About me

Get to know me intimately without interaction! Yeah!

Introduction

My name is Ruby and I'm a 29-year-old transfeminine software developer from the UK who specializes in video games development and QA/test automation. I love working on video games specifically, because it's a great creative outlet and you can do a lot with them. Making something fun and seeing the end result is awesome :)

I am currently in the middle of male-to-female gender transition. The reason for this is more complicated than me simply being trans and/or gender dysphoric. While I have been suffering from moderate gender dysphoria since around mid-2016, it started as a side-effect of a birth defect which screws around with my hormone balance, something which has caused a lot of mental and physical health issues ever since I was around 5 years old, so I've been putting up with it for a really long time. In October 2019 I ended up with psychosis in hospital as a consequence of the defect's effect on me and after that point I was forced to do something. Since March 2020, I've been taking feminizing hormone replacement therapy (aka MTF HRT) as part of a special medication cocktail which treats most of the associated problems, and I've been able to achieve around 90% remission of both the mental and physical health issues this way, which I'm extremely happy about. This therefore technically makes me a transgender woman, as although I was assigned male at birth, I now live with a female hormone balance (which I have to live with permanently), my body is slowly feminizing, and I consider my real gender identity to be female. Unfortunately for me, the defect means transition is happening very very slowly (probably at around 1/3 of the speed of a normal transition) and I'm unlikely to pass as female for some years. I don't like to try to present myself as female in settings where doing so would be awkward, as I find that both difficult and embarassing. In contrast I'm able to pass as male really easily (all I have to do is tie my hair back). This is a situation I'm tolerating. It really sucks having to present as a gender that isn't your actual gender simply because if you try to present as your actual gender you won't be taken seriously :/ If/when my body gets to the stage where I have a good chance of passing as female, I intend to try to ditch my male identity completely (which I'm hoping will be around 2022-2023). This is something I'm kinda playing by ear. In terms of my transition, I'm not looking to become a super girly girl, I just want coherence between mind and body. I'll probably end up as some sort of trans tomboy and I'm fine with that as long as I eventually get seen and treated as the right gender.

I like to play video games as a hobby. As a child, my parents were very reluctant to spend money on video games or consoles, so I was mostly stuck playing hand-me-down games and borrowing things off friends. For consoles we owned a second-hand Atari 2600, SNES, Sega Master System and PS1, but only had a few games for each, and 99% of the time weren't allowed to use them, so I spent most of my time on the computer. A lot of my time there was spent playing Tomb Raider (one of my all time favourite games) along with Grim Fandango, Transport Tycoon, RollerCoaster Tycoon, Total Annihilation, Theme Hospital and Worms. I also played a lot of random game demos from computer magazines. I compensated for the lack of new games by trying to write my own, which is where my love of game development originated from. As an adult, I'm able to buy my own stuff, and I've slowly had to play catch-up and learn about the gaming scene, so there are a lot of modern games I've flat out not played, as my free time is very limited and there are a LOT of games to work through. Despite this, I'm happy to delve into almost any genre of game. I especially enjoy playing multiplayer with my brother and close friends. They tend to be rather partial to real-time strategy, so I spend most of my free social time playing games like Age of Empires and Supreme Commander. We also very regularly play Warcraft III, Worms, Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed, Sanctum, Call of Duty and Golf With Your Friends. I used to also run a modded Minecraft server, which I loved, because I got to socialize there. When I'm not playing multiplayer, I sometimes delve into single-player experiences and my favourite single player game is currently Saints Row: The Third. I also love Pokémon, something which you can probably tell by the fact that my avatar is a Celebi.

Small bugs in video games really annoy me, and I've spent a lot of time modding and rebalancing games in an attempt to improve them. This led to me creating "community patches" for quite a lot of different video games over the years. I also find that most games don't have a coherent bug tracker, and as a result, most people don't instinctively know how to use them (or even that they might exist), which bothers me a lot. In my opinion it's the obligation of the developer to provide a bug tracker and link to it from within the game, but no developer generally does this.

One of my biggest computer pet peeves is when installers or updaters put icons on the desktop automatically. I hate having a cluttered desktop and I end up just immediately deleting the automatically-created icons. Having to do this all the time is annoying.

