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Annika LaFey's Story

Early Life

The year was 1998. November. My mother was in the hospital, eating the worst Thanksgiving turkey she's ever had by her own admission, and I, Annika LaFey, was born. I was not known by that name at the time. I was born under a boy's name, and grew to become upset that people treated me like a boy. I didn't know why, but I didn't like it very much. From the age of five, I began praying to the God that everyone else around me seemed to believe in. "Please, God. Let me be a girl. Let me wake up in the body of a girl", I would cry, crying this prayer until I fell sleep, every night, for a very long time.

No answer would come.

Eventually, my family would leave the faith, much to the dismay of the Grandparents. My parents decided they would not force their children to go through the same painful deconversion process as they experienced, and in time all of their children would become atheists, or agnostics.

Years pass, where a young me would discover a very primitive form of tucking at the rough age of seven, which would give me joy if I could maintain it all day. In school, I wanted to use the girl's bathroom, though I didn't for fear of getting in trouble. I would feel immense guilt centered around my strange methods of masturbation, even though it was never taught to me to feel that way about it, I remember looking myself in the mirror and asking myself "Do you look like a kid who masturbates?" because I didn't want people to know. I would play with my cousin's dolls, and experience that same joy when my cousin put a princess' costume dress on me, and didn't understand why my aunt and uncle were angry about it. Mom and Dad didn't seem to care... As I entered my early teens, I let my hair grow long, and I found a home on the internet. A space where I could be a girl, and nobody would have that image tainted by what I looked like. I made friends, and one of those friends would stay for a long time.

I met Rez (though they were not known by that name at the time) on a joke-centric social media app when I was asking for beta readers for a Bubblegum X Marceline fanfiction I was considering writing, long before this pairing was made officially canon. They were two years younger than me. "DAS MY OTP", they would write. We would mostly correspond on Kik Messenger. But eventually, I felt like as we got closer, I was somehow lying to them. So I told them that I felt like I was a girl. A lesbian, trapped in a boy's body. It was then that I was made aware of the word "Transgender." I wear a bubbeline pin on my hat to commemorate this event.

Brief Enlightenment

Suddenly, life made more sense. I began thinking about names at this time (I was going by DeeJay online then), but all I had then was a feminized version of my legal first name, though the name of a character in a game I was playing at the time would become the name I would choose for myself going forwards. The name of Anica, the Neuman, in Phantasy Star Portable.

I remember one scene from the show Grey's Anatomy, where one of the surgeon's siblings collapsed in the woods from some affliction while they were out camping, and when they got to the hospital, their blood hormone levels looked like that of a 14 year old girl. It was at that moment, that the sibling confessed to taking over the counter birth control in an attempt to DIY her HRT. Because she was trans, and didn't want anyone to know. Our queen, Miranda Bailey, asks her if she has a name that she wants them to use. And she smiles and says with a dreamy tone, "Rosalind."

I wanted nothing more for myself in that moment, than to have someone ask me that question.

So eventually I started to research transition. And was exposed to transphobia for the first time. Detransition regret stories, and graphic photos of genital reconstruction surgeries terrified a 15 year old me. On top of this, most of the exposure to transgender people I had had as a teenager growing up in Mississippi was through... pornography. I thought the women in trans porn, or whatever slurs that industry clings to, had undergone their transitions specifically with the intent of acting in pornography like that. On top of that, Christine Weston Chandler was an infamous transgender person on the internet, and I didn't want to be a pornstar, or like Chris-Chan, at all. I wasn't fully aware of the possibility for hormone therapy, and as such, thought most of a physical transition was a result of surgery that I would never be able to afford. So I began to repress it.

The Dark Times

As a terrified teen, I cut my hair off and entered a deep depression, but I never stopped presenting as a girl online. I spent a lot of time here. I gained weight, for sure. Weight I am still working on shedding now as an adult. I started to get into right wing politics, particularly creators like Sargon of Akkad and Steven Crowder. I grew a beard. These were both ways to avoid what I was. I learned to use Photoshop and Blender in the meantime, though. Picked up Magic the Gathering as a hobby. I got very into computers. I discovered the social media platform, Discord, through a Force of Will youtuber, Negative Legend. And from there, I joined the Discord server for the WipEout inspired Zero-G racing game, BallisticNG. And there, I met Sol.

Sol (A shortened version of his online handle at the time) was a friend of mine for several years until we fell out over extreme political and religious differences (2020 presidential election, what else). But it was his Discord sci-fi roleplay server that gave me the path to where I ended up.

