Twenty-Twenty One

Twenty-Twenty One

It’s really tricky to try and sum up such a year as 2021. Amongst the constant anxiety, stress and sadness from living through a once-in-a-generation* global pandemic, I’ve been really fortunate in feeling the most alive I’ve ever felt. If I had to sum up my year in one word, it would be: foundational. I feel like there’s a lot that’s happened that will set me up for an even better future.

* I mean, climate change will probably mean more pandemics, as natural habitats fail and wild animals acting as disease reservoirs move closer to human habitats.

The start of my year started with a completely new job. I had joined Apple’s Cloud Services division as a Site Reliability Engineer, leaving my software developer role in the UK energy supply industry. Site reliability engineering is kinda similar to software engineering, except your job is all about improving reliability, availability, performance, security and monitoring of a service. You usually also get to be on-call for your service, getting the phone call for any incidents that may happen and being the person responsible for getting it fixed or escalated.

It was a massive change of pace for me, not just because of the change of responsibility. Going from a small startup with roughly eighty members of staff to working in one of the biggest companies in the world really blew my mind—and still does! You get to meet so many people with varied backgrounds, interests and achievements, and I’ve learned so much in such a short amount of time and managed to get a lot of ownership on projects too. I have an amazing and supportive team and manager, which has been useful for me settling into the company and for dealing with me coming out at work.

In 2021, I came out to everyone as trans feminine. You may have heard about this. 😅 You can read my coming out post here.

March 2021 was such a wild month for me. I started the month off with my first walk out of our home dressed obviously feminine (see above photo). I had already been presenting pretty androgynously for a few months by that time anyway, but this was such a huge change. Mid March, I came out to family and work. And at the end of the month, rather poetically on Transgender Day Of Visibility, I came out to the world. And I never looked back.

Every day, every milestone felt so empowering, wonderful and incredible. In June 2021, I began hormone replacement therapy, taking the hormone estrogen, and in doing so, reducing the testosterone in my body and allowing my body to grow and change towards one that I’m more comfortable and in love with than ever before.

And you know it’s serious when I got over my fear of needles to get the blood tests done to actually start taking estrogen. Mini-win.

In the six months I’ve been on estrogen, I’ve had a fantastic blend of physiological and psychological changes, some of which are most likely placebo, but very fantastic nonetheless. My body has begun to curve and round out ever so slightly in some ways, and less subtly in others. My figure, my chest and legs have all changed shape, and my face has even had a little bit of difference. Weird stuff you don’t expect, like colour perception (almost certainly psychological) and how I smell, have somehow been affected. More days than not, I wake up and am just ecstatic about the transition my body is going through. I look in the mirror and feel euphoric. And this should be continuing throughout 2022 and beyond.

This Twitter thread provides a decent illustration of how my image has changed this year, and honestly? It’s an incredibly dramatic timeline.

In July 2021, I began voice training with a wonderful therapist based in Belgium (via Skype, of course). The aim of this has been to train myself to use a voice that feels more natural and reflective of my gender than my current one. I think it’s gone pretty great! It’s an ongoing process, but I’ve got to a point where I can be comfortable asking questions in a work meeting with many hundreds of attendees. Or recording meme videos of myself and sharing them on social media. It’s been a really positive win.

In September 2021, I started laser hair removal to get rid of my facial hair (hormones alone won’t get rid of them!). It is, erm, quite the painful and eye watering experience. But it’s done so much good for my happiness and has alleviated a lot of dysphoria in the process. It’s still ongoing as of writing.

Throughout my journey I’ve made so many new friends and reconnected with old friends. So many wonderful people who’ve acted as mentors, confidantes and emotional support through good and bad times. I’m so, so grateful to know you all as friends, and you know who you are. 💖 It would be an understatement to say that I would not be where I am without them, least of all my incredible partner Izzy, who is gorgeous, charming, caring and the loveliest human I know.

I’ve also made a close-knit group of online friends, who I met on twitter. We’ve somehow managed to also meet up in real life a few times this year; every single one of them is a delight and a pleasure to know. They have helped me on some really low moments this year and I’m extremely grateful.

2021 was the year me and my partner, Izzy, were able to pick a new place to live and decide on it together (rather than me choosing it initially). The previous flat we lived in, near Canary Wharf in London, was far too tiny and inconvenient for two people. The location was okay, but a little bit boring. The heating and hot water ran on very inefficient electric systems, which were also very expensive to run (economy-7 tariff). And we missed access to green space, especially during a pandemic.

The solution was to move a bit further afield south of the river. We’re now surrounded by loads of green spaces not too far away on foot or public transport, are involved with a few community groups, and have our local shops where the owners all know us, which is really quite a novelty in London. Our flat is a bit bigger than the old one, so now we both have full sized desks in separate rooms, and can both work from home effectively without having to schedule meetings around each other.

This has, as you can imagine, done wonders for our mental health.

Next year, I really hope to build on everything that’s happened this year and more. I’d love to focus less on my transition and get back into my hobbies, now that all the hormones, hair removal and social stuff is all established and just needs to be maintained (honestly, I set a reminder to change my estrogen patches twice a week and often do it a little late).

I have a list but it’s not very complete or explained, but I’ll dump it here:

  • Create and share a piece of music. I have the equipment and the software.
  • Get back into climbing (covid-pending)
  • Get therapy. ‘Nuff said.
  • Get over my fear of surgery and hospitals
    – order to investigate whether I’d ever want, say, facial surgery or lower surgery
  • Start coding for fun again. I miss it. It’s kinda relaxing and helps to keep my passion for tech.
  • Blog and/or write more. Already working on this! Why wait for the new year?
  • Create videos? Maybe start a little hobby youtube channel to share stuff I get up to. Maybe vlog style. Maybe instructional style. IDK. I just want to start getting more confident with myself, my image and my voice.
  • Maaaybe - try and help a couple more folks with navigating their transition? IDK. my message inbox on Twitter has always been open but it really depends if my head is in a good place to help people. 😅

Anyway, onwards on our journey. ✌️ Maisie