I love weird things, and to surround myself with strange and interesting people. Most of my close friends I have 10+ years of friendship with, and all have some unusual oddity about them. I like to think this makes us special, and at least we're not boring! A few of my friends live in California and sometimes I fly out there to spend time with them.

I can play the trombone to around UK grade 6 standard (although I don't play very often so I'm kinda rusty). I used to be part of the local youth bands where I live, and went touring around the world playing jazz, wind and orchestral music. This is most of my exposure to the rest of the world, as my mother doesn't like international travel so I never went on holiday abroad with my parents. Before playing trombone, I used to play the keyboard. I also love to sing, and used to sing as the lead in the school choir as a little kid, but I can't stand to hear my own voice any more, so that makes it really hard for me to sing in front of others nowadays.

I am ambiverted and have a need for both self-isolation and company. Whether I'm in the mood for company or not really depends on my current emotions. I prefer to live alone because other people interfere with my privacy. However, I'd love to live really close to my friends so that I could invite them over for things if I'm up for socializing. I'd love to have a nice large house just so that I have space for all my friends to come round. I'd love to own a place with both an indoor pool and a cinema room. These are all unrealistic fantasties though :)

Sleep architecture interests me a lot and in the past I've dabbled with polyphasic sleeping. I also have interests in endocrinology as a result of my medical situation.

I love to go out walking - this is one of my favourite activities. Helps me get exercise and lose weight too! I also get really queasy travelling in a car nowadays, which doesn't happen if I walk to wherever I'm going. I blame the state of the local roads, which are extremely uneven and full of potholes, largely due to an incompetent local council. The only problem with walking everywhere is I tend to arrive at places being really sweaty :(

My favourite colour is red. My least favourite colour is green.

I'll eat almost anything sweet, but when it comes to savoury I'm way more fussy. My favourite foods are cheese and chicken, and in general I'll eat any kind of meat, but I don't like plain rice, pasta, boiled potato, baked potato or most vegetables, and prefer to avoid curries. This makes it extremely hard to go to a restaurant and order food, as I generally won't eat most things on the menu. When I get takeout I tend to prefer chips, chinese food (I'm very fond of takeaway sweet and sour) or pizza, and I generally find something I like from each takeaway and then stick to it. When I was at uni I frequented the local takeouts and ordered the same things so frequently that I was eventually able to simply walk inside and they'd see me and start preparing my order before I'd even asked what I wanted. It made for a pretty great experience :)

I avoid shopping in ASDA or going in Nando's because I was treated poorly by the staff last time I went there (the staff at ASDA caused me to lose £600 and the staff at Nando's served me cold food late on purpose for making a legitimate complaint). I also avoid KFC because, although I love chicken, for some reason fried chicken just doesn't agree with me. I stay away from Smoky Bacon crisps and Kit-Kats too, because they make me feel nauseous.

I like to bake, although I'm not very good at it and don't get to bake very often. My proudest achievement is a 6-tier rainbow cake which I made for my 29th birthday.

Alcohol-wise, I like to drink cider. I'm also okay with vodka, although it can often be nasty. I generally don't touch anything else.

When it comes to television and films, I have a preference for sci-fi. I'm a fan of TNG-era Star Trek (TNG, DS9, Voyager and Enterprise) as well as Stargate, Firefly, and the reboot of Doctor Who (as far as Peter Capaldi). I also like supernatural stuff at a push, and I'm quite partial to the original Charmed. The most recent show I enjoyed was iZombie, although it went badly downhill in the last season. My friends are also trying to get me into anime, but so far I've only seen Sword Art Online (which had a great start but went downhill fast) and Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid (which was hilarious). I love time travel too - my favourite film trilogy is Back to the Future. I also particularly like Groundhog Day and Inception. I don't really watch that many films though, so there are a lot of classics I've just flat out never seen.

My long-term goals are to pursue full transition, to find a career path I legitimately find enjoyable, and to find someone to settle down with who can tolerate my extremely weird quirks. These all seem like enormous hurdles to overcome right now, but I have confidence I'll figure it all out eventually :)

I think that pretty much covers everything important :)

Questions I'm sometimes asked about boring things

Where does your username come from?