Near my 21st birthday, I somehow stumbled across the subbreddit "r/egg_irl". A subreddit for trans people, with memes about trans people in denial or unaware of their transness. "Eggs", we call them. Because they haven't come out of their shell. Maybe it was because of the NSFW content I had been browsing on the site, but Reddit's algorithms sussed me out, and put a mirror in my face, forcing me to face what I was, for real, in a way I hadn't since I was 14 years old.

I am transgender. Denial is unsustainable. There is no future for me that I can see where being a woman isn't part of it.

Return to the Light

It took a few months, but I turned away from right wing politics and settled in a comfortable Leftist pocket, both socially and economically. Eventually I had a meltdown in Sol's discord server over a comment on youtube where a man was professing "calling a spade a spade" in reference to using someone's correct pronouns, and my own suppression of my identity coming to a violent end. My transness was on display there for everyone to see. I had stopped being a girl that everyone reverted to assuming was a guy until corrected, I was a trans girl, openly, and freely. It was a very stressful two weeks between June 30th, 2020, the day of my meltdown, and July 14th, the day I came out to my mother. I was so in my head that entire week that I had forgotten she was leaving for a business trip that same day. I had promised I was going to do it by the end of the week, and I had missed my chance to do it in person. I told her I needed to tell her something, and texted her a very long letter that same night.

It went well. She had been suspecting I was queer for quite some time, but didn't want to assume wrong or push me somewhere I wasn't ready to go yet. My heart was racing at 145 BPM, and I was never so alive, and terrified, all at the same time. I felt like I was going to explode.

My eldest brothers came next. The younger ones and my father, who my mother had divorced the previous year, came later. Eventually, Sol grew tired of the trans memes being shared in his server. Another user put me in touch with one of his friends, and then the friend gave me a link to a discord server where I would meet the most important people in my life. My best friends, my life partners. I never doubted I was a lesbian, though that defenition has expanded to cover most anyone with a feminine gender presentation, but I did discover my polyamory after coming out.

I picked up the Bass Guitar as another hobby, using an old Ibanez Gio SR-100 my eldest brother, Brendan, had left behind when he moved out. I would change my name on Facebook in November, the day before my 22nd birthday. In December, I joined a hormone therapy info Discord server and, using gift money from my parents and grandparents (who had estranged us from most of the rest of the family due to their own bigotry and control issues), I purchased my first few months of HRT, which I began on January 14th, 2021 at the age of 22. I had intended it to be a trial, but it only took three weeks for me to decide wholeheartedly that this was what I needed to do.

While this solved much of my depression, six months into my social transition and now finally beginning my medical transition, I still had years of bad habits built up over the years of depression. Social anxiety, incredibly low self esteem and self worth, and horrible eating habits related to both stress and boredom. My mother tried to push me towards calling Better Help to get me in therapy, but in February, someone I considered a friend had pretended to commit suicide over a discord call merely one month after I started hormones. I called the police for her, and she hadn't even done anything. I still experience massive anxiety when I think about, or have to perform, phone calls. She came back on an alt pretending to be her own partner and badmouthed herself for weeks before a third party spilled the beans that the two accounts belonged to the same person.

Her explanation as to why she did what she did was that she felt that this was somehow easier than saying goodbye to the server, or simply leaving without an explanation. I'm certain that traumatizing a group of people over 10 years your junior is easier than a goodbye. I believe it was a form of loyalty test, and we no longer speak.

The New Normal

I am incredibly fortunate not to have my HRT interrupted since it started over 2.5 years ago, now. My first few months, as stated, were purchased using gift money from my grandparents, which I'm sure they'd be thrilled about, combined with further gifts from my mother, and dosed based on community advice... but it cost over $140 for just those three months. I purchased two boxes of Progynova (6 total cards of 28 tablets, 2mg estradiol valerate each, taken twice daily) and one card of Cyproterone Acetate (10x50mg tablets, broken into quarters, taken once every two days, ~6.25mg daily).

Having a meltdown on Reddit about not being able to afford more, an elder trans woman messaged me asking what I needed. She gave me $200 to pay for my next months, and when I told her I'd pay her back some day, she said to pay it forward instead. I still have yet to live up to that. I purchased two more boxes of Progynova (still 2mg taken twice daily), and two boxes of Bicalutamide, (3 cards of 10 tablets, 50mg each, taken once daily).

My third and final round of HRT pills was sourced from one of my partners, Luka, who had a couple of spare boxes of Progynova, the medication I was already on. It was happy to send them to me to help keep me on HRT. I had run out of T blockers around this time, though. I was given most of two boxes of Progynova (probably 4.5 cards of 2mg estradiol valerate, still taken twice daily, but with no extra testosterone suppression).

