem with abs), if there is a substantial layer of fat on them. so, if you’re surprised you don’t see a six pack going on despite doing tons of crunches, you probably now know why- add more fat burning exercises and watch your diet.

3. beginner suggestions?

most trans men go after the V-shape body type. it would generally require losing the mid-section and lower body fat and building your upper body muscle mass, so you would want to focus on developing your back, shoulders, arms and chest. for back(and shoulders) I’d recommend getting a pull-up bar. for chest(and arms) people tend to say “push ups, push ups and push ups”.

to anyone wanting to start exercising and getting in shape, but has no idea what to set off with, I’d recommend watching a video by Fortress, on Youtube. no equipment required.

4. did you work out before starting T?

I was very physically active as a kid, I used to do short-distance running, long jump, a bit of pole jumping, basketball and competitive swimming, but I gave it all up. I started exercising regularly again when I was around 8 months on HRT. I was waiting for top surgery at the time and decided preparing my chest for the operation would be a good goal to set and great way to distract myself from my chest dysphoria.

5. how to stay motivated?

I always tell people what seems to be the key to staying motivated is taking baby steps- setting yourself smaller, achievable goals that you can reach in relatively short amounts of time because a lot of people start working out and give up quickly because of having unrealistic expectations in terms of how quickly they can get the results they want. when you keep seeing progress, even if it isn’t necessarily tremendous, you’re proud of yourself, you stay focused and are ready to keep going. people who want to get in shape usually expect mad intense solutions that will let them get awesome results in a short period while, if you want to get and maintain a certain body, you should think about the changes as a constant process and your workout program more as a part of your new lifestyle- the fact you’re done with a round of p90x doesn’t mean you throw your trainers away. 

I think it’s also very important for people to choose the right kind of workouts that suit their individual needs and preferences. it makes a whole lot of difference when you don’t find the stuff you’re involved in boring, but enjoyable and aren’t doing it because you have to, but because you want to. having a motivational factor that isn’t loosing weight or getting bigger muscles is really helpful because, even if you do want those things, but you forget about them focusing on the task, challenging yourself and having fun, you not only put your heart more into it, but notice the physical results quicker because you managed to stop thinking about those goals for a moment.

another thing is not comparing yourself to other people too much because we all simply have different body types, genetic predispositions and starting points. that’s why we tend to get so amazed with those ‘before and after’ comparisons people make showing their progress in regard to where they used to be, not where other people are- it should matter to you how hard YOU have worked and how far YOU have got.

SURGERIES

1. have you had/do you plan on getting a genital surgery?

I haven’t and I’m not interested in phalloplasty, if anything, I’d like to get a full metoidioplasty. it’s not a perfect solution for me atm, but I feel like it would largely minimize my everyday body dysphoria, although considering the ridiculous costs, I don’t see it happening any time soon. even if I do have the funds in the future, I might decide the surgery is not a necessity for me and I’d rather spend the money on something.

2. who was your top surgeon?

dr Lubomir Lembas in Warsaw, Poland. Andrzej Sankowski’s clinic.

3. why didn’t you get peri/keyhole? what size was your chest prior to top surgery?

I talked more in detail about this problem here. I had a A75 cup before surgery and was basically between peri-areolar and double incision. during my pre-op appointment my surgeon and I discussed the pros and cons of both procedures in my case, but he left the decision to me. in short, it was a matter of my own priorities- scars were never an issue for me, but I always cared about general contour as well as nipple placement and didn’t want to risk ending up with loose skin or excess tissue.

4. how long after the operation did you get back to working out ?

if I remember well, my surgeon gave me a green light to go back to working out after four weeks post-op. I think I waited two more before I started to exercise lightly again.

5. how long did you use taping/any scar treatment for?

I used taping for a month when I was around six weeks after the surgery. I didn’t buy silicone straps, just surgical tape- talked about the benefits of scar taping here and here.  

GENDER IDENTITY/COMING OUT

1. when did you realise you were trans?

It took me a while to admit to myself that I was transgender and wanted to socially and physically transition. As a child, I remember thinking I should have been born male because that would make so much more sense and would make things easier,but transsexuality was a taboo and I had no idea it was possible to actually change one’s body to fit their brain. I got interested in gender studies and queer theory when I was about 14, then I started reading about transsexual and genderqueer people. Beginning of High School was a gender defining time for me because I finally let myself question my own identity and experiment with my gender expression more freely. That’s also when I started following other trans men’s transitions on Youtube and realised that not only was physical transition a possibility for me, but could have very successful results.

2. how did you come out to you parents? how did they react?

my family’s first reaction wasn’t the most positive. I’ve always been a very introverted person, never shared much with my parents, so not only didn’t they know about a lot of things I dealt with in my adolescence, but didn’t want to believe me at first. I didn’t come out to my parents until I was certain I wanted to transition and I now realise how much of a shock it must have been for them after so many years of them not knowing what was going on inside me. it was a very rough time, I had to deal with a lot of prejudice and lack of basic knowledge. honestly, there was a moment when I lost faith in it ever working it. after my coming out turned into a verbal war between my mum and I, I wrote a long letter to her explaining how I really felt because it was too difficult to talk to her about some of the stuff face-to-face, I translated a number of articles and definitions for my parents, showed them a bunch of pictures of trans guys on hormone therapy, she visited a specialist to have everything I explained confirmed by a doctor, we had a lot of difficult and honest conversations, it took work and effort from us both and we now have a better relationship than ever. the whole transition brought me and my parents much closer and made us stronger, I never thought I could have such a great connection with them, I’m lucky to have their support. my extended family is fully accepting, too.

3. how are trans* people generally viewed in Poland?

in my experience the Polish can be much more accepting of trans people than f.e. Americans seem from my point of view. I feel like in the US people strongly associate transsexualism with the LGB movement and often incorrectly see being trans* as a ‘lifestyle choice’, whereas in Poland people are usually very empathetic when they find out I’m trans and think of it as a difficulty that wasn’t chosen, just happened to me. another important difference is also that there is no trans* movement in Poland, the term we use is typically 'transsexual’.

my experience is almost 100% positive.