I originally wanted to use 'Celeruby' from combining Celebi + Ruby, but it was already taken in many places. I value having a unique username so it wasn't viable. Then I remembered when I used to play World of Warcraft, all my characters were prefixed with Thel, which is really close to Cel. So then Celeruby became Theleruby. This fit the uniqueness criteria so it's now become my user handle :)

I notice that you wear a Huel hoodie and sometimes drink Huel. What is your opinion of it?

It can be a convenient way to get nutritious food if you're short on time. It tastes OK but not great. I was also only ever able to make it work with sweet tastes. I'm very picky with savoury tastes, so getting something savoury to work was almost impossible for me. (But if they managed to make a Huel that tasted like chicken, I'd probably live off it!)

I noticed your keyboard and the layout looks weird. What the hell is that?

I use a British Dvorak keyboard. I switched to that layout in 2012 as an experiment to see if it would reduce RSI. It did. I kept using it.

I notice you wear sunglasses a lot, even indoors. What gives?

I suffer from migraine headaches and the dark lenses seem to reduce them.

I've seen reports of you doing polyphasic sleeping, what happened with that?

I've tried to sleep polyphasically multiple times, and I was one of the major contributors to the scene during 2017. I helped to come up with a lot of hypothetical theory which was later proven truthful. I really wanted to sleep polyphasically to try to give me more time to work on my business. I also wanted to try to experience more regular lucid dreaming, because I spent a lot of my sleeping time dreaming of being a girl. Unfortunately, I'm not able to make it work, because my birth defect causes intermittent obstructive sleep apnea. My depression was also exacerbated by being awake at night, as my intermittent need to spend time with people wasn't being met. I also find the community to be generally toxic. Because of all these factors I ended up permanently quitting and don't intend to try doing it again. I also now recommend people don't even bother making the attempt if I get asked about it. I effectively consider it to be an unrealistic and unsustainable lifestyle choice for most.

Questions I'm sometimes asked related to transition and/or my medical status

Having a weird birth defect must suck. What are the side effects?

Here are the full list of side effects I've experienced:

Unfortunately it's inheritable (autosomal recessive) so any kids I end up with have a good chance of also being afflicted with it. RIP

If the defect caused a hormonal imbalance which affected your development doesn't that arguably make you intersex?

Maybe? This is tough to answer.

The big problem here is that there isn't really any specific definition of what exactly counts as an intersex condition. If you go by the Wikipedia definition (which says Intersex people are individuals born with any of several variations in sex characteristics including chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones or genitals that, according to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, "do not fit the typical definitions for male or female bodies") then I suppose I should be classed as intersex, because my body is incapable of balancing my hormones to either 'typical male' or 'typical female' levels regardless of how I medicate. My hormone levels have arguably NEVER all been in male range, and my body isn't capable of keeping them in that range either. It's also proving pretty much impossible to keep my hormones in a normal female range even with very aggressive doses of HRT.

The medical consultants reviewing my case would probably argue though that I'm not covered under the definition of intersex, because in my 'natural' state I still ended up with something that was very close to male (apart from the dysphoria). But if I'd been assigned female at birth then I'd have ended up over-virilized and it would DEFINITELY count as an intersex condition. So there is kinda bias there.

In short, I don't really know and it's somewhat debatable.

Did you have any alternative medication options for treating the defect besides HRT?

It's possible that glucocorticoids would work, but they have so many side effects that it seemed extremely undesirable. I'd rather avoid them.

I think that a CYP17A1 inhibitor (aka an androgen synthesis inhibitor) would work too, but it's far more difficult and more expensive to get hold of that sort of medication. Abiraterone acetate seems like a strong candidate, but it requires glucocorticoids to be taken in parallel due to also inhibiting cortisol synthesis, which again I'd rather avoid. Seviteronel also looks good and doesn't have the requirement to take glucocorticoids at the same time, but it's still in clinical trials at this stage, so essentially impossible to get hold of.

In contrast, MTF HRT is very cheap, very safe, easy to get hold of, and proving to be decently effective :)

How did you realise you had gender dysphoria? Do you still suffer from it?