I switched to injections nect, again thanks to the kindness of two of my friends, Hella from California (I think) and Casey from New Zealand. Hella had a spare vial of Otokonoko's EV lying around and was willing to send it to me free of charge, and Casey was willing to cover the cost of a box of syringes so I could actually make use of it. I had to search back through old messages with friends, but it was September 22nd 2021 that I injected estrogen for the first time. Roughly nine months after starting HRT in the first place. I started out injecting 4mg every 5 days, but due to extreme emotional fragility and irritability in the days leading up to the next injection, I ended up on a final dose of 5mg every 4 days.

I don't remember how long that vial lasted, but of course, it wouldn't last forever. Due to getting incredibly lucky with being in the right place at the right time, I managed to score a pretty amazing PC at no cost to me personally, and along with it came many spare parts. I managed to sell a spare CPU for roughly $225 profit (a Ryzen 2700X) and use much of that to buy a vial of estradiol enanthate from a source that no longer exists. I have been using that vial ever since, though I don't remember when I started using it. It's mostly gone now, probably about a quarter of it left, and I've been taking about 5mg a week since I started with it.

Most recently, I purchased two more vials of EEn and a couple of boxes of Cyproterone using money I earned by working at my first job ever, and I have felt SO much better since reintroducing testosterone blockers to my hormone regimen. This likely means my testosterone wasn't as suppressed as it could have or should have been from injections alone. My dosages probably weren't high enough for it. I'm still on 5mg of EEn a week, and now back on 12.5mg of CPA every two days.

I'm currently considering adding progesterone to my regimen, just to see if it helps with things like fat distribution, sleep, and breast development. Maybe it'll be another situation where I try it and almost immediately decide I don't want to be without it again, or it could have negligible or even negative effects on me. I have heard of it increasing suicidality, which isn't ever something I've experenced (I simply wanted not to exist, not to be dead), but if it does affect me negatively, I'll stop. Who knows? Only one way to find out.

My mind is clear, I can feel emotions agian, my skin and hair are softer than they've ever been. My eyes have life and light in them. I have DD cup breasts, my hips sway and my wrists flop when I walk, and I feel happy to be alive for the first time in my life. I don't hate what I see in the mirror most days. My hips are probably wider than they used to be, because I believe I started early enough that it could have some effects relatively quickly. I remember being up late some nights after I got on injections because they were so goddamn sore and when I went to buy jeans again after getting my first job, and being on HRT for a little over a year and a half, I had gone from a 36 waist to a 42 in spite of not having gained any weight. Whether this was down to hip growth or weight redistribution, I don't know, because I never took hipbone measurements before HRT and it would be too late now. I have heard of trans women starting in their 50s and experiencing hip growth over the course of nearly 30 years, and I started at barely 22 years old. Maybe? I've also gotten about two inches shorter, 6'1" to 5'11", and my shoe size has gone from a womens 13.5 to a women's 11.5. I could never give this up.

Eventually, I did begin therapy due to bribery (my mother let me drill a hole into the ceiling in my closet to run Ethernet into my bedroom) roughly one year after beginning hormone therapy, and those five months of care made a huge difference in my life. I picked up electronics design, as another hobby. My family moved to Florida in June of 2022, which honestly was either a downgrade or a sidegrade in terms of the politics of the state, but I feel that living in a more populated area is doing better for me than living in the middle of nowhere back in Mississippi. I managed to get my first job at the age of 23 in an accepting workplace, with managers and coworkers I get along with.

The Present Day

Now, in the face of laws that target my demoraphic, I have secured my access to hormone therapy through DIY means, having over two years supply of testosterone blockers and three years worth of estrogen, and I have been trying to start saving money with the eventual goal of having a bilateral orchiectomy done so that even if I am eventually forced off of estrogen, I will not go back on testosterone, ever again. Optimistically, it will be 2025 at the earliest when this surgery occurs. But I will not let anything stand in the way of it.

I keep being advised to leave Florida as soon as possible, by other queer people. I don't know how I'm going to do it or when I'm going to make it happen but of course, I want to eventually. The Pacific Northwest seems desirable. Washington State and Oregon. I've got friends and acquaintances in Oregon, so that might give me an option for a place to end up, at least temporarily. Some states in the midwest are appealing as well. Michigan just outlawed conversion therapy as of Late July 2023, and Minnesota has been settng itself up as a sanctuary state for transgender people especially, enshrining our necessary healthcare in their constitution of all things. So even if I have to stay in the US for whatever reason, I have options. At least for now. No guarantees if a conservative president is elected and makes my existence and happiness illegal federally. Time will tell, I suppose...

Annika Lafey~, 2023