It's difficult for me to pinpoint exactly how and when I realised.

During early childhood there were hardly any clues. My conscience always came across to me in a feminine way, but I wrote this off as normal. Sometimes I would dream about growing up female as an adult, which was one of several escape methods I used to avoid childhood bullying, but again I thought nothing of this. There were a few other things that kinda stand out (I remember sneaking away to play with dolls when I visited my cousins, I remember complaining that I wouldn't grow breasts, my high pitched singing voice was one of the things I was proudest of, etc) but none of these things really threw up flags for me.

When puberty started, things started happening to me that I found really bothersome, like my voice breaking so I couldn't sing any more, my body going nasty with hair all over it, and I went from being cute to being really really ugly. I wasn't able to see myself as anything other than undesirable. There was always something completely off with the way I looked that I was never able to put my finger on. I also suffered from really bad emotional control that got me in a lot of trouble (which I later discovered was caused by my birth defect giving me sudden hormonal surges under stress). The combination of feeling ugly and mentally screwed up led me to hate myself. I compensated by trying to be as egotistic as possible and get reinforcement off others, and in my later years of high school I managed to become semi-popular this way, but it's a method that stopped working as soon I got to university and I found myself alone again.

Then I started learning about mental health issues and I realised that there was something genuinely wrong with me. My brain started going down the path of questioning the beliefs that I was raised with, and doing my own research rather than just accepting what I'd been told. I spent a while trying to put labels on myself and figure out what I had. I started out thinking it was cyclothymia but I later found I resonated most strongly with borderline personality disorder, partly because I had a lot of the symptoms, but also because it's generally diagnosed in women, and I already knew I had a female conscience, so having a mental health issue that's typically seen in girls seemed completely logical.

I never twigged that having a feminine conscience, wanting to grow up as female, or being bothered by what happened to me during male puberty were indications that my gender was wrong. I also thought that gender and sex were the same thing and were immutable, and that transsexuals were just weird crossdressers. I was raised in a homophobic, transphobic family and so I knew nothing about what being trans meant, and I inherited the homophobia and transphobia from my upbringing. This all changed in 2015, when I got to know a transgender girl for the first time. My new attitude of questioning the beliefs I was raised with led me to do more research into trans stuff, and I slowly realised that not only was the trans experience legitimate, but that I had a lot of the symptoms of gender dysphoria. I'd simply never been able to connect them together before. After I'd accepted that brain gender can be different from sex, I realised that my brain's gender wasn't male - it was something I already knew anyway, so that wasn't hard. But STILL I refused to accept I was dysphoric and just considered it to be a weird quirk of my personality. My transphobia was very strong and hard to shake. I felt the trans ideology was wrecking my life, and I dissociated myself from every trans person I knew and tried to run away from it.

The problem is that once you've realised you have gender dysphoria (even if you won't accept it) you start being a lot more consciously aware of it and it becomes really nasty. I started using coping mechanisms like growing my hair out, playing video games exclusively as female characters, spending some time socializing online with a female identity, trying to lucid dream being a girl, etc. This wasn't massively helpful to me and life became pretty tough. My brain just kept telling me that I was a girl, and I couldn't get away from that. It came across as just simply being a factual statement to me.

By the time it got to the end of October 2019 things became pretty bad and I ended up in hospital suffering from psychosis. After that I was pretty much forced to try doing something. At the start of 2020 I pushed to trial HRT in the hope it would show me that I wasn't dysphoric and imagining everything. This led me to run comprehensive medical testing for safety, which is when I found the birth defect. Everything started to make sense to me. I then discovered that the HRT would help to treat a lot of my other symptoms and it became effectively mandatory. After starting the HRT I felt a lot better. I saw my body start to feminize and it made me happy. I tried getting my friends to treat me as female and it just seemed right. After this I was finally able to accept that I was dysphoric and that my true gender identity was female.

My sense of self has been badly rocked by what I've been through, as I'm now aware that (A) I'm actually female rather than male, and (B) my emotions which have driven most of my behaviour over the first 28 years of my life have largely been a result of screwed up hormone balance. I've had to accept that I'm trans, and that I'm going to have to take HRT forever. I've also had most of my emotional control issues alleviated because of the HRT. This leaves me trying to figure out exactly who I am, what I want to do with my life, what matters to me now, and what doesn't matter any more. A lot of my goals in the past were centered around trying to boost my ego, but I really don't need this any more, as I'm finally trying to be comfortable with actually being myself, and to make my body something that's tolerable to live in.

I still get really bad bouts of gender dysphoria from time to time, mainly because my body refuses to feminize at a normal speed. I am trying right now not to let it bother me. (This is actually pretty difficult.)

So you admit you don't consider yourself male, but yet you still live as male a lot of the time. Doesn't that count as a fictional charade? Aren't you lying about your identity to some people?

This is really a semantic argument. It depends how you define "male" and "female" and what constitutes those things.

From a legal perspective, I am male and my name is Rob, so that's what is considered legitimate/real. From a practical perspective that's generally also true as the vast majority of people would consider me to be male by default if they met me randomly in the street and/or struck up a conversation. From an intimacy standpoint I haven't had SRS so I would have to take the male position there as well (although this is uncomfortable for me).

My internal mental sense of my gender, the sex of my brain and my hormone balance are female. My body is also very, very slowly moving in that direction. The trans community ideology dictates that if your internal sense of gender differs from your assigned gender at birth, and you are in the process of undergoing gender transition, the internal sense of gender is legitimate and the assigned one isn't. So on that basis I am a transgender woman and Ruby is my real name.

Biology plays very little help here, because chromosomal/gonadal sex and hormone balance are both biological, and they will permanently be incongruent. Therefore, by biological technicality, I'm neither male nor female and for the rest of my life I will never be either.

My family is inconsistent. My brother and cousin call me Ruby and use female pronouns, my father and grandparents call me Rob and use male pronouns, and my mother is happy to use my female name and pronouns but considers my actual sex to be "not quite one thing or the other", aka indeterminate. So asking my family who I am is a waste of time if you want a definitive answer.

My friends will tell you flat out that I'm a girl. One of my oldest friends told me recently that it was "increasingly difficult to see me as anything other than female" and I've been friends with them for 16 years. Another long-term friend of mine considers me to always have been female and just not realized it, and gets annoyed at the fact I even have to present male now that I worked out I'm not. I've also been recently been described as "cute", "naturally pretty and feminine", and that I now seem "more like myself" since I started HRT. A friend who hadn't seen me for 5 years said I now look like a totally different person. I'm sure though that they're just being nice to me...

In general, the divide is generational, with people of my generation typically considering me female, and people in the generations above mine generally considering me male. I think this is mostly because people the same age as me have been brought up to better understand LGBT issues and have had it drilled into their heads that treating people badly for things which they can't help isn't morally justifiable. In contrast the older generation was mostly brought up being taught that conformity is important and anything weird/unusual is wrong and should be stamped out. It's a completely different mindset - one celebrates diversity, the other punishes it :/

But I literally look at myself and see the exact same person I started out as being, so it's hard to seriously believe any of it :/ I'm generally only able to see a clear difference by doing photo comparisons from earlier on in transition or from before I started. I'm also still seen as male by strangers, even if I try to present girly, and I've recently had interviews where I've successfully presented as male by just tying my hair back and nobody noticed I'm on HRT. So I have a long way to go in my opinion.

Right now I consider both identities to effectively be partial truths. I am biologically a combination of both sexes and yet simultaneously neither. Society doesn't really have a category for people of indeterminate sex, so I have to sit one side of the binary for every situation. Right now I'm more comfortable sitting on a different side of it depending on who I'm interacting with. It is however very hard for me to continue to be seen as male (and to have to present that way) when my internal gender sense says I'm not, and in the long term I'd prefer to sit on the feminine side all of the time. This is a luxury which I'm not yet afforded.

I have some good hope for male-failing after 2-3 years of HRT but this is a long time away...

So what should I call you?

Depends on the situation. It should be pretty easy to figure out I think.

If I'm in a situation where it would be safe to call me Ruby and use female pronouns, and you're happy to do so, then in general you should go for it, as that's arguably 'more genuine' and my male identity will hopefully be eventually written off. Anything that's a sensible nickname is also fine, e.g. my brother prefers to call me Rubes. In situations where everyone knows I'm trans, you should also really avoid using my deadname as this is disrespectful.

If I'm in a situation where I'm not outed, or where I'm exclusively presenting male for the sake of avoiding embarassment, calling me Ruby might be pretty awkward. You should probably stick to my deadname in this case, or avoid naming me altogether.

So yeah, you'll pretty much have to play it by ear.

Why did you pick Ruby as your feminine name?

Sometimes people wonder why I didn't just go for Roberta, but I always hated my birth name, and I think Roberta is really ugly, so I had to consider other options. I made the decision that I wanted to keep my initials the same, so this limited me to names starting with the letter R. I started out considering names like Rachel, Rebecca and Robin. I came to the conclusion that Rachel and Rebecca were too common, and Robin was too gender-ambiguous - I wanted to go for something that was unambiguously feminine, but also fairly uncommon, because I value my name being uniquely identifiable.

So I sat there looking down the list of distinctly-feminine names... and Ruby jumped out at me. My favourite colour has always been red, so to have my name also be a shade of red seemed really fitting. It's also a really cute name, and it's a precious gem, which is cool too. A quick Google search found nobody else with the full name I was considering, so the uniqueness criteria was met and it seemed perfect. I kinda just fell in love with the name and it was at that point I decided it was going to be all mine :)

What is your opinion of transition so far? What are the advantages and disadvantages to you? How do you feel on HRT compared to before?

I probably consider going on MTF HRT to be the single most important and life-changing thing I ever did. I now get to live on a hormone balance which is gender-affirming and it's made me significantly happier. "I really regret making myself look and feel better" said nobody ever :)

In my opinion, starting estrogen has made me a better person, both mentally and physically. I look cuter and more attractive than I used to. I am way less anxious or miserable. I laugh and giggle a lot of the time now when I didn't before. My health is significantly improved, with less blood pressure spikes, less hormone spikes, and my neuropathy symptoms are almost completely gone. In contrast, when I lived on androgens like testosterone, I had a huge stack of random issues and I was a complete wreck.

I should note though that after starting transition, my gender dysphoria actually got worse. This is mostly because I'm now acutely aware of it rather than trying to repress it. It's pretty common for trans people in the early stages of transition to have the severity of their dysphoria increase and I'm hoping it will die down again later.

I have mixed feelings about the fact I came out in public, because I feel like I'm under a lot of pressure to transition successfully and to present femininely which is something I'm not comfortably able to do right now :/

Emotions are far, far more complex and this is taking a lot to get used to (although there is a lot less anger and it's easier to control which is good).

Laser hair removal hurts. Ow.

The biggest disadvantage of the HRT to me has been the fact that I'm forced to stay on a very high estrogen level for adequate birth defect suppression, so my estrogen level is continuously higher than ovulating levels. This has made me feel very broody. The feeling started around 6 months into HRT and seems persistent. I'm not able to carry children but I still feel the biological clock ticking. It can be kinda offputting. I know other trans women have been like this but I don't think this is a particular transition negative in and of itself, it's just really exacerbated by my estrogen level being so high.

What happens if you change your mind later? Would you consider detransitioning?

I don't have that luxury as the medication cocktail I'm on now (which includes a high dose of estrogen) is literally keeping me alive and discontinuing would probably kill me. So I am effectively required to stay hormonally female for the rest of my life, regardless of how I feel. In other words, medical detransition is not realistically possible for me.

I'm a very practical person. Being in the position where I feel like my real gender is female, and I am biologically required to feminize and stay feminized regardless, it seems a lot more sensible just to embrace being female.

Do you have any theories as to why you became gender dysphoric?

DHEA is very heavily overproduced in my body. Most of it isn't being converted to testosterone - it just sits around in my bloodstream. It also happens to be a full agonist of the beta estrogen receptor. My hypothesis is therefore basically that the massive concentration of DHEA in my bloodstream caused the beta estrogen receptors in my brain to be repeatedly overstimulated, which led to development of a female gender identity and consequently gender dysphoria. I don't have any proof of this though, it's just a theory :)

A lot of my mental health issues also seem to be caused by DHEA imbalance. The estrogen is helping a lot with this though.

Who are you interested in romantically/sexually? (or "I want to hook you up with someone, who should I look for?" or even "Will you go out with me?")

Right now I'm single but I don't know who I'm interested in. I haven't figured it out yet. The fact I am mid-transition makes that an even more awkward question as I'm not comfortable trying to enter into a relationship with anyone while I'm in this state.

Are you going to get "the surgery"?

Firstly, this is a really personal question to ask anyone. Secondly, there isn't just ONE surgery for MTF transition, there are actually up to four. Typical surgeries include Facial Feminization Surgery (FFS) which reshapes your face to look more female, Vocal Feminization Surgery (VFS) which reverses the vocal pitch drop that happened during puberty, Breast Augmentation (BA) which increases the size of the breasts [since hormones don't generally make them grow too much], and Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS) which alters what's down below. I'm assuming by "the surgery" you meant the last one, but someone doesn't need any particular surgery to be a particular gender. Gender isn't determined by what's down there; if it was, you'd have to ask every new person you meet to pull their pants down so you can take a look. Obviously this doesn't happen :)

As of right now I don't know exactly what surgeries I'm going to get and it depends what happens to me over the next blob years. Surgery is not funded by the NHS and is consequently extremely expensive. I will push for what I can afford if and when I need it. But in general, I expect I will likely go for at least FFS and VFS as long as I can get the funds together and coronavirus doesn't screw things up any more.

What is your opinion of transgender healthcare and equality rights in the UK?

I'm only really able to answer this question from the point of view of a trans woman, but I'll give my opinion anyway.

Trans healthcare in the UK is utterly shambolic, and makes the UK look like a third-world nation. The route you're supposed to go down is via the GICs, but the waiting times for the GICs are extremely long (~4 years), and the GICs themselves are a total utter joke. You might be waiting several more years after you're first seen before you can get HRT prescribed, and even then, the doctors there have no clue on correct dosaging, the blood panels are not frequent enough, and there is very little specialty for unusual cases. The whole system is explicitly designed to try to prevent as many people from transitioning as possible even though for the vast majority of trans people it's an essential life-saving treatment. It comes across as EXTREMELY transphobic. A large number of transgender people are consequently turning to DIY hormone therapy, which is in a legal grey area for trans women, but completely illegal for trans men (testosterone is a controlled substance, whereas estrogen is not).

The available forms of HRT are also extremely limited. For trans women, the best option is realistically injectable estradiol (valerate or enanthate), but that's not available anywhere in the UK and can't be obtained on prescription even if you ARE transitioning through officially sanctioned routes. (It is however available via those grey area DIY routes, making the available medications for DIYers better than those going through the official health service, something which is frankly absurd.)

Surgeries are a joke, with the only surgery available for trans women being SRS, and the surgeons here use an older method that results in a vagina that doesn't self-lubricate. No other surgeries are covered on the NHS, even if they're medically necessary for passing to help alleviate gender dysphoria. You're pretty much therefore left to try to gather the funds to pay for surgery privately (which could be up to £70k total if you get every surgery, an amount that most trans women would be completely incapable of ever paying).

If you manage to transition successfully (and that's a big *IF*) you're still required to get medical signoff to change your passport's sex marker, and if you want to legally be the gender you actually are, you're required to get a gender recognition certificate, the process for which currently pretty much guarantees almost nobody will get one. Without the GRC, you legally remain the gender you were assigned at birth, even if your driving license and passport are updated to match your actual gender. This impacts a few things, including retirement age, and the prison you'll get sent to if you break the law.

In terms of employment rights, the Equality Act 2010 arguably protects trans individuals at every stage of the transition process (even when questioning), but the employer can just obviously make up some other bullshit reason to get rid of you, or they can discriminate against you without directly stating so when looking for a new hire, so in reality the protections do nothing.

Didn't you use a different username online before?

Between 2006 and 2020 my main user handle was Tinytimrob which came from "Tiny Tim" (my first computer) and "Rob" (my birth name / deadname). I don't use this any more given the fact that I'm no longer identifying online under my birth name. You might still see older content of mine listed against this user handle though (especially on websites where you can't change your username).